One truism of traveling around Tokyo is if you see an interesting alleyway, explore it, because you never know what you might find. Such was the case one drizzly afternoon in Ginza when we discovered Appartement 301, a gem of a cafe just steps from one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world.
Well, we kind of knew it was there. Pre-trip research revealed just the type of eclectic, off-the-touristy-paths places we had been seeking out on this trip. Finding it was another story, as there’s not a lot out front giving away it’s location. But it’s on the left hand side about halfway down the alleyway; look for their menu board just inside the entrance. Go down the hallway and up the stairs on the right …
… when you see this sign, you’re almost there.
Look for the desk at the entrance and a staff member will escort you to a seat, couch or chair of your choice, and take your order when you’re ready. Appartement 301 has has two sections; one is a more table and chair section for lunches and dinner, and the other is the more loungey area, which we choose since we were only there for a few beers. All of the tables have a button ringer that will bring a staff member to your table. The staff was polite, fast and friendly.
As you can see from the pics, the place has a dark but comfy vibe, like a funky attic decorated in the best vintage store eye candy. Easy chairs and couches of all types were arranged throughout the room, and all the furniture was made from rich, dark wood, like that sturdy beauty of a table in the pic above. Furniture was arranged to create little alcoves of privacy; in the couch behind me was a guy curled up taking what looked like a very restful nap. The house music was an interesting mix of J-Pop, American jazz and classic rock, played at a perfect level.
The wall shelves in the above pic (and the pic at the top of this post) was particularly impressive and endlessly fascinating … wherever you looked there’s something interesting to see. I have a thing for that type of densely packed but visually pleasing look; there’s order in the chaos. So kicking back in a deep leather couch, sipping a few beers while visually dissecting this fascinating wall (and the rest of the space) became a great way to relax and recharge the batteries for an hour or so.
Appartement 301 serves both lunch and dinner from 11:30 am until 11:30 at night, seven days a week. We were only there for some mid-afternoon refreshments, so we didn’t try any of the meals, but the beers were great and the piece of strawberry cake we also ordered was very good. But the yummy smells drifting from the kichen were awfully tempting.
Had we been so inclined, all lunch dishes are ¥1000 (that’s $7.99 in American bucks!), served until 4 o’clock. Coffee is ¥600 ($4.80), tea is ¥630 ($5) and beer and wine is ¥680 ($5.40). Dinner starts at 5 o’clock and prices are slightly higher. A pic of the lunch menu board is at the bottom of this post. Don’t be intimidated that the menu is in Japanese; like most cafes in Tokyo, the menu items are pictured with prices clearly marked. Just point at what you want; no verbal communication necessary.
Even better, unlike some restaurants/cafes in Tokyo, there’s a separation of smoking areas. That’s nice, because in Tokyo restaurants there very often is no barrier between the two sections, making it a “non-smoking section” in name only. Another Tokyo traveler’s truism: when dining in Tokyo, be prepared to occasionally deal with cigarette smoke.
All in all, a terrific time was had by all at Appartement 301.
So when in Ginza, whether you’re looking for a meal or just a few beers, check out Appartement 301. It can be found at 4-5 Ginsan building 3F, Ginza Chuo 3 Chome, just down the alleyway from the Chanel store. Look for Cupid.
By rail: Take the Ginza Subway line, the Maruonuchi Subway Line of the Hibiya Subway Line to Ginza Subway Station. It’s about a half mile from the station.