Tokyo Restaurant Terraces

by Catherine Shaw
La Terrace ProvenceEating outdoors offers chic, charming and natural ambience

Some things in life defy explanation. Like why eating outdoors can be better than inside — despite the latter’s air conditioning and expensive décor. Even Tokyo’s rain and searing summer are not enough to put off devotees. Whatever your theory, we think it comes down to the thrill of escaping the urban jungle, which makes our hot list of stunning outdoor eating spots the source of serious elbow jostling.

The large terrace with its elegant ivory colored umbrellas at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s French Kitchen at Roppongi Hills has long been a popular weekend brunch destination, but a new menu and furniture upgrade with curved banquette seating has now revealed it as an especially enticing place for all-day dining. Between 6pm and 9pm, its La Terrace Provence Barbeque promotion offers free-flowing sparkling wine and seriously tasty grilled foods prepared by their chef at an outdoor barbeque. Friday evenings are said to be especially popular with the sociable after-work crowd.

Two Rooms Bar & Grill in Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku has one of the most chic terraces in town, with large comfortable chairs and spectacular views over trendy Omotesando. This spot ticks all the right boxes: an excellent wine list featuring an alluring new world mix, the freshest oysters available and the friendliest staff around. Add reasonably priced set menus, the perfect dirty martini, teppan-grilled Sanriku scallops with bacon dust and avocado, and you’ll soon see why it’s worth competing with the beautiful crowd for a table here.

Step past the stunning bar and crisp linen-laid tables at the entrance of Union Square Tokyo, an outpost of the phenomenally popular New York original, and you’ll find their vast outdoor terrace. The menu features what chef Michael Romano calls “American food with an Italian soul.” It is worth visiting just this spot at Tokyo Midtown Garden Terrace in Akasaka for the pan-seared foie gras with pineapple-prune chutney and vanilla vincotto sauce.

Two Rooms Bar & Grill in Kita-Aoyama Chez Tomo, at Shirogane in Minato-ku, is a firm favorite with Michelin fans for its excellent French cuisine with a Japanese twist — and at an unbelievably low cost compared to other similarly starred establishments. Chef Tomo’s tiny terrace adds an undeniable touch of charm to this culinary experience. The vegetable platter, an array of gorgeous colors and flavors, is like a tiny garden all on its own. Le Petit Tonneau offers authentic French dining in a bistro-like setting with French doors that open onto Azabu Juban’s charming “village square”. Menu favorites include predictably good steak fritte, crème brûlée and as one would expect, excellent cheese.

Chez Matsuo is one of the very few places in Tokyo with a “proper” garden setting. Set amid the leafy old neighborhood of Shoto, Shibuya-ku, it is justifiably renowned for its refined French cuisine and traditional service.

Billed as an “experiential” supermarket and restaurant, Daikanyama’s Eataly sells all things Italian such as cured meats, cheeses, authentic gelati and one of the best cappuccinos in town. It also has a wood-fired pizza oven serving paper-thin crusts and delicious melting mozzarella. Their outdoor plaza is ideal for Tokyo’s favourite pastime: people watching.

Located in a renovated warehouse with a vast patio right on the waterfront, TY Harbor Brewery, located in Higashi-Shinagawa, houses a bar, microbrewery and a large covered patio. Go for the wonderful Californian-inspired cuisine by chef David Chiddo. Signature dishes include buffalo chicken breast with bacon and blue cheese on ciabatta, and super-rich chocolate peanut butter brownie with vanilla gelato. The extensive wine list features many from the new world.

The Canal Café, tucked away on the banks of Idabashi’s Imperial Palace moat in Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, is a closely kept secret thanks to its unique location and reasonably priced casual fare. The “deck-side” café and bar offers pizza, pasta and a very popular evening barbecue.

The Forest Beer Garden is also well worth a visit, if only to eat and drink outdoors surrounded by trees in Meiji Shrine’s Outer Gardens. Dining is casual with simple beer-friendly fare like German sausages and grilled meats. Beers include Kirin Ichiban Shibori on tap or draught Budweiser.

The French Kitchen
2F Grand Hyatt Tokyo
6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-4333 8781

Two Rooms Bar & Grill
5F AO Building
3-11-7 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-3498-0002

Union Square Tokyo
Tokyo Midtown Garden Terrace
DB-112, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-5413-7780

Chez Tomo
5-15-5 Shirogane, Minato-ku

Le Petit Tonneau
1F/2F Idea Azabujuban Bldg
2-14-2 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-3454-1075

Chez Matsuo
1-23-15 Shoto, Shibuya
Tel: 03-3485-0566

20-23, Daikanyama, Shibuya-ku
Tel: 03-5784-2736

TY Harbor Brewery
2-2-43 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku
Tel: 03-5479-1686

Canal Café
1-9 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku
Tel: 03-3260-8068

Forest Beer Garden
Meiji Shrine