Time Out Love Local Awards
Time Out Love Local Awards

Winners revealed for Time Out Tokyo's 2022 Love Local Awards

You voted for your favourite cafés, restaurants, bars, clubs, attractions and more – here are the places Tokyoites love most

Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors

Earlier this year, we asked for your favourite local restaurants, cafés, bars, shops, music venues and attractions in the city for the inaugural Time Out Love Local Awards running on our Japanese site. Nominations began in January, and we received loads of submissions from Tokyoites. Our editors whittled those down into a shortlist for each category, and put them all to a final public vote.

All the nominations and votes that came in for the Love Local Awards are a celebration of Tokyo's beloved local businesses, from restaurants, cafés and bars to shops and attractions. These fantastic local establishments make Tokyo the vibrant city that it is.

Now, without further ado, here are the winners of the Time Out Tokyo Love Local Awards for 2022.

And the winners are...

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Sumida
  • price 1 of 4

Tucked away in an old wooden house in Oshiage is Spice Café, a restaurant dedicated to serving curries from around the world. Chef Kazushiro Ito was inspired to open his hidden eatery in 2003 after travelling to 48 different countries and discovering the world of spice cuisine. The menu offers five to seven different curries depending on the season. A lunch set goes for ¥1,150 (¥1,450 if you’d like two different curries), and includes four small side dishes, rice, a drink and even a dessert. Come for dinner and you’ll be treated to an omakase menu (¥5,000) which comes with beautiful dishes that look like works of art.

In 2021, Spice Café opened its sister shop Hoppers, offering modern Sri Lankan cuisine in Nihonbashi, and is expected to open an outlet in Atami this summer, supervised by Ito himself.

'We want to continue to spread our love for spices and curry, and keep feeding locals with our top quality dishes.' - Kazushiro Ito

  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Shinjuku
  • price 1 of 4

Berg, located in the underground mall right below JR Shinjuku Station’s East ticket gate, is a local favourite café with a German theme. It originally opened as a plain old coffee shop in 1970, but since 1990, it’s been offering boozy options as well. Berg is open from 7am to 11pm daily, making it a popular hub for people to hang out when passing through Shinjuku. 

During the pandemic, Berg had to temporarily close its café and sell coffee and other goods as a wholesaler instead. Now it’s back open, you can try the signature German Brunch, or go for a simple Bergdog, which is an old-school German hotdog. If you’re here in the evening, try the Half Ale, a mixture of Guinness  hoppy Edelpils beer, made especially by the Chief Quality Control Officer of Guinness Beer.

'We were on the verge of getting evicted, but thankfully, we were able to stay here with the support of our customers. That’s why I feel like it’s such a special place for locals.' - Tomoya Ino

  • Bars and pubs
  • Shibuya

Sound Bar Howl recently relocated to Dogenzaka after operating in the Hatchobori neighbourhood for about five years. Its sleek, self-described ‘neo-classic’ interior and incredible sound system have earned it a loyal following in super-cool Shibuya. The massive speakers in the bar, designed for Howl by world-renowned musician and artist Yosi Horikawa, are made to give off high quality sound no matter where you’re seated. We highly recommend visiting between Tuesday and Saturday to catch the four-hour DJ set.

As for drinks, go for one of the seasonal cocktails or try the owner’s favourite: gin and tonic. It’s made with craft gin from Tokyo Riverside Distillery, and it’s so fragrant it’s been dubbed ‘drinkable perfume’.

'We want to serve as a gateway for young locals to set foot into the world of music bars.' - Yasuhito Tagawa

  • Clubs
  • Aoyama

Celebrating its 27th anniversary this year is Aoyama Hachi. This club takes up the entirety of a four-storey building, each floor decked out in a different colour scheme. It might sound overwhelming, but Hachi is actually one of the smallest underground clubs in Tokyo and features a range of genres including hip-hop, house and rock.

Aside from the booty-shaking tunes, one of its main attractions is on the second floor where you’ll get a view out over Roppongi-dori, which is especially beautiful in the evening. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to join one of the special early-morning Asa-Hachi events. They’re held around the time of the first train in the morning and partygoers get to dance to the sunrise.

'This place has its own personality created by locals, and  it’s rare to find that in any city in the world… We hope that visitors from outside Tokyo will continue to experience the diversity we offer, and become a place where people can easily hang out.' - Haruki Shimizu

  • Shopping
  • Harajuku

Heshdawgz has been on Harajuku’s Cat Street since 2005, opened by skater Yosuke CB Ishii, who’s been skateboarding for eight years. The store carries colourful skateboard decks, apparel and other knick-knacks from a range of skating brands. Unlike other skateboard shops, the selection here is all based on what the owner is into, not just what’s trendy. The shop has a big following around the world, too. Don’t believe us? Check out the graffiti tags and signatures of international pro skaters on the walls. 

'I’m heavily influenced by San Francisco so naturally, Heshdawgz incorporates the chaotic aspects of the city. Hence why the store doesn’t have a seamless concept. I hope to continue promoting skate culture to those who are already interested in, and also new to, the sport.' - Yosuke CB Ishii

  • Things to do
  • Koenji

This long-established bathhouse in Koenji has become a sanctuary for local residents, and a recent renovation turned it into a three-storey building in 2020. It was even recognised as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property in 2021, which convinced owner Yusuke Hiramatsu that it’s his duty to spread bathhouse culture to future generations. Sento usually attract the elderly and families with small children, but 60 percent of the visitors at Kosugi-yu are in their 20s and 30s.

Here you can take a dip in a milk bath, one of the fragrant baths that change daily, the bedrock bath, a jacuzzi and more. Pay attention to the stunning wall mural inside, painted by Kiyoto Maruyama.

'Bathhouses are an important part of the Japanese livelihood and I feel like it’s definitely been sought after since the pandemic. It’s the best feeling when you take a dip in a bath after a long day at work.' - Yusuke Hiramatsu

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