If you have ever gone to a restaurant in Tokyo, you might have noticed that the tables are usually quite close to each other and a lot of them allow for people to smoke inside. Not exactly suitable to bring your kids, not to mention the food they serve which is often times not to (western) childrens liking.
Here are some of the best restaurants that are perfect to take the little ones!
1. Baby King Kitchen
The sign outside the door informs customers, with a splendid sense of equivalence, that dogs and children are equally welcome at Baby King Kitchen. With its whitewashed walls and leather sofas, this tot-friendly spot near Koenji station could easily be mistaken for a regular café – albeit one with a baby changing station in the toilet, an indoor swing, dinky slide and library of children’s books. In its determination not to shed its grown-up trappings, the place seems to be angling for parents who’d rather stay at home than face another trip to a sterile family restaurant: call it the Bills Odaiba demographic, if you will.
Of course, the food at Baby King isn’t quite as refined as the kind of stuff Bill Granger whips up in his kitchen, but they make up for it in volume; the ¥1,100 children’s lunch plate – hamburger, battered king prawn, fried egg, rice, salad, wiener sausage and small dessert – would probably sate a grown man, and Time Out‘s three-year-old accomplice doesn’t come close to finishing it. The menu also includes a selection of themed dishes that will probably make most sense to Studio Ghibli fans, be it ‘fried egg on toast whipped out of a wizard’s bag’ (as seen in Laputa: Castle in the Sky) or ‘herring pie baked with grandma’ (Kiki’s Delivery Service). However, the kiddy options are far outnumbered by the adult ones, including some quite respectable pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and rice bowls – not to mention a good selection of booze.
Whatever your age, you can expect your food to come dotted with ketchup smiley faces, though we’ve been to maid cafés that were more infantile than Baby King Kitchen. Given the prices, it’s probably the kind of place you’d go to as a treat rather than on a regular basis, and we were also surprised to discover that there weren’t any non-smoking seats available. However, there’s plenty to like about this kid-friendly café, not so much childish as young-at-heart.
Address2F, 3-2-15 Koenji-Kita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Transport Koenji Station (Chuo, Sobu lines), north exit
Telephone 03 5356 9960
Open Daily, 11.30am-12midnight
2. Bills Odailba
The newest – and largest – outlet in BIll Granger‘s overseas empire means that the Australian chef now has as many restaurants in Japan as in his native country. Once again, he’s picked a waterside location, although the heavily trafficked Decks shopping mall is a far cry from the Shonan coastline spot that provided a home to Granger’s first overseas outpost, Bills Shichirigahama. In decor and ambience, Bills Odaiba feels more reminiscent of its Yokohama sibling – albeit bigger, with space for just over 200 people.
The fabled (and, dare we say it, slightly overrated) scrambled eggs and pancakes are present, but the chief selling point is an all-new kids menu, which Granger hopes will introduce youngsters to some new tastes and textures. Denny’s it ain’t: the Wagyu burger, parmesan crusted schnitzel with garlic mashed potatoes, and spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, ricotta, spinach and pecorino are all adapted from the grown-ups’ menu, while there’s also a new dish, grilled salmon with mashed potatoes, green beans and roast tomato. All are available, with a choice of four desserts, for ¥1,100.
Given the continued popularity of its sister shops, Bills Odaiba is pretty much guaranteed to be a resounding success, and it makes the other culinary offerings at Decks look positively dowdy in comparison. Yet there’s a nagging sense of functionality to the place that will probably stop people falling for it as hard as they did with the Shichirigahama branch. Once a novelty that was worth an expedition in itself, Bills suddenly feels a little… ordinary.
Address3F Decks Seaside Mall, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Transport Odaiba-Kaihinkoen Station (Yurikamome line), Tokyo Teleport Station (Rinkai line)
Telephone 03 3599 2100
Open Daily, 9am-11pm (subject to change)
trendy tokyo kids. a few local popstars.
order-receive. pretty busy.
21st century tokyo tea room. quite special. extremely tokyo. fab interior and space. mattress seating good views. still one of the coolest bars in the area.long narrow rectangular room with windows on either side with somewhat interesting view over naka meguro. sisal mat flooring, matress seating, italian mirror chandelier, etched wood block menus, food served on mammoth wooden trays, overhead candle track!
6F nakameguro kangyo building,
+81 3 3792 9898
mon-thu: noon-6am, fri-sat: noon-8am
4. Dear kids cafe
The menu consists of everything kids love, like pasta, pizza, omelets, fried potatos, chicken, etc. The play area is an ideal hangout on a lazy afternoon for parents with small kids.
11am-7pm (Last order for food 6:15, last order for drinks 6:30)
Kami Shakuji 1-25-3, Nerima-ku, Tokyo
Nearest station: Kami Shakuji Station by Seibu Shinjuku Line, South Exit (4 minutes on foot)
No smoking, with kids plate, kids menu, nappy change area, kids’ toilet, kids’ play area, baby chair, nursing area, parking space, and buggies allowed.
5. Tokyo baby café
Don’t let the name fool you—the Tokyo Baby Café (B1F, 4-5-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; www.tokyobabycafe.com/english) is as much for parents as it is for kids. Apart from luxe amenities such as spacious changing areas and nursing rooms, the café is stocked with picture books and toys galore, allowing parents to relax because their children are playing safely and not causing mayhem. The menu caters for customers of all ages, and a limited number of Oisix-sourced organic lunch sets are available daily. Exclusively for the under-seven set (accompanied by parents or guardians) and pregnant women, the Tokyo Baby Café charges ¥500 per half hour for use of its facilities on top of any food and beverages ordered.
A relaxed and easy vibe, stroller-friendly interior, non-smoking area and BBQ goodies galore have all helped make Nakameguro burger and grill restaurant Sun2Diner (Ogawa Building 1F, 2-43-11, Kamimeguro Meguro-ku; http://sun2diner.com) a finger-licking family favorite. Children are also in for a special treat with their very own Kids’ Plate (¥650) including mashed potato, pancakes, scrambled eggs, drinks and vanilla ice cream. Time your visit right and you might also get to see some old school animation along the lines of Tom and Jerry on the venue’s TV.
Near Futako-Tamagawa station, kids will want to pirouette with joy at Pierette (4-15-30, Seta, Setagaya-ku; http://www.pierette.jp), a massive indoor play complex produced by educational toy importer and retailer BorneLund Ltd. Multiple zones—the cyberwheel, air castle, circuit and baby gym, among others—are designed to amuse and captivate kids up to age 12, while the Garden Café provides sustenance and refreshment before and after energetic bouts of play. Adults can rest assured that all menu items have been tested for potential allergens, and choose from either a Japanese or Western set (¥980) as the kids tuck into their own curry (¥530), or a special basket of goodies (¥630). Various admission charges apply.