Food & Drink

Shibuya Scramble Square shakes up the depachika

by Claire Williamson

Staff Writer

On Nov. 1, the latest gem in an ambitious multiphase plan to redevelop the Shibuya area — Shibuya Scramble Square — opened its doors to the millions of people who pass through the neighborhood every day. The 229-meter-high Shibuya Sky rooftop observatory on the building’s 47th floor is sure to be the structure’s biggest draw, but its foodstuffs and dining options — 85 in total — are no slouches, either.

Altogether, five of the building’s seven new-to-Japan businesses are dedicated to food; of the 39 entirely new businesses opening in Scramble Square, 33 are food-related. Clearly the developers are pulling out all the stops to reinvigorate the often tired-feeling offerings in the typical depachika (department store basement where foodstuffs are usually sold).

Bun in the oven: Thierry Marx La Boulangerie bakes its brioche with Hokkaido wheat. | CLAIRE WILLIAMSON
Bun in the oven: Thierry Marx La Boulangerie bakes its brioche with Hokkaido wheat. | CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Floors No. B2, B1 and 1 (the “Foods” floors) are completely dedicated to casual eat-in and take-out options, while floors No. 12 and 13, dubbed the “Foodies Scramble,” boast 17 proper sit-down restaurants. Furthermore, most of the other shopping floors (No. 2 through 11 and No. 14) have at least one cafe or coffee stand for that all-too-necessary mid-shopping pit stop.

Scramble Square’s three “Foods” floors are divided into three sections: Tokyu Food Show Edge, the official name for Tokyu Department Store’s depachika, which is split between floors No. B2 and 1; Gourmand Market Kinokuniya, which takes up the entirety of floor No. B1; and Ecute Edition, a company that specializes in opening ekinaka (literally “inside a train station”) stores, which also takes up part of floor No. 1.

The Food Show Edge and Ecute Edition vibe is slick and polished, with bold geometric tiles, wood paneling, and metallic accents on the lighting fixtures and shop signs. Shop highlights include Thierry Marx La Boulangerie (floor B2), the first Japanese offshoot of two-Michelin-starred French chef Thierry Marx’s bakery. Here you can find his conical, fluffy brioche rolls (¥1,620) made with flour from Hokkaido wheat and “breadmakis” — rolled sandwiches (from ¥918) inspired by Japanese makizushi (sushi rolls).

Spoiled for culinary choice: Of Shibuya Scramble Square's 213 businesses, 85 are either foodstuffs or dining establishments. | COURTESY OF SHIBUYA SCRAMBLE SQUARE
Spoiled for culinary choice: Of Shibuya Scramble Square’s 213 businesses, 85 are either foodstuffs or dining establishments. | COURTESY OF SHIBUYA SCRAMBLE SQUARE

Joining the ranks of new-to-Japan openings is Taiwanese restaurant Sanwain and vegan restaurant Peace Cafe Hawaii (both on floor B2). Sanwain offers a menu of conceptual, kawaii baozu steamed buns shaped like pandas (¥380), colorful mushrooms (¥380) and hedgehogs (¥400). You can also buy a set of three for ¥1,001, limited to 50 sets per day. Meanwhile, Peace Cafe offers up vegan takes on Hawaiian loco moco, replacing the usual hamburger patty, egg and gravy toppings with a veggie patty, plant-based vegan egg and vegetable sauce (from ¥843).

Up on floor No. 1 you’ll find Mori Yoshida Paris, the first Japan outpost of patissier Morihide Yoshida’s seventh arrondissement-based French patisserie. His Mont Blanc (¥918) features a towering chestnut spiral; the chantilly cream inside packs an even greater chestnut punch. The Ecute section has its own gems, such as the first Tokyo location for Nara-based Horiuchi Fruit Farm. This 100-plus-year-old fruit purveyor specializes in dried fruits, confitures and, when in season, chocolate-covered anpogaki (half-dried persimmons).

If you can still drag yourself to the elevator and up to the two Foodies Scramble floors, you’ll be greeted not only with stunning views but also a curated selection of restaurants. Sushi and other Japanese staples like okonomiyaki (cabbage pancakes) and shabu-shabu (meat and vegetables flash-boiled in broth) restaurants are on the docket, but so are more unusual options. Keep an eye out for Carvaan Tokyo, an Arabian restaurant, and Jose Luis, a tapas restaurant fusing Japanese and Spanish cuisine — such as the fluffy “souffle tortilla” take on the traditional Spanish omelet.

Shibuya 2-24-12, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Shop floors open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., restaurant 12F from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., 13F from 11 a.m.-midnight. Exact hours vary by store. For more information, visit www.shibuya-scramble-square.com/en.

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