Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

World Breakfast Allday: Global dining, morning till night

by Robbie Swinnerton

Contributing Writer

Hands up, who likes breakfast? Just about everyone, right? The only thing is, not all of us like the same thing for our first meal of the day. Some like it hot and spicy; others cold and drenched with milk. And there are even a few who go straight to beer. No problem: World Breakfast Allday is ready for all comers.

Day in, day out, from first light until the evening, two types of cooked Western breakfast are served: American, with eggs, bacon and a short stack of pancakes topped with maple syrup; and also a classic full-British plate, including sausage, egg, baked beans, tomato and mushrooms. You’ll also find a Mexican plate featuring huevos rancheros.

Sometimes there will be muesli — correctly acknowledged for its roots, rather than its current pan-global status, “Swiss breakfast.” And there’s usually an Asian bowl, too, such as Thai jok (congee) or Taiwanese egg rolls.

But that’s not all. Since the very start, in keeping with its name, World Breakfast Allday’s aim has been to introduce the cuisines and cultures of countries that are less well-known in Japan. It might be Vietnam, South Africa or Israel, perhaps even somewhere in the Balkans. And, just to keep things interesting, this special is changed every two months.

This unlikely concept first saw the light of day some six years ago as a small, cramped but always welcoming cafe/diner near Gaienmae Station (3-1-23 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; 03-3401-0815). It still has an appealing at-home feel, with a single, long communal table where everyone rubs elbows and ends up speaking with each other. Which is all part of its charm.

The idea has clearly struck a chord, especially among the younger demographic who are both curious about the world and increasingly well-traveled. So much so that last year it spawned an offshoot in the backstreets of the Harajuku fashion district.

Despite the bold letters across the grand facade and the spacious floor plan, it retains the same unmistakable, beguiling DNA. The interior is refreshingly free of anything that looks “designer,” with cheerful lampshades and simple, plain-wood shared tables, as well as counters looking onto the alley outside.

The open kitchen where you place your order may be larger but the feel is no less down-home and lived-in than the original restaurant. And the staff are just as easygoing and friendly. It feels more like wandering into the dining area of a small-town guesthouse than a daily diner in the heart of the city.

Until the end of March, the featured cuisine was that of Iran and its sobh bekheir (“good morning”) plate. For April and May, the next stop on this global breakfast journey is Korea. That means a healthy serving of multigrain rice, a clear soup of clams and beansprouts, with fish, omelet and other condiments on the side.

The menu also includes a range of Korean side dishes, desserts and drinks, including Hite beer, soju liquor, teas and soft drinks. And for those who want to delve deeper into new food cultures, there are cooking classes, which are held at the original Gaienmae restaurant.

Breakfast from ¥1,000; set lunch from ¥1,300; English menu; some English spoken