Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Commune 2nd: Al fresco food, drink and community

by Robbie Swinnerton

Special To The Japan Times

Tokyo has never been big on outdoors dining. Save for the old-school beer gardens that mushroom in midsummer, there are too few opportunities in the inner city to drink, snack and while away the time al fresco. At least there’s Commune 2nd.

Following its predecessor, the original pioneering Commune 246, this eclectic encampment of ad hoc shacks and food trucks occupies a unused slab of prime real estate close to Omotesando. Much more than mere sustenance, it offers a vital space for people to gather and hang out.

Everyone has their own favorite vendors. Brooklyn Ribbon Fries has been there from the start, as has the mellow Shozo Coffee stand at the tranquil, leafy rear entrance. More substantial eating options range from German beer and sausages at Schmatz to vegan fare at Cori, tapas at Lulu and Sanuki-style noodles from Chikyu Udon.

For many, one of the biggest draws is Beer Brain. Tiny but beautifully put together, this wood-paneled trailer is Japan’s first and only mobile craft beer bar. At a push it has standing room for just six punters, yet still manages to fit in five taps dispensing Japanese and imported beers expertly curated and served by manager Kotomi Noma.

Commune 2nd is due to run through the end of 2018, but no one knows what will happen after that. If the contract isn’t extended, then hopefully a new space will be found for this fluctuating daily community. But at least for Beer Brain that won’t be a problem: It can simply be hitched up and towed to the next venue.

3-13 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; 080-3092-4862;; open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; beer from ¥600, snacks ¥900.; closest station: Omotesando; smoking not permitted; cash only; English menu; English spoken