Walking by no.501 in the Gaienmae district, you might be forgiven for mistaking it, as I had, for a storage closet. Situated on the street level beside Michelin-starred restaurant Florilege, the shop is marked by a small sign that reads, “kakuuchi,” the Japanese word for a hybrid bar and liquor store. Inside, brightly coloured grid-shaped shelves give the impression of being inside a wine-themed game of Tetris. Natural wine is the main event here, and you’ll find an impressive array of bottles from all over the world. Behind a sliding door at the back of the retail space is a tiny boite with 12 seats serving around 10 wines by the glass; you can also pay a reasonable corkage fee to open a bottle from the store. A short menu of bar snacks — small plates such as pate, grilled chicken with potato purée, and blood pudding — pairs with the drinks.
Owner Shingo Oto opened no.501 around the same time that he began planting wines in Hiroshima to make his own limited-edition wines, which can be sampled at the bar upon release. Since then, his natural wine empire has gradually expanded to include two restaurants: casual bistro no.502 and pan-Asian-themed no.506 in Setagaya ward.
- Hidden gem
- Natural wines
- Wine shop