Ian and I made a rather impromptu decision last November to ring in 2017 in Tokyo, thinking that it would be nice to get away from the strange heatwave overtaking our city during what is supposedly winter.
Our first mistake was not checking what was open over the three-day period that included New Year’s Eve and the subsequent two days of 2017, because all of the natural wine bars we wanted to check out most certainly weren’t.
In case anyone is fortunate enough to be heading there soon and wants some places to check out, we were planning to visit: Le Verre Vole a Tokyo, Wine Stand Waltz, Organ, Salon des Saluts, Bunon, or Ahiru Store. Sadly, all of them were closed well into 2017.
On the bright side, after a bit of Googling and guesswork, we ended up at Chatei Hatou: a hobbit hole in Shibuya filled with tenants that all sort of looked like variations of Yubaba from Spirited Away. Nope, no wine here – just supposedly Tokyo’s best cup of joe.
There’s a lot of hype behind Chatei Hatou of course. It’s frequently written as “the coffee shop that inspired Blue Bottle” and is one of most famous Japanese traditional coffeeshops (kissatens) in Tokyo. If anything, the experience was a charming one. The coffee is freshly roasted and the beans are ground every day. As the baristas specialize in pour over coffee, each cup is a meditative spectacle for those seated along the high bar. The wall is lined with cups and saucers of varying shapes and colours straight from a picnic in Wonderland, selected to match the perceived character of the customer. For the record, Ian’s cup was green, while mine was red. We didn’t read into it too much (maybe we should have).
The original Hatou Blend that Ian got was smooth with hints of chocolate and cherry, pairing nicely with a very fluffy piece of Earl Grey chiffon cake. I opted for the “cappuccino”, a pour over topped with fresh cream, orange zest, and cinnamon – a spicy pick-me-up to combat the frosty temperatures of Tokyo’s streets. Both were delicately unique, and well worth the trip.