One of Tokyo’s most famous skyline views can be seen from Asakusa. Standing on the banks of the Sumida River and looking east across Azumabashi Bridge you will notice that three buildings in particular stand out. One of these is Tokyo Skytree, which you cannot fail to notice simply because it is the tallest structure in Tokyo. But alongside that, you will also see a tall golden building, and beside it a smaller, squatter black building which acts as a pedestal for a gigantic golden squiggle.
The tall golden building is Asahi Beer Tower. This is the 22-story headquarters for Asahi Breweries, and it is meant to resemble a well-poured glass of beer, with the white paneling at the top representing foam. The black building beside it is Asahi Beer Hall (also called Super Dry Hall), and the curious golden squiggle is the Asahi Flame.
The Asahi Flame was designed by French designer and architect Philippe Starck, and completed in 1989. Its official name is “Flamme d’Or” which is French for “Golden Flame”. According to Asahi Breweries it represents “the burning heart of Asahi Beer”. However, because of its unusual shape, it is more popularly known as “the Golden Turd.” Others have compared it to a tadpole, a whale, or a blob of mustard freshly squeezed from the tube.
Both Asahi Beer Hall and Asahi Beer Tower contain dining (and drinking) facilities. There is also a smaller annex on the other side of the Asahi Beer Hall where you can enjoy some original craft beers. As these facilities are only a short walk from Asakusa, and because their visibility makes them very easy to find, this is a very convenient location for either a meal or a casual drink. The restaurants on top of the Asahi Beer Tower also offer spectacular views over the city. Below is a short guide to each of these facilities.
Dining in Asahi Beer Hall
Asahi Beer Hall houses the Flamme d’Or restaurant. This is a relatively casual restaurant with a food menu carefully chosen to go well with beer. This means there are a lot of different sausage choices (all served with plenty of mustard), but also kushi-yaki style chicken kebabs, scallop pie, beer steamed mussels, spare ribs in barbecue sauce, pork steak, fried chicken, and (of course) fish and chips. On the beer menu, Asahi Super Dry takes pride of place, but craft beers brewed at the nearby Annex building are also available, as well as beer cocktails, and the European beers Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell. You don’t have to drink beer here of course, as the drinks menu has a fine range of wines, whiskies, sake, umeshu (plum liqueur), and soft drinks.
Opening Hours: 11.30 – 22.00 (Last orders for food: 21.00, for drinks: 21.30)
Dining in Asahi Beer Tower
There are four restaurants in the Asahi Beer Tower which are located on the 21st and 22nd floors.
Restaurant Alaska on the 21st floor is a formal French restaurant offering fine dining with magnificent city views. An English menu is available which can be viewed online.
Lunch: 11.30 – 15.00 (Last orders: 13.30)
Dinner (weekdays): 17.00 – 22.00 (Last orders: 19.30)
Dinner (weekends & holidays): 17.00 – 21.00 (Last orders: 19.00)
Closed on Mondays (unless Monday is a national holiday and then closed the following Tuesday)
Mochizuki on the 21st floor is a traditional Japanese restaurant offering multi-course kaiseki style meals. An English menu is available which can be viewed online.
Lunch (weekdays): 11.30 – 15.00
Lunch (weekends & holidays): 11.30 – 15.30
Dinner (weekdays): 17.00 – 22.00
Dinner (weekends & holidays): 17.00 – 21.00
Closed on Tuesdays
La Ranarita on the 22nd floor is a stylish and contemporary Italian restaurant serving a typical range of pizza and pasta dishes, but it also a great grill menu featuring fresh fish, shrimp, lamb, beef, and pork.
Monday – Friday Lunch: 11.30 – 15.00 (Last orders: 14.00), Dinner: 17.00 – 22.00 (Last orders: 21:00)
Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: 11.30 – 16.00, 17.00 – 22.00 (Last orders: 21.00)
Asahi Sky Room on the 22nd floor is a café lounge with panoramic city views. Here you can enjoy simple snacks such as tortilla chips, potato fries, kara-age style fried chicken, or cakes with coffee, tea, wine, whisky, beer, or cocktails.
Opening Hours: 10.00 – 22.00 (Last orders: 21.30)
Dining in Asahi Annex
The Annex building is home to Tokyo Sumidagawa Brewing, a subsidiary business of Asahi Brewing which is dedicated to brewing craft beers. If you fancy a beer with a little more individuality than the standard Asahi brews, then this is the place to go. There are four regular varieties of beer to choose from: a German style weizen or wheat beer, an aromatic kolsch, an American style pale ale, and a bitter stout. Taster sets are available so you can try a little of each kind to see what you like.
The first floor of this building is a casual bar area, and there is a restaurant on the 2nd floor, but you can order food in both areas. On the food menu is sirloin steak, fresh vegetables with an anchovy dip, German style sausages, beef stout stew, black rice (cooked in beer), and a smoked food assortment with shrimp, chicken, mackerel, and pickles. An English menu is available.
Restaurant Opening Hours:
Lunch: 11.30 – 14.00 (Last orders: 14.00)
Dinner: 14.00 – 22.30 (Last orders for food: 21.30, for drink: 22.00)
Bar opening Hours: 11.00 – 23.00 (Last orders for food: 22.00, for drink: 22.30)
Asahi Beer Hall and the other Asahi buildings are located directly across the Azumabashi Bridge from Asakusa. From the Toei, Tokyo Metro, and Tobu Asakusa stations it will take you approximately 5 minutes to walk there. Here is a map showing the location.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.