Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Best of the Best - Bar Kitchen Tenjin Fukuoka

Bar Kitchen suggests in it's name that meals may be on offer. If you're after a drink with some local cuisine, and let's face it, there's plenty to be had in Hakata, well then you better try else where - there's no food here, and who needs it! So why name the establishment 'Bar Kitchen' then? Oka-san, the owner and sole bar tender wanted to name his place with something memorable, and at the time of opening his original premises in Kurume many moons ago (since 2002) he was in a band called 'Kitchen Drinkers' - the association stuck.

So now you've learned that this place isn't an eatery, your probably wondering what's on the menu? By all means it is a very distinctive menu. Distinctive enough for me to openly say that until date this is "The" No.1 bar of all time. Yep! Happy to put my neck out on that statement - most likely unbeatable (as far as personal preference goes, and what I've visited so far). Since relocating to the upgraded Hakata premises in September, 2014 Oka-san has amassed a smorgasbord of approximately 1,500 bottles that consists of both rare Japanese and Scotch whisky, as well as an assortment of premium and vintage bourbons for those who fancy it (and that's what only the eye can see...there's more tucked away below the bar). The layout is pure eye candy with a back bar wall consisting of thirteen columns with six tier shelving intricately showcasing an extremely impressive lineup: independent bottlers (past&present), SMWS bottlings, vintage official bottlings, Suntory Owners Casks, Nikka single casks, Karuizawa, Chichibu (many single cask stuff), and astonishing Hanyu (including the entire set from the famed 'Card Series' - with both Jokers, and Shinanoya's 'Game' series). Not that I need to point it out...a true haven for Japanese malt enthusiasts, and well, for those who have an obsession with either one of the distilleries listed above.

Bar Kitchen has all the trimmings of a high end bar with its savvy (but homely) interior but in actual fact it doesn't charge high end prices. This is what really sets itself apart from elsewhere. Although there are ultra-premium whiskies you won't be paying ultra-premium prices. Many of you who manage to actual visit this bar will be very surprised with its affordability. When you walk through the door you're quickly overwhelmed, you're taken back by the sheer presence of the bar's bottle offerings, but equally your captivated by the beautiful bar counter that measures 9.5 meters in length and is 11cm thick. I hear you saying: "what's captivating about that"? Well...this almost 10 meter bar counter has been intricately cut from one single tree in one solid piece. There's not many places that have done this/or can do this. Perhaps imagine it before I get of track and start talking about lumber. I can say so much more but you get the idea...check it out for yourself and make Bar Kitchen a MUST visit while in Hakata.

Oka-san's motto: "drink relaxedly, drink comfortably, drink in a homely manner".



Grand Park Tenjin
107 1-8-26 Maizuru, Cho-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka.


Catch the Kuko Subway line from Hakata station to Akasaka station

Bar counter image courtesy of Bar Kitchen


  1. Clint, it was great seeing you again at Hakata Hankyu for some tastings. You helped me and my student try some interesting single malts, and gave us the idea of visiting Bar Kitchen. I think we'll be visiting it as a 'bon enkai' at the end of this year! Maybe you'll come join us at the whisky talks next year? Greetings, Jason Heliopoulos

    1. Hi Jason, thank you for your kind words. Likewise, it was great to see you this year and hope you enjoyed the whiskies on offer. Please do visit Bar Kitchen at some stage. What a great idea/place to have 'bon enkai'. I'm sure you are very familiar with the area so you should find BK easily. Let me know how the experience was for you. As for 'Whisky Talk' next year...I'll do my best to get there for the very first time. Kind regards, Clint

    2. Clint, we went a couple of weeks ago for our Bonenkai. I was on a Japanese whisky kick, and sampled some very good whiskies! I finally got to try Mars Maltage 3plus25 - it was definitely my favourite of the night. Then went on to compare Karuizawa's 8 then 15yr - I enjoyed the latter since it had a wonderful lingering flavour. The 8, not so much. Finished off the night with Oka-san's own homemade whisky that was recasked into a tiny cask using Ichiro's Chichibu On The Way for about 6 months (?). It was phenomenal. Cheers for the intro. We'll definitely be going back again in the spring.


    3. Hi Jason, great to hear from you and to hear that you enjoyed yourself. That, and really happy to hear you chose to dram Japanese whiskies. Bar Kitchen, a paradise for any whisky drinker, is a haven for Japanese whisky lovers. It is probably a good thing that you tried the Mars Maltage 3 plus 25 as it is becoming scarce even in bars recently. The Karuizawa's - original Mercian bottlings are a winner to compare. As for Oka-san's original whisky I'm yet to try year maybe. Cheers for the feed back Jason and enjoy yourself there next Spring.

  2. Hi Clint, just wondering how the bar could sell any of the single cask stuff at a reasonable price when many cost $1500 plus and there is only around 22 standard drinks in a bottle. You didn't quote prices or whether they offer half shots. Cheers Brian

    1. Well, again, what sets himself apart Brian, and something that I didn't mention, is the owner, according to him, basically creates his price points according to what he paid for bottles at the time. So yes, say the monochrome Joker is now on the resale market for astronomical prices, Bar Kitchen will not take that into account and just add a commission on the actual price he paid for the Joker. And yes, half shots are very welcomed. Never really knew of anywhere that don't. Actually, I orderd my Ace of Spades (1st edition) and Oka-san politely suggested that I get a half shot, simply, to make it go round. That's great. I had four half shots and if I remember correctly it was about 4,500 yen, which I presume included a cover charge. You could spend hours here. You'd love it Brian.

  3. Yes it sounds like I could Clint : ) Problem is......once the original stock(of Japanese single cask stuff) has been drunk then Oka-san will either not be able to afford to restock or the prices of shots will need to skyrocket. All the bars that stock Japanese Single Cask whisky are in the same boat. I guess for those who can, get in quick while the going is good!

    1. Good point Brian. Well lets say prices are very affordable now and with fingers crossed well into the near future. Naturally Oka-san has reserve stock of the same expressions, but yes, regardless of reserves it will eventually get sold, or if there is very little perhaps other prices would be considered. I'm pretty sure "while the going is good" will be good for a while ;) shame it's so far away for most people. You manage at least 4 'cards' a night without bombarding your palate and eventually be able to say you've tried each and every card. Cheers.

  4. I've tried 17 of the cards Clint. Maybe I could do the rest in one night(10ml pours). I did 20 something drams as WhiskyLive a couple of years ago ; )