by Kelly Wetherille
On a recent warm, sunny morning, with just the right early summer breeze blowing, I found myself wishing after an airy outdoor café at which to spend a leisurely Sunday brunch. In cities like New York and Paris places like this seem to be dotting every street corner, but in Tokyo they are significantly harder to come by. After weighing my options, I finally decided on Suji’s, a New York-style restaurant near the Russian embassy in Azabudai.
In addition to a spacious outdoor seating area lined with potted herbs and trees, Suji’s has a large indoor dining room in front of an open kitchen. On days with fine weather, the front windows are thrown open, making the inside an airy extension of the outside.
The fare at Suji’s can be summed up as good American-style comfort food, with unexpected twists and healthy extras mixed in. The brunch menu (available until 4pm on weekends) includes omelets and egg dishes, salads, bagels with lox, pancakes, burgers, and even a breakfast burrito. The coffee is strong and bottomless, and the tea is prepared as the Brits themselves would do it.
After settling in to enjoy the breeze on our backs, we began to peruse the menu. Flipping through to the drinks page, we were pleasantly surprised to see smoothies, milk shakes, and even root beer floats—all rarities in Tokyo. We opted for a blueberry smoothie and a vanilla shake, respectively, and neither disappointed. Think and creamy, with an abundance of real blueberries in the smoothie, they kept us satisfied as we people-watched and waited for our food to arrive.
While I was tempted by the hearty omelets and plate-sized pancakes (available with such toppings as bananas and walnuts, cinnamon apple, and peaches and cream), I decided to go with the eggs Benedict, as it seemed to be one of the house specialties. I soon realized I had made an excellent choice.
Never a fan of rich and creamy sauces on food, I had long been put off by the idea of drenching perfectly good eggs and an English muffin in hollandaise sauce, and it was only recently that I began exploring eggs Benedict as a desirable brunch option. If I wasn’t already, the Suji’s version has made me a full-fledged convert. Two crispy, toasted muffin halves are topped with real, succulent Canadian ham and poached eggs, before being drizzled with an equally buttery and tangy hollandaise sauce of the perfect consistency—not too thick and not too runny. Unlike some other restaurants that serve this dish, Suji’s uses the perfect amount of sauce so as not to overpower the delicate flavor combination created by the other ingredients.
My dining partner, a meat lover through-and-through, opted for the steak and eggs. After becoming accustomed to the miniature portions of steak served at most Japanese restaurants, it was a surprise to see a generous 180g rib-eye grace the table in front of me. Grilled to order and containing very little fat, it was one of the best-looking steaks I’ve seen in Tokyo in some time. The eggs are also cooked to order in any style, and the dish is accompanied by a slice of toast and Suji’s special herb potatoes, altogether making for a very filling and satisfying start to the day.
After finishing our meal, we took advantage of the weather and the location, lazing around for a while sipping our coffee and enjoying the scent of potted rosemary with our conversation. When the waitress came to tell us that they were taking the last orders for brunch, we were surprised at how quickly the time had flown by, and how a quick brunch had turned into an entire afternoon of wonderful food, drinks, and company. As mother nature continues to grace us with wonderful early summer weather, I’m sure I’ll be seeing a lot more of these leisurely brunches at Suji’s.
Best table: On the outdoor terrace if the weather’s nice. Prices: ¥3,000–¥4,000 for a hearty brunch. Location: Just up the road from the Russian embassy in Azabudai.
Open weekdays (11am–10pm) and for brunch (9am–4pm) and dinner (6–10pm) on weekends.
3-1-5 Azabudai, Minato-ku