“If you want to see a totally different style of bartending, then you lot have to go to the WA-SHU. There’s a guy there who takes bartending to an entirely other level”
These were the words of Chris – the R&D Lab‘s bar leader – the night we were rioting in his bar (lol). And of course, there’s no way we would miss such an opportunity!!
Truth to be told, the Wa-Shu (literally “Japanese Liquor” in Japanese), could be described as the manifestation of the word “bar”, from the perspective of space. In fact, the Wa – Shu is comprised only of a wide, long bar with 10-12 stools and a huge freezer behind the bar, which serves also as a showcase for the bottles of liqueurs and spirits, the glasses and the ingredients used for the drinks. Simple as that…. ! Oh, there’s also a mini distillery inside the bar which, to my surprise, is NOT decorative.
The bar-leader and owner of the bar is Tomoaki Inabaa, a Japanese gentleman. He is a jittery guy, obsessed with perfection and accuracy in his work. You can tell from afar that, he is very strict with his employees, but at the same time, very patient and devoted when teaching them his craftsmanship. It is evident, that Tomoaki is a person highly respected and admired by his crew.
Not only this, but he is also respected and admired by his customers. His polite manners and devotion to his art give birth to the finest cocktails. Plus, I think he has the cutest smile ever!!!
Admittedly, Mr Ibana has his own personal style in bartending; and without doubt, he is a master of his art!! There are many reasons behind this. First of all, Tomoaki is a master in Whiskey making. He has been to the Highlands – the heart of scottish whiskey – where he learned the craft of Whiskey production. You can easily understand his love for whiskey just by noticing the wide variety of whiskey brands placed in his showcase. Indeed, the finest scottish, japanese and taiwanese wiskey is served in Wa – Shu. So, if you are a whiskey lover or you have a soft spot for whiskey cocktails, you certaily have to go there for a couple of drinks. In addition to this, he used to work in London’s best cocktail bars for quite a while. But he didn’t stop there!!
He applies his knowledge to make various spirits and liqueurs from different materials; anything you can think of – fruits, honey, nuts, vegetables, even black peppers! All by himself, using the mini distillery that I mentioned above.
All of the cocktails served in Wa – Shu, are signature cocktails and they are prepared exclusively by him. He uses the Japanese way to make cocktails, a style completely different to the common Western one. The majority of his cocktails are almost like R.T.D’s. To be more specific, he prepares the basic ingredients of his cocktails in advance and he puts them in the bottles – which are stored in the freezer/showcase -. So, the only thing he’s left to do is to add the special ingredients, freeze the drinks and serve them. You’ll see no extra fancy move nor jugglery, but a simple, yet skillful and dedicated approach. In Japan, it is call an art of Takumi (匠, “Smith”, especially a skillful one).
Tomoaki’s philosophy of cocktails, is “simplicity”. His cocktails are served without any garnitures, not even ice. Probably, this may be the philosophy of the Asian Bartending in general, because like Tomoaki, the bartenders in R&D Lab bar had also the same perspective. They are so confident for their drinks, thus they find unnecessary any kind of decoration. According to Tomoaki, only simplicity can bring forth the real taste, true to its nature!!
His motto: “Simple is the best. Focus one flavor. Unique and new”.
One of the wood fragrance cocktails from WA-SHU
Two cocktails in WA-SHU
The Hinoki Whiskey of WA-SHU.
Guava Cocktail from WA-SHU
As far as the prices are concerned, we have to admit that it is a little bit expensive, but affordable!!! However, if you are a heavy drinker, it’s better to avoid it. Unless, you have a golden card prepared (lol).
You can find Wa – Shu and Tomoaki Ibana following the instruction below.
Note: He’s planning to leave Taiwan in a couple of years, so don’t miss the chance to try his amazing cocktails!!
Official Website: Facebook (We borrowed some nice photos from there. :P)
Address: No. 39, Lane 101, Section 4, Chung-Hsiao East Road, Ta-An District, 10691 Taipei City, Taiwan
What’s Nearby? Needle No. 8 Tattoo