Release Date: Mar 30, 2017
In this column, I venture around Tokyo to get my hands on some first-rate artisanal sandwiches, followed by good coffee. Have you been to any of these places? If you think there’s some others that are cut out for the next time we do a sandwich/coffee feature, remember to tag us @goodcoffeeme and the area name in your instagram posts, like this, to help spread the word!
1. PARLOR EKODA, EKODA
Parlor Ekoda isn’t entirely central, but like many of Tokyo’s hidden gems, it’s definitely worth the commute. Anyone who is particular about bread in Tokyo will rave about the sandwiches here. I remember visiting many years back; it used to hold 8 people – but there were always twice as many people in there somehow. About two years ago they moved to a more spacious place just around the corner. The menu has stayed the same, the quality hasn’t been compromised, and the popularity is well…. let me put it this way; it’s a real lucky day if you don’t have to wait.
For around 1,000yen you can order an open grilled sandwich with seasonal ingredients and excellent coffee. You can chose from various types of bread, primarily good hard bread, but I usually just ask for the staff’s recommendation. Bread, and other baked goodies are on display in cabinet at the front for you to pick up on the way out. Koji Harada’s team bakes daily in house and supplies some of the best cafes in town with their bread.
2. KING GEORGE, DAIKANYAMA
King George serves up crispy toasted sandwiches, with fillings bigger than you can believe. Their friends over at Fuglen Coffee Roasters look after their coffee menu. Married couple Ewan and Frances, are the young owners of King George – and there’s a lot to like about them and what they’ve created. They’re located on the second floor, with further room on the third floor and a rooftop terrace. I like the third floor where it’s spacious. You can really relax and catch up with a friend properly there.
Timeout said it best when they featured King George; “you have to practically unhinge your jaw to get your teeth around the American-size stack.” For me, I’m really surprised at how brawny the sandwiches are, while still so well presented and layered to perfection. There’s a vegetarian sandwich on the menu, and you can swap and change some of the fillings if you’re craving something in particular! And as for the taste, enjoy them! Trust me, you will!
3. KING GEORGE, ROPPONGI
Ewan & Frances recently opened the second King George, this time located in Roppongi on the first floor of the Roppongi Hills North Tower (adjacent to the main Roppongi Hills).
It could well be the freshest and healthiest sandwich in Roppongi! Similar to the Daikanyama shop, they are offering hand dripped Fuglen roasted coffee… and if you’re going out in Roppongi, you might want to sneak in one (or two!) of their delectable cocktails.
4. CAMELBACK SANDWICH&ESPRESSO, TOMIGAYA
I have so much respect for young people who take the risk to open their own business, as it’s by no means straightforward. Kei Suzuki, former Streamer barista teamed up with once Sushi chef Hayato Naruse and opened Camelback in one of the hippest neighborhoods in Tokyo, and they’ve made it look real easy. There’s a constant stream of customers and they’re really good at handling the crowds.
The Blue cheese, apple and honey sandwich is my personal favorite… but a visit isn’t complete without trying their take on the “tamago sando” – crunchy baguette on the outside, the tamago-style egg inside just melts in your mouth. There are a couple of benches outside to hang out if you’ve got time, but mostly it’s grab and go to Yoyogi Park vibe, with a friendly chat with the owners in between.
5. BREAD, ESPRESSO &, OMOTESANDO
Bread and Espresso, produced by respected Eiichi Kunitomo (Omotesando Koffee, Koffee Mameya), is one of Tokyo’s most popular lunch spots – it fills up quickly during lunchtime and there will usually be a few names ahead of you on the waiting list. It’s a well-designed café, and with the small bakery inside going non-stop, the smell of freshly baked bread is in the air.
Unfortunately we don’t have time to wait for a table this time, so we’re grabbing a toasted tuna and egg panini to go, which comes with a delicious carrot salad on the side. They are using illy roasted coffee, and the beans are on the medium to darker side. It’s well worth visiting, and well worth adding your name to that waiting list.
6. BiRd & rUbY, SENDAGAYA
BiRd & rUbY is part of the Pan to Espresso group (above), about 5 minutes from Sendagaya station. It’s a cute tiny concrete sandwich stand that also serves up a delicious latte, with a few seats inside. The staff there are super friendly and are happy to chat with customers. Our photographer used to live around the corner from here, and still goes back for the sandwiches time and time again.
The sandwiches and coffee are reasonably priced and on display in the show case cabinet. There are a variety of paninis, baguettes and focaccias, all with fresh fillings. We order a prosciutto and rocket panini and it doesn’t disappoint. The bread is freshly delivered daily from Pan to Espresso.