It’s a bustling, frenzied six days of shows and creativity during which you’ll definitely need a break. WGSN City by City correspondent Darren Gore reveals the spots locals love
Late on the world fashion week calendar, Tokyo’s event (October 12-18) sees the metropolis invaded by a horde of industry figures looking distinctly more fatigued than when they started their global circuit back in the summer.
With that in mind – and given that Tokyo Fashion Week centres around the ever-frantic Shibuya district (including the event-within-an-event Shibuya Fashion Week) – we at WGSN City by City have compiled a guide of off-the-tourist-track local favourites that offer a respite from the area’s thronging crowds and neon glare.
About Life Coffee Brewers
1-19-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Small hole in the wall-style joint (take-away or standing only) offering supremely rich speciality brews from Switch Coffee Roasters and Onibus Coffee. Espresso and lattes are particularly recommended, with the former carrying hints of dark chocolate and raspberry.
42-2 Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku
Just a short walk northwest from the commotion of central Shibuya, we heartedly recommend checking out the low-key neighbourhood of Tomigaya and Kamiyama-cho which melds refined luxury with slow-life healthiness and artisanal values. Easily found on the main Kamiyama Street, Camelback specialises in espresso alongside some inspired sandwiches: to uncured ham is added yuzu, a citrus fruit popular in Japanese cuisine.
Streamer Coffee Company
1F, 1-20-28, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
Located just a stone’s throw from bustling Meiji-dori, Streamer has a special place in the hearts of Tokyo’s street fashion crowd for its “Barista Sports Wear” line of tees and accessories as well as owner Hiroshi Sawada’s famous iced revolver lattes (comprising six ristretto shots and served in a mason jar). Sawada won the title of Seattle Latte Art Champion in 2008 and compares making his coffee to engaging in extreme sports.
Gontran Cherrier Paris
1F, 1-14-11, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
Self-styled “artisan boulanger” with a fashion connection: Gontran Cherrier is one of several culinary ventures from the company behind hip apparel chain Journal Standard. Baked goods and coffee served from 7:30am, for both take-out and eating in on the first floor.
Koa Pancake House
1F, 1-15-8 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
A recent Tokyo import from Oahu in Hawaii, where it has been doing brisk business since the late 1980s, breakfast options here include Eggs Benedict as well as a choice of fruit-topped pancakes. Open from 10am.
33−8 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku
Standout Shibuya brasserie with retro-style branding reminiscent of legendary graphic designer Saul Bass, Viron’s breads and baked morning goods are a more than satisfying staple in a neighbourhood where most eateries open at 11am or later (Viron opens at 9am). Viron’s bakery uses solely high-grade flour concocted by the French miller of the same name.
2F, 1-17-9 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
Relaxed second-floor café with one of Tokyo’s more striking restrooms: wallpaper is made up of stills from 1970s Japanese adult movies. Ample window seating allows for covert style-watching in this quieter, hipper corner of Shibuya, with eclectic lunch plate options varying according to season.
2-5 Nanpeidai-cho, Shibuya-ku
Conceived by Tokyo streetwear legend Nigo, the man behind BAPE and more recently Human Made, 2-5 (those numbers are pronounced “ni-go” in Japanese) offers a burger created by fellow big-hitter Pharrell Williams alongside spicy dishes from another Nigo venture, the Curry Up restaurant in Harajuku.
Udagawa Café ‘Suite’
36-12 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku
Charming café-bar-restaurant, hidden on a narrow street at the far end of Center-Gai street that runs northwest from Shibuya’s famous “scramble crossing”. The second floor dining area, all wooden beams and found knick-knacks, is home-away-from-home for many a hip Tokyo-ite. Don’t confuse with Udagawa Café on Center-Gai itself!
1-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
Sleek restaurant and grill described as an urban chop house by expat owner-chef David Chiddo. With a focus on provenance, steaks are from Australian beef while salmon is sourced from Scotland’s Loch Fyne. The equally upscale bar meanwhile is well-stocked with New World wines and beers from the local TY Harbor Brewery.
Kaikaya By The Sea
23-7 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku
Sensationally delicious sashimi and other fish dishes made using fresh catches brought directly from Sagami Bay south of Tokyo. A million miles away from “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”-style reverence, the informal Kaikaya is very much a place at which to leisurely kick back. The English-language menu makes it a hassle-free choice too.
The Oak Floor
3F, 1-19-14 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
Mid-range, “European Traditional” option with a well-executed elegance that belies the fact that this restaurant sits inside the Nano Universe chain boutique in the Jinnan quarter. A most pleasant form of disorientation comes from looking out upon the Shibuya street below from one window, then seemingly over the skyline of Paris or rolling French countryside hills from another (the latter via some clever trompe l’oeil projections).
THAT WELL-DESERVED DRINK…
1-19-4 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku
Tiny Tomigaya wine bar that locals happily squeeze into of an evening. Wine is mostly natural and from small French estates, with bistro food including country-style breads and homemade sausage on offer too.
Bar The Hand
2F, 30-10 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku
Recommended by several local fashion figures who are more than fond of a tipple, Bar The Hand is presided over by a bartender nicknamed “Danny” (pictured above) who’s something of a legend on the Tokyo scene. Danny produces his very own private label umeshu (plum liqueur) named Hoshiko, which can be sampled here alongside a variety of cocktails.
B1F, 1-13-10 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
Japan is seeing something of a craft beer boom right now, and this subterranean speciality bar boasts one of Tokyo’s most intriguing selections. Try Kotatsu Mikan (literally “satsuma placed atop heated low table”) for a rich, citrus-infused experience.
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