Ark Hills in Tokyo has a good selection of restaurants and bars to chill at after a day of exploring Tokyo.
Aux Bacchanales is a French restaurant that gets busy around 6pm on a weekday. But I always managed to get a seat at the bar.
Drink-wise there’s a small selection of local and imported beers, and being a French restaurant there’s also a very good selection of French wines.
Food definitely has a French bent as you would expect and the couple of meals that I had here were very good indeed. I highly recommend the steak.
They also have a small takeaway section where you can buy a fairly good selection of pastries if you want to grab something to eat for breakfast on the run. One warning though – avoid the takeaway coffee at all costs, it was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever drunk!
The bar is good, as is the food, but avoid the takeaway coffee!
One thing that you miss when you travel in Asia is a decent coffee. And NO, Starbucks is NOT coffee!
In the Ark Hills area of Tokyo, in the building next to the ANA InterContinental Tokyo, is Bubby’s New York which is an American themed restaurant that serves a great spread for breakfast, and most importantly serves probably the best coffee I’ve had in Asia.
They cook a very good American breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, potato and pancakes. It’s a very big meal which I struggled to finish and is reasonably priced at ¥2000.
I’ve also had the Eggs Benedict on several occasions which were also quite acceptable.
But the big reason to head here, for me atleast, was the coffee. It takes me a couple of decent coffees to wake up in the morning, and the coffees here certainly did the trick.
Highly recommended if you are in the area for breakfast.
It was my penultimate day in Tokyo and had decided to head over to Akihabara to check out the gadget shops on a Sunday afternoon.
My primary destination was Yodobashi Multimedia Akiba just across the road from Akihabara station.
Yodobashi Multimedia Akiba is a huge store – 9 floors (above ground) in total. On the top floor is a driving range and a baseball batting practice area!
But of more interest to me was floor 8, as that’s the restaurant floor. And amongst the 30 or so establishments was one called Craft Beer Tap.
Craft Beer Tap is pretty much as it names suggests, a restaurant / bar that offers a great menu of local Japanese craft beers, as well as a decent selection of imported beers.
There would have been around 20 beers available on tap but I wanted to try Japanese beer so stayed away from the imports and the bartender pointed me to the special tap which was a locally brewed IPA.
I perused the food menu while I was waiting but since I’d had my fill of yakitori in Ueno only 90 minutes or so before I skipped getting a meal.
In all I had two of the IPAs and taste-wise the beer was great though in hindsight totally overpriced at ¥1250 (~AU$15) for 330ml. I was getting pints (PINTS!) of Japanese craft beer at Ark Hills for ¥900!
There are far better value places to go for a drink in Tokyo so you should do as I will do in future and give this place a wide berth.
Nara, about an hour’s train ride west of Osaka, was the first permanent capital of Japan back between 710 and 794.
The Western area of the city is full of magnificent temples and shrines and thousands of roaming wild, but relatively tame, deer.
After several hours exploring Kofuku-ji and Todai-ji I was walking back to Nara station looking for an Okonomiyaki restaurant that I had spied earlier on in the day. The restaurant was called Yakitei Juju.
It was mid afternoon by the time I climbed the stairs to find only a handful of diners enjoying their meals.
Despite it being quiet it took some time to grab the attention of the server to get an English menu, but I soon had a beer and an Okonomiyaki on the way. Okonomiyaki takes a little while to cook, so given the warm weather and over 10km I’d already walked, a second beer was ordered just as my meal was ready to be served.
At this particular restaurant they cook the Okonomiyaki in the kitchen then place it on a smaller hotplate in your table to keep your meal hot while you eat it.
In all, a decent Okonomiyaki to tide me over for the hour train ride back to Osaka.
I’m not normally a brunch person, normally opting for a sleep in and then some coffee at home on a weekend morning, rather than having to do the whole shower and dress routine on a day of leisure.
But today was different. A friend who was a former colleague from interstate was in town and since we couldn’t catch up during the week we decided to have brunch before she flew home. We also invited one of our former colleagues to make a threesome.
A quick google search for a brunch place in the CBD bought up The Hardware Societe on Hardware Street. I’d walked past it hundreds of time but never noticed it.
When I got there just before 10am there was already a queue of people waiting for tables. I popped my name on the waiting list and was told the expected wait was around 25 to 30 minutes which was pretty much spot on.
By 10:30 we were seated in the small outside area with the French/English menu of a quite varied selection of dishes from the ‘all day brunch’ menu.
Our waiter came back, went through the daily specials (one savory and one sweet), took our coffee/tea orders and gave us a couple of minutes to think about the options.
I chose the savory daily special which was thick cut bacon & poached eggs on sourdough with cheese croquettes and mild salsa. One friend ordered the same as me while the other friend ordered the Salmon Millefeuille (confit salmon, salmon tartar, chive creme fraiche, pickled zucchini, avocado puree, salmon pearls and poached eggs) from the regular menu.
Dishes took around 15 minutes to come out which gave us time to catch up.
Consensus was that the food was magnificent and that we’d be making a return visit when we’re all back in Melbourne.
This place is popular. By the time we left at around 11:30 there was a queue of about 40 people waiting for tables. If you can, and I know this is hard for a Saturday, try to get there early to reduce the wait.
Very, very highly recommended!