For those wishing to escape Tokyo's 'concrete jungle', Dining Zapot offers the ultimate oasis. A jungle in itself, every inch of the bar exudes a forest feel, with lush, leafy foliage in overwhelming presence.
The store front, overgrown with vegetation, is immediately recognizable from the street. The gushing sound of water and bird calls invite you in, as well as the promising sign "Guinness", which has come to be the international word for 'grog'. Entering, your world is transformed as you step into the dimness. A network of metal pipes meander across the ceiling, interwoven with vines. Jazz music plays in the background. You get the impression that if this were a real jungle, all the animals would be donned in their best attire, with tuxedos and bow-ties.
Yet it is not just the interior design which makes this bar so appealing. Dining Zapot is perhaps Tokyo's greatest watering hole, boasting an extensive drinks menu illustrated with hand-drawn cartoons. There is an impressive range of beers, wines, spirits, and most especially cocktails. Dining Zapot also developed their own unique cocktail concoctions with playful and whimsical names such as "Black Jack", "Chaplin" and "Blue Shooter". Prices for alcoholic drinks range between ¥400 and ¥700.
Dining Zapot's lush aesthetic continues on into the menu. Many items are dressed in leafy greens, or are even delivered to you on fire. The food is inventive with a strong Western influence and there are a variety of hot and cold meal options available, as well as selected appetizers. Some of the various options available are pizzas, pastas, and rice dishes such as risotto. Most dishes are designed for grazing, so be prepared to order a few if you're more than just a bit peckish. Desserts are also available, including the well-known classic - tiramisu.
Unfortunately for the monolinguistic 'gaijin' international visitor, Dining Zapot has no English menu. However, if you are able to read Japanese katakana you will be blessed, as almost all of the menu items are listed in this kana writing system. More often than not, katakana words translate phonetically to English counterparts. Even if you have no familiarity with the Japanese language, the section titles of the menu (e.g. "Beer", "Wine") are written in English. At Dining Zapot, you can be confident that pointing randomly at any menu item is sure to give you something surprising, and most importantly, satisfying.
This trendy cafe is less than 5 minutes walk from Kita-Senju Station and the surrounding area is a popular social spot for its great food, drinks, and regular live events. The best time to visit is on a Friday or Saturday night, when the area is its most active.