by Kelly Wetherille
Near the West exit of JR Ebisu station is a cluster of small streets known as Ebisu-Nishi. The area comes alive at night, with salarymen pouring out of nearby office buildings and converging on the many restaurants, bars and izakaya. But even during daylight hours Ebisu- Nishi is home to some unusual shops and cozy cafes, making it a good location for a leisurely lunch or afternoon tea with friends.Sakana-ya 1-8-3 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-ku Tel: 03-3770-7032
Customers who pass by this friendly izakaya on the street are greeted with two English signs: ‘English menu!’ and ‘We have a nice beer!’ If that doesn’t sell you, maybe the prices will—just ¥190 for a draft beer and grilled fish starting at ¥150. Fish, as the Japanese name suggests, is the specialty here, and the staff serve up sashimi, grilled and barbecued options. Other menu items include various nabe, Japanese stews that warm to the bone. The terrace out front promises to be popular in the warmer months, and the back room has long tables that can be sectioned off for small groups or used as is for large parties.
Located just one short block from the rotary in front of Ebisu station, this small toy shop is jam-packed with licensed figurines, remotecontrolled cars, action figures, stuffed toys, posters, and even t-shirts and other clothing items. The majority of the products sold here are imported from the US, and characters include those from Star Wars, Avatar, superhero films, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even Michael Jackson. The majority of the store’s patrons seem to be Japanese otaku, but expat kids will love the fantastic selection of imported toys as well.
Continue up the hill from Monster Japan for a couple of blocks and you’ll come to this large, open-plan café. Decorated with colorful cubist paintings and heavy, mismatched natural wood tables and chairs, Heaven’s is open daily from 11am, and has both lunch and dinner menus. It is also a good place for a relaxed drink—either alcoholic or not. A latte comes with a cute design of a bear’s face in the foam, and the wine list includes several organic options. Party plans are also available, as well as a daily selection of homemade cakes and desserts.