I wiggle my toes in soft white sand and watch the children play happily a few feet away. Just add the sound of the crashing surf and you might have tricked me into thinking I was on a beach holiday — as one of the little girls exclaims, emerging from her stroller, “Mommy, are we in Guam?”
Far from Guam, we are in Tokyo’s Toyosu district, to be exact, at The Beach 55, a cafe and barbecue joint located in the middle of a “beach” created with 550 tons of pristine, white sand shipped from Vietnam.
Although there is no ocean in sight, The Beach 55 has the feel of a summer cottage by the sea, with inviting, sun-bleached sofas and pillows in shades of turquoise on a deck and sun loungers perfect for lazing away a weekend afternoon in the sun.
Fall, with its gloriously sunny yet not-too-hot weather is a wonderful time to take advantage of all this establishment has to offer in the way of truly stress-free dining with children. The surprisingly large fake beach is equipped with swings, sand toys and a children’s picnic table, and even if you have a little runner, they will have a long way to go and plenty of sand to get through before they make it out the door.
If a Halloween vibe is what you are after, The Beach 55 is currently decorated for the season with a white Halloween theme: white jack-o’-lanterns and a spooky skeleton greeted us at the entrance. It also had some Halloween gear that the kids had great fun trying on.
As for lunch, we chose the 55 Kid’s Plate (¥750) and the French Smoke Bar-be-cue (¥2,000). I have to confess, the Kid’s Plate was a little on the unimaginative side with mini-egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, apple slices, French fries and juice — but a good option for the less adventurous eater.
The cafe’s signature French Smoke Bar-Be-Cue consists of pork, beef and chicken brochettes smoked over grape vines. The subtly smoky flavor of the meat was mild enough for the children to enjoy and, although a bit chewy overall, our unanimous favorite was the pork. It was tender and juicy with a smoky finish.
For those who prefer to take the grilling into their own hands, The Beach 55 also accepts online reservations up to two days in advance for its grilling stations set up throughout the premises. Prices start at ¥3,000 per person if bringing your own food to grill, or ¥5,500 per person with food and drinks included.
I personally preferred the seating in the cafe area, with its comfortable sofas (no reservations required).
As the table next to us headed toward the sand for a pickup game of beach volleyball, the adults sipped their drinks in peace, while the kids scampered around barefoot in the sand. It was only with the promise of ice cream that we were able to convince them to leave, and requests for a return visit to the “sand restaurant” have been a frequent occurrence since.
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