as a Bee
Usually, when you mention Nishinomiya, the first
thing anyone says is Oh, isnt that near Kobe?
Indeed, even foreigners and many Japanese in Nishinomiya often know
little about the terrific eating and drinking establishments within
easy distance from their homes.
Of those clustered around Nishinomiya Kitaguchi,
perhaps the best and most unique is Busy Bee Café. Situated
on an unassuming corner just a few blocks from the station, Busy
Bee hosts a wide selection of fine food and drinks just waiting
to be discovered by the cool, hip, and tasteful who usually ride
to Umeda or Sannomiya, and is even worth the trek for those unfortunate
enough not to live nearby.
The owner, Dai, has run the Bee for five years
after working on the Queen Elizabeth II as an escort for Japanese
tourists. There he developed the passion and connections with chefs
and bartenders from around the world that contributed to the varied
menu and Continental atmosphere.
His food and drink menusthere are five of
them--reflect this eclectic influence. For eats, the menu ranges
from simple bar snacks like fried chicken and French fries to exquisite
salads, curries, and a host of pizzas. The house specialty is the
Firenze (¥1000,) a, flavorful pizza layered with spinach, fresh
mozzarella, rich pancetta bacon from Italy, garlic, and egg on a
crispy thin crust. While I wasnt so sure about the big egg
in the center at first, one bite quickly changed my mind as the
egg simply enhances the flavor of the pancetta and garlic. The portions
arent skimpy either, so this is perfect as a single meal or
to share with friends.
While the food is excellent and worth the trip
on its own, perhaps the most spectacular thing about the Bee for
this author is its extensive menus of beers, wines, and spirits
from the world over. The beer menu lists well over 50 brews, including
two pages devoted to Belgian beers alone! I checked out the Abbé
Rochefort (¥1300), a smooth and slightly sweet ale that so far
from what is usually called beer that it deserves a
category unto itself. While not cheap by any means, this and the
other Belgian beers here are definitely worth a taste.
Busy Bee is also the only place you can get fresh
Porter and Pilsner from the Rokko Brewery. The pilsner is light
and fresh, the perfect accompaniment to any dish on a warm evening.
The porter, however, is the star with its smooth, rich chocolate
and maple taste. This should definitely put the Bee on the map for
all you dark beer lovers that are getting tired of just Guiness
The wine selection is also quite extensive. The
feature here, however, is the house sangria. In addition to the
unremarkable red and the sweet but tasty Liebfrausmilch white, the
Bee has some of the best sangria this author has had the pleasure
to taste in Japan. Made fresh from a secret recipe and aged three
to seven days, this sangria is perfect as either a stand-alone or
to go along with one of their lighter dishes. And, at just ¥600
a pop, it wont break your wallet either. The Bee also has
a wide range of spirits, including an extensive whisky selection
starting at ¥700.
Busy Bee has been a fixture among locals for quite
some time, but it is well worth greater exposure to the larger Kansai
area. With its delicious food and incredible drink selection, even
people in Osaka and Kobe should come out here.
The Bee is open all night on Fridays and Saturdays,
so those of you coming from elsewhere dont have to worry about
that last train. In fact, you wont want to.
Busy Bee Café
9-12 Minami-Showa-cho, Nishinomiya-city
(8 min walk from Hankyu Nishinomiya Kitaguchi Stn, Northwest exit.
Go straight past Nova, turn left at the 7-11, walk over the bridge
and past two streets)
Open: Sun-Thu. 12pm-3am Fri-Sat. 12pm-morning