Tsurumaki woods


Restaurants & Cafés

Yukinoshita Patisserie


As food reviewers in a city of some 88,000 restaurants, our biggest dilemma is invariably, 'where next?' An independent publication, Time Out has never accepted free meals, choosing to review restaurants anonymously so that we experience them as a regular customer might. The choice is always ours, and it is never easy. Sometimes it's as simple as picking up a promising hint from a trusted friend. In the case of this (apparently nameless) clutch of rustic eateries, it was a picture on Foursquare that piqued our interest.

You'll see what we mean from the accompanying photos. This is the kind of place you might expect to find in Nagano or Iwate, a group of large log cabins with sloping roofs built for excessive snow. But in a Tokyo suburb, surrounded by their own elegant copse? This little dell had to be worth investigation.

Set on a Setagaya-ku backstreet amidst run-of-the-mill apartment blocks, it's easy to spot, though you'd be hard pressed to guess what was beyond the verdant foliage had you not looked it up beforehand. The huge trees suggest a shrine; the mini torii gates and noren curtains suggest a bathhouse. Once inside, however, it's not something you'll come across often: a restaurant complex, housing three separate eateries, a world away from its location.

So dense is the thicket that you can sit on the wooden deck outside the Yukinoshita Patisserie (open daily, 11.30am-9pm; subtly covered for inclement weather) and imagine yourself somewhere else entirely. The menu is sparse - cakes, coffees and teas are about all you should hope for - but it's almost as if food is an afterthought (though the apple tarte is worth a nibble, and could be bettered with a thimble-full of fresh cream). The refreshment is the spot itself. You could lose yourself for a good afternoon here and not know where the time went

If that's what you find you've done, you may as well to stick around for dinner. The remaining two cabins specialise in okonomiyaki (Konamon; open daily, 11.30am-11pm) and modern Japanese (Kogentey; open daily, 11.30am-3pm, 5pm-11pm), and while the latter looked promising indeed, the rural situation lent itself more to a communal, cook-it-yourself sit-down. And we weren't the only ones thinking that way, either. The cabin was packed to the rafters, cacophonous with the sound of families slapping infant hands away from hot plates.

While the staff appeared rushed off their feet, the service was still personable. The chef himself seated us and made personal recommendations from a menu so vast that the family at a neighbouring table took 25 minutes and two rounds of drinks to come to a decision. Granted, many of the pages were taken up with alcohol (mainly beer, and a vast array of sake and shochu), but the variety of options available to fans of the humble okonomiyaki couldn't fail to impress.

And the quality? You'd have trouble finding better. The flavours were strong and fresh, not at all lost in the oily batter mess you often find at lesser joints. The mature cheddar cheese really pushed itself to the fore, and only seemed to develop in flavour the longer it sat frying into a heart attack-inducing masterpiece in front of us, while the mixed seafood creation didn't skimp at all on weighty chunks of octopus, shrimp and squid. Best of all, the price: on arriving at the complex, you'd be forgiven for thinking that a place this visually soothing could really sting you. But no. We left with a pocket full of change and belly full to heaving. It's not all that often you can say that about a quality Tokyo restaurant.


4-14-1 Tsurumaki, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Sakura-Shinmachi Station (Denentoshi line)

Telephone Konamon, 03 5451 8800; Kogentey, 03 5426 1166; Yukinoshita, 03 5426 5677

Open Varies according to restaurant. See review for details

Admission Varies according to restaurant. See review for details


Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


Add your comment

Copyright © 2014 Time Out Tokyo