Toritsu-daigaku Station on the Toyoko Line is a place where the express trains don’t stop, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. The perfect gateway to Meguro’s Nakane neighborhood offers some of Tokyo’s finest coffee, cake, beer, and breakfast locations. A rewarding place to explore, especially if you are not in an express mood.
The most important meal of the day
Considering that its domestic and international lunch and dinner options make Tokyo the gourmet capital of the world, it is bewildering that the city so far hasn’t managed to develop anything resembling a halfway decent breakfast culture. Sure, there are pockets of not-entirely-bad breakfast places here and there, but chances are you’ll have to travel. That is unless you happen to be in Nakane, which can be considered a bit of a breakfast hub.
Toshi Au Coeur du Pain, a very short walk from Toritsu-daigaku Station, is a popular French bakery with an eat-in option on the second floor. In the morning, they offer European-style breakfast sets; at lunch, you can sit down with a hearty sandwich. If you plan to take home some freshly baked baguettes or croissants from the first-floor shop, you better come early or pre-order. When they are gone, they are gone. And they go fast.
Another better-than-not-bad breakfast place is Transparente behind the station’s Tokyu Store. Here you will find the usual choices of westernized Japanese breakfast buffets – sausage rolls, sandwiches, sweet stuff – only much better than you are used to. You can observe the sandwich creation in the open kitchen. The coffee is so strong that the author initially suspected he had mistakenly been served an espresso. Further attempts suggested it was not a mistake. So, order the actual espresso at your own risk. There are two more Transparente shops near Nakameguro and Gakugei-daigaku stations.
Savory to match the sweet
Speaking of which: If you tend to romanticize the Japanese custom of cramming shops directly under train tracks, you can experience that sweet, sweet rumble on a stretch under the Toyoko Line going from Toritsu-daigaku Station in the general direction of Yokohama. You will find shops specializing in meat, chicken parts, and chicken eggs (you were probably unaware of how many different kinds of eggs those chickens lay).
There are also quick and casual restaurants serving steaks, curry, and yet more sandwiches, as well as a sake standing bar for the tipple after. At the Hachi-to-Boh ramen shop, you are required to choose the degree of spiciness and numbing effect to your tongue separately. Maybe pick futsu (regular) for your first visit. Especially if you want to be able to appreciate the other delicacies of Nakane afterward.
One pint won’t do
You can’t swing a cat in Nakane (and there are many cats here, but this one should remain proverbial) without hitting a place that will sell you craft beer. That makes it all the more baffling that there aren’t any proper, dedicated craft beer bars. The Slop Shop near Nakane Park probably comes closest. While its main attraction is the big selection of colorful cans and bottles from all over the world for you to take home, there are always some brews on tap to enjoy right at the store. There is a martial arts school a few doors down, and some of its students like to unwind at The Slop Shop after training, talking takedown techniques while sipping hazy IPA. If you are the type to pick a fight after a drink or two, this might be the place for you to reconsider your ways.
Hiraguchi Toyojiro Shoten near Toritsu-daigaku Station has a craft beer selection to rival The Slop Shop’s while also carrying all kinds of other alcoholic beverages from Japan and elsewhere. The friendly family-run business is not above selling you the most expensive wines from the world’s most prestigious makers, but you will find several popular favorites and new discoveries at very reasonable prices in the sales section.
See more spots to discover craft beer in Tokyo here.
Enough cuisines to go around
The American Club House also serves craft beer, although that is a bit beside the point here except for providing a clunky segue. The reason to go is their renowned spareribs that come in all-American flavors as well as Japanese variations (think miso, think soy sauce). This slightly upscale yet family-friendly eatery is neither a club nor will you find an above-average number of Americans among staff and patrons. Membership is not required. Reservations, however, are recommended. If you prefer to have your American-style meal in a more casual atmosphere, visit Stallion near Toshi Au Coeur du Pain for solid J-Texmex selections and (maybe primarily) the adorably overdone decoration inside and out. Or have organic, fanciful interpretations of your favorite junk food from burgers to fish and chips at Takiey, nestled behind the station’s Tokyu Store.
Right across the street from the American Club House, you will find Addis. While officially an Ethiopian restaurant, its menu is decidedly international, and the sociable owner will not hesitate to improvise if you or your loved ones desire something that’s not on it. Like The American Club House, Addis feels somewhat grown-up with its nightclubby interior, yet kids are very welcome.
Fun for everyone
Speaking of kids: Nearby Nakane Park might be too small for extensive walks among the trees, but it is home to a playground enormously popular with children from near and afar. Its major selling point is the incredibly long slide down the hill that makes up most of the park. At the time of writing, this particular attraction has been closed due to Covid-19, but surely there will be a time to slide again.
After the kids have exhausted themselves into submission, enjoy a coffee, a creative dessert, or a simple meal at Kapi Parlor around the corner. The artistically minded coffee shop also sells jewelry and other non-edible creations made by its owner. Or have some high-end sushi at Sushi Kan. Like any sushi restaurant worth its salt on the doorstep, the shop doesn’t appear very flashy from the outside, but its offerings can compete with the city’s best. In that way, Sushi Kan is very much like Nakane itself.
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