There are a few restaurants around Tokyo, though not enough, where customers are allowed or even encouraged to BYOB (bring your own bottle, specifically wine). But here’s a first: a place that does BYOF — bring your own food.
Such is the enlightened policy of Fuglen, the newly opened Tokyo offshoot of one of Oslo’s coolest coffee shops. It’s in the back streets of Tomigaya, Shibuya Ward, on the site of the short-lived but equally stylish Koz Cafe. Not that you’d recognize it as such: Out with the Scandinavian blond-wood cool; in with warm, relaxing vintage furnishings evoking a 1960s-themed cocktail bar.
And that is exactly what Fuglen becomes in the evening. Just as the daytime staff are trained baristas — and they pull an excellent espresso using their own proprietary roast of beans — the evening crew specialize in mixology. Day or night, though, the best seats in the house at this time of year are at the outside tables, which take full advantage of the pedestrian side street.
And what about the food? It’s early days and plans are still in formulation. But if you don’t want to brown-bag your own baguette sandwich from Viron in Shibuya or onigiri from the nearest convenience store, Fuglen’s idea is to arrange deliveries from other local restaurants. There are plenty of options, whether it’s brick-oven pizza from the faux-Aussie Bondi Cafe (formerly Blue Point) right around the corner, or premium burgers from Arms, whose takeout branch is less than a minute away by delivery bike.
It’s a cracking concept, one that seems a perfect match in Tomigaya. Fuglen is a great addition to this increasingly hip and happening neighborhood.
Fuglen Tokyo, 1-16-11 Tomigaya, Shibuya-ku Tokyo; (03) 3481-0884; www.fuglen.com. Open Mon.-Tue. 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Wed.-Thur. 7:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.- 3 a.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nearest stations: Yoyogi-Hachiman (Odakyu Line) and Yoyogi-Koen (Chiyoda Line); English/Japanese menu; English/Norwegian spoken.