Bondi Cafe, with branches in Hiroo and Yoyogi-Uehara, recreates beachside dining in the heart of Tokyo—all that’s missing are the surf and sand.
Following Tokyo’s rich tradition of themed restaurants, the Hiroo branch mimics the beach cafés of Australia and the U.S., with open-concept seating and floor-to-ceiling sliding doors inviting in lots of light and giving the appearance of a laid-back beach shack. Umbrellas, wood paneling and low-tempo reggae grooves in the background complete the illusion. Close your eyes and you can practically hear the waves and seagulls.
Bondi’s menu offers plenty of healthy options, perhaps catering to surfers and diners looking to maintain their sexy beach bods. There are lots of greens and fruits, and the establishment is one of the few places in Tokyo with whole-grain bread and rice.
The fried sweet potato sticks (¥850) come with honey and sour cream, which merge surprisingly well—the tangy sour cream provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the honey and potato.
But the grand menu is the star attraction. The grilled salmon (¥1,300), which comes in a light broccoli cream soup, is cooked perfectly: flaky but not dry while rich with flavor. Another winner is the “salmonburg” steak—essentially a juicy salmon Salisbury steak served with creamy mashed potatoes, fresh salad and hollandaise sauce.
For dessert, try the whole-wheat French toast, which comes drenched in maple syrup and dusted with powdered sugar, yet still manages to not be overly cloying. On the side is a choice of maple syrup, honey, chocolate or caramel sauce, or a seasonal fruit compote. Also of note are the tofu pancakes, which can be garnished with a healthy layer of fruit for an extra ¥500.
Hungry diners will find an assortment of pastas, flatbread pizzas and (whole-grain) sandwiches. The eggs Benedict and the açaí bowl—a mélange of açaí purée, apples, bananas, berries and granola—are also popular choices.
Although the main menu is quite reasonable with everything under ¥1,500, the drinks and appetizers, though delicious, are a bit overpriced. The deep-fried potato wedges with sweet chili and sour cream dipping sauce are ¥800, while a glass of iced tea comes in at ¥600.
Be sure to make a reservation—and at dinner, prepare for a 25-30-minute wait for food. But the service is friendly and the presentation and high quality make it well worth the wait.
Barbizon 70, 5-15-9 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku. Hiroo. Non-smoking seats available until dinner.