Otaru Soko No. 1

4 Ratings

Type: Bar, Eatery

5-4 Minato-cho
Hokkaido Otaru-shi, 047-0007

0134-21-2323 | map

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Added by RobBeer

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Ratings: 4 |  Reviews: 4
Photo of ODBRIP
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

As another reviewer said, Otaru is not a terribly exciting city. It's famous for its seafood and glassware and consequently is full of dozens glass shops and sushi shops...and not much else. But its an easy day-trip from Sapporo and the sushi here is supposed to be the best.

That said, this brew-pub is along a picturesque canal, located in a nice old brick building. Micro-brews are somewhat rare in Japan and this place offers a nice alternative to the usual, though very drinkable, lagers (Sapporo/Kirin/Asahi).

I tried the Heffe-weisen and the Dunkel and they did an outstanding job with each type of brew. However, their beer prices are rather expensive, even by Japanese standards. The food appeared to be above-average Japanese/German food.

All in all, if you happen to be traveling though, definitely stop in.

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.79/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3

For some reason, the port city of Otaru is a very popular tourist destination in Hokkaido. I can't really figure out why. The canal is very nice, yes, there are some very interesting old buildings here and there, and there's lots of handmade glass to be bought, but really, my girlfriend and I thought it was kind of a boring, ugly city, in general.

That said, Otaru Soko No. 1 is a fun place to go in an otherwise not-so-fun town - but it still doesn't make Otaru worth a visit, I'm afraid. Decorated like some sort of German beer hall as if reimagined by Disney World architects, the Soko is a very large restaurant built into an old warehouse right along the famous Otaru Canal. The atmosphere is probably the best part of this place - dark, gothic, woody, theatrical. The waitresses even wear sort of German barmaid-ish outfits.

The beer is tasty, and fresh. The mainstays - Pils, Hefe, and Dunkel lager - are all solid, served in cool locally-handmade glasses, but the best beer was definitely the seasonal Vier Korn (four grain), brewed from barley, wheat, rye, and spelt. We didn't have the food but it looked pretty tasty and eclectic in an izakaya kind of way.

So it's a nice place, but what really keeps me from getting too enthusiastic about it is the prices. I can't remember them exactly off hand, but if memory serves, they were about 200 yen more than the same beers were at the Otaru bar in the Sapporo TV Tower. Not cool.

Still, I would absolutely recommend this place if you're in Otaru. Just don't go to Otaru only for this place.

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Photo of tjd25
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Read donnebaby's review for a detailed description of the place. I'll just say the location near the famous Otaru Canal is great, and the atmosphere inside the brewpub is great too. The dark medieval entrance is amazing, it drives you into a different world for the time you stay in the brewpub. Too bad it wasn't very crowded when we went there. The atmosphere has to be so warm when the place is packed. Almost empty, it was a bit intimidating. Maybe they should only open one of their large rooms when it's not crowded. A nice stage for live music shows was appreciated. The beers are generally of high quality; my weizen was tasty, but the seasonal helles was a bit disappointing. They are served in great glassware from Otaru, which is cool. I didn't eat there, I was still full from our stop at Kairinmaru. I gave a flower to the waitress, and she accepted it. I had the impression that the prices were a bit higher than at Kairinmaru, but Otaru Soko is downtown, whereas you need a cab or a car to go to Kairinmaru.

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Photo of donnebaby
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This place is awesome. On their website, they explain (in English) that although Otaru Beer's yearly output technically disqualifies them from being considered a microbrewery, this brewpub, the Otaru Soko No. 1, where it was originally begun, remains so, putting out seasonal brews on tap.

It's located overlooking the famous Otaru Canal, Otaru's biggest tourist spot. The building itself used to be a warehouse for the fishing industry of Otaru, so it's huge. Besides the excellent location and the history though, the place doesn't look so impressive from the outside. Walking in, however, you come through a sort-of vine tunnel which ushers you into an enormous, high-ceilinged dining room, complete with beautiful brewing apparatus and tanks, spread out along the wall. There was also a nice, long bar, which didn't seem to be in use. Another vine tunnel through a faux rock wall took me out of that room and into an even larger one, where I were seated.

The atmosphere was exceptional, I think, despite not being too crowded. All of the tables are hard, thick wood with non-uniform throne-like chairs, several of which look out over the canal. Hanging from the ceiling are strange wrought-iron chandeliers with small chain glass lamps coming down all over the place. The decorations and general atmosphere was couldn't decide itself between old Bavaria and a Shakespearean theatre setting. A little bit weird, but grew on me. The lighting was fairly dim, with candles on every table and ample natural lighting.

There was also a large 30+ seating banquet table off to one side, as well as a stage, which seemed to accomodate live acts, as well as a New Orleans style Mardi Gras show. Several of the waitresses also wore mardi gras masks, and all of the waitstaff wore Shakespearean-style outfits. I was almost thinking Renaissance Fair for a second...

The kitchen was wide-open and stretched into the dining room, so you could see and smell roasting flesh, mostly. The food was pretty good, although there was quite a bit of unexpected fish eggs, bonito flakes and dried prawn both in my salad and with my chorizo (?!). I also had the garlic toast, which was not so hot. They also had available several party-style meat-roasting options, as well as a dunkel-beer hot pot, which looked pretty good.

Prices were not bad, especially the food, which I thought cheap. They had one seasonal beer offering, a dunkel-bock, which was excellent and perfect on a wintry day. Definitely make this a stop if you find yourself in Otaru. It's a unique atmosphere for Japan.

And I'd be remiss not to mention the beautiful glassware used, made in Otaru, famous for its glass-blowing--especially the 500ml weiss glass.

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Otaru Soko No. 1 in Hokkaido Otaru-shi, Japan
Place rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 4 ratings
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