When charismatic Bar Manager Edward Baffoe from Ghana teamed up with equally prominent Chef Matthew Crabbe and Restaurant Manager Nathan Smith, this supergroup was celebrated as the Crosby, Stills and Nash of Tokyo nightlife. In March 2009 they opened their eagerly awaited Two Rooms in the futuristic AO building overlooking Tokyo’s Aoyama fashion district, a soaring space where the arresting design is crowned by a bar hewn from New Zealand swamp kauri— timber hauled from 50,000-year-old peat bogs.
But it takes more than good looks to keep the international bankers and art scenesters vying for seats. “ This crowd is always looking for something new,” admits Baffoe, who offers beguiling bar snacks like Teppan Grilled Scallops powdered with bacon dust, and hunts down under- the- radar vintages for the 2,000 bottle walk-in wine cellar.
Coming from a traditional African culture Baffoe particularly admires Japan’s reverence for its old ways. “ Japanese bar people have skills you’ll rarely find in the U.S.,” observes Baffoe, 39, who attended high school here, “like creating artisan ice.” They carve jewel-like spheres that chill drinks without diluting them and can hand shatter slabs into a mound of elegant crystals called Kachiwari. “ The Japanese are very demanding,” Baffoe reflects. “But if you want to be the best in the world at what you do, there’s no place like Tokyo.”
See Baffoe’s recipe for a fresh kiwi martini, our July 2010 cocktail of the month.