Shimokitazawa Restaurants and Cafes
Shimokitazawa in south-western Tokyo is a hive of hip when it comes to Shimokitazawa shopping (second-hand chic and streetwear), music (punk and hardcore live performance clubs), and alternative theater. Shimokitazawa caters to its mainly young clientele with a huge range of cafes, bars and restaurants geared to the area's cosmopolitan tastes. The following is a selection of some of the best places to eat and drink in Shimokitazawa.
Shopping & Dining Map Shimokitazawa
Rojiura Curry Samurai Shimokitazawa - Hokkaido-style soup curry
Rojiura Curry Samurai Shimokitazawa is a small curry shop - in a city teeming with them - but with a big difference. The Hokkaido-style curry served here is a healthy, nutritious and great-tasting curry soup loaded with vegetables or any of the numerous choices available. Servings are generous. The customer selects type of soup (vegetarian available), ingredients and level of spiciness, from a menu that includes an English version. Features, too, limited-period curries of the month. Popular, so expect a queue. Expect to pay less than 2,000 yen. Spotlessly clean. Non-smoking. Cash only.
Hours: 11:30am-3:30pm (last orders 3pm), then 5:30pm-10:30pm (last orders 10pm)
3-31-14 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Tel. 03 5453 6494
Couscous Rougir - vegetarian-friendly bistro
Couscous Rougir is a small, atmospheric bistro that serves a varied menu ranging from meat to fish to vegetarian-friendly, but whose reputation rests mainly on its meat dishes. With just four counter seats and a couple of tables, Couscous Rougir is not spacious, but makes up for lack of space with a low-lit, cosmopolitan air. There is only a blackboard menu, with healthy, great-tasting dishes and some good wines. The lamb dishes are particularly recommended. Expect to spend about 4,500 yen. Non-smoking.
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-1:30pm (not every day, so telephone ahead); dinner 6pm-11pm. Closed Wednesday.
1F, Yuwa Heights Building, 3-21-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031. Tel. 03 6407 1988
Cuore Forte - Italian wine bar
Cuore Forte is a small, casual evenings-only Italian wine bar on the edge of Shimokitazawa, that requires a reservation. Natural Italian wines are the focus here, although the food menu (local-style Italian cuisine) is ample, and well-prepared enough for Cuore Forte to hold its own as a restaurant. Wine is sold by the glass (approximately 1,000 yen per glass), and clearly stating your preferences to the sommelier will ensure an hour or two of drinking pleasure. You can even leave the menu to them and be assured that Italian-style dishes syncing perfectly with what you're quaffing will be served. Examples include delicious slow roasted pork shoulder, zabajone, venison carpaccio, insalata di riso, and even some of the most culinarily perfect fried potatoes and cheese you've ever tried! Most seating is counter, but with some table seating (all stools) and even a couch. Expect to pay about 5,000 yen. Non-smoking. Credit cards accepted for a bill of 10,000 yen or more. If you can't get in here, the regular Italian restaurant, Fegato Forte - also good - is just downstairs.
Hours 5pm till about midnight (last orders 11pm). Closed Tuesdays.
1F, 3-20-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Tel. 03 6796 3241
Shimokita Chae-no-oyama - traditional Japanese green tea cafe
Shimokita Chae-no-oyama is a traditional two-floor Japanese tea shop-and-cafe with a history of over 50 years, famous for its delectable green tea, especially matcha green tea, and its summertime-only mountainous shaved ice creations. Run by two officially recognized and decorated tea masters, Chae-no-oyama's first floor is a green tea shop, with a tiled awning out front, and the second floor is a cafe - albeit one open for only four hours per day. If you visit during the kakigohri (shaved ice) season of June to September, expect huge, creamy, not-too-sweet green-tea-based shaved ice in a range of flavors. Visit anytime for exquisite green tea prepared and served by two greats of the Japanese tea world. Non-smoking. Expect to pay about 1,200 yen. They also run tea-related workshops (in Japanese).
Hours: 2pm-6pm, usually closed Tuesday and Wednesday, but check ahead.
2-30-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031. Tel. 03-3466-5588
Orange - out-of-this-world waffles cafe
Orange is a waffle cafe on a street corner, but with waffles like you've never seen before. The standard waffle with a dollop of ice cream and maple sauce is, of course, available here, and deliciously so, but the line up includes waffles as boundlessly adventurous as salad waffles, even bacon and egg waffles! Particularly recommended is the creme brulee waffle, the Red Velvet Waffle (a beetroot and cocoa base with cream, macadamia nuts and white chocolate sauce), accompanied by a hot or cold homemade-style sangria. Wine menu available, too. The decor is old-school-classroom with kawaii (cute) touches here and there. Has covered terrace seating too out front. Very popular. Vegetarian friendly. Expect to spend about 2,000 yen. Has smoking and non-smoking sections.
Hours: Weekdays except Tuesday: noon-7pm, Sat-Sun: 11am-8pm. Closed Tuesday, but open Tuesday if Tuesday or Wednesday falls on a national holiday.
1F, 2-26-21 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Tel. 03 5738 5320
Cafe Viet Arco - stylish Vietnamese cafe-restaurant
Cafe Viet Arco is a stylish, relaxing Vietnamese cafe-restaurant featuring the slightly retro earth-toned look of typical Vietnamese interior decoration, including some big, comfortable Chinese-style padded leather couches and chairs. The service is polite and the food here is fresh and clean-tasting, arriving quite quickly after being ordered. Mainly dishes use wholegrain rice. Family friendly; welcoming and relaxing even if you go alone. There are sometimes live musicians or art exhibitions here. Smoking and non-smoking sections. Expect to pay about 2,000 yen. Credit cards accepted.
Hours: noon-11pm (last orders 10:30pm). Open every day.
2F, Mont Blanc Building, 2-26-6 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0031. Tel. 050 5868 6568 (reservations), 03 3468 2200 (inquiries)
Shin Taipei - delicious tastes of Taiwan
Shin Taipei (New Taipei) is a popular, usually crowded, Taiwanese restaurant. This easily accessible ground-level eatery has a somewhat lounge-like wooden paneled, brick-tiled interior, tastefully decorated. But above all else Shin Taipei is about great-tasting Taiwanese-style Chinese food. The menu is extensive and the servings are generous, so you'll want to take time ordering. There is draft beer, Taiwanese-style huangjiu wine orderable by the half-bottle, and they have a great selection of Japanese shochu as well. The Taiwanese yakisoba, char siu barbecued pork, Jiaozi dumplings, are also recommended, just to name a few - with the subtle, delicious coriander flavoring typical of Taiwanese food. There's a good line-up of desserts as well. Expect to pay about 2,000 yen for lunch (which is available only on weekends and public holidays) and about twice that for dinner. Credit cards accepted. Smoking permitted.
Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm-2am (last order 1am); Sat/Sun/public holidays 11:30am-2am (last orders 1am)
1F, Louis Building, 2-6-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Tel. 03 3485 1626
Kokera - seafood, vegetables, and sake, Japanese-style
Kokera is an evenings-only Japanese-style seafood and vegetable izakaya (pub-restaurant) that is unaffectedly stylish in look and feel, serves delectable seafood dishes that have real flair, and has the warm, social buzz of a neighborhood pub. There are counter seats and table seats. Japanese-style though it may be, there are also Western-style dishes (such as the wonderful acqua pazza) on the menu that effortlessly integrate with everything else. The cuisine here goes well with sake, for which they have an extensive list. The sashimi plate here is delicious, comprising the freshest fish without a hint of smelliness; the sea urchin is good, as is the horsehair crab, and they have crisp picture-perfect, beautifully crafted salads. Popular, so getting in may involve a wait. Expect to pay 4,000-5,000 yen. Credit cards accepted. Has smoking and non-smoking sections.
Hours: 5pm-12:30am (last orders 11:30pm). Open every evening.
1F, Yuwa Building, 2-3-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Tel 03 3413 3231 (inquiries), 050 5868 7623 (reservations).
Pizzeria Da Oggi - great Neapolitan pizza and more
Pizzeria Da Oggi is an evenings-only restaurant on a corner, and is best-known for its pizzas, Neapolitan-style, which feature delicious, generous toppings with that get the balance of basil, oregano, etc. just right, and an expertly cooked base neither too chewy nor too brittle. The rest of the menu holds its own against the pizzas with - again, generous - salads that do wonderful things with, for example, bacon and stir-fried mushrooms, different varieties of ham, salami and cheeses. Other side dishes include Chinese yam baked in its jacket, homemade pickles, and great oven-baked lasagna. There is beer, juices, good coffee, and Da Oggi's wine list includes homemade sangria, with a white-wine sangria rarely encountered elsewhere. Seasonal blackboard dishes provide extra choice. The interior is warm-toned, cafe-style chic, with the wood-burning oven behind the counter helping keep it all very real. Expect to pay a well-spent 3,500 - 4,500 yen. Non-smoking. Cash only.
Hours: Mon-Fri (except Tue): 5pm-midnight; Sat/Sun/public holidays: 3pm-midnight. Last orders 11pm. Closed Tuesday, except when Tuesday falls on a national holiday when it is open Tuesday and closed the next day, Wednesday. Occasionally closed on other days, so check ahead.
1 F, M.A.R.T. Shimokitazawa Building, 2-29-2 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-0032. Tel. 03 5779 8577
Dashinsoan - soba noodles with serenity
Dashinsoan (da-sheen-SOH-ahn) is a clean, spacious, elegant soba noodle restarant in the beautiful surrounds of a peaceful residential corner of Shimokitazawa. The delightfully traditional entrance way takes you under an arch and through a small, picturesque garden, to a restaurant that is Japanese-modern in its interior decor. Most seating is at tables, but there is tatami seating as well. Dashinsoan's soba noodles themselves are the finest in terms of ingredients, preparation and flavor. Dashinsoan is particularly renowned for its refreshing, stimulating sudachi soba. The accompanying dishes are exquisite, such as tempura, agedofu, baked sliced duck, fish dishes, and salads. The food here goes well with beer and sake, of which there is a decent selection, served in stylish glasses or cups. Expect to pay about 2,000 yen for lunch and at least twice that for dinner. Non-smoking. No reservations. Right across the road from Shinganji Temple.
Hours: Weekdays (except Tuesday), lunch 11:30am-3pm, dinner 5:30pm-9:30pm. Weekends/public holidays, 11:30am-9pm (last orders at 9pm). Closed Tuesday.
3-7-14 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Tel. 03 5431 0141