Lotus Cafe: Hipsters beware in Omotesando
Tokyo has a café for every occasion. While some days might beckon you outside to enjoy fine weather on a patio, others might induce you to sit in a darkened basement surrounded by chain-smoking intellectuals. On those days, head straight to the backstreets of Omotesando toward Lotus Café.
Run by the good folks at Table Modern Service, who helped bring minimalist-style café culture to Tokyo with establishments like the Bowery Kitchen in Komazawa, Lotus offers the same cozy warmth, tasty and reasonably priced food, eclectic ambient music, sophisticated clientele, and artistic magazines for browsing.
On a recent dinner visit, we began with a classic appetizer of Vichyssoise (¥350). The chilled soup had a perfect consistency and balance of flavor between the potatoes and leeks. A glass of crisp Chilean Chardonnay (¥600) paired well with a second appetizer of chilled tomatoes (¥500), drizzled with olive oil and accentuated by strong hints of garlic. For our first entrée, we opted for the grilled chicken with herb-lemon sauce (¥1,000)—perfectly cooked and accompanied by a mound of crispy, fragrant grilled potatoes and charred rosemary. The kajikimaguro saikyo-yaki (¥850), a grilled white tuna filet with miso sauce, was accentuated by glazed eggplant and small mounds of tofu and shungiku (garland chrysanthemum).
By far the toughest choice of the night was dessert. We finally decided on the mocha choux (¥400)—a decadent twist on choux crème featuring a solid chocolate crust—and the two-tiered matcha with white chocolate tart (¥550), which was flakily-crusted, baked to just the right level of firmness, and topped off with a small pile of azuki beans.
As with anything, Lotus is not all perfection. The service can waver between annoyingly over-attentive and near-abandonment. Such is an easily forgivable blemish, however, in a café lifted straight out of hipster New York.