Run—don’t walk—to this comfort-food sanctuary on the Toyoko line


Originally published on on October 2009

Photos by Sarah Noorbakhsh

Photos by Sarah Noorbakhsh

The opening of Addis is happy news for everyone who likes their portions big and their flavors bold. This outpost of hearty Western food brings all the comforts of home cooking to Tokyo—buttermilk pancakes, cheese omelets, Greek salads, hummus, lasagna, scampi, stew, and lots more. Oh, and the city’s best quesadilla.

Situated in an unlikely spot about a ten-minute walk from Toritsu-Daigaku station, Addis is run by Ethiopian-born Tilksew
Seife, who was formerly chef at the American Embassy in Tokyo. And Seife certainly knows Americans—every time we pick up the brunch menu, we find ourselves humming “The Star Spangled Banner.” At dinnertime, the restaurant serves up favorites from mom’s kitchen, like burgers (¥1,100) and lamb chops (¥2,000) with sides of mashed potatoes and fries (both ¥300).

Elsewhere on the menu, Seife outshines even dear old mum. Instead of pepperoni or meatballs on his pizza, the pie comes topped—Wolfgang Puck-like—with salmon and fresh herbs (¥900). Other inventive dishes include citrus-glazed Cornish hen with lentil relish (¥1,600) and “Addis-style” lamb stew with cottage cheese and graham pita (¥1,700). Portion sizes range from fair to huge—the fantastic chicken kebab with yogurt-tomato-mint relish and cous cous was too big for even us to finish (¥1,700).

Brunch-deprived expats will find a lot to love about this place. The spinach and ricotta cheese omelet (¥1,600, with hash browns and toast) comes with copious amounts of both. The large buttermilk pancakes are served with real syrup and sliced bananas (¥1,100). And then there’s the quesadilla—packed with chicken and slathered with guacamole and sour cream, the dish is a gooey delight.


Addis might be termed vegetarian-friendly, but a more accurate description would be vegetarian-loving—Seife makes a serious effort to provide veg-heads with a good feed. Dishes like homemade gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce (¥1,500) and grilled vegetables with hummus, pita and falafel (¥1,400) elicited sighs of delight even from the omnivores among us. But the piece de vegetarian resistance is the tofu and root veggies in a port reduction (¥1,500). As one of our companions put it, this dish is “inspired, tasty and can sit on a table without marking the eater as the effete, hippy member of the party.” Nice.

Seife’s cuisine, though comforting, never feels indulgent. The amiable chef (who spends lots of time chatting with diners) tells us that seasonings are kept to a minimum and artificial additives verboten. Thus, the refreshingly light natural yeast waffles topped with fruit, tomatoes and fresh mint (¥1,000). With such a varied menu, Seife must make each dish from scratch, so be prepared for a leisurely pace. Another tip: avoid the push-button coffee, and try the authentic Ethiopian variety made in the traditional handmade pot.

Addis’ casual interior features large windows and a homey vibe, with a sinuous bar counter that’s an inviting spot for a quick bite and a drink (the beer list, though small, is fantastic). A better idea would be to kick back, loosen your belt, and chow down as if you were back home.