Aside from some excellent parks, outdoor areas in Tokyo where you can just chill with food and drinks are hard to come by. Thankfully, Bonus Track, a three-to-four-minute walk from the southeast exit of Shimokitazawa Station, is giving us one extra option. Opened officially in October 2020, it’s a group of about a dozen stores connected by paths and a courtyard, making the area feel like a small village. It’s relaxed and effortlessly hip – both signature features of Shimokitazawa, voted Tokyo’s coolest neighbourhood in 2019. Bonus Track is also award-winning: the minds behind the design, Tsubame Architects, won the Toyo Ito Award at the Under 35 Architects Exhibition 2021 for their work, and Bonus Track received the Excellence Award at the 2020 Local Republic Award.
The stores range from a sake shop and a juice bar to a record store serving Taiwanese food and a grocery store dedicated to fermented products. You can mix and match food and drinks from any of the shops and grab a table outside, or dine-in at one of the venues with indoor seats.
Here are some of our favourite spots at Bonus Track. Opening hours and days vary, so be sure to check the Bonus Track website or the stores’ social media accounts for updates.
Hakko means ‘ferment’ in Japanese, and fermented food and drink is the specialty of this grocery store and café. You’ll find fermented products from different regions of Japan, from miso and rice bran pickles to sake and shio ponzu (savoury citrus sauce). The café menu is also all about fermented dishes, with multi-course lunch and dinner sets available – reservations are recommended for lunch and essential for dinner.
Cheerful owner Takeda Masada brings the rice and sake of his home prefecture, Akita, to Tokyo at this casual food and drink spot. Inside the pint-sized Shimokitazawa store, you order at the counter, then take a seat around the courtyard to enjoy your Akita sake or beer and bites. In the mornings, try rice porridge with assorted toppings, while in the evenings, it’s time for oden (Japanese hotpot). Rice balls and snacks are available all day.
Bonus Track is the second permanent location for this popular Daikanyama juice stand famous for mixing up flavours like Charge, Flex and Refresh. To produce its imperatively named, freshly made juices, the company sources seasonal organic ingredients from local farmers, which are cold-pressed into a rainbow of vibrant varieties and served in glass bottles (starting from ¥700).
Small but substantial, Pianola Records has quickly become a favourite haunt for local music otaku (nerds) for its eclectic collection of tapes and, of course, vinyl featuring unique and rare music from around the world. You’ll find soul, jazz, classical, experimental tunes and much more housed on its neat timber shelves – happy hunting.
Big Romantic Store is a portal to the indie music scene of Taiwan – the store specialises in Taiwanese records and cassette tapes, as well T-shirts and artwork. Aside from picking up some interesting new music or merch, you can sample classic Taiwanese soul food lu rou fan (braised pork belly over rice, ¥800), as well as craft beer (from ¥700) and mixed drinks (from ¥500).