The bright lights of Little Tokyo fade into the distance as you step up to the corner of the strip mall to enter The Mermaid. The nautical tchotchkes catch your eye as you enter the one room tavern. Couples hole up at tables along side groups of partiers and the odd sports fan quietly watching his team lose on the bars only TV. The friendly bartender greets you from the sunken bar before discussing your nights first poison. They’re known for the Drink Your Vegetables but it’s cheat day and you’re opting for something more dangerous. Either way you’ll be happy with your concoction as you sit down and let the relaxing vibe move you into the night. After you’ve had one or two settle your bill because you’re in Little Tokyo and there’s more food than you know what to do with.
You enter the flow of eager mall rats riding up the escalator to what you hope is not their destination, Honda Ya. The line can get long here but your back up plan is no doubt video games at the bowling alley should it come to that. Luckily you have a quick wait and there’s a table in the tatami matted room. Shoes off and smiles on you cozy up to your new drinking location with excitement. The hot sake delightfully flows as you decide on your izakaya. Shishito peppers, check, lamb chops, check, chicken hearts….check? Each dish lands in front of you almost each time you belt out a cheerful “kampai”. Every empty skewer is a new page turned on the story of the night. When your last sake is poured and the room begins to empty, you’ll know it’s ready to head to the place your wanted the most, the whiskey bar.
The awkward conversation begins as you enter the pizza joint Lupetti. “Is this where we’re going?”, you confidently know the answer and head to the door to the right for the real reason, In Sheep’s Clothing. The doorman takes your name before giving you a minute to come in. Once inside the wooden paneled and very orderly Hi-Fi bar is alive, in a controlled and lovely atmosphere. Nothing is more overtaking than the one thing emanating from all ends of the room, the music is incredible. Arriving at the bar you’re mesmerized by the reflection of the records in the mirror before you forget you’re order. Eventually with drink in hand you secure a dimly lit space next to the bar. Sip after sip you delight in conversation and awe of the music selection, a space you can give credit to not just the creators but the Japanese culture itself, Domo Arigato.