by Kelly Wetherille
Long famed as the center of expat nightlife in Tokyo, Roppongi is not just a place that comes alive after dark. Its close proximity to many embassies, as well as Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown, means that the area also boasts some great international shops and restaurants, and nearly all businesses here cater to expats.
This izakaya-style restaurant just opened in June, and is already popular with Japanese and expats alike. Warayaki-ya’s speciality is meat, fish, and vegetables (mostly originating from Kochi prefecture in Shikoku) grilled over a straw fire. This cooking method produces temperatures of 800–900ºC, so the food only has to be seared for a moment before it’s ready. The smoke produced by the straw lends a unique flavor to the ingredients, making for a dining experience unlike your usual izakaya.
Across from Asahi TV (Roppongi Hills’ Keyakizaka) is a tiny ice cream shop that sells homemade Italian-style gelato in unique flavors such as pumpkin, sesame, and apricot kernel, as well as the more traditional chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Ice cream can be packed for takeaway, or served in a cup or cone to be enjoyed inside the shop or on the quaint outdoor terrace on the second floor—the perfect reward after a long, hot day of shopping or sightseeing.
In the shadow of Roppongi Hills, the Roppongi branch of this popular book seller has an excellent selection of foreign language books, including children’s books. They also carry a wide range of international magazines, and in a separate outlet store above the main shop, English books are sold at 50 percent off retail prices, with paperbacks starting at just ¥525.