Immigrant’s Cafe

In my nine months here I am mostly shocked by how little I have seen and done in relation to what is available. I think this is somewhat normal, at least for me. I have a burrowing type of personality and so it is an effort (though almost always a rewarding one) for me to make the trips downtown, compounded by the disincentive of the language barrier, a vaguely oppressive feeling that is always worse in my head than in reality. But in a city like Tokyo, which has no parallel for me save New York, I think the sheer abundance of options makes this feeling inevitable, and so I do not feel so bad about all of the things I am “missing out” on…or at least that’s what I try to tell myself.

One area where the wealth of options and the language barrier converges strongly for me is restaurants. I’ll read the English-language reviews, but my price-range and tastes and opportunities rarely coincide to produce an exciting new dining experience. O woe is me. But happily there are a few exceptions and here’s one.

Immigrant’s Cafe
03-5766-8995

I doubt the chome numbers are much use for anyone, I personally like to find things using only the numbers and my trusty English Metro Atlas…but it rarely works out and then the conveniently bilingual Japanese person who sees my lost expression and stops to help looks at me like I’m mildly deranged while I sheepishly wave my crumpled slip of paper.

“I’m trying to find san-ni-nijyukyu”
“Is that all you know???”

Anyway, easiest directions are: take exit A4 or B4 from Omotesando station; turn right down Aoyama Dori, towards Shibuya; walk about 100m and at the first light turn left. The restaurant’s in the basement of the first building on your left. There’s a good map on the restaurant web-page also.

The restaurant staff is very diverse, meaning there’s usually at least one gaijin on hand, so the phone number is not entirely useless, even if your Japanese is.

The place is decorated with paintings, found objects and video installations you could easily imagine the variously pierced and inked hipsters who make up the staff and most of its patrons producing in their bedrooms/studios and exhibiting here for all their friends to see. And the “hipper-than-thou” urban-artists atmosphere also serves to make the laid-back and ultra-friendly service even more special in contrast. Native-level English service in a Tokyo restaurant charging less than

1 Comment so far

  1. Jim O'Connell (unregistered) on February 25th, 2005 @ 1:58 am

    I used to walk by that place twice a day on my way to and from my old job, but never stopped in. Now I regret that and will have to make a special trip.
    I’m pretty sure it’s at the head of “Kotto Dori,” the street once well-known for antiques, but now nearly all trendy shops and restaurants. Kua’aina (just spelled that wrong, I’m sure) across the street is a good place to get a great burger and fries, American style, too.



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