Cozy hideaway in Yanesen
The Yanesen Triangle - made up of the Tokyo neighborhoods of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi - is not exactly on the beaten tourist trail. Perhaps that makes the discovery of the cozy coffee shop of Minori Cafe that much sweeter. On a sunny day, this coffee shop would still entice those passersby heading to the Nezu Shrine but on a rainy afternoon, it was practically a beacon that called us into its warm interior.
The premises are narrow but never feel overcrowded. A front section boasts three tables - large enough to sit two people each, no more - and the rear of the shop hosts a larger table and a long bar. A bookshelf placed between the two sections offers a selection of magazines, books and kids' reads, all of which serve to entice patrons to stay awhile. For those interested in coffee preparation, check out the impressive collection of grinders and other implements on the shelves behind the bar.
The menu is small but features the usual suspects - coffee in a variety of preparations, teas (herbal and caffeinated) and one or two juices. At lunch time, one or two substantial plates (think curry) are available to order. For the rest of the time, you'll have your pick of the cafe's cakes. The cheesecake and the apple pie both sounded tempting but we ended up choosing the gateau au chocolat. Homemade on the premises by one of the baristas, it's a dense cake with just the right amount of sweetness cutting through the rich chocolate.
The menu is entirely in Japanese but the staff will gladly help walk you through it if you're reading isn't up to scratch. They'll also happily chat with you if you feel like bending their ear a bit and they're more than accommodating to the younger crowd. Our four-year-old was welcomed with kids' tableware and a complimentary glass of orange juice.
Minori Cafe is easy to find. From the Nezu metro station, simply follow the signs to the Nezu Shrine. The cafe is located two blocks before the Nezu Shrine, easily identified by its coffee cup sign.
Photo: Perfect homemade gateau au chocolat (chocolate cake) at Minori Cafe. Photo courtesy of Mandy Bartok