What is Tokyo Record Bar? I ask myself this as Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" pulses through the old school Hi-Fi amplifier. The needle wags back and forth like a happy dog's tail and I could feel the heat from the tubes with every hit of the kick, or maybe it was the heat of the kitchen I was parked in front of having gotten there early to claim one of the coveted kitchen counter seats for my own.
Tokyo Recod Bar reminds me of those basement high school parties at your friend's house while the parents are away. This time you don't have to refill the liquor bottles with water and the food is way better, even though there is still pizza. Located under Air Champagne Bar, Tokyo Record Bar offers two izakaya tastings a night (6:30pm & 8:30pm) followed by drinks and snacks until the wee hours of the morning.
The tastings are an intimate gathering (only around 16 seats or so), there is no menu other than one for drinks and one for music. A music menu? Yes, all the diners a submit song to build the dinner playlist so the ambiance is curated by the you and those eating with you. You are also encouraged to interact with and talk to your fellow diners. One of the diners next to me also worked in the hospitality industry so we did some networking.
In addition to the music menu there is a sake menu. The different thing about this menu were the offerings described by the predominant flavor profile so you do not have to know a name or origin; I found this very handy. You are able to order by the cup, carafe or bottle.
The experience started with a complementary cup of sake, some flavored nori chips and picked daikon. Our host introduced herself and the rest of the staff for the evening and then asked everyone to pick a song from the song menu which was categorized by genre.
Once drinks were ordered and songs were picked the host started spinning, delivering music to our ears while at the same time food was being delivered to our mouths. Starting things off was a fantastic but seemingly simple caviar sushi. Vinegared rice topped with oestra caviar and little crunchy balls of rice to give a little texture. Another dish was a sashimi of some amazing fish but I forgot what type because I enjoyed myself too much. It was dressed with jalapenos, avocado and finished with some sizzling sesame oil.
I was one of the first to arrive for the night so I claimed a primo seat at the kitchen counter.Got to love watching those guys hard at work creating fantastic dishes.it's like watching music in motion complete with ebbs and flows in service.
By far my favorite dish of the night was the tempura maitake mushrooms covered with bonito flakes. I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life and be happy. Crunchy and meaty at the same time, you just have to hope they serve this if you go.
The evening ended with a serving of yuzu shave ice. Texture -wise it was a bit crunchy for shave ice but the yuzu was a nice palate cleanser. As a parting gift they did a home-made Sicilian style pizza with a square slice for everyone. This was actually really good with a crunchy crust soft bready insides.
For $50 you get 7 Izakaya sized courses, drinks are extra, music is included. This is not for everybody. However if you are looking for something different that is interactive, mysterious, intimate and fun, Tokyo Record Bar may be for you. I enjoyed the surprise of what was coming next (during the reservation process you can notate any allergies). I enjoyed speaking to my fellow diners. I enjoyed the interactivity of picking songs and listening to what others picked - the playlist definitely leaned to old school hip hop, soul and funk. And they email you a link of your playlist so you can relive the memory. I am looking forward to doing it again and hanging out after dinner next time.