British but American but Irish, this bar lies in the shadow of the impressive Sensoji temple in the Asakusa region of Tokyo, blending a range of western influences for a great night of live music with good food and drink.
It styles itself as a British pub, offering live jazz, with different bands playing on different nights. Part of a chain across Tokyo (23 branches), it could feel too much like a theme park, or soul-less, but in fact it's a fun, energetic, warm venue well worth a visit.
Live jazz isn't necessarily what you would expect to find in a Tokyo backstreet, but the performances are nevertheless good. Committed musicians, who clearly love what they do, play a series of sets during the evening. The repertoire changes with each band, but is likely to include classic tunes. It's too loud to talk during play, but not unpleasant if music is what you went for, and there are always the breaks for chitchat.
Japanese interest in all things neat and compact shines through. Guests are given a bag to put their things in. No concerns about the mess of bags and coats hanging off chairs and getting in people's way or security concerns, but in this bar you have only the kitschiness of a London bus.
The bar claims to be British, leading to a special St Patrick's Day menu. Cabbage and corned beef on your pizza seems strange and not particularly Irish or British offering, but it is at least different.
Special St Patrick menu
The unusual fusion of tastes continues. Take the classic crumble. Turn it into an ice cream combination. This sounds normal until you notice the base flavour is green tea. There's a unique twist to the menu suggesting a gastronomic sense of humour.
The drinks menu is expensive and not particularly extensive, but you do expect that when it features mainly imported spirits. There are local drinks, and a few soft ones, but the range is limited. The overall vibe is what it's about, and the music makes this work. Staff circulate regularly to take orders and bring you more food or drink, so you can relax and enjoy yourself, saving queuing at the bar for settling the final tab.
It isn't often that a drinks menu offers spirits by the bottle, but a quick glance around the floor suggests that people are buying them. A bottle of bourbon for a table of four on a weekday may seem excessive, but then you spot the rows of bottles at the bar, neatly labelled, and the penny drops. You can buy a bottle, and leave it there to continue drinking it on your next visit. This helps a customer get good value, and helps a bar keep regular customers. Indeed the Hub bars have a regular customer loyalty card which gets you money off things like drinks as you build up points. It's clearly more than just a tourist venue, functioning as its own kind of local.
At the entrance is the bar itself, with stools to draw up. Down a few stairs are small tables with a few chairs around them. The venue is popular, so everything is packed close together, but it feels vibrant rather than claustrophobic. The spirit of New Orleans is alive and well in the wall decor, as legends of jazz and American skylines look down on guests. This is hardly British, but it does add to the atmosphere.