The Tokyo Food Page claims that Buri, a tachinomiya (standing bar), isn’t the kind of place in which one can while away the hours (only a few seats). On the evening of December 8th, the Tokyo Sake Meetup Group nevertheless gave it a try in a 5 or 6 hour marathon drink and food fest.

Buri is a tiny place with a theatrical round bar, in the center of which is a performance of grilling and salad making and sake warming. The sake is drunk in “cups” (see photos). You order the sake, decide if you want it warmed (to various temperatures), the waiter pulls off the metal top of the glass cup, and unceremoniously hands it to you. I hadn’t drunk sake this way before, and I associated these cup sakes with vending machines and rotgut. But Buri’s sake selection is mostly junmai (pure rice sakes) with some honjozo, ginjo, and daigingo mixed in. In other words, they serve some very delicious, high quality sake.

Some of the sakes come straight out of the very cold fridges at a consistency close to sorbet. The waiter then shakes the cup vigorously until it resembles a sake slurpie. Some of the sakes served this way are a bit too cold for my taste, and you can’t smell or taste very much except the alcohol, but after they warm up a bit the aromas start to emerge. The food is really good, too, with lots of salads and upscale yakitori (grilled meat on sticks) selections.

While we enjoyed the fabulous company, and found out that buri means “great” in Hiroshima-ben (dialect), I tried to write some tasting notes. I’m not sure that all the details are 100% correct, but below is a sample of what I tasted (as in stole a sip from my husband) or drank myself.

Furosen yamahai junmai (from Shiga): “funky yamahai taste that I like, too much alcohol bite? drinkable”

Aki-skika junmai (from Osaka): “harsh but fruit background, funky undernose, lots of alcohol heat”

Ayu-masamune futsu-shu (from Niigata): “served wicked cold, clover fresh taste, no nose, but tasty, yum”

Hidakami junmai (from Miyagi): “delicious, full, flowery”

Jyokigen junmai ginjo (from Yamagata): “Delish, rice AND fruit nose, smooth, tight body, oh who cares sake love” [I think I had two in a row of this one…]

Nambu Bijin junmai(?) (from Fukuoka): “fat with a classic rice taste” [I’ve enjoyed quite a few Nambu Bijin products at various tastings, so this was a familiar pleasure to top off the evening.]

Thanks everyone for a great time!

[For information about sake terminology and types of sake, start with John Gauntner’s Sake World site.]