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.
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.
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.
Catch up for a
coffee and the latest from Honda at Honda Welcome Plaza
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
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.
1969 Toyopet Crown and 1966 Honda
S800 outside Cafe Lelouch at History Garage
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.
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
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.