It’s a universal fact that, no matter what else occupies a space, be it a hideous carpet or one too many motivational life quotes, string lights in any capacity can transform a room into a cinematic experience. Modeled after an atelier and inspired by Brooklyn’s dreamy Coney Island landscape, the cafe and dining space known as “and people” takes the magic of these glowing ornaments, plus other decorative tropes, to a new level. The bustling eatery located not far from Shibuya Parco merges quality cuisine and theatrics to deliver on its promise of being “an extraordinary space amidst the ordinary.”

and people jinnan

Candles and vintage lamps foster a cozy ambiance.

and people jinnan opened in early 2015 and is one of three locations to boast the now wildly popular name. The newest cafe, and people ginza, made a recent cameo on TV Asahi’s Saturday night drama, “Ossan’s Love,” boosting the restaurant’s reputation as a sought out spot among Tokyo’s hip localites. With high ceilings and a dining area that stretches across an entire floor of a commercial building, the Jinnan outpost doubles down on its aesthetic appeal. Between rows of hanging glass bulbs are various industrial and antique lamps that illuminate the floor in welcoming gold hues. Candlelit tables and several nude, chiseled Greek statues make romance an inevitable mood.

There’s more than meets the eye at the trendy Shibuya cafe, and there’s much to see as it is.

Even in the middle of the week, the restaurant is packed, with the majority of clientele being young women — either in college or working — looking for a cozy place to wind down with friends and enjoy a good meal while thoroughly indulging in the cafe’s charming ambiance. It’s not until the lights go out, however, that the real treat presents itself. Every hour starting at around 7pm, the lamps dim and upbeat music fills the room as the restaurant converts into its own makeshift cinema. Nature footage and other videos — crashing waves, waterfalls, a sky filled with incandescent lamps — are projected onto a row of curtains against the back wall as guests reach for their phones to capture a quick snap.

and people jinnan

Carbonara is the cafe’s top pasta dish.

While concepts and over-the-top aesthetics run the risk of being more contrived than they are authentic or truly meaningful, particularly within a restaurant setting, and people jinnan is hardly disappointing in that the food actually delivers. In a slight plot twist, the lunchtime menu features traditional Japanese teishoku (set meal) options. It’s a bit off-putting to see a tray of rice, pickles, miso soup and grilled shima hokke (atka mackerel) — delicious, albeit not exactly chic — appear in the otherwise Western-inspired atmosphere. Nonetheless, the fish is just the right amount of crispy and juicy, and the chicken nanban (deep-fried chicken thigh with a creamy tartar sauce) is as good as any that exists in more orthodox teishoku joints. The price is reasonable (¥890 per set) given the cafe’s location, and at an additional cost of ¥100, guests have access to the drink bar, which features coffee, tea and other beverages.

The gears switch come dinnertime with an Italian and fusion menu, offering everything from fresh caprese salad to pizza margherita, scallop risotto and pasta. All ingredients are carefully selected. The margherita (¥1,200), for example, comes topped with dried tomatoes and basil imported from Italy. Some dishes are more local. The liver pâté (¥550), which pairs excellently with the “select wine,” a boisterous merlot from Washington’s Stimson Estate Cellars, is comprised of premium Hokkaido pork. The star of the show, however, is the carbonara. The beloved Italian classic seems to appear on every table, at one point or another, throughout the evening. The spaghetti is perfectly al dente, and the chopped bacon — a guanciale (cured pork cheek) that has been cured with herbs and spices for two months — adds irresistible texture and richness to what is undoubtedly the restaurant’s top pasta dish (¥1,150).

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There’s more than meets the eye at the trendy Shibuya cafe, and there’s much to see as it is. When the elevator opens on the sixth floor, guests are enveloped in a mood that feels more magical than the scrambling metropolis below. Guided through rows of countless glowing orbs and furniture that is more reminiscent of a friend’s living room than a chic dining hall, time begins to slow down a bit. The restaurant is all about making ordinary affairs a little more special. Grabbing a bite to eat, ordering a drink or two and taking the time to talk with the people in our lives — all of this begins to feel less mundane, and even a bit extraordinary, at and people.

and people jinnan
1-20-5 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
12pm – 11:30pm (Mon – Sun)