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Healthy Italian Aureole

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A tranquil Italian restaurant opposite Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Aureole offers a dining experience that’s extremely rare in Tokyo. The terrace out front overlooks the park’s greenery and the warm atmosphere makes you feel you’re at a café-restaurant in the European countryside. Highlighting the food menu are healthy wrap sandwiches, including the California roll (¥1,280) and the vegetarian (¥1,180)—just two of the restaurant’s large selection of meat-free dishes. Aureole also offers a daily lunch set from ¥950 (includes salad and soup), while casual dinner courses come with risotto, pasta, pizza or wraps, plus salad and dessert (from ¥1,680). Other dishes include daily roasted Yoshida pork (¥1980), handmade pasta with rabbit (¥1380), organic brown rice risotto with prawns (¥1,380), and Bismarkian whole-wheat pizza (¥1480). Be sure to sample Aureole’s fantastic selection of wines, many from Italy. The restaurant can also host parties of 6-50 people, with two-hour all-you-can-drink courses starting from ¥4,500. To fully make the most of Aureole’s outdoor area during the upcoming warm months, come with a group of friends (from 2-12 people). While chilling on the terrace, order up Aureole’s “Garden Beer Terrace Plan,” featuring four food courses and 90 minutes of all-you-can-drink for only ¥3,000. Looking for a leisurely way to pass the weekend? Aureole offers a special brunch menu until 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

● 1-2-12 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3355-8447. Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-3pm & 5:30-11pm, Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun & hols 11:30am-10pm. Nearest stn: Shinjuku Gyoenmae, Okidomon exit.

Bar Six/Bar Cinq

Selected this year as one of the bar/restaurants with the best view in Tokyo by popular Japanese magazine Rurubu, Bar Six offers an eyeful of Asakusa’s iconic Sensoji Temple that has to be seen to be believed. Situated on the sixth floor of the Amuse Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of Japanese traditional art, the venue is a chilled-out, modern space offering a wide range of intriguing drinks and delicious food. One floor below is Gallery Bar Cinq, a little hideaway with a futuristic feel. If you were wondering what kind of food Asakusa is famous for, Bar Six can provide you with a tasty introduction. For example, their Genovese Pizza features sansho—a Japanese pepper typically grown in the surrounding region. You’ll be surprised at how well this combination works on the tastebuds. Meanwhile, whisky enthusiasts will find themselves confronted by a selection boasting eight Japanese varieties. Take the opportunity to positively contribute to the recovery of northern Japan by sampling some whiskies hailing from the Tohoku region. You could also toast the picturesque view with your choice from a large menu of Belgian beers (from ¥1,000). And the best part is that after Amuse Museum closes, punters must present a ring to security to get inside—which might make you feel like some kind of international secret agent.

● 2-34-3 Asakusa, Taito-ku. Bar Cinq: Tel: 03-5806-1181. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-2am, closed Mon & hols. Bar Six: Tel: 03-5806-5106. Open daily 6pm-2am. Nearest stn: Asakusa.

Burger Mania

As the days grow longer and the hot weather demands some chilling out, you might find your thoughts turning to delicious burgers. But where can you find a filling burger made with fresh ingredients to satisfy your aching soul? That feeling has a scientific term: Burger Mania. The only way to cure it? Get down to Burger Mania in Shirokane or Hiroo, and feast on patties made the way the burger gods always intended.

What’s more, there is a lovely summery view from the Hiroo branch. Feast your eyes upon fashionable Gaien Nishi Dori from the second floor, while you sup a cold shake (¥750) or icy beer (from ¥500).

Burger Mania’s NYC-style interior will make you feel like you’re taking a carbo loading-break from jogging through Greenwich Village. Non-Japanese speakers can enjoy the English menus and easygoing, bilingual staff. But the burgers. Oh, the burgers. There are special menus at both Hiroo and Shirokane including a monthly burger to keep you coming back. Some are branch-specific, such as Shirokane’s Quattro Cheese Burger (¥1,250) and Hiroo’s fruity ‘n’ fine Cherry Burger (¥1,250). Both branches carry the Platinum Burger (¥1,500), with 100 percent wagyu beef, while Shirokane’s Mango Burger (¥1,100) will help you feel tropical in the Tokyo summer. Burgers come with fries and salad, and toppings can be piled on willy nilly. Other non-burgersome dishes are on hand, such as sandwiches, so head down and see what takes your fancy this summer.

● Shirokane: 6-5-7 Shirokane, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3442-2200. Open daily 11:30am-11pm. Nearest stn: Shirokane-Takanawa (10 min).
● Hiroo: 2F Hiroo Rokkokan, 5-15-25 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5422-7899. Open daily 11:30am-11pm. Nearest stn: Hiroo, between exits 1 and 3, next to Citibank.
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You might know Design Festa from the massive regular exhibitions held at Tokyo Big Sight. But did you know that there is a Design Festa gallery in Harajuku? Famous in the art and design world of this trendier-than-trendy area, the gallery also boasts a café and bar to give you the perfect space for your creative musings.

Adjacent to the gallery, just a nine-minute merry ramble from Harajuku and Omotesando stations, the venue offers a respite from art-appreciation or top-brand shopping in the area’s mean streets.

The menu offers a range of delicious world foods. One highlight is the Osakan fried rice and noodles (¥525), the product of a collaboration with next-door’s restaurant, Sakura-tei. But there are plenty of other flavors and sensations from all over the world. Drinks include tea from South America, more than 30 kinds of world beer (from ¥500), and original cocktails (from ¥315). If you fancy having your party nourished in Design Festa style, ask about the catering service (from ¥2,000).

And now what you have all been waiting for. The sunny season is upon us and DesignFestaCafé&Bar offers garden seating in the courtyard of the gallery. What better place to have a drink, coffee or snack while enhancing your mind with the creative vibes around you.

● 3-20-18 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3479-0839. Open daily 11am-11pm. ● ● Twitter: @dfcafebar

Legends Sports Bar and grill

With a fabulous terrace, this American-style sports bar could be a great haunt this summer for open café season. The tasty menu is American-themed—though prepared by the French head chef—and the drinks are an international range of tipples to suit every occasion. Launched seven years ago, Legends brought together all the memorabilia from legendary American sports bar The Attic, whose two branches were based in Kobe and Tokyo. Now, all that history and atmosphere live on in Legends.

Legends is owned by long-term Tokyo resident and British national Mark Spencer, who also owns the Hobgoblin, which is just a shuffle away next door. Perfect for a mini-bar crawl. Spencer’s aim was to bring some extra life to the quieter and more civilized part of Roppongi—and there’s no way anyone would disagree that he’s achieved his mission.

Apart from the open terrace, Legends Sports Bar boasts several large screens with multiple sports feeds running off a hi-tech internet streaming system, to keep that world-beating quality. The staff are all female and very friendly to regulars and newcomers alike. Pop along between 5-7pm for Legends’ legendary happy hour, where all drinks are sold with a ¥200 discount.

Feel at home among the international business crowd that’s a far cry from your usual Roppongi clientele. And show this issue of Metropolis for 20% off your final bill (valid until June 30).

● 3-16-33 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3589 3304. Open Mon-Fri 5pm-late, Sat, Sun & hols 2pm-late. Nearest stn: Roppongi.

Nirvana New York

Nirvana was a legendary Indian restaurant in Manhattan, where New Yorkers flocked for the heavenly atmosphere. Now, the legend is reality once more. The founder’s son decided to revive the restaurant, in the form of Nirvana New York, at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi. And it’s perfect for some outdoors action this summer, as the gorgeous terrace offers a panoramic view of the park.

If you needed any more incentive, there is a special early summer plan entitled “Nirvana Champagne Garden.” Indulge in the bubbly stuff on the stunning terrace, every day from 5-8:30pm (last in 7pm) until July 31. Get a “free flow” of champagne and other sparkling wines, plus red and white wine, for ¥3,000.

On the culinary side, the chef uses seasonal ingredients to prepare dishes from all over India, from the cooler north where naan first became popular, to the warmer south where rice culture developed. Taste dishes cooked in Nirvana’s authentic tandoori oven such as tandoori chicken—as well as NYC-style Indian cuisine.

The furniture is designed by Missoni and a warm array of art will soothe your aesthetic as well as gourmet sensibilities. Conveniently located, Nirvana is friendly to both foreigners and Japanese. If you happen to meet the owner, Warren, you’ll get on like papadum and lime pickle. Chat about his past in the Big Apple, while you enjoy the present, right where you are.

● Nirvana New York, 1F Garden Terrace Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5647-8305. Email: Open: Mon-Fri 11am-3:30pm & 5pm-midnight (LO 10pm), Sat 11am-4pm & 5pm-midnight (LO 10pm), Sun & hols 11am-4pm & 5pm-11pm (LO 10pm).

Futbol Cervecería ONCE

“Mexican food? It’s a natural fit,” says owner Tadashi Hidaka when asked whether his cuisine goes well with the sports shown at his funky cantina. Pronounced “on-say” in the Spanish style, ONCE is an exuberant, yellow-walled space with soccer paraphernalia adorning the walls. But most importantly for these glorious months, it has an open terrace where you can enjoy the streamed sports and lovely weather at the same time.

ONCE was opened in time for the South Africa World Cup last year to provide a viewing experience in a Latin-American-bar style. The love of soccer gives sense to one part of the bar’s full name: futbol. Another part, cervecería, translates as “beer hall,” and ONCE takes this concept to the extreme. Thirty types of beer are on offer to lubricate your spectatorial pursuits. However, if hops aren’t your game—or you fancy punctuating your beers with something extra—25 varieties of tequila will lift the spirit and make the night into one to not-quite-remember. Bubbly personalities can opt for new, red and white sparkling wines, stored in kegs so each glass brings freshly forth the aroma and flavor of first opening.

Unusually for a sports bar, ONCE’s food is actually worth eating. The cactus salad (¥1,200)—spicy marinated seafood served in a taco-shell bowl with strips of nopals on top—gives the tastebuds a good workout, while the vegetable enchilada (¥800/¥1,400) is bound to leave you satisfied.

● 101-1-28-7 Aobadai, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-6452-3715. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-3am (LO 2am), Sat, Sun & hols 12pm-3am (LO 2am). Nearest stn: Nakameguro.

Roti Roppongi

This year, the ever-popular Roti Roppongi—at its original location just down the street from Roppongi Hills—is celebrating a monumental decade satisfying countless hungry and thirsty customers with its casual yet chic American rotisserie and grill cuisine. But make sure you catch their landmark year during the summer months, to take full advantage of Roti’s large terrace-patio—truly a special place to enjoy your tasty meal al fresco.

You would have to search pretty hard to find any other venue in Minato-ku with such a fabulous ground-level, outdoor dining space. The patio is secluded and its quietness belies its location in the heart of the city. Open all day with 36 comfortable seats, Roti offers you the perfect place to relax for lunch, weekend brunch, afternoon coffee, dinner or just drinks with friends. If you have a special occasion coming up you could even arrange a cocktail party for 10-60 guests. Discount fiends should be aware of Roti’s happy hour on weekdays from 5-7pm—with 25% off drinks and appetizers. Tuesday nights are fit for the diary too, with 25% off all bottles of wine. Newly this year, Roti Roppongi is now open until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, to suit all classes of nocturnal wanderers.

Menu tips for the summer months include the blue cheese burger with a frosty pint of Stone IPA, the best hummus in Tokyo with falafel, pita and a glass of wheat ale, and many other options for all palates.

● 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5785-3671. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-5pm & 6-11pm, Fri & Sat 11:30am-5pm & 6pm-4am. Nearest stn: Roppongi.

Sakura Cafe Ikebukuro

The folks at Sakura House know a thing or two about bringing people together. As the operator of Tokyo’s largest network of guesthouses, they welcome thousands of visitors from all over the world each year. That same hospitality is on display at Sakura Café Ikebukuro, a casual spot located on the first floor of one of the company’s hotels. Open 24/7, it caters to your daily—and nightly—watering needs.

The international atmosphere—visitors come from over 110 countries—is helped along by the selection of 60 world beers, including Guinness (¥600), Leffe Brown (¥850) and Singha (¥600). The food menu is equally international, including a range of “snacks from around the world” (from ¥350) created by none other than Sakura Hotel guests, to share something of their different cultures.

Sakura Café Ikebukuro hosts a variety of international events once every two weeks. This June 11 will see an international blowout of monumental proportions, called “Fiesta.” Lasting from 6-10pm, admission is ¥1,500, which includes one drink and snack. The party will be awash with both Japanese and international party-goers, so there’s no excuse not to miss it. However, if you can’t come this time, just wait for the next one, as Fiesta occurs on the second Saturday of every month.

● 1F Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro, 2-39-10 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku. Tel: 03-5391-2330. Open daily 24 hours. Nearest stn: Ikebukuro, west exit.
● Twitter: @SakuraCafe_ike

“Wine Dining” Sakura

For aficionados of wine who enjoy sipping different varietals in a cool and well-designed ambiance—not to mention buying bottles to add to their collection—“Wine Dining” Sakura has it all. The selection of 800 bottles in its cellar has been carefully selected from all over the world by the on-site sommeliers—try a few and you’ll realize they really know what they are talking about. The culinary offerings represent a full Mediterranean panorama of flavors, with French, Italian and Spanish cuisine to be had. “Wine Dining” Sakura’s famous pizzas are freshly-cooked in a wood-fired oven specially constructed by an Italian artisan, and you can genuinely taste the difference.

At Sakura you will realize what the Japanese concept of budoshu shokudo really means. Translated as “wine dining,” in this case it says plenty more. Sakura is a wine emporium, with the attached wine shop offering all varieties for home consumption, plus the possibility of taking it into the restaurant for just a ¥500 corkage fee. Savor it with your meal or just sip at it over a chat with friends. You’ll find the décor of the place really fits the concept, with the illumination carefully devised to match the colors of sakura cherry blossoms in the moonlight. Conveniently based in Roppongi, urban grape-lovers will find respite from their hectic city life at “Wine Dining” Sakura.

● 6-1-12 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5786-3939. Open daily 11:30am-11:30pm (LO 10:30pm). Nearest stn: Roppongi, exit 3 (1 min walk)