Tokyo Café & Restaurant Guide (Part 2)
I just got back from Tokyo last night and I'm still reminiscing on all of the good food and drinks I had. These restaurants and cafés are not necessarily new, but they're new to me, as this time I went back to Tokyo with a different perspective. I decided to walk around a lot this trip, which lead me to discover hidden gems. I also did a bunch of research on what's new and popular. So here is an updated guide to my top restaurants and cafés in Tokyo (in addition to what was mentioned in the Tokyo City Guide).
1. Starbucks Reserve Nakameguro (The 2nd Biggest Starbucks in the World!)
Helmed as the Disney World for coffee lovers (can confirm!), this four story Starbuck's wonderland is a must-see. It's located along the Meguro River, which makes for beautiful scenery when sitting on one of the many terraces they offer. Since the Meguro River is famous for being one of the best spots for viewing sakura (think many trees being lined up along the river laced with lanterns and dreamy petals floating below in the water), there's 2100 beautiful copper versions of them featured amongst the 17-meter-tall mammoth roaster. The 1200sqm building was designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, and features lighting and furniture made in Tendo City, Yamagata. You'll find a café, shop, roasting factory, bakery, Teavana tea room, Arriviamo cocktail bar, workshop space, and of course many options for instagram photos!
*must try: Whiskey Barrel aged cold brew (it's aged in oak barrels resulting in a slightly sweet, chocolatey taste with a light aura of oak). Or if you're into martinis, the espresso martini is an excellent choice (it's made with chocolate from the nearby Green Bean to Bar chocolatier). OR OR if you don't like coffee, the Teavana Cream Soda Matcha (cream soda made with matcha from Kyoto, mixed with sparkling water and exclusively-made ice cream). There's something for everyone here!
Starbucks Reserve Nakameguro. 2-19-23 Aobadai, Meguro (7am-11pm -except Feb 28-Mar 3, 9 & 10, 9am-11pm)
2. Samon Oden
After visiting the massive Starbucks we decided to walk around the area and stumbled upon a traditional-looking shop with simmering broth, great smells, and a long line. One of my favourite Japanese foods (prob my favourite in winter), oden, is being served here. The full-bodied homemade broth (chicken and vegetable stock) is delicious, the ingredients are super fresh, and the selection of dipping sauces is superb. The restaurant is half outdoors but they give you blankets at the table making the setting super cozy. I highly recommend the daikon (radish) as it soaks up their incredible broth resulting in slightly sweet, slightly bitter, slightly salty, soft mouthfuls of perfection. I also really loved the chicken meatballs.
Samon. 3-5-31 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (4pm-3am daily).
3. Mr. Farmer
My friend Alexa introduced this café to me and I went back a couple of times after. The ingredients are fresh, vegan-friendly, and sourced directly from local neighbouring farms in Setagaya. The menu is super healthy with lots of veggies, homemade dressings, and organic wines. I also love how they have this water bar at the front featuring giant jars of water infused with different fruits, vegetables, and herbs for you to grab whenever you want.
Mr. Farmer. 4-5-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (9am-8pm daily).
Tucked away in the incredible neighbourhood from my vintage dreams, Shimokitazawa, this best kept secret is both affordable and delicious. There's several tables available, but the best seats are around the counter where you can watch the chefs in action. The menu is described as 'Classic Japanese Izakaya items with a twist' and although small, offers a wide variety of choices (sashimi, stews, oden, grilled meats). Every single dish we tried was glorious (we had 8 things), but if I had to choose I'd recommend the flaming mackerel and the dry-aged chicken. The food mixed with the lively, friendly, authentic atmosphere makes for a great dinner!
Shirubee. Pinecrest Kitazawa 1F, 2-18-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo (5.30pm-12midnight daily). *Reservation is advised, especially on weekends.
Traditional, tasty, and calming, Soso is the ideal afternoon café. Here you can grill up your own dango over a charcoal fire and top it off with your sauce of choice (mitarashi, sesame, peanuts, etc). They also have many other delectable Japanese desserts available, as well as teas. It's located in Daikanyama, which is one of my favourite areas to explore (nice shops, cafés, and a giant bookstore).
Soso. Daikanyama First Bldg 1F, 1-34-28 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (11.30am-5pm, 6pm-12midnight daily).
6. Kashiyama Daikanyama Café
I had the best tomato burrata cheese salad of my life here. The outer part of the cheese was slightly crisp, middle part fluffy, and inside creamy...exactly how it should be. On the side were the most perfectly plump, slightly sweet, tomatoes and strawberries, which went together impeccably. YOU NEED TO TRY IT. Another thing you need got try is their cheesecake. It comes warm and fluffy with a marmalade on the side and it is absolutely delectable. After lunch take a stroll around the building because it's remarkable. The exterior and interior design are exquisite, the fashion and accessories shop is curated wonderfully, and there's also a beautiful restaurant and bar at the top. 10/10 all round.
Kashiyama Daikanyama. 14-18 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo (11am-8pm)
7. Ken's Café
This year I had the opportunity to experience Valentine's Day in Japan and made a whole chocolate adventure out of it. Out of all of the places and chocolate I tried, this was my absolute favourite. Price (¥3,000), quality, flavour..it checks all of the boxes. Ken's Café is a favourite amongst locals (it was proven with with the amount of women I saw picking up gifts for Valentine's Day), and only offers 1 item. They've made it so perfect that it's all they need. This chocolate cake is made with locally sourced premium eggs, unsalted butter, cocoa beans, and sugar (no flour). Each ingredient is at the highest quality, for example, the eggs used are Mukashi no Aji eggs, which have a sweet natural taste similar to how eggs tasted in the past (they say it's because they are free-range eggs from local farms where chickens are allowed to roam around). It can be served cold to taste like a ganache, room temperature for a smooth moist decadent experience, or warm which makes it similar to a chocolate lava cake. All 3 textures are great. This cake won many awards including Japan's Sweets Award in 2016, and was selected by Tabelog as the No 1 chocolate store in all of Japan for 6 years in a row. The appearance is unassuming but once you bite into it, you'll understand!
Ken's Café. 1-23-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo (Mon-Fri 10am-7pm).
See my chocolate adventure's in Tokyo here:
8. Cafe De L'Ambre
At a time when tea was abundant and coffee was basically non-existent, Café De L'Ambre was opened. It was actually the very first specialty coffee shop in Japan (since 1948) and is still owned by the original family to this day. They've kept the interior the exact same and upon entering, you'll be blasted to the past. They offer coffee made with beans aged up to 40 years, iced coffee made with coffee ice cubes (the right way so it's not watered down), and coffee mixed with alcohol options (cognac and whiskey). I recommend sitting at the counter as the staff are really friendly and can explain their beans and process to you.
Café De L'Ambre. 8 Chome-10-15 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo (Mon,Weds-Sat: 12-10pm, Sun & holidays: 12-7pm, Closed Tues).
*note: smoking is still allowed in this café, so if this is something that bothers you then cross this one off your list.
9. Koffee Mameya
If you're a coffee lover, don't miss this place. In the back roads of Omotesando you'll notice a black box with a line-up of people. There's no sign, no indication whatsoever of what it is, which makes you feel like you're in on a exclusive secret. After waiting for 45 minutes I was greeted by the friendly staff whom educated me on the beans and asked me some questions to figure out which ones I should try. He told me that the reason they don't have a coffee sign out front is because they are a beans shop, not a café. They'll tell you all about where their coffee came from and the different tastes, from there you'll choose some to try (drip black coffee only, no lattes or anything else here), and if you like it you can choose to purchase a bag of those beans (whole or they can grind them for you). The whole experience including the decor, smell, taste, and the the intelligent warm staff makes you feel very special and welcomed. I left feeling like a coffee connoisseur.
Coffee Mameya. 4-15-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (10am-6pm daily).
10. We Are The Farm
Just as the name describes, eating here is basically like eating right at the source the food is harvested. We Are The Farm uses fresh local ingredients from a farm in Sakura City, Chiba to create their healthy, organic, sustainable menu. Their seasonal vegetables are picked fresh in the morning then sent to the restaurant for you to consume in the evening. They offer all-you-can-drink set menus including organic cocktails/beer (they have kale beer) and non-alcoholic detox juices, and have locations all over Tokyo. I loved the kale Caesar salad and the vegetable charcuterie board served with raw and cooked veggies and dips (bagna cauda, miso, and salt).
We Are The Farm. 2 Chome−17−69, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo (11:30-2pm, 6pm-12am).
Which places do you want to try? If you've been to any let me know your thoughts!