J Cafe Hakushima is now CLOSED
Stepping into J Cafe in the Q Garden complex in Hakushima is like stepping into a trendy lounge club. Entering through a nondescript sliding door of Hobbit-sized dimensions brings you into a very dark foyer. Make your way between two white pebbled areas and push through the white noren curtain adorned with a huge butterfly painted in black ink.
From here you will be escorted to one of the low-rise, low-lit, tables; sink into a black sofa and wait for your eyes to adjust.
Once your eyes do become accustomed to the low light, you can begin to appreciate the thought that has gone into designing this cafe space, inspired by the world of the oiran “courtesans” of the Edo period. The dark is punctuated by red Chinese lanterns, brightly colored shoji style panels through which the light from outside filters, the few narrow windows along the outer wall feature beautifully green plants; most striking is the illuminated dragon mural, painted in green, red and gold, that covers the far wall. One commenter on a local restaurant review site describes the interior as a western designer’s image of Japan.
J Cafe Hakushima certainly does look the part and feels a little bit special, even when you just pop in for one of their set lunches. At time of writing you can choose from 6 lunch options; chicken nanban, fried aji fish, demi glace hamburger, fried chicken, eggplant and bacon spaghetti with tomato sauce, seasonal pasta lunch. They all come with different side dishes and include your choice from a list of 6 drinks. The sets are currently ¥892, which seems like a great deal when you notice that many of the drinks are around ¥500 on their own.
We opted for the fried aji fish lunch. It came with two pieces of nicely breaded fried fish topped with a dollop of tartar sauce and lettuce garnish, four simple Japanese vegetable dishes, rice and miso soup. It was fairly simple Japanese fare, with not much that you couldn’t get in a shokudo, but they are beautifully presented on individual plates brought out on a laquer tray. All in all, very nice. For our daughter we ordered the eggplant and bacon spaghetti. The staff had no problem with us requesting that they hold the bacon. The pasta dish came with a side salad and a couple of small pieces of bread.
We visited J Cafe Hakushima on a Saturday afternoon and although it looks quite trendy, there were a couple of other families with young children among the couples and groups of women. The staff also seemed perfectly comfortable with children being around.
They have a range of nice looking desserts and their parfait seem to be particularly popular. Coffee comes in lovely Japanese ceramic cups.
In the foyer and inside the cafe itself, there are cigarette vending machines and there are ashtrays on every table. They do seem to have a good ventilation system, but on our visit no one was smoking, so we can’t vouch for how the atmosphere would be when a few people light up. We certainly hope to return to find out, next time in the evening.
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