Be Medibank, 2016
THE 10 BEST PLACES TO EAT AND PLAY IN TOKYO
Tokyo's colourful neighbourhoods are full of buzzing cafes, cute bento box shops and leafy bike trails. Blogger Hello Sandwich shows us her favourite spots.
I live in Shimokitazawa, a buzzy little neighbourhood just a few train stops away from Shibuya. It’s packed with teeny tiny six-seater bars, adorable cafes, loads of cheap and cheerful restaurants, vintage and retro clothing stores, live music venues, second-hand record stores, homewares and vintage stores.
Shimokitazawa is home to Noumin cafe and although the menu here is all Japanese, if you practice saying “Kyou no osouzai pu-re-to” you will end up with one of my favourite lunch sets. The osouzai (side dish) plate comes with a side of miso soup and you can choose from coffee or tea to accompany your lunch. You can also pick up some organic vegetables from the tiny store out the front of the cafe.
Whether it’s spring, summer, autumn or winter, it’s always lovely to head to one of the many wonderful parks in Tokyo for a picnic. You will find some delicious (and ridiculously photogenic) pre-prepared bentos from many of the department store food halls such as Isetan and Takashimaya in Shinjuku and Mark City Food Show in Shibuya.
Or if you’re in the mood for something more homemade, you’ll adore Shimanekoken. This cute little Kichijoji establishment is home to the Hello Sandwich favourite Tokyo bento.
Suezen is a fantastic little Japanese izakaya set in Daikanyama where you can enjoy a lunch set upon traditional low Japanese tables set on tatami. Can’t read the Japanese menu? The friendly staff will bring out a collection of laminated photos complete with English explanations. Do yourself a favour and make it here.
This one is a goodie! I felt like I was at The Winery in Surry Hills, Sydney. The Works is very Western in vibe, but with healthy and delicious food and a good selection of wine – and, although not on the menu, they offered to make me a flat white coffee. The Works is set in a building with shared office spaces and a beautiful rooftop which can be used for special events. After dining here, why not enjoy a stroll along Nakameguro’s picturesque river.
You’ll love these colourful, healthy and beautifully presented organic Japanese lunch sets at Brown Rice. It has a gorgeous and relaxed interior and friendly staff, and it’s conveniently located not far from Omotesando station. This just might be one of the most Instagrammable lunches you’ll find in Tokyo.
While in Shibuya’s Hikarie building, pop on up to d47 Shokudo on the 8th floor for a regional Japanese lunch set overlooking an incredible view. Here, you will also find a branch of my favourite art gallery, Tomio Koyama Gallery. After that, enjoy wandering through the shops on your way down the escalators.
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s loveliest parks. Pack some lunch (or pick up a convenience store bento box), green tea, blanket and book and head down for a delightful afternoon. You could even spend an afternoon sketching here in the park. This park is divided into various smaller gardens including the Japanese style garden, French style garden and English style garden, so it’s best to set aside a few hours to explore this picturesque park.
Inokashira Park is another one of Tokyo’s most beautiful parks. If you’re with friends, enjoy riding in the swan boats, but stay clear of them if you’re with your partner – rumour has it you will break up if you go on them with your loved one! The most enjoyable way to get to Inokashira is to hire a bike and ride along Kandagawa. Begin the journey at Eifukucho where you can ride for just under an hour directly along the river without having to make any turns, and you will find beautiful Inokashira Park at the end of your ride.
Fancy getting around like a local? Then renting a bike is the transport for you. Hop on your little mamachari (mama-style bike complete with shopping basket and chain guard) and ride around like the rest of the cool Tokyoites. It’s such a brilliant way to see the city, wandering in and out of back streets where most of the best things are found. Rent a fancy bike from Tokyo Bike for ¥1000 per day or from Muji Yurakucho at ¥525 per day. Or try the cheap and cheerful version and rent a bike for a day from Sangenjaya train station (just under the highway) for ¥200 a day.