restaurant_menu Eat & Drink


place4 minute walk from Exit A3 of Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station

Nourish Your Mind and Body at this Multifunctional Café

Published: July 31, 2017

Entering Café GINGER.TOKYO (“Ginger Dot Tokyo”) is like finding a semi-secret club house. Located on the second floor of a nondescript white building on Kiyosumi-dori Avenue, the café’s entrance can be easily overlooked if you’re not careful. Going up the winding stairs, the noise of the outside world fades away and is replaced instead by hints of jazzy strain.



Look for the shop’s sign featuring a record, a mug cup, and a cat, to know that you’re at the right place.



Once inside, the café proves more spacious than at first glance. There are two main rooms: the restaurant-like space in the back with several tables and a large screen, and a smaller space in the front where stools are set at a countertop surrounded by bookshelves.



The larger room features a bar counter above which a long blackboard displays the café’s menu. The drinks list in particular is expansive, offering everything from homemade ginger ale to hand-drip coffee, various cocktails and a wine selection. There are even specialties like aromatic teas and lattes, and tapioca milk with coconut and azuki red beans.



There seems to be no rule or theme to the menu, as Mr. Takayama simply makes what he knows he can make well. The same goes with the food, which stays true to several sets of tried-and-tested favourites, with the occasional seasonal addition.


“What do you recommend for a first-time customer?” I asked Mr. Takayama.


“The dish we’re best known for is the Pork Ginger,” he replies.


The café is named GINGER.TOKYO, after all. I agree to the suggestion. (Later, I found out that the name of the café has nothing to do with the ginger plant, but is in fact named for the owner’s cat, Ginger, instead!)



While waiting for my food, I wandered into the front room—an open, bright, comfy area perfect for reading, with a curated selection of books upon books upon books! Fellow bibliophiles will feel their heart swell at the sight.



Though the books are for sale, they can be perused at leisure during one’s stay. A particularly interesting shelf to explore is the “Shitamachi Bunko”, a collection of cubicles Mr. Takayama lends out to local business owners who fill them with books of their choice. Some owners stick to a central theme such as nature and gardening, while others offer a mishmash of recommended reads, giving every cubicle its own unique colour. The very bottom shelf was set aside as a “books for exchange” area, where customers of the café can bring books from home to leave behind , in exchange for one that someone else has brought—what a charming way to connect with book lovers in the community!


(Mr. Takayama, an ardent book-lover himself, even hosts book clubs some Monday evenings. Interested readers can check the café’s Facebook page for more details.)





And in no time, the food was ready!


The Pork Ginger features juicy pan-fried pork cutlets braised in ginger sauce as the main. This ginger sauce is the key to the dish—a sharp kick to the taste buds that proves refreshing and stimulating. The soup of the day was also delicious, creamy and filling. At only 1000 yen (lunch time menu), the set guarantees you won’t be hungry until dinnertime.



While I was eating, Mr. Takayama decided to change the soundtrack. That’s when I realized that the wall behind him was crammed full of hundreds of records!


“I love records. CDs just don’t sound the same,” said Mr. Takayama, whose huge collection spans over decades and include classic rock and jazz up to recent movie soundtracks. Some records are also for sale. Talking to him about music opens up a vortex of knowledge, as he shares his expansive database of information about the artists and the times that shaped them. He seems to have an encyclopedic memory of his collection—make a request, or tell him your preferred genre, and he’ll be happy to change up the BGM, to suit your dining experience.



Café GINGER.TOKYO opened its doors in 2015, after Mr. Takayama retired from his former job working at the City Office. He wanted to create a space where his vast knowledge of the city’s history and people, desire to help young artists, and his love of books and music could come together and flourish.



The café feels like an extension of its owner—a warm and welcoming space that promises to nourish hungry customers with delicious food (and maybe a glass of wine?) while the music, books, and friendly conversations feed their mind and soul.



Story by Xianru Shen(Koto City Office Coordinator for International Relations)