Fresco feasting at Off Fifth
The rainy season is
over and here comes the sun. If you can stand the heat of Tokyo's sticky summer (or if you
can't stand the arctic confines of most air-conditioned eateries), the urban jungle
conceals numerous places around town to eat al fresco. From street-side cafes to rooftop
gardens and hidden terraces, the opportunities to refuel whilst soaking up some rays or
chilling in the evening cool are everywhere - but as ever in this city, you really have to
know where to go. Of course, once you do, there are really too many to count. Whether
you're looking for the sedate calm of Connection, hidden away in the depths of Minami
Aoyama, or the bustling social madness of Aux Bacchanales, Sam Johnson
offers a few hideaways and some regular favorites where you can feast al fresco or sip
your sun-downers soto de this summer.
A quiet greenery-covered terrace (if you can find it) in an art/antique/gallery complex in
Minami Aoyama, serving drinks and a small food menu of the soup or cake variety during the
day with a larger menu at night. The food range is disappointing but the ivy-clad
buildings make this spot almost unique. Probably best for some lengthy sun-downers rather
than a spot to stop for a full meal.
Price:Y-YY. Hours: 11:30am-midnight. Tel: 03-3479-3765. Address: 4-8-21 Minami Aoyama,
Minato-ku. From Aoyama-dori at Gaienmae take the street to the right of the Sumitomo Bank.
Keep walking until JASMAC and turn left.
The Omotesando branch, next to Anniversaire, has street-side McParisian seating and at the
Oval Plaza B1 branch, on Aoyama Dori, you can munch your nuggets next to waterfalls. And
you have to admit, those shakes are damned fine.
Price:Y. Hours: 7am-10pm. Tel/Address: Get Real.
Don't plan to go to Palaka if you are in a hurry - you will be late. A bar so relaxed you
can't fail to leave your office tension behind you on its large deck, under the impressive
palm tree. Good value lunch sets under JY1000 of main course (e.g. chicken coconut curry,
chili dog), drink and a very kawaii sized dessert. Larger evening menu includes a Hawaiian
Price:Y. Hours: 11am-11:30 Mon-Fri, 10am-9:30pm Sat-Sun. Tel: 03-3423-2288. Address:
3-42-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.
Off Gaien Nishi Dori, opposite the Watarium Museum.
Part of the Kihachi chain, this up-market Italian has a beautiful, large terrace on the
edge of the Meiji Outer Gardens, an open kitchen and stylish decor. Extensive menu of high
quality pasta and pizzas and other less standard Italian dishes around the JY2000 mark, as
well as lunch sets from JY1800 - JY5000.
Price:YYY. Hours: 11:30am-9:30pm daily. Tel: 03-3478-2200. Address: 2-1-19 Kita Aoyama.
On the tree-lined avenue running from Aoyama Dori into the Meiji Jingu Outer Gardens.
Cheerful restaurant featuring California-style cuisine in a prime location behind UN
University (get it?) with a wine list that won't break the bank. The food is much better
in the evenings, though it's hard to beat an afternoon on the patio soaking up the sun -
especially when they're doing one of their wine promotions.
Price:Y-YY. Hours: 11:30am-11pm daily. Tel: 03-5469-0275. Address: 5-53-67 Jingumae.
Behind the UN University.
This friendly-trendy restaurant complex has more than its fair share of open-air eateries.
1F Las Chicas has a large terrace, all-day food, cakes and drinks. 2F
sometimes members' restaurant Tokyo Salon is usually accessible to Joe
Public and has a new Japanese lunch menu which can be taken on the beautiful balcony. 3F Nude
is an ultra-stylish semi-al fresco place, with an excellent organic food menu. Or if you
can't be without the aircon, there are five new iMacs to use inside.
Price:Y-YYY Hours: Las Chicas 11am-11pm, Tokyo Salon 12pm-12am, Nude 12pm-late. Tel:
03-3407-5028. Address: 5-47-6 Jingumae. From Omotesando stn, walk down Aoyama Dori towards
Shibuya and turn right between Muji and Citibank.
The ultimate see-and-be-seen spot in all Tokyo. With outdoor seating spilling out onto the
street along one of the busiest parts of Meiji Dori, tasty food (omelets, steak frites,
salads) and Kronenbourg all day long, what more can you ask for? Speedy service perhaps -
but hey, you can't have everything.
Price:Y-YY. Hours: 10am-10pm (last order) Mon-Sat, 10am-9pm Sun. Tel: 03-3582-2225
Address: Jingumae, where Takeshita Dori hits Meiji Dori. Impossible to miss.
Tip-top "fusion" restaurant with generous servings, super staff, a rotating menu
to die for. Thai Caesar salad, duck and sweet potato curry and miso-marinated salmon are
some of the dishes that can be eaten on the open-fronted veranda or the second floor
balcony. The lunch options are particularly good value.
Price:Y-YY Hours: 11am-11pm daily. Tel: 03-5485-2262. Address: 6-3-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.
Turn off Omotesando next to Swatch.
Very large Italian restaurant with an airy terrace under a huge canopy, giving it a
semi-fresco feel - fresh but shady. Yet another Italian restaurant with yet another pretty
good menu, but for all the decent food (lunch sets from JY1600-JY3000, dinner sets
JY4000-JY6000), smiley waitresses and the mother of all canopies, this place needs a
serious vibe injection. Nevertheless, a nice place to refuel over an espresso.
Price:YYY. Hours: 11:30am-9:30pm daily. Tel: 03-5413-2733. Address: 1-10-9 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku. Turn off Takeshita Dori opposite 7-Eleven and walk up the slope.
Behind Beam, Gab is a hip Shibuya cafe - young staff and modern decor, including a couple
of comfy sofas, although there are only three tables on the terrace. The menu is
extensive, the food well presented and tasty and the coffee excellent, although the beer
Price:Y-YY. Hours: 10am-2pm Mon-Thu, 10am-4am Fri-Sat, 10am-midnight Sun. Tel:
03-3770-1345. Address: 13-2 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku. Opposite Nature Trail.
On 9F of the Marui City depaato, the Garden Caf' roof. Wooden deck and potted plants make
this a little oasis above the Shibuya mayhem, but the food can often be disappointing.
Price:Y. Hours: 11am-8pm daily. Tel: 03-3464-0101. Address: 1-21-3 Marui City 9F, Jinnan.
Where Koen Dori meets Tower Records Dori.
Opposite Gab, Nature Trail has a large railed-in patio with wooden garden furniture where
you are sheltered from the Shibuya madness, yet can still feel the urban vibe. The
extensive Italian menu and coffee are nothing to write home about, and the railings make
it a little unfriendly, but it is a good, airy spot nonetheless, with space unparalleled
Price:Y-YY. Hours: 11am-11pm daily. Tel: 03-3462-7715. Address: 34-1 Udagawa-cho,
Shibuya-ku. From Seibu department store, walk up Inokashira Dori and fork left at the
EBISU and DAIKANYAMA
The "big orange ball" restaurant next to Ebisu Garden Place has an excellent
urban feeling to its bustling terrace, superb olives, friendly staff and a large, eclectic
"fusion" menu. Top notch.
Price:YY. Hours: 5:30pm-2am Mon-Thu, 5:30pm-4am Fri-Sat and 5:30-11pm Sun and
holidays.Tel: 03-5724-6105. Address: 1-25-1 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku. Big orange ball at
the end of the Ebisu Skywalk, next to Garden Place.
Good Honest Grub
Excellent, friendly little eatery with small street-side terrace, run and owned by
Canadian chef Don Foley. Colorful decor and the closeness of the kitchen where Don cooks
up some seriously delicious food, with a reputation for freshness, make this a really fun
place. Excellent Caesar salads, pita sandwiches, daily specials, fresh juices and a
takeout menu too.
Price:Y-YY Hours: 11am-11pm Sun-Wed, 10:30am-2am Thu-Sat. Tel: 03-3710-0400. Address:
1-11-11 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku.
ROPPONGI and HIROO
The Terrace outside this excellenct Danish restaurant is a little hide-away of
Scandinavian calm. The food is superb and the terrace is open all day for drinks and
snacks. Menu includes sauteed wild mushroom salad, vegetable and bacon soup, roast
chicken, meat and fish platter and garlic mushroom toast. Fine wines and mouth-watering
Price:YY-YYY Hours: 11:30am-11:30pm daily. Tel: 03-5411-0253. Address: 7-3-22 Roppongi.
Turn west off Gaien Higashi Dori opposite the Defense Agency, next to the Idemitsu Gas
Station and right after the Indian Ganga restaurant.
Main attraction here is the exquisite Tuscan dishes (seafood ravioli in broccoli sauce
JY1800, coconut flavored pancetta with caramel sauce JY900), and the night view of Tokyo
Tower soaring overhead. Menu changes four times a year according to the season.
Price:YY-YYY. Hours: 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30-10:30pm Mon-Sat. Tel: 03-3505-6860. Address:
1-8-7 Higashi Azabu, Heiwado Bldg. B1, Minato-ku.
The swanky bar above the Hong Kong Garden restaurant is a hangout for middle-aged Japanese
stars and has a beautiful, stylish balcony where you can order excellent Chinese food from
the neighboring Azabu-Geihinrou restaurant (scallop dumplings, sauteed crab, Hong Kong
style udon, etc.) whilst sipping Tsingdao. Not over-priced, considering.
Price:YY-YYY. Hours: 5:30pm-11:30pm daily. Tel: 03-5467-8860. Address: 4-5-2 Nishi Azabu,
Minato-ku. Halfway between Hiroo stn and Nishi Azabu crossing.
Off 5th Avenue
Stylish American-style cafe has an airy terrace (somewhat reminiscent of a parking lot)
and an adventurous menu, a mixture of Western and Japanese cuisine (beef tongue, walnuts
and grated daikon; sauteed foie gras and Japanese yam with fig sauce). Set menus
JY1500-JY2800. Lunch menus JY1000-JY2500.
Price:Y-YYY. Hours: 11:30am-10pm daily. Tel: 03-3280-5658. Address: 5-4-5 Minami Azabu,
Minato-ku. At the top of the hill past the National Azabu Supermarket from Hiroo stn.
This is a popular little place with a good food menu, friendly staff, and an outside deck
open until 7pm (if you can handle the noise from the JR tracks. Good Italian fare at
Price:YY. Hours: 10:30am-10:30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-10:30pm Sat-Sun. Tel: 03-3373-6311.
Address: 2-2-2 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku. Shinjuku Southern Terrace, south of Starbucks.
The thirteenth floor of the Takashimaya Department Store is home to several restaurants
with outdoor seating areas. Considering the potential views from this location they are a
disappointing bunch. The best appears to be Restaurant Fresco, which
serves standard Italian fare at good prices. The other places seem to be "mustard,
corn, and fish bits pizza" places or similarly bastardized steak restaurants. The
best bet would be to bring your own bento and picnic to the twelfth floor terrace, which
is generally nicer than the floor above.
Price:Y-YY. Hours: 11am-10pm daily. Tel: 03-5361-3386. Address: Takashimaya Department
Store 13F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku.
In a prime location overlooking Inokashira Park, Primi Baci ("first kiss") is a
beautiful restaurant serving equally well presented and exquisite Italian fare. Friendly,
attentive staff and a good wine selection make this one of Tokyo's not-to-be-missed gems.
Price:YY-YYY. Hours: 11:30am-10pm daily. Tel: 0422-72-8202. Address: 1-21-1 Kichijoji
Minamicho, Inokashira Parkside Bldg 2F, Musashino-shi.
A lovely, spacious interior leads to a charming, tree-shaded patio. The food is good no
matter the location. Well-executed and creative California cuisine with a decent selection
of wines and - hallelujah! - oysters imported from New Zealand served all year Ôround.
Price:YY. Hours: 10:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-10pm. Tel: 03-3219-0633. Address: 1-7-4
Docksiders dining at T.Y. Harbor
First, there is the location: on the waterfront down in Shinagawa, overlooking the cruise
boats. Good on any day, but when the sun comes out the whole place comes alive. Second,
there's the food: good pizza/pasta fare to fill you up. Third, there's the micro-brewery,
with a great selection of home-brews as well as regularly changing experiments from the
brewer. Try the small four ale taster sets to get your full T.Y. experience.
Price:YY. Hours: 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm. Weekend brunch, 11:30am-5:30pm. Tel:
03-5479-4555. Address: Bond St., 22-1-3 Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku.