Just behind Nakatsu Station, there’s an old residential pocket located within a warren of narrow alleyways. Here, change is in the air.

There is the sound of construction, old houses are being transformed into cafes, restaurants and hip little boutiques, and new ventures seem to regularly spring forth from where there was previously nothing. The new arrivals will be in good company, anchored by Hood by Vargas, a whimsical neighborhood cafe that opened four years ago.

Hood by Vargas is inspired by all things America and in particular by New York. Used metro cards from the NYC subway decorate a supporting beam jutting up from the main communal table; tiny vintage denim jackets line one wall. Were they ever worn or are they for decoration purposes only? These are the things you can consider as you sit and listen to American DJs play folk songs on the appropriately named Folk Alley radio station.

The food menu changes between lunch and dinner, and while it’s a pared-back menu, it’s not without appeal. Top of the list of dishes to try is its ichijiku (fig) toast, which comes served with sliced figs, honey and cream cheese.

For a savory dish, try its New York beef sandwich — it’s small, but packs a lot between the toasted slices of bread that come from Cante Grande Bakery, just around the corner. The coffee is hand dripped and, as you might expect from an offbeat place like this, no two cups are quite the same.

Coffee from ¥300, toast from ¥350; some English spoken

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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