Cookcoop Cafe

Cookcoop Cafe

Enjoy a taste of home in Shinjuku’s trendy new shopping mecca


Originally published on on June 2009

Photos courtesy of Café Company

Photos courtesy of Café Company

Finding a café that fits your personality just right is one of the great pleasures in life. For us, that means a place to curl up with a bowl of hot coffee on a Sunday afternoon. Somewhere funkier and more creative than a certain ubiquitous chain store, but more relaxed than those self-conscious teashops filled with straight-backed chairs. A café that wouldn’t turn its nose up at worn-in jeans and a soft, comfy sweater.

While we’ve yet to find the coffee shop of our dreams here in Tokyo, there are a few places that come close enough. With its location in the brand-new, unfailingly fashionable Shinjuku Marui building, Cookcoop might not at first seem to fit our criteria. Yet we were happy to discover that it’s not all that far off the mark.

Having to pass through swarms of trendy Marui shoppers necessitates a certain level of outfit assembly, but Cookcoop itself is undeniably homey. Exposed brick, unfinished ceilings and a concrete floor give the restaurant the feel of an airy New York loft, and plant arrangements courtesy of Aoyama Flower Market add a touch of garden tranquility.

On a recent Saturday evening, the tables were split fairly evenly between groups of women lounging after a hard afternoon shopping and couples on dates. As our friend aptly put it, “This isn’t a place guys would come to alone.”

We could happily visit Cookcoop when we’re in the mood for a coffee, but the dinner menu is also decent value. Each set meal includes a choice of entrée, dessert and a drink for ¥1,500. Main dishes cover all the bases, from a steamed vegetable “farmer’s pie” to basil and mozzarella pasta and a “flower garden” salad. Unable to resist the lure of avocado in any of its forms, we chose the tuna and avocado pie, which comes with a small side salad and a shot glass of tomato juice. The pastry was flaky and buttery, covered with the tuna-avocado mixture and just slightly baked. A bit more like a knife-and-fork croissant sandwich than a pie, but the flavors and textures were savory and satisfying.

Being a trendy, female-oriented café, the portion sizes at Cookcoop aren’t enormous, so we were left with plenty of room for dessert. Once again, too many options made for a difficult decision. After wavering between ruby grapefruit tart, seasonal fruit pie and soy milk panna cotta, we chose the tiramisu. The dish that arrived was a small glass bowl of raspberries, coffee-flavored mousse and mini cubes of chocolate cake. Tasty, yes, though we couldn’t help but wonder if the cooks had ever actually seen a genuine tiramisu.

Cookcoop also offers specialty drinks, among which are two flavors of Italian soda: berry-beet and lime-mint (¥680). Intrigued by both combinations, we ordered the lime and mint soda—and wished we hadn’t. Overpoweringly strong and with a syrupy mint taste, it was practically undrinkable.
Unfortunate soda aside, Cookcoop Café is a satisfying experience—as long as you stick to the set options and don’t arrive too hungry. If nothing else, the comfy chairs and homey atmosphere will make you want to come back just to sit and chat.