Spring in Japan is not complete without hanami (cherry blossom viewing), and one of my favorite spots in Tokyo is along the stretch of the Meguro River from Nakameguro Station to Yamate-dori, which is lined on both sides with rows of cherry trees.
Once you have had your fill of blossoms, the area has plenty to offer in terms of kid-friendly dining, not least the sleek and understated Taste and Sense.
Located a few streets back from the river, Taste and Sense is an eatery run by the clothing boutique 1LDK, and is the kind of establishment I imagine would be frequented by the area’s fashionistas who just happened to have kids. Although it has quite a grown-up feel, Taste and Sense is surprisingly accommodating of little ones, from their friendly staff to their high chairs and stroller-accessible dining area.
The industrial-chic vibe of the place is offset by a log cabin-like alcove housing a semi-private room and our table for this meal. Our 3-year-old girls were delighted with their little hideaway, and we were happy to have them (somewhat) contained.
The lunch menu consists of a limited selection of casual eats, all at ¥1,210. All lunch offerings come with drinks and their salad bar, which is a rotating selection of deli and green salads stylishly arranged on a rustic wood counter. We opted for the pretzel bread hot dog (a pork sausage nestled in a slightly salty and dense soft pretzel bun and served with thick-cut rosemary fries). I somehow managed to sneak a bite from my daughter, who was hoarding the wonderfully chewy bread.
Taste and Sense also has an extensive and delightful assortment of elevated snack food — think parmesan popcorn and, my personal favorite, cumin and mimolette french fries, all available after 3 p.m.
After lunch we headed back toward the river and stopped off at Nakameguro Bio Kitchen Studio for dessert. This bright and airy organic cafe, with its colorful wall mural, also has a cushioned play area for children equipped with a few toys and picture books.
They have recently added a children’s lunch plate (¥680) to the menu, which is a well-balanced and tasty assortment of steamed organic vegetables, 13-grain rice wrapped in a thin omelet, a tofu hamburger steak, fried shrimp and rice milk panna cotta.
The star of this cafe’s eclectic menu, however, and the reason I stopped by, is the assiette mont blanc, a deconstructed rendition of the chestnut mont blanc dessert so popular in Japan.
A showstopper that seems strangely out of place with the granola and rice bowls in this organic cafe, this refreshing take on the classic dessert features a milk sorbet surrounded by a luscious chestnut cream, cubes of airy genoise sponge cake and crunchy caramelized cashew nuts. Definitely worth the detour, and also a hit with the kids.
Our taste buds and senses fulfilled, we headed back toward the river — now if only those blossoms would bloom already.
Taste and Sense is located at 1-7-13 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo; 03-5728-7043; open daily 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m; some English spoken, English menu; highchairs available; non-smoking before 6 p.m. Nakameguro Bio Kitchen Studio is located at 1-13-14 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo; 03-3461-1002; open 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., closed Wednesdays; English spoken, English menu; highchairs and changing table available