Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cafe Life, Azabu Juban

In Japan, your apartment is probably small. And that means a significant part of your social life takes place outside it. For some people, their personal life may take place outside the home as well - your apartment is so small that you don't feel like being there, and it's hard to cook, so why not go somewhere, eat lunch or dinner, and spend hours after that just reading or staring out the window? No one will bug you, which is a great feature of Japan.

In the more upscale areas of Tokyo, there are not too many places that create the warm, funky, living-room vibe that prevails in some more relaxed neighborhoods (and, I'm told, in other global cities). Cafe Life is one such place. The cramped and darkish downstairs contains a narrow, perilously steep staircase that leads to an airy, earth-toned second-floor salon with vintage chairs and comfy couches. You'll like it, it's very relaxing (aside, perhaps, from the relaxed smoking that other patrons are doing). One feature that I especially enjoyed (while reclining on the couch, staring upward) was the exposed ceiling - slats and nails, 50-year old wiring, and various aged fixtures. This reminds me of the attic in Pitman, as well as lots of other houses I was in while growing up.

The food is simple, home-style, nourishing kinda stuff. All I can really tell you about is a tuna sandwich ('Vietnam style' according to the menu, but really just tuna sandwich style according to me) and a curry. The sando was wetter than I like my tuna sandwiches (and man, do I like my tuna sandwiches) and had little to no condiment in the tuna, but plenty of lettuces and a nice baguette.

The curry was boiled-egg-and-spinach, which is almost distressingly healthy (except when coupled with the two boiled eggs I had for breakfast. It's summer, I like cold boiled eggs, sliced and salted, and I don't care who knows it.) The egg was crumbled up and mounded in the dish along with piles of spinach, and the rice was topped with fresh tomato (as you can see by the picture, duh). Tasty curry, kinda mild, not a Japanese boxed-roux style dish. Nice!

Dessert features here, and the special peach roll cake (with a scoop of ice cream) was better than most roll cakes in my limited experience (it's limited because they're not usually that good!). The cake was firmer and more textured, not just spongy, and the filling was flavored with real peach pieces. Rarities, my friends, rarities.

With hours that extend all the way to 4 AM and a much more extensive dinner and drinks menu, Cafe Life could become your favorite home away from home. I'd also like to take a minute to point out that it's called Cafe Life Cafe, and their slogan is "Fashion and the hood, music, the interior and construction that is the important element in order to send the life style of ideal us you think the prejudice to all matters which it is related to those", which is very moving when you really think about it.


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