While there is no end of choice for the visitor to Tokyo looking to eat and drink in town, there are few areas that offer the same mixture of local flavour, true Japanese culture and plain old fashioned good fun as Ebisu. This ultra-trendy though somehow still authentic neighbourhood plays host to a number of establishments that are perfect for somebody in search of a great night out.
Getting there is easy. The Ebisu station is on the JR Yamanote line, which is one stop away from Shibuya. You can also get there using the Metro Hibiya line. While you can always get around it by taxi, it's small enough to get around on foot and much more fun. As you walk from pub to pub and restaurant to restaurant, you can really soak in the atmosphere of this lively, colourful and vibrant little hive of nightlife.
A good place to begin is one of the numerous eateries aimed at the salarymen and salarywomen looking to relax after a hard day's work. Known locally as izakaya, these little spots serve tasty casual dished such as grilled meats and sashimi – perfect for filling your belly with something quick and delicious before and evening's drinking. Of course, every one of them will also offer a packed drinks menu too.
Once you've dined, why not move on to a really proper Japanese pub? Saiki is one such place, very well known in Tokyo for its no-nonsense approach and buzzing atmosphere. Space is a minimum but atmosphere is at a maximum. There's no English menu and next-to-no decor but lots of fun, great drinks and tasty bar food to be had. If you want to take a step outside your touristic comfort zone it comes highly recommended.
After that you'll probably be feeling hungry again, so the next port of call should be the wonderful Momotaro off Komazawa-dori. This is great for wine and generous courses of yakitori. If you want to drink like a true Japanese, then move from here to Buri just down the road. Here you will find one of Tokyo's most extensive and impressive sake menus plus, of course, lots of delectable little bits and pieces to eat with your rice wine.
You will, of course, notice that many of these spots do not have English menus for you to order from. While this might, at first, seem intimidating, in truth you can get by with just a few simple phrases. If you trust your waiter, all you need to do is say “Osusume”, which means “I'll have what you recommend.” Unless you are very unlucky, you should get a great meal.
If you want to hang out in Ebisu but prefer not to take your chances, then you can always try the Toraji Korean diner, where you can grill your own slabs of beef just as you like them.
While Ebisu explodes with activity after nightfall, there is also some fun things to do during the day. Art lovers will enjoy the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Yebisu Garden Place, while the Beer Museum on the same street is an hour of fun for those with simpler tastes.