Under the influence

Food & Drink - September 20th, 2002
Dan and Gia

by Dan Riney & Gia Payne

His & Her Bar Guide

DAN

Right here under our noses all this time, smack dab in the middle of Roppongi’s main drag, is a bar— Hollow Point— where customers can enjoy two ail-American pastimes simultaneously drinking and shoot­ing.

Yes, shooting. As in, with guns. OK, they aren’t real guns with real bullets, but we Yanks have to take what we can get in a country that isn’t fortunate enough to have the National Rifle Association and Charlton Heston to protect our Second Amendment rights. Hollow Point is an air-gun bar.

Upon entering, I immediately had a flashback of myself as a 10-year-old. I was riding down an empty street on my bicycle one autumn day, when out of nowhere—ping!—a sharp pain shot through my skull from the rear right side. I had no idea what had happened. I just knew I had to get home fast so I could cry with­out anyone seeing. I found out later that David Mastro, the neighbor­hood hell-raiser, had nailed me with a perfect shot from his B-B gun from the bushes in front of his house.

So after struggling to hit my tar­get from 20 feet at Hollow Point, I began to develop a new respect for my boyhood nemesis. “How the hell did Mastro do that?” I wondered. It must have been a 75-foot shot, and at a moving target no less. I shouldn’t have beaten the crap out of him the next day, I should’ve asked him for shooting lessons.

And I hope I didn’t discourage him from pursuing a sharp-shooting career; we could really use someone like him in Baghdad nowadays, drawing a bead on Hussein’s melon.

We had Hollow Point all to our­selves for most of the evening, which was nice since they only have the one shooting gallery. But if this review helps get the word-of-mouth ball rolling, I can see it becoming the after-work destination of choice for homesick Americans and gun-curi­ous others looking to let off a little steam.

Just don’t expect to see Billy Bob and his Tennessee kinfolk out back a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’ as they toss beer cans in the air and blow them apart with 12-gauge shotguns. Hollow Point isn’t that kind of estab­lishment.

In fact, it’s unlike any kind of establishment you can think of. You’d never find a place in the States that mixes alcohol with shooting, despite what our European friends may think. And if you ever did, it wouldn’t serve beer in flutes or have an impos­sibly polite bartender patiently teach­ing you the finer points of aligning the sights on a Clock 26.

So run down to Hollow Point after work, tape a picture of your boss (or David Mastro) to the target and fire away. After you tear through the head and chest, go for an arm. Or better yet, aim for the dented beer cans on the shelf below the target. If you’re like Gia and not satisfied with merely knocking the cans over but are compelled to blast them off the shelf, you’ll get to see the ingenious little device they have for setting the cans back up.

Without the air guns, Hollow Point would be just another one of the thousands of nondescript snack bars scattered throughout the coun­try. But the shooting gallery makes all the difference. Go ahead, give it a shot.

GIA

What a strange little place— smallish, tight, a bit cramped and goofy in a warm, offbeat way. Duck your head on the way down the stairs. Like Duke Pueblo Lounge in Shimokitazawa, you’ll have the sen­sation that a) you’re about to enter the underground hideout of the Apache resistance or b) if you’re a bit older, you may feel like an innocent, fretful sperm about to be expelled into the big, wide world a la Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex, But Were Afraid To Ask.” Whichever image comes to mind, Hollow Point is something quite different

Wednesday night, 9 o’clock, it was hollow, all right. (Sorry, I could­n’t resist). A ¥500 table charge includes a ramekin of popcorn. The menu is pretty scant and boasts a sausage plate, but I didn’t risk it. Not more than 10 tables and a narrow, glass-windowed alley running the length of the back wall. Of course, that alley is the most interesting part of the whole place. Yet, wisely and alluringly, it is partially obscured by a floor plan that was once a barber­shop, or a kindergarten or who knows what.

We crossed the threshold and were immediately noticed and attended to. (Did I mention the place was empty?) Dan’s first order of busi­ness was to get a beer (man thirsty), while I made a beeline for the myste­rious alley (woman nosey). I spied a couple of movie posters on the walls, among them “Dirty Harry.” Clint Eastwood was pretty sexy in his day, but I’m more of a Steve McQueen girl myself.

I think I’m pretty liberal when it comes to the pub vs. restaurant argu­ment, but this is a cafe, despite the fact that it’s in the basement. I can’t put my finger on what pushed it over the edge, but it might have been “over coordination.” The black-and-stainless steel-themed decor was a bit too … together. Besides, the place was spotless—way too clean to have an Iron Maiden T-shirt tacked up over the bar. I bet it didn’t even reek of beer or pot.

The bartender reminded me of Pee-Wee Herman and Dan of Andy Kaufman (for me it was the hair, for Dan the voice), but he was sweet as could be and totemo gaijin-friendly, which was key because I required a pre-spree mini-tutorial.

Though a range of air guns adorned the wall beside the bar, my major distinctions were large and small, light and “my arm hurts.” Large magazines are ¥300, small ¥100. The number of shots in each depends on the size and type of gun.

I had fun shooting and egging Dan on when it was his turn. But, probably the nicest part of the evening was relaxing afterward and swapping stories about my childhood memories of hunting and fishing and Dan’s neighborhood rumbles.

Even funnier than his tale of the near-miss lobotomy is the vision of a petite, sprightly blonde named Connie (Mrs. Riney when she’s in earshot) marching up to an unsus­pecting door and giving some moth­er a searing, Catholic earful, while Dan lurks behind her sporting a look of indignation as he plots the Second Coming of some poor kid’s luckless fate. At times like this I realize that whatever quirks Dan may have, he makes up for them in entertainment value alone.

Hollow Point
On Gaien-Higashi Dori between U. Goto Florist and Excelsior Cafe
Hours: 6 p.m. to midnight
Rokuwa Bldg B1
5-1-4 Roppongi
Telephone 5411-3123
www.hollowpoint-jp.com (Japanese only)