If you appreciate a retro feel and find yourself or your friends have the need for a drink, Hanbey is the place to go! Hanbey is an izakaya (drinking establishment) hidden in downtown Sannomiya, Kobe. It is decorated in retro Japanese posters and made quite cozy, like a secret hideaway forgotten in the past.
The corner we were in had a table that was set up like a bar: two seats on the opposite end of the table made people who sat there appear as if they were the bartenders. The izakaya was low lit and other lights decorated the place is an effortless fashion. Posters were on every wall, and the waiters and waitresses hurried around serving. Once in a while you would hear them shouting out to indicate when a customer was entering or leaving. The purpose of this is to inform other workers of a guest’s arrival/departure and allow them to show appreciation to the customers. It is a lively environment, one which requires you to talk over others once in a while, but is an iconic downtown scene.
The main purpose of an izakaya is to serve alcohol, and therefore there are only small portions of food to compliment your drink. It is usually the norm to order a couple of things such as edamame (boiled and salted soybeans) or yakitori (skewered chicken) to share and order drinks individually.
We decided to take the all you can drink deal for ¥1,200 (¥1,000 for women), which was very generous. Being a lightweight drinker, I always worry about drinking too much, however, the alcohol content in Japanese drinks can be very low. As a result, I was able to try many different kinds of drinks. My favorite was the umeshu (plum wine) on the rocks, and the green apple chu-hi. Of course they also serve stronger drinks as well for the more seasoned drinker. The okonomiyaki (savory pancake) and yakitori we ordered was also very delicious. Although the izakaya was busy, the servers were very friendly and attentive to our table. They even gave us each a little bag of Japanese crackers as a souvenir to take home. For anyone who loves anything retro or Japanese, Hanbey is a delight to visit and definitely a place that would become one of your favorites!