1. Ogawa Coffee Laboratory Shimokitazawa
    Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
  2. リロード
    Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

10 restaurants and shops you must visit at the new Reload Shimokitazawa

This new complex in the heart of Shimokita is filled with trendy shops, cafés, galleries and restaurants

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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Shimokitazawa has undergone a serious revamp over the last few years with the station being renovated and new commercial spaces popping up around the neighbourhood including the hip Bonus Track. The latest addition is the spacious new Reload Shimokitazawa development, which sits on the site of the old above-ground Odakyu train lines.

The sleek complex, the work of architect Shin Ohori, is designed to encourage visitors and store owners to connect and interact with each other. The stark white building is accented with lush greenery courtesy of Solso Park, and there’s also a ton of free public seating, with tables and benches dispersed around the building for people to relax and hangout. The neighbouring building – also designed by Ohori – is home to an outpost of Sidewalk Stand Coffee and the Mustard Hotel which is set to open sometime in July.

Although Reload is already open for business, there are a few venues still gearing up to open later, including tea shop/café Shimokita Chaen Oyama, set to open in September. Currently, you’ll find a number of restaurants, cafés, shops, a bookstore, and even a barber shop. Here are a few of our favourites you can check out the next time you’re in the area.

RECOMMENDED: How to spend one day in Shimokitazawa

  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

While Kyoto’s Ogawa Coffee may be best known for its kissaten-style cafés, the chain’s latest outpost in Shimokitazawa is an entirely new concept. Ogawa Coffee Laboratory is not a café, and can best be described as a bean salon, offering coffee masterclasses where you can learn to do more with your beans. 

The sleek salon sells numerous types of coffee beans and staff will teach you how to brew the best cup of joe using a selection of 40 different coffee tools. There’s also a roaster on hand where you can try roasting a small batch of coffee beans yourself in less than 20 minutes.

  • Restaurants
  • Shimokitazawa

An unusual combination, this space doubles as a curry restaurant and art gallery. The must-order menu item is the super-dry Kashmir Curry concocted by chef Koichi Isono of the popular restaurant Bombay, while adventurous eaters might want to try the Death Valley Curry with its dangerously high spice level. 

The gallery is curated by creatives from different backgrounds and you’ll find artworks from a range of international artists. If any of the items on display are of interest to you, you can purchase them on Sanzou's online shop. The entire curry menu is also available for takeaway.

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  • Shimokitazawa

Take a whirlwind trip through Asia at this standing izakaya which combines influences from Thailand, India and China with a Japanese twist. Small plates are a bargain, priced from ¥200, including specialities such as Yonezawa beef giblets, tomato in dashi broth, and chicken marinated in a homemade spicy mala sauce. Drinks include classic Hoppy (an old-fashioned low-alcohol beer substitute) and craft gin from small producers. If the weather's nice, take your meal outside to enjoy on the outdoor terrace.

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  • Shimokitazawa

This bright and spacious shisha bar offers a range of nicotine-free shisha, plus original mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks. The space also welcomes first-timers, offering shisha flavour recommendations including raspberry or mint. If you can’t decide on just one flavour, you can also mix them by opting for a half and half combo. Keep an eye out as the talented staff are a mixture of actors, musicians, dancers and artists who often hold mini performances and workshops at the space.

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After 14 years in Sangenjaya, this little zakka shop has relocated to a new (and much larger) space in Shimokita. A stationery lover’s dream come true, the shop is filled with a mix of stationery and trinkets sourced from all over Europe including French Papier Tigre pouches in a range of colours, greeting cards, stylish wire coffee drippers, ceramic dishes, notepads and pens galore. If you’re on the hunt for a gift or a tasteful souvenir, this shop should do the trick.

  • Shopping
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This eyeglass manufacturer has been around since 1905, turning out Japanese-made frames in Fukui prefecture. The Shimokitazawa outpost takes advantage of today's latest digital technology by offering a non-contact shopping experience – ideal for this day and age during the pandemic. 

Instead of picking out glasses and physically trying them on, a special device will use nine cameras to make a 180-degree image of your face, measure the distance between your pupils and the height of your eyes, and then create a 3D avatar, which you can use to virtually 'try on' different frames.

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This shop is curated by Takashi Kumagai, an active photographer and stylist in the fashion industry. Although it may look like a bookstore at first glance, the shop acts more like an art gallery, offering mainly art books and photo books. The store is outfitted with tasteful vintage furniture – which you can also purchase – along with original apparel and goods including tote bags, hats and face masks. The space also hosts regular artist exhibitions, so keep an eye on the official website for the latest news on who’s showing.

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  • Specialist food and drink
  • Shimokitazawa

Shimokita Chaen is run by two siblings both of whom are certified as level 10 cha-shi tea masters – a qualification that only 15 people in Japan have achieved so far. They’ve designed their shop to showcase not only the taste and aroma of the tea, but also the serene sounds and colour of tea brewing. 

While the fragrant in-house hojicha roasted green tea is recommended for those who want to sip on traditional tea, the kakigori shaved ice topped with matcha espuma (syrup foam) is a fan favourite, but you have to be quick – it regularly sells out. Not to worry if you miss out on this epic dessert, you can still enjoy a simple matcha latte (¥648) or matcha soft serve (¥540).

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  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shop
  • Shimokitazawa

The second outlet by the team behind Shimokita’s Stabler Café, this is a place where you’ll want to come hungry. The meat sandwiches at Stabler are American-style meals stuffed with thick slices of beef. 

The original size is already enough to fill you up for an entire day, but you can double the amount of meat for an extra ¥500. The beef is seasoned with special sauce and a hint of mustard, sandwiched between thin slices of toasted fluffy shokupan bread. There’s also an egg sandwich (¥900) and vegetable sandwich (¥900) for non-meat eaters, and a range of American bottled beer (from ¥500) on offer to pair with your feast.

Stabler also has its own brand of clothing and accessories, which you’ll see adorning the walls of the shop and even hanging from the ceiling.

  • Shopping
  • Specialist food and drink
  • Shimokitazawa

The sister shop of Italian restaurant Bicca in Sangenjaya, Però offers one of the most interesting wine lists you’ll find in the city. As you’d expect, there’s a focus on Italian vino here, including rare Italian natural wine, orange wine and other intriguing bottles. If you find one you like, you can purchase it to take home or have a glass at the wine stand. Don’t worry if you’re not a wine pro – the staff are happy to give you their recommendations on wines to suit different meals and special occasions. 

This venue is scheduled to open in November 2021

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