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Open-air fare


Hanezawa Beer Garden
Photos by Stuart Braun

They might not be easy to find, but alfresco dining spots abound throughout the cramped Tokyo cityscape. Stuart Braun eats out.

Like to dine out? Like to see your cutlery sparkle in the sun, to listen to the birds - or is that the cars - while contemplating the menu? Afraid, however, that outdoor eating here is a misnomer, an apparition that will never escape the concrete encased reality of life in the ・er metropolis? There is hope. Alfresco - from the Italian "in the fresh" - dining is no longer an arcane ritual reserved for the eat elite. Tokyo has a feast of options for noshing naturel.

HARAJUKU/OMOTESANDO

Trattoria Venire Venire!
Situated on the roof of Harajuku' recently opened YM Square, Venire Venire's vast balcony offers a semi-breathtaking view of the hazy Tokyo skyline. One of the larger outdoor terraces in town, the alfresco expanse outshines the standard Italian menu. With lunch sets reasonably priced at around JY100 or pizza, salad and coffee/tea an afternoon meal offers the best opportunity to enjoy the terrace while breaking from the Harajuku shopping hubbub.
Top Floor YM Square, 4-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Nearest stn: JR Harajuku or Chiyoda line Meiji-Jingumae stn. Tel: 03-5775-5333. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-11:30pm; Sun 11:30am-10:30pm; Happy Hour 5:30-7pm (weekdays only).

Nolita Street Apartment

Nolita Street Apartment
Included in this designer-savvy bar/caf・fashion library located in the back lanes off Takeshita Dori is a quaint and quiet outdoor terrace. Unlike the upstairs fusion restaurant (301), outdoor diners at the first-floor Caf・Nolita are limited to a basic caf・menu with a good selection of desserts, drinks and sandwiches that can be enjoyed while reading the design books and magazines that line the shelves of the interior. While the Eames-esque furniture and objets d'art might be cutting-edge, the prices aren't quite "out there," making Nolita a worthy alfresco adventure.
1-15-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (walk down Takeshita Dori from Harajuku stn, turn right at the 7-11 and walk to the end of the street). Tel: 03-5772-2683. Open daily 11:30am-8pm.

Bakery Cafe 632

Bakery Caf・632
Located two minutes from Harajuku's inclement Omotesando Dori/Meiji Dori intersection, Bakery Caf・632 offers welcome respite from the rampaging teenyboppers. The open, L-shaped dining area on two floors faces onto a central garden courtyard, giving diners a decadent sense of space. Primarily a bakery, the caf・offers a wide selection of breads and cakes baked daily on the premises. The lunch set and a la carte menu items, featuring a changing selection of pastas, salads, curries and seafood, are good value (JY600-JY1000), but the freshly prepared cakes and desserts are a must, with standouts including sesame pudding (JY450), gateau chocolat (JY420) and the cr鑪e brl馥 (JY450).
6-32-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3498-0632. Open Mon-Sat 8am-12am; Sun 8am-10pm.

Anniversaire Cafe

Anniversaire
One of the numerous Euro-style caf駸 populating Omotesando Dori, Anniversaire-the ground floor caf・of the store and gallery of the same name-occupies the plum position on the strip. With seating spread out over the sidewalk and a courtyard adjoining the caf・restaurant, this is the perfect spot to ogle the high fashion set. The coffee is not cheap (JY600-JY800), but the cakes and deserts are exquisite, and if you have something to celebrate try one of the comprehensive range of Pieper Heidsieck champagnes included on the drinks list.
3-5-30 Kita-Aoyama, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 5411-5988. Nearest stn: Omotesando. Open Sun-Thu 10am-11:30pm, Fri-Sat and holidays 10am-midnight.

AOYAMA

Caf・de Fleur
Only three minutes from Omotesando stn, the open terrace of this caf・restaurant is a veritable oasis, with its running water and profusion of palms. For dinner, the mid-priced and comprehensive a la carte menu regularly includes a pasta special for JY2300, while the special dinner, including dessert and a glass of wine, goes for JY5500. Good wine list.
JBP Oval Bldg B1F, 5-52-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Nearest stn: Omotesando. Tel: 03-3486-0287. Open Sun-Thu 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11:30pm, lunch 11:30am-2pm, closed holidays.

Cafe Genois

Caf・de G駭oise
Situated in Aoyama's faux Mediterranean La Pla軻 fashion/dining complex, Caf・de G駭oise offers both a spacious and more authentic alfresco encounter. With the chairs facing the piazza, the caf・restaurant offers a voyeuristic sidewalk cafe ambience. But while there might not be a lot of passing traffic, the French cakes and deserts - baked on the premises - combined with a good range of coffees and ice cream, make for a tr駸 continental caf・experience.
La Place Minami Aoyama, 3-13-23 Minami Aoyama, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3401-1193. Nearest stn: Omotesando. Open daily 11am-11pm.

Caf・8
Enjoy one of Tokyo's best vegetarian menus on the wood terrace with an herb garden and a view over the Nezu Art Museum. A recent entry into Tokyo's exiguous though slowly expanding all-vego restaurant circuit, Caf・8 is well worth the ten-minute walk from Omotesando station for those who like their food organic but tasty. If you can secure a table on the sunny verandah, Caf・8 promises a healthy and invigorating lunch or dinner. The current menu includes carrot and brown rice cold soup w/salad and natural bread (JY900), yuba and nuts curry w/salad (JY1000), a chili beans stew set w/brown rice (JY1000) and fermented soybeans donburi (JY900).
34-27-15 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5464-3207. Open Tue-Sun, closed Wed. Lunch 11am-3pm, caf・3-6pm, dinner 6-9:30pm, bar, weekdays 10pm-1am, weekends 10pm-3am. See www.timeandstyle.com/cafe8   Menu in Japanese and English.

UN Caf・
Featuring an ample garden courtyard area, UN Caf・ next to the UN headquarters, offers a great escape from the frenzy of Aoyama Dori. Adjacent to the Aoyama Book Center, the caf・ provides book-browsers an opportunity to take in a coffee, cake or lunch set - tasty fusion dishes for between JY1200-JY1300 - while perusing their latest purchase.
Cosmos Aoyama Garden Floor, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Closest stn: Omotesando. Tel: 03-5469-0275. Open daily 11:30am-10pm (last order).

SHIBUYA

Margaret Howell Caf・
This very quiet and spacious caf・adjoins the fashion/accessories store of the same name. The simple English menu, minimalist layout, but lovely atmosphere and great selection of magazines make it the perfect place to while away a few peaceful moments apart from the Shibuya madness. The outdoor area is set among numerous potted herbs and plants - also for sale - and the food, a rare find for those pining for some homely British fare, includes scones, toasted muffins with marmalade or marmite, and a "ploughman's lunch" of cheese, salad, chutney and bread (JY1000).
Park Avenue Jinnan 1F, 1-13-8 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku (straight up from Tower Records three blocks and turn left). Tel: 03-5359-3721. Open 11am-8pm, closed every third Wed.

Au Temps Jadis
What the small outdoor courtyard that fringes this art deco caf・restaurant lacks in space is made up for by the ambience. Set discreetly between NHK's headquarters and the immigration office in Shibuya, Au Temps Jadis is a busy and vibrant affair that sees a steady stream of people chatting over coffee, cr麪es and galette. The courtyard - centered around a water fountain - is both rustic and inviting, complementing the home-style selection of galettes - savory buckwheat pancakes - and dessert cr麪es, upon which this eatery has gained its favorable reputation. A set course for around JY2000 includes salad, galette, dessert and coffee or tea.
1-5-4 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Nearest stns: Shibuya, Harajuku. Tel: 3770-2457. Open Tue-Thu 11am-8pm, closed Wed.

Ca et la

ヌa et l・
Considering the dearth of alfresco dining around Shibuya, a casual meal on the terrace of this second floor cucina Italiana is a worthwhile option. A good selection of Italian wines - the house wine and beer go for a reasonable JY500 a glass - and a great Gnocchi di Patate Sugo di Agnello make this a must-do trip through the back lanes from central Shibuya.
2F Ido Bldg, 1-13-4 Jinnan Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3477-6995. Nearest stn: Shibuya. Open lunch 11:30am-2:30pm, dinner 5:30-11pm.

Time Cafe

Time Cafe
Adjoining the Beams fashion complex, this stylish caf・has a small covered outdoor area. The menu includes good coffee for around JY450, fresh juices including guava, BLTs, salads and dessert sets with choice of cake, French toast or waffles.
1F Beams Bldg, 1-14-7 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5458-4549. Nearest stn: Shibuya. Open daily 11am-9pm.

EBISU/ HIROO

Elio's
One of the numerous outdoor dining options at the commodious Ebisu Garden Palace, Elio's offers authentic Italian cuisine, good coffee, and a birds-eye view of the passers-by. And don't forget the gelato.
4-20-7 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3444-4816. Nearest stn: Ebisu. Open daily 11am-9:30pm.

Buco di Muro

Buco di Muro
Another addition to Ebisu Garden's Little Italy, Buco di Muro is tucked away from the main thoroughfare and offers a relatively intimate alfresco experience. The Illy coffee, while not cheap (JY800), is close to the best you'll find in town and goes down well sitting under the Tuscan - sorry Tokyo - sun. The a la carte menu brims with quality Italian dishes, including crispy Italian crust pizza, pasta and antipasto that should no doubt be complemented with the wide selection of Chianti and Italian vino featured on a comprehensive wine list.
Ebisu Garden Terrace, 4-20-2 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3473-9187. Nearest stn: Ebisu. Open daily 11:30am-9:30pm.

Good Honest Grub
Well-known gaijin-friendly eatery with small street-side terrace and wholesome menu. A weekend brunch of eggs Benedict, mimosas and carrot juice while catching the morning sun is highly recommended. Excellent Caesar salads, pita sandwiches, daily specials, fresh juices and a comprehensive takeout menu.
1-11-11 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3710-0400. Nearest stn: Ebisu. Open: 11am-11pm Sun-Wed, 10:30am-2am Thu-Sat.

Hanezawa Beer Garden
Technically a beer garden, Hanezawa is also famous for Mongolian barbecue, reasonable prices and a laid-back, festive atmosphere. Set in a secluded Meiji-era garden, this outdoor dining gem has long picnic tables for large parties.
3-12-15 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku. Access: Ebisu stn, east exit. Tel: 03-3400-2013. Open 5-10pm daily.

IIDABASHI

Canal Cafe

Canal Caf・
Located next to a boat dock on the outer moat of the Imperial Palace, Canal Cafe boasts an inviting outdoor terrace from which to take in the canal-side action. The caf・restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, offers a well-priced lunch menu of fusion food, specializing in fish and salad. In addition, a wharf-side counter bar offers drinks and light snacks throughout the day and evening. Renowned as one of Tokyo's premier date spots, Canal Caf・is a unique waterfront dining option in close proximity to the city center.
1-9 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3260-8068. Nearest stn: Iidabashi. Open 11am-10:30pm (last order), closed Mon.

TAKADANOBABA

Ben's Cafe
One of the pioneer outdoor caf駸 in Tokyo. Set in a spacious courtyard, Ben's not only specializes in a fine range of coffees - utilizing an exclusive blend of freshly roasted Brazilian and Guatemalan beans - but also provides a range of entertainment, from poetry readings to henna tattooing and live broadcasts from radio:on. For a light alfresco meal, check out the fresh-baked quiche served with a green salad, or enjoy a glass of wine along with a selection of sage Derby, brie, and Stilton cheeses.
1-29-21 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku. Tel/Fax: 03-3202-2445. Nearest stn: JR Takodanobaba. Open daily 11:30am-12:30pm.

ROPPONGI

Va Tout
Va Tout's eye-popping orange awning and patio offer an alfresco option in the heart Roppongi. Leading from the Afro-centric-with-a-French-twist d馗or of the interior, the outdoor area, in the words of the owner, is designed to exude "the sunset beyond the Atlantic Ocean, a breeze from the sea and the sound of African girls laughing." As the management and chef hail from the very French Aux Bacchanales in Harajuku, Va Tout surprisingly offers an ethnically diverse selection of daily lunch specials. The tajine (JY950), for instance-a hearty stew of chicken legs, chickpeas and olives-is a typical, and successful, French-gone-African culinary experiment, making this one of Tokyo's more adventurous outdoor dining locations.
Axis Bldg 1F, 5-17-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3568-2080. Nearest stn: Roppongi. Open Mon-Sat 11am-10:30pm, closed Sun.

Roti
This casual, chic "Modern American Brasserie" in Roppongi has a small adjoining courtyard, but with few alfresco options around Roppongi, size, in this case, doesn't matter. Roti's French-fusion menu includes a plethora of rotisserie, lava rock grill and house-smoked meats, seafood and vegetable dishes. According to Chef and Co-owner Ian Tozer, the French word "brasserie" literally means "brewery," and Roti carries an exclusive range of the Oregon-based Rogue ale - over 20 varieties of draft beers are rotated throughout the year - which will go down well under the Roppongi sun. Adding to the summer feel, Roti stocks over 50 California wines imported by San Sonoma.
1F Piramide Bldg, 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5785-3671. Nearest stn: Roppongi. Open 11am-11pm, brunch 11am-5pm, Sat, Sun and holidays.

T.Y. Harbor Brewery
This US West Coast-style microbrewery/restaurant is known not only for its tasty house brews and California Pacific Rim cuisine with an Italian touch but its waterfront terrace on the old Tokyo Bay in Shinagawa. The renovated warehouse-cum-brewpub boasts a wide selection of hand-crafted ales and pilsners. Try the ever-popular pale ale.
2-1-3 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku. Access: Tennoz Isle stn. Tel: 03-5479-4555. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30-10:30pm, Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun and holidays 11:30am-10pm.


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