Menu in: Japanese
From ¥2,500 (per person excluding drinks)
No nonsmoking seats
Snag a spot on the sofa near the video screen
Funky atmosphere and fine cooking
Service still finding its legs
B1 Alpa, Sunshine City, 3-1-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku
Open daily 11am-11pm
On our first visit to Cafe Noise in Ikebukuro, we were prepared for a loud, bustling scene. We didn’t get one: maybe because it was a Sunday night, or because the venue is still a newcomer, but the place was surprisingly quiet. Even so, we’re sure that this designer-friendly spot, located in the basement of the famous Sunshine City building, will soon be generating some real clamour among Tokyoites.
Cafe Noise is one of those places that’s all about the atmosphere. Some real care was put into the design—the feel is part hip-hop club, part artsy hang-out—and the über-trendy vibe is sure to attract young sophisticates. The chairs are plush, and the sofa seating gives the interior a comfortable, laidback feel; vibrant paintings on the walls add some bohemian flair. The real centerpiece, though, is the huge video screen playing the latest hip-hop videos from the US. It’s fun and provides just the right amount of distraction.
While the ambience may be the main draw, the food and drinks also deserve a shout out. The European fusion fare, though typical of other trendy restaurant-cafes around town, is enlivened by the quality of the ingredients. The cooking here really rings true.
First, though, came the drinks—plum mojitos (¥750), which were delightfully refreshing and sweet (other interesting mojito options include mango, white wine and “the Italian”). Flavorful shrimp ajillo (¥750) came with bread to sop up the garlicky juices, and the pizza carbonara (¥730) had a thin, crispy crust and was heavy on the cheese and egg. Other dishes include ishiyaki soup curry (¥780), fish & chips (¥700) and teriyaki chicken steak (¥980). Dinner courses are available for as low as ¥2,500, and parties of four or more can enjoy a ¥1,500 all-you-can-drink deal that includes Asahi Super Dry, wine, highballs and about two dozen cocktails.
The real culinary contenders at Noise, though, were our last two dishes. The beef cheek simmered in red wine (¥1,280) was so tender, moist, sweet and tangy that we wanted to make some noise of our own. The chicken and tomato-cream doria (¥700) was one of the finest examples of the yoshoku dish we’ve ever tried, tasting almost like lasagna made with rice instead of noodles.
About the service—our pierced young waiter was friendly enough, even managing a few words in English, but he seemed overwhelmed as more tables filled up, and he became less and less available as the night went on.
After our meal, we decided to stay and sip some cocktails while watching Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj on the big screen. Cafe Noise might be a bit too in-your-face for some, and it’s not the place to go for a first date or a business dinner, but we enjoyed chilling out on the sofa like the cool kids.