In our early days in Tokyo, in our quest to find non-smoking restaurants and cafés, we found this West Park Café in the Akasaka-mitsuke district. Our first visit to this place aroused our suspicion that this place was foreign (non-Japanese) owned as we found out that:
1. The place was entirely non-smoking
2. The portions were big
3. Bottomless iced tea service
Although we did not move to Japan so that we could eat non-Japanese food, we did come here every now and then when we missed home. The Cafés had four locations: Shibuya (the original one within a tranquil residential neighborhood); in Akasaka-mitsuke (this one being reviewed); one inside the Marunouchi-building in front of the Tokyo station; and the latest one, at the Takashimaya Food Court in Shinjuku.
The Chinese Chicken Salad half-order was so humongous that it was enough to feed two people (well, two health-conscious Californians). Such big serving applies to just about every item in the menu, including an order of French Fries. The pasta and pizza were good, and on hot days, the bottomless iced tea service was a heaven-sent. Sunday brunch offers rottiserie chicken set menu, very generous in its portion, too.
We have not gone to this place since the end of 2004, so when we returned in the summer of 2005, certain things had changed. The boring straight counter that stood in the bar area was now changed into a sexy curved counter that opened up space in the foyer.
The menu has changed slightly, and unfortunately, at least the pizza we ordered (Prosciutto and Rucola) was not as good as it used to be. Non of the toppings stuck to the pizza pie, and the pie itself was not well made. It wavered between a full-bodied pie and a thin crust, ending up with what looked like a thick-crusted pizza but turned airy and thin when we ate it.
One disappointing new feature we found was that the restaurant no longer was an entirely non-smoking place. Smokers will be delighted, indeed; as will the owner, perhaps, in welcoming more business from people who had been shunned in the past because of the regulation (the Marunouchi location has always been embracing both clientele).
Smoking section occupies the first half of the room that is closest to the French windows, which remains open during mild-weathered days. Unfortunately when the wind blows inward, non-smokers will be trapped in the back half of the restaurants with cigarette smoke…
Breakfast fare used to be good, as were most of the entrées, but we have not had much since they implemented the changes in menu and in the restaurant. We will again review the food as time passes on.
West Park Café Akasaka
Akasaka Tokyu Plaza 2nd Fl.
Open 11:30am-10pm (LO) Daily
Tel: (03) 3580-9090.