Escape the Shibuya Crowds at Royal Garden Cafe

By Bonnie Waycott
January 4, 2016
Food & Drink

On the second floor of the Hotel Unizo near Shibuya's Tokyu Hands is a stylish, spacious establishment that's sure to satisfy vegans, vegetarians and meat and fish lovers alike. Royal Garden Cafe is hardly conspicuous from the street, and if you were just walking by you'd probably never know it existed. But it's a delightful surprise—whether you're after a cup of tea or a full-on dining experience, this spot is a nice calm place to know in chaotic Shibuya if you feel like getting away from all the crowds for a bit.

About 10 minutes’ walk from Shibuya station, where the throngs of eager shoppers can leave you feeling just a bit overwhelmed, Royal Garden Cafe offers a refreshing change of pace where time seems to slowly pass by. Its location and surrounding greenery add to the calm atmosphere, and the outdoor terrace seating is the perfect spot to soak up the sun when the weather is nice, although this is also the smoking area so if you’re not keen on inhaling cigarette smoke, it’s best to grab a table indoors.

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The interior is slightly lodge-like and dominated by large, robust wooden tables which help create an almost farmhouse kitchen feel. The cafe’s aim is to provide its customers with “visible food,” and the huge open kitchen clearly adheres to this. The cafe’s focus is on sustainable food and vegetables, with dishes containing locally produced items and ingredients. The menu contains a wide range of Eastern and Western dishes, with mains from ¥1,200 to ¥1,700. Starters include dish fried mushrooms in garlic olive oil with bread (¥700) and a vegan option of avocado and tomato marinade, also for ¥700. The carpaccio with seasonal vegetables (¥1,200) is also a delight. Mains include the sautéed scallop with rice and vegetables (¥1,600) and the grilled chicken with garlic and yogurt sauce (¥1,700). For dessert, tiramisu with fresh berries and cream (¥600) hits the spot, with the rich tiramisu perfectly balanced by the berries and cream. The ricotta cheese pancakes served with slices of banana and blueberries (¥1,080) are a great pick-me-up on a cold wintry afternoon, and go very well with a cup of coffee.

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The lunch menu, available on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., changes every week and comes with a small basket of focaccia (refills are free), salad, and tea or coffee, all for ¥1,000. I tried the dried tomato and cauliflower consommé pasta, which was a refreshing combination of herbs and tomato sauce and very light on the tongue. The focaccia is sprinkled with a little bit of salt. Add a small hint of rosemary and a dip of olive oil and you’ve got something hearty and flavorful.

Royal Garden Cafe offers a nice comfortable vibe in a trendy location, but what really stands out is how attentive the staff is toward customers and how the lunch menu changes every week—the cafe never seems short of ideas. It’s a very feel-good visit and all food types are accommodated (I also recommend the Thai green and red curries!). Aside from the meals on offer, it’s a very friendly and relaxed place where you can pretty much keep to yourself, and even check your email if you have a laptop with you and request one of the counter seats.

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Enjoy some light meals and take in the relaxing atmosphere as you have a break from your shopping or catch up on some work.

The Deets

Address: 2F Hotel Unizo, 4-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-5456-9026

Open: Daily, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.