Jinnan Cafe, Shibuya
the hill from Tower Records in Shibuya, there's a little grid of streets that's home to a bunch of cafés and used clothing stores, aimed at young fashionable types on a budget. Wandering round one evening on a quest for dinner, the one I chose was Café Jinnan, and it had a relaxed atmosphere and diverse menu that will more than likely have me going back.
One thing that attracted me was the terrace at the front, which allowed me to eat outside while still remaining under cover; it gets more light than you'd think looking from outside, but you'll be protected from overbright sunlight or unexpected showers, and the backstreet location takes you away from the noise and bustle of Shibuya's main drags. The interior is pretty mellow, with natural wooden fittings, some low, comfortable seats, and a big mural at the back that looks like a psychedelic lightning storm, and brightens up the room without dominating it. The music had the same effect, a blend of downtempo jazz and trip-hop, creating a warm, languorous atmosphere.
I was presented with an all-English menu, and started with a glass of white wine, which was crisp, refreshing, and more generous than I expected for ¥500. By way of an appetizer I chose the half-size serving of smoked canard with orange sauce, tender and full of flavour, and my main course was chicken over rice; the rice itself was a touch dry, but the dish was a good, satisfying size, with tasty sautéed pieces of chicken, and chopped tomato, onion and avocado, topped with a dash of grated cheese and sour cream.
When I say the menu was diverse, I really mean it, as they have a truly eclectic range of dishes. Appetizers for between ¥400 and ¥900 include avocado and wasabi potato salad, garlic shrimp, and smoked trout with sour cream, and some are available in half-size 'platter' servings. Main dishes such as pad thai, locomoco and avocado burger range from ¥850 to ¥1250, and pasta dishes including gorgonzola and honey penne, or chicken and avocado peperoncino, are all around ¥900. There are two set plates for ¥1450, one of Japanese dishes and one pan-Asian, and desserts for between ¥500 and ¥1000 are a variety of cakes and pancakes. Drinks are all between ¥480 and ¥810; there are three premium coffees (Kilimanjaro, Sigri, Casablanca) and a list of bottled beers such as Moretti, Hoegaarden and Bass Pale Ale.
With something on the menu for everyone, Jinnan Café is a good place to come for lunch or dinner, or to while away an afternoon or evening in casual, relaxed surroundings.