|

Deli, coffee — and don’t forget your monocle

by Robbie Swinnerton

The Monocle Cafe — the first in the world created by the eponymous international lifestyle magazine — looks just the way you’d expect. Sleek but comfortable, with light-wood furniture in a modern Scandinavian vein, it blends in perfectly with the designer boutiques inside Hankyu Men’s Tokyo, the department store’s freshly refurbished flagship in Yurakucho.

The food menu covers an enterprising range, from contemporary continental salads — ratatouille and couscous; zucchini and pecorino; a beautiful mix of beet, red onion and feta cheese — to American deli staples, such as meat loaf or Reuben sandwiches, and homegrown Japanese favorites like curry rice and pork katsu sandwiches. There are North European influences too, notably the toast skagen (above), a lightly browned square of white shoku-pan bread topped with shrimp salad and garnished tastefully with orange kazunoko fish roe.

With its self-service counter and no-smoking policy, you could think of it as a chic, upscale version of Meal Muji (on the other side of Yurakucho), except in one respect: The coffee and cakes are far better.

But that’s only to be expected, since they are overseen by Eiichi Kunitomo. He’s the man behind Omotesando Koffee, a wonderful — but only temporary — espresso bar installation, which he set up inside a traditional Japanese house in the residential backstreets of Jingumae. Unlike The Monocle Cafe, that is unlikely to be in operation for very much longer.

The Monocle Cafe: Hankyu Men’s Tokyo B1F, 2-5-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; (03) 6252-5285; news.hankyu-dept.jp/mens-tokyo/cafe. Open noon-9 p.m. (Sun. and holidays 11 a.m.-8 p.m.). Omotesando Koffee: 4-15-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5413-9422; www.ooo-koffee.com; open daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m.