photo: jessica ji williams

in ignorance of the japanese language, i easily would have accepted “izakaya” meaning something entirely fantastic. however, it is actually a rather literal term for a small joint that also offers a few dishes. this is exactly the approach that fredrik andreas larssen brings to his elegantly hidden bar: instead of posh and polished he went for gritty and great – which is true both for the down-to-earth atmosphere of this place and its selection of food and drinks.

the latter mostly comprise a ridiculously wide range of sake and shōchū and some iced tea for the few teetotalers that dare enter a bar like this (izakaya proudly refuses the big american pop). my favorite: an easy, beautifully refreshing cocktail created from shōchū, fresh kumquat, and tonic, served in style in a simple water glass. what a discovery!


yet the food, a selection of street food snacks, is even better. i was lucky to get a full tasting of wakame, kimchi, shiitake, gyoza, chijimi, and a big soba salad (the most expensive dish on the menu, it still comes under 100 krona) – and i loved every bit of it.


the true fun comes with the atmosphere, though: stills from japanese pulp movies gracing the walls, japanese music playing from vintage vinyl (larssen: “that’s were the money goes!”), izakaya is the passion of larssen, who has a master’s degree in japanese and has lived in several of the country’s cities including tokyo, realized to the fullest and shared with strangers and friends alike.

ps larssen also draws comics and runs the indie record label metronomicon audio – check out especially their cozy indie pop signing s.l.y.c.!