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CARS & BIKES

Interested in cars, bikes and food? Marish Mackowiak samples Tokyo eateries where you can drink and dine cheaply while indulging automotive appetites.

No longer do you have to choose between food and a bit of casual tire-kicking. With companies anxious to attract customers and promote their motoring goods, it needn't cost much either.

One of the biggest car attractions in Tokyo is Toyota's Mega Web in Odaiba (www.megaweb.gr.jp), with around 140 current Toyotas, simulation rides and even the chance to go for a test drive. When it's time to eat, there's the cafeteria-like Pit Café on the second floor (small beers are only JY350), but History Garage, at the far end of the nearby Venus Fort shopping mall is a better choice. Take an "E-com" electric car to Route 66-style dining at Bonnie's Bar, next to a 1950s American motel facade. Check out a selection of classics while having a drink at the bar or enjoying a hot dog (JY180-JY450), pasta (JY680) or a variety of pretzels (JY200). Don't miss the excellent enthusiast-quality shop Grease.

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Raccolto offers an Italian gourmet experience among the cream of Toyota's prestige crop at Amlux

Around the other side of History Garage is Café de Bebe, actually an old VW van, from where you can watch nostalgic film clips about cars on the big screen while munching on a pizza (JY500) or sipping one of their Exotic Coffees. Hop into a piece of cream-covered "funnel cake," topped off with chocolate, blueberry, cinnamon or cocoa powder (JY380). Downstairs at Restore Pit you can see actual restorations in progress while lunching at the adjacent Café Lelouch. Their current special is "Tokyo Walker steak set," following a recent write up, from JY1380. Alternatively, try the 17cm hamburger steak (JY980). Wash it down with local beer (JY380), or go for the imported taste of Bass at a much cheaper price than at all those imitation British pubs (JY450-JY650).

History of oil
The Yurikamome line's Aomi station is the most convenient to Mega Web. However, getting off at the closer Odaiba-Kaihinkoen station will deposit you just outside Shell Museum (Tel: 03-3599-0577), built to celebrate the company's centenary in Japan. From there it's still only a short walk to Mega Web. Shell Museum's well-stocked shop is almost bigger than the exhibition space, which is dominated by a red Ferrari F-1 racer. The café offers reasonably priced meals and drinks away from weekend crowds. A beer (JY400) and a pasta dish or BLT sandwich will still leave plenty of change from JY1000.

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Amlux's vertigo-inducing atrium

Before Mega Web was ever conceived, another Toyota showpiece, Amlux (Tel: 03-5391-5900; www.toyota.co.jp/Amlux), near Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, stood supreme as the symbol of Japan's automotive strength. The basement café serves a selection of pasta and curry favorites at Bar Spark. Head upmarket to the fourth floor where Raccolto offers an Italian gourmet experience among the cream of Toyota's prestige crop. The best deal here is the popular all-you-can-eat "Viking" (buffet) lunch, available between 11am-2pm for only JY950. The bargain selection includes salads, meat and fish dishes, and even ice cream.

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Catch up for a coffee and the latest from Honda at Honda Welcome Plaza

Nick Ashley
Catch up with the latest from Honda at their Welcome Plaza (Tel: 03-3423-4118; www.honda.co.jp), near exit 1 of the Ginza/Hanzomon lines' Aoyama Itchome stn. Coffee costs JY250-350 in a spacious environment with plenty of tables. Browse in the souvenir shop and check out the range of display vehicles.

If you're among the trendsetters who frequent the upscale area southwest of the Yamanote line, drop into Nick Ashley, a new café-cum-boutique for motorbike fashion freaks. Their motto is "better to be a lion for a day than a sheep for a lifetime." Sit down for a coffee or tea (JY400) while perusing a range of bike magazines or ponder the selection of "performance clothes" and accessories. Nostalgic motorcycling photographs line the walls, while a pin-board features Polaroids of customers with their two-wheeled friends. As well as selling an assortment of Nick Ashley souvenirs, the store is also an agent for Wenger Swiss army knives and watches. Nick Ashley is on Kannana dori between the Toyoko line's Gakugeidaigaku and Toritsudaigaku stns. Check their website (www.nickashley.ne.jp) for a map. If you turn into nearby Meguro dori and head further into Tokyo, the other Nick Ashley store is near the Mita/Namboku line's Shiroganedai stn, just behind the Jomo service station.

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1969 Toyopet Crown and 1966 Honda S800 outside Cafe Lelouch at History Garage

Hotrod diner
Those venturing out further towards Kanagawa should visit one of the most unique combinations of food and automotive culture at Mooneyes in Honmoku (www.mooneyes.co.jp). Built around the cult of auto accessories brand Moon, this place is a shrine to nostalgic American hotrod culture. An amazing array of go-faster accessories is available, including a wall full of custom steering wheels. For automotive history buffs, there's a large collection of books and magazines about hotrods, custom cars and general American "road culture" from the postwar era.

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Hot-rod heaven - Mooneyes Area 1 and Moon Cafe

Moon Café, on the first floor, is similarly caught in a time warp of postwar American diner culture, with modernistic reverse-sloping windows, feature stonework, bright yellow vinyl seats and more retro chrome than an old Cadillac. Period rock favorites encourage the feeling of killing time in another age. A typical range of diner fare includes burgers, fries, hot dogs, simple Mexican dishes and even something called "sweet soul teriyaki." A BLTC (bacon, lettuce, toast, cheese) lunch set costs JY800. Finish it off with a cream soda (JY650), parfait (JY900), or one of the rather expensive shakes (JY900-JY950). A range of American and Mexican beers cost JY600-JY700. Moon Café is open Tue-Sun. Wed night is "Cruise night," when local car fanatics gather en masse to share their obsession.

As if that's not enough, even the neighboring Toyota dealer, Carelia, has a café to facilitate that important purchase decision. A Japanese-style lunch set there will set you back JY850, with a range of herbal and flavored teas for JY500. Go to Honmoku by using the #8 bus from Yokohama or Sakuragicho stns. Get off just before Honmoku Mycal complex.

It's all a great opportunity for motoring buffs and foodies alike. Conventional café culture will never be the same again.

CARS & BIKES:
399: Autophile
Tokyo's 35th Motor show
397: Roar of the Kannon

Tokyo's biggest bikes

395: The Comfort Zone
Nissanfs latest Skyline.
393: Luxury for less
Second-hand luxury cars
389: Having it both ways
Toyota’s new Estima
387: The best of British
Triumph’s hot new 600cc sports bike
385: Fast family fun 
Subaru's latest edition legacy
383: Power rockets
Find cheap, small transport for Tokyo
381: Practically perfect
Porsche's new Turbo
379: A bug's life
Check out the Type 1 Beetle
377: Puttin' on the Ritz
Fancy cars for over JY 10 million
376: Prime time
Nissan's futuristic Primera
375: All revved up
Ducati's CEO Carlo Di Biagio
374: Retro rocket
BMW's sensational Z-8
373: Sales drive
Get a car that's free forever!
372: How Swede it is
Volvo's new S60 sports sedan
371: Moving on up
The new Honda Civic
370: Two-wheeled oddities
The 28th Tokyo Motorcycle Show
369: Scooting along
Piaggio's Vespa Vintage range
368: Sportslander
Land Rover's new release
367: Snatch
Park your bike safely
366: Lending a helping hand
Developments in "barrier-free" driving
365: Get down
A 'lo-lo' show in Tokyo
364: A Runx for your money
Toyota's Runx
363: It's a gas
Alternative gas power
362: Power lunch
Auto-oriented eats
361: Smart attack
DaimlerChrysler's Smart Coupe
360: SLK320
Covertible for couples with cash
359: New year classics
Classic cars from the past
358: On your bike
Chic cycling accessories
357: Custom crazy
The Tokyo Auto Salon 2001
356: A TRIBUTE to Mazda fans
Mazda's TRIBUTE link
355: Biking the open roads of Izu
Riding your hog in Izu
354: Blast from the past
The low-down on the last of the Mini's
352/3: White Christmas
How about a Porsche 911?
351: History in the hills
The Honda Collection Hall
350: Rest insured
Protect yourself and your car

ISSUES 500+
ISSUES 499-
ISSUES 449-
ISSUES 399-

ISSUES 349-
ISSUES 299-