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Japanese flair, throwback arcade games, '80s pop culture enliven Misuta Chow's

A highly anticipated addition to Buffalo’s downtown bar and restaurant scene comes with a dose of Japanese flair and a cluster of classic arcade games.

Misuta Chow’s, the restaurant-arcade on Main Street that held a soft opening earlier this month, is adorned to recreate the look and feel of a yokocho, an alleyway common in large cities in Japan.

Across from the Hyatt hotel, the two-floor setup features a bar on each level, with classic arcade games, skee ball and pinball games grouped on the second-floor. Windows and doors on the upper level open up and provide a great view overlooking Main Street.

The decor is far from ordinary. There’s the working pay phone and the Japanese lanterns. Then there’s the fake windows in the wall above the bar, one of which holds a decorative air conditioner hanging over the shelves of liquor -- a small but solid detail to contribute to the alleyway ambience.

The liquor selections and even a well-placed air conditioning unit to represent a Japanese alleyway. (Aaron Besecker/Buffalo News)

The bars are equipped with a wide variety of drinks, including some you probably won’t find many other places. There are a couple types of Japanese whisky -- Suntory Toki and Kaiyo.

There also will soon be three Suntory highball tap towers on the premises, which owners Johny Chow and Christi Allen say will make Misuta Chow’s one of 33 restaurants in the world with one (and the only one in the world with three, they say). A custom label brew combining the forces of Misuta Chow’s and Community Beer Works is said to be planned.

[Related: More about the plans for Misuta Chow's, via Andrew Galarneau]

This week, local beers on tap included brews from 42 North, Thin Man and Community Beer Works. There were also beers from Brewery Ommegang, Ballast Point and Bell’s Brewery.

Arcade games at Misuta Chow's. (Aaron Besecker/Buffalo News)

If you go, you have to plug at least a quarter or two into some of the classic arcade games, including Rampage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spy Hunter, Galaga and Q*bert. Considering their age, it’s not surprising to find that some of the machines seem to occasionally swallow your coins and give you nothing for it.

Neon lights and images from 1980s pop culture dazzle on the ceiling above the games. Pinball appeared popular among the arcade-goers one recent afternoon.

The owners say the place will feel more authentic once the kitchen opens early next month. It will serve Japanese street food combined with a bit of American fusion. For now, there’s a shelf of Japanese snacks next to the first-floor bar in case you really get hungry.

Customers at Misuta Chow's try the arcade games, one of the major draws of the new bar-restaurant. (Aaron Besecker/Buffalo News)

If you’ve got a big game you want to watch, don’t expect you’ll be able to see it in Misuta Chow’s. There’s one TV on the first floor, and one more on the second.

As of late this week, the business still didn’t have an exterior sign, so it might be easy to miss. It sits between Jerk’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream and the storefront for Phenominal Xpressions and LateLuci Productions.

The bar’s official grand opening will be held the weekend of Aug. 3-5.

INFO: Misuta Chow’s, 521 Main St. 259-8228. Hours: 3 p.m. to close Monday, Thursday, Friday; noon to close Saturday and Sunday.

Drafts and drinks: 16 taps, 12 reserved for local beers, plus liquor, specialty cocktails and more. Two types of Japanese whisky. Frose or frozen Mai Thai, $9. Beer options include local craft brews, as well as regional and national brands. Also, $2 pony bottles, and cans and bottles ranging from $3 to $7. There’s also craft sake on tap to help concoct sake-infused specialty drinks.

Don’t forget to: Listen to Bill Murray’s character from “Lost in Translation” and make it Suntory time.

1980s pop culture is at the heart of Misuta Chow's decor. (Aaron Besecker/Buffalo News)

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