This Japanese rockabilly bar is pretty peachy-keen
Owner Hideki Saito and the vibrant Ronin cocktail
Boasting retro tunes and sake cocktails, Black Dice Cafe is in a league of its own Boasting retro tunes and sake cocktails, Black Dice Cafe is in a league of its own
Before Hideki Saito became a father to twins, he was part of a vintage motorcycle group. Having always dreamt of owning a one-person operation, Saito found a just-big-enough west end space to serve as a watering hole for him and his café racer pals. Et voilà! Black Dice Cafe was born. Inside, turquoise walls are hung with 45s, a pinball machine dominates a corner and rockabilly tunes play overhead (think Wanda Jackson and the Collins Kids). The bar itself, made out of a bowling lane, is anchored by a 1967 BSA motorcycle gas tank which highlights the beer and sake taps.
The rockabilly life
Saito first became enamoured with the rockabilly lifestyle back when he was a teenager in Sapporo, Japan. His sister introduced him to the classic flick American Graffiti, and he was hooked. “I watched that movie and it changed my life,” Saito says. His obsession with ’50s and ’60s America propelled him to find work in the U.S.A., despite his friends’ disbelief that he would actually manage the move. They were right — Saito couldn’t muster up a work visa, but neighbouring Canada proved to be a stellar second choice. Sixteen years later, he’s still in town.
Fit for a samurai
Sake keeners can order sake pours from the taps — one from California, one from Japan — or choose from Saito’s cocktail list. The Ronin gets its moniker from a samurai (“I went for cheesy Japanese names,” Saito says), and matches sake with vodka, super sweet peach syrup and blue curaçao, imbuing it with its neon shade ($10). The cocktail also gets a lick of Calpico, a milky Japanese soft drink sans carbonation that contributes to the drink’s sweet and tangy taste. Pair with some karaage and a Pogo, and let yourself be transported to a magical place.
Black Dice Cafe, 1574 Dundas St. W., 647-748-1574