Tokyo is not exactly flushed with breakfast places open as early as 8am, so when you find one – especially one as special as Tsumugi – it’s worth relishing. Located beside the elegant 400-year-old Tsukiji Hongan Temple, Tsumugi is part of the information-centre facility for the temple, which also houses a cute store selling incense, candles and other Japanese handicrafts, plus a bookstore on the second floor.
The spacious, modern café is decked out in warm wood and soft lighting, centred around a large communal table that seats 12. The best part is, all tables afford a full view of the temple through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The mood is lively yet still relaxing, even with the buzz of morning chatter and the sounds of phone cameras snapping away at impressive signature breakfast, 18 Hinmoku No Asagohan.
For ¥1,800, the 18-dish breakfast comprises a bowl of rice porridge, a bowl of miso soup and 16 little plates of various seasonal dishes, such as duck with sansho pepper, konnyaku shiroae (yam mixed with tofu and sesame), tamagoyaki (Japanese-style omelette), tofu with yuzu and white bean paste, and matcha jelly. The ‘18’ concept is inspired by the teachings in the 48 Great Vows of Amitabha Buddha. (Do note that there are only 30 servings on weekdays and 50 servings on weekends of this breakfast set per day.)
If you’re after something more low-key, there’s also the more traditional Japanese breakfast set, with grilled fish, pickles, tamagoyaki, a small green salad, rice and miso soup for only ¥750 yen. There’s also a Japanese-style granola (¥850), with Uji matcha-coated arare (Japanese rice-crackers), fresh fruit and hot frothy milk to pour over for a colourful breakfast.
Breakfast is served until 11am, but outside the breakfast menu is a selection of interesting sweets and beverages, like imo yokan (sweet potato) brulee, kakigori (flavoured shaved ice), parfaits, Japanese teas, and hearty dessert-like drinks including iced hojicha latte with hojicha jelly.