Lotus {Omotesando}

Address: 4-6-8 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Website: n/a
Open: 11am – 3am (Sun-Thur), 11am – 4am (Fri-Sat)
Soy Milk: Yes

I finish work kind of late, so I found Lotus looking for somewhere that is open late on weeknights – and Lotus certainly is, until 3am actually! Perfect for those of us out late and not able to go to all the cafes that seem to close at 7pm. It’s a short walk from Omotesando station, and about 10-15 minutes from Harajuku station through quite a nice area. Be careful you don’t walk past the cafe like I did the first time – it’s not very well marked or distinct from the outside, with dark windows and only a small sign written in katakana (ロータス). Watch your GPS if you aren’t sure the first time.

When you enter Lotus, you’re greeted with the large glass case of today’s sweets and cakes, opposite the open kitchen where they are making everything right there! It looks deceptively small, but in reality has a massive basement of seating in addition to the small area upstairs. Lotus offers a full menu of food, mostly Italian or fish, at really reasonable prices. And of course, a range of coffees and desserts! Some of the more unique things were the coconut latte, and the caramelised latte. We got both – the flavoured latte came with the syrup on the side for you to add as much as you want. And the caramelised latte literally had a creme brulee-style topping!

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The sweets were also incredible. I enjoyed an apple and sweet potato tart that was fantastic, but it was a hard choice. They had so much fresh fruit on top of their fruit tarts, and lots of chocolate options for lovers of that.

As for the atmosphere, Lotus had a very unique feeling. The lighting was quite dark, but it suited the ambience. The entire cafe had a very unfinished or weathered look tot eh decor – lots of unfinished concrete and rough edges. It was a casual atmosphere that was easy to relax in. Plus, our waitress was incredibly nice (it was table service, not counter service) and happy to chat with us for a little bit too. I’ll definitely be going back to Lotus when I’m looking for somewhere open late (and next time for food too I think).

Pros: Lots of choices, great prices, open incredibly late, casual atmosphere, good service
Cons: Easy to miss, quite off the beaten path, dark lighting (don’t come here to study, write, or read too late at night)

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Fuglen Tokyo {Yoyogi Park}

Address: 1-16-11 Tomigaya, Shibuya, Tokyo
Website: http://www.fuglen.com/
Open: 9am – 7pm (M-F), 10am – 7pm (S-S)
Soy Milk: Yes

Fuglen Tokyo is a cafe that actually originated in Oslo, Norway but luckily has a Tokyo location for those of us not in Scandinavia. The cafe is a bit of a walk from stations on the Yamanote (the closest are Shibuya and Harajuku) but is a short walk from Yoyogikoen on the Chiyoda line and Yoyogi-Hachiman on the Odakyu. But if the weather is nice, my suggestion is to enjoy the walk through Yoyogi Park from Harajuku station to get there!

Fuglen feels very different on the inside to other cafes I have visited in Tokyo. Admittedly, the decor feels a bit aged and ragged, but I think it adds to the place’s charm. It does maintain a very vintage European feel to it and it’s hard to remember you’re in Japan. If you don’t like that sort of setting though, Fuglen has a lot of seats outside along the side of the cafe on a very quiet street which is a great option. And it has a lot of outlets inside, which is definitely a selling point.

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Be ready for Oslo prices though – my mocha set me back almost 800 yen, which is very expensive for Tokyo. The flavour was fantastic though, it was one of the darkest, richest mochas I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. The chocolate flavour was much stronger than normal (which makes me incredibly tempted to try their hot chocolate next time). They don’t have a lot of food to offer, but when I last visited, they did have donuts from Good Town Doughnuts in Harajuku (which are very, very good ).

The hours that I posted for Fuglen are specifically for what is called “Daylife,” meaning the time it operates as a cafe and you are able to order coffee. The establishment continues to be open into the wee hours of the morning for a “Nightlife” version selling alcohol. Plan your timing carefully depending on what you want!

Pros: Fantastic coffee, lots of outlets, lots of seating inside and outside, unique charm
Cons: Very expensive, out of the way location, minimal food

The Local Coffee Stand {Shibuya}

Address: 2-10-15 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://thelocal2016.com/
Open: 8am  – 8pm (M, Tu, W), 9am – 6 pm (Th, F), 9am – 7pm (Sa, Su)
Soy Milk: Yes

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The Local Coffee Stand is a bit of a walk away from the main part of Shibuya, but if you’re looking for somewhere to relax away from all the chaos I recommend it all the same. Even saying this, it’s about 10 minutes’ walk from Hachiko Gate, so still not that far! It’s a bit easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it, but don’t judge it from it’s humble outside and small store front – it’s much bigger on the inside.

The Local advertises “to go” coffee, but you’re more than welcome to sit in as well. Downstairs there is hardly any seating at all, but there’s a lot of space upstairs with tables and sofas. The interior is a lot of unfinished, rustic wood, so if that’s your style you’ll be right at home. There are also a lot of outlets so great for recharging a phone, and free wifi if you want to use your laptop!

There isn’t a lot of food to pick from because the Local specialises in coffee, but the homemade melon pan that I had was very good and extremely cheap. The barista was also really friendly and happy to tell me about all the food they did have that day and made me feel welcome. I stayed for a long time writing in my notebook and no one minded at all. The mocha I had was good, but it was a smaller cup than cafes usually have for the same price, so that was the only disappointing thing.

Pros: Lots of outlets, free wifi, homemade sweets, friendly service, quiet atmosphere
Cons: Coffee is small for the price, varying hours of operation, not a lot of food choice

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Sarutahiko Coffee {Ebisu}

Address: 1-6-6, Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://sarutahiko.co/
Open: 8am – 12:30am (Mon – Fri), 9am – 12:30am (Sat, Sun, Hol)
Soy Milk: Yes

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Sarutahiko Coffee has a few locations in Tokyo, but so far I have only had the chance to visit the original Ebisu one. The cafe is super easy to find if you go out the Garden Plaza gates from Ebisu station, and is less than a five minute walk away. If it isn’t too busy, you’re likely to be greeted on the street by a very friendly barista more than willing to talk to you, and often to give you a free sample of the coffee!

When you enter Sarutahiko, you’ll notice it is actually quite small – the seating inside is limited (though they do have very minimal seating outside the front of the cafe as well, but be ready to sit next to a main road). The décor is rustic and charming though, with a lot of unfinished wood surfaces and country-style touches. Sarautahiko easily has some of the nicest baristas and staff I have ever met in Tokyo, willing to answer questions and help you as much as possible, and several do speak a little bit of English.

As for the all-important coffee – I’ve had a few things, but my recommendation is the honey latte. Unlike the drink of the same name you can find at Tully’s, Saratuhiko’s honey latte has a very strong, natural, biting honey flavour that is in no way subtle. If you don’t like honey though, don’t fear, because there are plenty of other more traditional choices as well! And be sure to get a paper cup at least once, because the art is unique to Saratuhiko only and is really beautiful.

Don’t come hungry – while the coffee is really great, the only food I have ever seen offered is a very light honey cookie, and some chocolates. But if you’re just looking for a good drink, Saratuhiko is worth a visit.

Pros: Friendly staff, convenient location, delicious coffee, original cups, long opening hours
Cons: Extremely limited seating, almost no food

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Streamer Coffee Company [Harajuku/Shibuya]

Address: 3-28-19, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo [Harajuku location], 1F 1-20-28, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo [Shibuya Location]
Website: http://streamercoffee.com/
Open: 9am – 6pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 6pm (Sat, Sun, Hol)
Soy Milk: Yes (extra cost)

Admittedly, I’m not sure where to start on this blog, so I after procrastinating for a week, I’ve finally settled on my first post.

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Streamer Coffee Company is known for something very special – really fantastic latte art. I don’t mean the kind that looks like your pet cat or Pikachu this time, but rather very traditional tulips, hearts, and more. However, they look absolutely perfect! You know a cafe is serious about its latte art when the picture in their window is a decal of a free pour tulip.

Speaking of the building, Streamer looks awesome! There are two locations in Tokyo, one between Shibuya and Harajuku that is quite small (only one room, quite limited seating but a very friendly and comfortable atmosphere) and one much larger one just off Harajuku St and Cat St in Harajuku. This building is incredibly unique – it looks like three shipping crates stacked on top of one another, sitting right on the corner of an intersection. Expect an industrial, modern interior with concrete floors, grated metal stairs, and leather sofas. The top floor also has a balcony so you can people watch while you enjoy your drink.

As for the menu, Streamer offers the usual suspects, along with a seasonal drink. When I was there, it was a honey milk latte, though I ordered my usual mocha. As expected, the art on my mocha was beautiful, and the taste was great – very dark, and pleasantly bitter.

Pros: Good coffee, convenient location, unique building
Cons: Closes at 6PM so not great for going after work, limited seating, minimal food

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