If you've opened this, you already know that Tokyo Record Bar is awesome. We were even tempted to use an exclamation point there.
Eh, what the hell. !
Now, for what Tokyo Record Bar is: a bite-size subterranean izakaya experience where you make a playlist with everyone around you, eat seven courses of clever Japanese-ish stuff and drink cocktails. It opens tonight beneath Air's Champagne Parlor in Greenwich Village.
This isn't the buttoned-up type of affair you'd find at an actual record bar in Tokyo. This is Ariel Arce's (she runs Air's, too) New York City version of the concept (you can see it, its food, drinks and records here). There are two fixed seatings per night—6:30 and 8:30, with a fixed, multi-course menu and a variety of drinks coming in quirky vessels.
The process starts with everyone meeting upstairs at Air's. You'll get to know the other people you're sharing the space with, because you'll all be collaborating on a playlist for the night once you're seated. They'll hand you a record menu, and each of you will choose a track. Ariel (or someone else, but mostly her for now) jumps on the ones and twos and creates the mix you've all put together. She'll throw a few of her own choices on too. All the while, you're eating Togarashi nori chips, braised pork belly and yuzu snow cones, and drinking wasabi-shiso mojitos with sake. As an entirely appropriate digestif, you'll get a slice of pizza before you head out. It'll go a la carte at 10:30, and the music will get a little funkier.
"What kind of music am I working with?" you ask. Excellent query. Along with some of the staff's and their friends' collections, they've got a nice back catalog of Sony classics. The label reached out when they heard about the project and wanted to contribute, which is cool. You'll find a lot of New Orleans jazz, blues, soul, Elvis, old outlaw country, Bowie and a smattering of other stuff. Some of the real gems include a rare copy of Aaliyah's Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, Aaron Neville's Tell It Like It Is, and Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell.
And if there's a better date record than that, we haven't heard it.