Passing on Popcorn

Food & Drink - January 4th, 2008
Tenku no Machi

A Variety of Restaurant Choices Near Popular Tokyo Cinemas

by Ulara Nakagawa

For many of us moviegoers, it’s always been that oh so salty and cheerfully yellow concession stand popcorn washed down with a giant cup of coke that really makes the experience complete. Or, on occasion, a sickeningly sweet chocolate bar to wolf down as soon as the lights dim so as not to been seen by others as a total glutton.

For me, age and a growing waistline have led me to reconsider glorious cinema indulgences of the past. A large bag of popcorn with butter and soft drink fills my recommended caloric intake for an entire day. And those simple treats that used to get me giddy at birthday parties and amusement parks sometimes just don’t cut it anymore. For some reason, once you’ve tried popcorn with truffle oil, the standard fare can seem a bit dull to the tongue.

Luckily alternatives are so easy to come by in Tokyo, that I’ve hardly felt deprived. Within walking distance to some of the theaters we’re featuring on previous pages, here are six particular choices that may help you make the most of your next movie outing.

Tenku no Machi in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho
Musicals made into movies, such as Chicago or Dreamgirls almost always get me riled up and ready to party all night. Steps away from Milano Za Cinema in Shinjuku’s happening Kabuki-cho district is the huge rooftop restaurant Tenku no Machi, that is perfect for  accommodating that certain high brought on from seeing an energetic film. A variety of Asian cuisine is offered in the beer garden style venue, including Thai, Indian, Vietnamese and Japanese. The equally colorful menagerie of international staff and clientele are laid back and friendly, at times even rambunctious. Tenku no Machi’s greatest offering for fun-loving diners, however, may be its hours of operation: it’s open until midnight weekdays and until 5am on Fridays and Saturdays. More information is available at:

Outback Bar and Grill at Shinagawa Station
A good old shoot’em’-up Western or urban action flick sure can work up an appetite, even if it wasn’t you doing all of those crazy stunts. A juicy set of barbequed back ribs or plate of jumbo Buffalo wings with blue cheese may satisfy the void. Or for those more sensitive Brokeback Mountain types, the Typhoon Bloomin’ Onion is a crispy flower shaped tangle and popular vegetarian option. The Outback Steakhouse Bar and Grill is a convenient stop for before or after catching a show at the Shinagawa Prince Cinemas. Located right at Shinagawa station, the casual and Western-style restaurant offers English speaking staff and menus. Further information can be found in English at:

Buffet Ex Blue at Lalaport in Yokohama 

Buffet Ex Blue
Sure, a good family movie can tug at the old heartstrings, but sometimes there’s nothing like seeing a child go wild at the ice cream counter of a buffet that can bring back sentimental memories of times when a giant dish of soft serve doused in chocolate sauce could make your day. The Buffet Ex Blue restaurant in Yokohama is always packed with adults and children alike. With over seventy food choices in Western, Japanese and Chinese cuisine, along with free drinks and a dessert bar, Ex Blue is a crowd pleaser for all members of the family. Prices are practical, the two-hour dinner time limit is more than sufficient, and children under three eat free. The Buffet Ex Blue is located inside Lalaport Shopping Centre in Yokohama in the same building as the TOHO Cinemas. Open all day from 11am to 11pm, it is a flexible choice for matinee and night moviegoers. More information is at their website:

Uogashi Fukuchan in Shibuya
Movies set in the past can evoke a romantic sense of long lost eras and experiences. If you want your reflective state to last a little while longer before being shattered by the packed train ride home, visit Uogashi Fukuchan located behind Mark City in Shibuya, about a block away from Shibuto Cine Tower. Japanese blogs rave about this off-the-beaten-track Japanese eatery for its attractive prices and fresh seafood. The shop operates as if in its very own long lost era: no written prices—all dishes are set daily by market prices and cell phones are entirely banned. The shellfish platter, sea urchin sashimi and raw sweet shrimp are highly recommended. For further information and map, visit: