by Danielle Tate-Stratton
While Tokyo can be a haven for mature ‘foodies’, it can be sometimes difficult to find a place that welcomes children—unless of course you head for the Japanese-style family restaurant such as Royal Host and Jonathans.
However, if you are a parent looking to eat with your children without compromising on taste, then why not try one of these kid-friendly establishments?
The basement of Crayon House (a children’s bookstore in Harajuku) has an organic vegetable shop and two separate (non-smoking) natural-food restaurants: “Hiroba”, serving Japanese food, and “Home”, with French cuisine. Kita-Aoyama 3-8-15. Open 11am-9pm (LO) daily. Tel. 03-3406-6409, www.crayonhouse.co.jp. Looking for a taste of Italy? Check out Pizza Express, which offers special kids menus to compliment the more grown-up pastas, pizzas, and salads in its central Omotosando location. Kids can also attend a special two-hour ‘Kid’s Pizza School’ where they try their hands at experiencing the life of a restaurant pizza chef. 3F t’s Harajuku, 4-30-3 Jingumae, tel. 03-5775-3894, www.pizzaexpress.co.jp/eng.
Suji’s, which, since opening this spring, has quickly found a niche among expat families living in Tokyo. Its New York-style food, hearty portions, friendly staff, and convenient Azabudai location are all selling points for families. Children love the crayons on each table, perfect for adorning the paper placemats or multi-page Suji’s coloring books, both illustrated by manager Kyu. Azabudai Hinoki Bldg. IF, 3-1-5 Azabudai, hours vary by day, check the website, www.sujis.net, or tel. 03-3505-4490.
While Suji’s gives families a fantastic taste in the style of home, several chains from the US, including Outback Steakhouse, TGIFriday’s, and Hard Rock Cafe actually have locations across Tokyo. Check any one of these hometown favorites out for kid-friendly meals, a welcoming staff, and high chairs, as well as crayons and paper for entertainment. Older children will also enjoy the star-struck decor of Hard Rock and the exuberance of TGIFriday’s—the ‘flair bartending’ makes a great show for all ages, even when simply sipping a soda.