Cafe hopping in Tokyo can feel a lot like a power hour of cardio, with numerous charming spots nestled in every nook and cranny of the city. You’ll find it hard to resist stepping into one after another. However, if a few days is all you have to explore Tokyo’s cafe scene, we say you skip wandering about and head right to where we think you’ll enjoy yourself the most. We’ve done your homework. Here are some of the best cafes that, we hope, cater to your preferences, from a wagashi-specialized tearoom to a Norwegian-style sourdough cafe inside a century-old Japanese house.
Nestled inside a Japanese house that was built during a bygone era (the Shōwa era, to be precise), VANER is a small and humble artisanal bakery that has adopted a traditional Norwegian sourdough bread making practice. The open-kitchen churns out a small, but sweet selection of baked goods daily (all made with organic heirloom wheat varieties, that have not been genetically modified or processed). If you’re lucky to get a table in the sun-drenched dining room, be sure to order the aromatic cardamom roll or the lightly charred raisin bread, which is perfect for those who prefer a less sweet treat.
Note: The baked goods sell out quickly, so either head over very early or book via vanertokyo.stores.jp.
Travel back in time to the 1920s at this Japanese-communal-bathhouse-turned-cafe, Rebon Kaisaiyu. The unpretentious, temple-like structure boasts within it a rustic and contemporary space, adorned with vintage elements that have been well preserved. Drawing visitors’ attention is a large mural of Mt.Fuji in the dining hall. The paint peeling off the wall is a testament to the length of time that this place has stood.
Mirroring the simplicity of the building in which it operates, the cafe only offers drinks and ice cream. They roast their coffee beans fresh onsite and also make their own ice cream, starring seasonal fruit. Should you be in a more fun mood than usual, pop the ice cream of your choice into coffee and enjoy your own version of an affogato.
If you can locate this hidden den in the ever-bustling shopping district of Ginza, you’re in for a treat. The zen-looking tearoom serves pure and unadulterated wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) paired with a careful selection of tea. Expect to see different wagashi on the menu throughout the year to celebrate each season. For those who enjoy booze with their sweets, the tearoom also offers Japanese alcohol, as well as wine and beer.
No more resorting to packets of over-salted nuts when the craving for a baked snack strikes, gluten-free and vegan readers. At this white-washed cafe located in Kiyosumi Shirakawa district, the kitchen doles out a neat selection of glossy fruit tarts that are raw and free of wheat, dairy and white sugar. The secret to Posh’s scrumptious tart crust is a concoction of coconut and other nuts. Compound the nuttiness with whipped cream that is made from assorted raw nuts and sweetened with agave nectar. Fruit toppings include Tochiotome strawberries, Shine Muscat grapes and Toyomitsuhime figs sourced from Fukuoka prefecture. To drink, there are organic coffees and various plant-based beverages on offer. We recommend that you get the rose latte that is made with oat milk, vanilla bean and rose powder, with a touch of agave nectar for sweetness.
Brace yourself for at least an hour of waiting time until you get to savour the renowned Dutch baby pancake that this bistro-cafe busts piping hot out of the kitchen. The pancake comes adorned with uncured Parma ham, a decent-sized piece of burrata and a generous pour of maple syrup. Elsewhere on the menu, there are freshly baked pastries and savoury brunch items that change almost daily. However, it’s important to mention that the last time we visited, it took two hours of waiting to get in and by the time we got seated, the baked goods were all sold out. So best to head there early before the lunch crowd arrives. You won’t be sorry.