It’s no secret that Japan has finally reopened its borders. If you are visiting Tokyo anytime soon, it may be overwhelming to plan out where to go and where to eat. These spots can help shape your itinerary for the day while you explore the megalopolis. These places possess creative food, al fresco areas, and even a sense of history.
If you find yourself exploring Ueno Park and its museums, Everyones Cafe is an easy choice. Located across from Starbucks in the center of the park, it offers a great alternative for a cup of coffee and a meal with an attractive al fresco terrace area—with heaters for the colder months. They serve Western breakfast food in the morning, from towering stacks of fluffy pancakes, cheesecakes, and parfaits loaded with fruit. Their lunch menu is a lot more extensive with Yawaraton Pork (known for its soft meat) served with side dishes of seasonal ingredients, pastas, and Japanese curry rice bowls.
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A pleasant walk from Ueno Park is this 110-year-old stone warehouse renovated and transformed by Kengo Kuma into an udon restaurant. Famous for its kamaage udon (a dish eaten by dipping noodles into a dashi stock), the restaurant held the Michelin Bib Gourmand title for three years. Located in Nezu, a stone’s throw away from Yanaka Ginza, you can plan a whole day’s itinerary around this area.
Nestled in the quaint neighborhood of Nakameguro is Seirinkan. Momofuku’s David Chang, in his show “Ugly Delicious,” popularly proclaimed the pizza here as “the best in the world.” The restaurant is clad in dark metal and The Beatles’ memorabilia. They serve only two pizza flavors: margherita (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) and marinara (tomato, garlic, and oregano). In their simplicity, you are able to appreciate the quality of the ingredients and the well-made crust. They also serve pastas and other antipasto.
Half Saints Tokyo
Celebrated Quezon City restaurant Half Saints recently opened its doors in Tokyo’s Bunkyo area. It’s a small space designed by Arts Serrano of onezero Design Co that blends in the vernacular of Tokyo shophouses. At the moment, Half Saints Tokyo serves a wide range of colorful puff pastry pizzas with intriguing flavors (such as pimento sauce topped with jamón serrano, persimmon, and oregano, and one that has aged miso (fermented for two years) on clouds of Hokkaido cream cheese. They also serve localized versions of Manila bestsellers, including the Arigatokyo (choux au craquelin filled with coconut cream custard and whipped cream finished with roasted mix nuts and powdered sugar). This is a 10-minute train ride to Kagaruzaka where you can get lost in the labyrinthine streets of what is known as Tokyo’s French Quarter.
If you’re looking for something more experiential, Funasei takes you on a dinner cruise aboard a traditional Japanese ship called yakatabune. You board in Shinagawa and cruise through Odaiba and up north to the Sumida River. Inside the boat, you sit on tatami mats to enjoy a seated nine-course meal that includes sashimi, tempura, and overflowing drinks. You will also get the chance to go up the deck to get a better view of the sights such as the Tokyo SkyTree and the Rainbow Bridge.
Royal Garden Cafe and Tavern
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If you’re going to visit TeamLab Planets in the Toyosu area, you’ll be looking for a place to eat. You can walk to Urban Dock Lalaport Toyosu and pop in at Royal Garden Cafe and Tavern. A restaurant that prides itself on supporting the local community and using secondhand materials to lessen its carbon footprint, Royal Garden Cafe and Tavern is a casual place to enjoy perfectly executed Western food if you’ve reached your quota of Japanese fare.
Blue Bottle Coffee Minato Mirai
Located in nearby Yokohama, this Blue Bottle Coffee outpost is a nice start to a day trip in Japan’s second biggest city. Designed by Keiji Ashizawa Design and Norm Architects, the store uses natural materials, with its furniture spilling out onto the open space in front. It’s also a walkable distance away from the relatively new Yokohama Air Cabin. If you’re staying within Tokyo, Blue Bottle Coffee also has a new location in Shibuya, which is relatively close to Miyashita Park.