The Cherry Blossom Pub, a temporary pop-up in Shaw, has a pretty interesting dual theme: Mario Brothers on one side, complete with pipes, clouds and turtles, and Japanese on the other with cherry blossoms and origami.
The spot, comprising the bars Southern Efficiency and Mockingbird Hill, is deservedly popular, there’s often long lines. But it’s great: both sides have Japanese-influenced cocktails (think Japanese whiskey, sake, Midori, and a lot more) plus Japanese beer and other drinks. They’re all sweet but very well done. They also have tasty Japanese food: gyoza dumplings, pork cutlet, fried sticky rice balls and the like.
It’s often crowded, and you’ll have to wait in line for a bit to get in, but it’s a lot of fun. The staff are dressed in character and the walls and ceiling are covered in either Mario-related art or Japanese art, plus lots of animated video game characters. Every now and then, someone will push a button (if you’re friendly, they might ask you) and that sets the Mario side in motion, with plants coming in and out of pipes, lit up question mark blocks, Mario music playing and various sprites jumping around the walls.
The cherry blossom side is a bit more relaxed with flowers (the city is famous for cherry blossoms in spring) and other art.
It’s a lot of fun for a date, meeting friends or just seeing some wacky stuff, with the added bonus of good food and drink.