Do not take this the wrong way. I love this place, and they have never in any way wronged me! In fact, all they have ever done was to give me exceptional customer service and to serve great beer!
Please allow me to introduce "Fountain Hill." (ファウンテン-ヒル)
Fountain Hill is not just any bar... it is an effective Western-style (American) bar among the many Japanese izakaya out there. What makes this bar so much better than other Japanese bars? Just you wait... I'm gonna tell you.
1.) Amazing staff! This bar is family owned and has three employees: a father (Nagaizumi-san), his son (Wataru, a.k.a. Master) and his son's wife (Izumi). Many Japanese izakaya and other pubs are very unwelcoming to foreign guests. It is entirely the opposite here. From the first time I set foot in this pub until I walked out of there yesterday after a Guinness, I have been treated with the highest respect and with such hospitality! Both Master and Izumi speak English, and the father may or may not... I am not sure. Either way, he has always made an effort to understand my broken Japanese and to give me whatever I please. Throughout my struggles as a foreigner living in Japan, these guys have helped me on countless occasions (including when I lost my wallet, keys, cell phone and camera)!
"On the house, baby!"
This is the kind of service you can expect at Fountain Hill.
(OK, so maybe every bar gives you water "on the house," but this is a small inside joke for us!)
2.) Great beer selection! In a world of too many or too few choices, this bar achieves a great balance in offering a wide-selection (by Japanese standards) without making your head spin. On tap they offer Guinness, Bass and Lowenbrau. In bottles, they offer Orval, Duvel, Grolsch, Corona, Hoegaarden, Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel, Weltenburger Pilz, Weltenburger Hefe Weissbier, Coors, Sol, Leffe, etc. As you may notice, there are no Japanese beers! WHAT?! It makes sense if you ask me... considering you can walk out of your house and buy a Japanese beer from a vending machine. I must not fail to mention that Fountain Hill has a great liquor selection too. They have an impressive selection of scotch and whiskey. They also have rum and tequila that I had never seen. Lastly, they have all the basics (flavored vodka and rum) to make frou-frou girly drinks if you are into that sort of thing... I, however, recommend that you have a beer!
3.) Inviting atmosphere! Like I said, this place is a American-style bar. The first time I went to Fountain Hill, I felt like I was back in Wisconsin. There are neon lights, 80s and 90s glam rock/hair metal posters, scenes from the movie Tombstone and other Westerns, and even a gun hanging on the wall... (Which I have no idea how they pulled that off in Japan!) So maybe it sounds a little tacky... and I DO LOVE TACKY! But I do not feel that Fountain Hill is tacky in the least. The decorations are not overwhelming, the bar itself is made of wood and is really beautiful, the tappers are shiny and elegant and the liquor bottles are spotless, neatly arranged and illuminated behind the bar. The capacity of this bar is about 30 (maybe 50, if you consider standing room.) It is a bit small, but that adds to the personal touch! Lastly, for those of you who are closet "otaku," there is a secret stash of Japanese manga on shelves beneath the bar...
4.) Rockin' music! Perhaps this goes along with the atmosphere, but I feel that in Fountain Hill's case, the music is a big enough deal that it gets a category of its own. Master is a huge rock, classic rock and metal fan! He has just about any mainstream American rock you could want and a surprising amount of more obscure names too. The first several times I went to Fountain Hill, we almost exclusively talked about music. Since I am not such a metal fan, but am more of an alternative/punk person, before long, Master was playing some of my music too! (YES!!!) Do not worry if you are not into rock. Master also plays rap, hip hop, R&B, pop, country, big band, blues, disco, electronica, or pretty much anything else you could want.
5.) Delicious food! This is not "bar food." Yeah, yeah, you can get a burger or pizza... but it is so much more than that. Fountain Hill's menu includes the best of Japanese and Western foods. Most of the recipes have been developed (or at least tweaked) by the staff. My favorite dish is the huge salad. It is designed for 2 or 3 Japanese people to share before a meal, but I take it down by myself. I also highly recommend the spicy chicken, the curry rice and all of the pastas! Aside from just meals, they are really great about giving their customers something to snack on while they sip their drinks. Often it is popcorn or a sweet bread. It is always homemade and tasty!
As you may have noticed, I love this bar! It is the bar to which I always will compare others in the future. Perhaps I am biased because I go there all the time, but it was my first impression on that first visit that made me come back. Since then, it is all that I have described above that has kept me coming back.
If you happen to be in the Tokyo area, I recommend that you hop on the next train and take the 30-40 minute ride to Yabashira or Shin-Yahashira Station to experience Fountain Hill. I guarantee that you will not regret it!