Enjoy a Luxury Japanese Dining Experience at La Porte Aoyama in Tokyo's High-End Aoyama District
When Tokyo is often referred to as a whole, it can be easy to forget that it comprises of many sightseeing and gourmet food areas all unique in their own right, including Shibuya, Harajuku, Ueno, and Asakusa. The Aoyama area in particular is known as the epitome of sophistication, and a source of Japan's more mature, elegant trends. Separate from the bustling areas of Tokyo that have a more traditional allure, Aoyama presents a cool, modern atmosphere for chic adults. The La Porte Aoyama shopping complex is at the center of this elite district, and features a gathering of many of the most popular high-end stores in the area. This article investigates some of the most noteworthy restaurants in the Aoyama area to uncover the secrets to their popularity.
Sep 25 2019 (Apr 15 2020)
*This article was made in collaboration with La Porte Aoyama.
・BENOIT | 10F
BENOIT is a long-standing bistro in Paris that has been adored for over a century. Continuing its name and spirit, the BENOIT in Aoyama opened in 2005 under the supervision of the world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse. At the bottom of a winding staircase, a model of BENOIT’s symbolic Eiffel Tower welcomes you to its bright dining room encircled by large glass-paneled windows.
Most of the interior furniture was imported directly from France, including oakwood floors reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles, classic cement latticework, and walnut bistro tables. The bright, warm ambience that pervades the restaurant makes it feel as though it could be a villa in the south of France. Antique glass bottles, steel boxes, and unglazed pottery all lend an accent to the interior design - of course, all were personally chosen by Alain Ducasse at flea markets in France. Up above on the ceiling is a dazzling fresco that recalls a Provence sky.
The menu is simply that of a Parisian bistro, and dishes come in generous portions, combining seasonal French and Japanese ingredients into a modern rendering of bistro cuisine. Wines are available from various regions of France, including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Corsica, Languedoc-Roussillon, Côtes du Rhône, and Provence. With glasses starting from 950 yen and bottles from 5,800 yen, there is a wide selection ranging from standard labels to luxurious Grand Vin labels.
Aside from Paris and Tokyo, there is another BENOIT in New York, each with a different menu and atmosphere tailored to its location.
French restaurants may give you an impression of exclusivity, but BENOIT is in fact enjoyed by a wide customer base, including older visitors who stop by after sightseeing in nearby areas such as the Meiji Shrine, and people in their 20s and 30s who frequent the lunch servings. Spending a relaxing afternoon in the warm sunlight or enjoying the mesmerizing Aoyama night view over authentic Parisian bistro dishes is a wonderful way to spend your time. Some of their staff are French, allowing BENOIT to accommodate English and French, so international visitors can enjoy the restaurant in comfort as well.
・Casita | 3F
Casita’s motto is “to always be the restaurant where diners can feel the warmth of people.” This charming restaurant with many locations worldwide offers course menus for celebrations and special dinners, as well as à la carte menus so that customers can visit for more casual meals, too.
The courteous doorman who welcomes you into the restaurant is only a first glimpse of their exceptional service, which includes providing personalized message cards and name-embroidered napkins for celebrations. Unsurprisingly, this restaurant is a very popular spot for hosting special occasions. There are a range of spaces are available, including a 22-person private room, and enough room overall for 80 people seated or 150 people standing. Weather permitting, the terrace space can also be utilized, pushing the capacity to up to 200 people for larger events.
The greatest feature of this restaurant is how they pair a delicious, Western-style menu with a keenly attentive Japanese sense of service. The terrace seating is a popular place to host parties thanks to its refreshingly open atmosphere, but the entire restaurant is amazingly versatile. For example, it's possible to dine on the 3rd floor, then move to the terrace or lounge on the 6th floor for some drinks afterwards.
The versatility is also not just limited to the physical spaces, but also the atmosphere. Casita is appreciated by its patrons for how comfortably it can cater to a range of formality, from business functions and dates, to family gatherings. Their lunches start from 2,500 yen, and it's also possible to only have dessert or to simply head to their bar. For non-Japanese speakers, they provide English menus, and can accommodate English and French over the phone or via email for reservations. You can even request halal or vegan options in advance. In the cozy and warm atmosphere of Casita, they see to it that your day is valued and that you leave with a full stomach and a full heart.
The restaurant Aoyama Shokudo, located in the basement level, is affiliated with Casita and Casita Lounge (6F). Should you request it, they are happy to provide you with menu items from Aoyama Shokudo, too.
・Casita Lounge | 6F
The meals at Casita Lounge are provided by its affiliated restaurants, Casita and Aoyama Shokudo. Casita offers delicious Italian dishes, while Aoyama Shokudo offers a wide variety of more casual dishes that are essential to informal gatherings such as French fries, fried chicken, tofu, salad, and Japanese Neapolitan spaghetti. The elegant restaurant lounge is often frequented by those who enjoy casual food served at izakaya (Japanese pubs), but not their typically busy and loud atmosphere. A calm and luxurious experience is guaranteed here, and their selection of drinks and wines is remarkable.
In order to be as accommodating to their customers as possible, especially when it comes to customizations for parties, they make an effort to never respond with an immediate “no”. Even if the space cannot cater to something, they strive to provide alternative options to ensure the customer’s satisfaction with the final arrangement.
Casita Lounge can also ensure your privacy with a karaoke room. It has a capacity of 10 to 13 people, and is offered for 15,000 yen per two hours. That makes it quite a reasonable price if split by a large group, and with a comfort and ease that matches regular karaoke chains, this private karaoke is said to be popular with VIP guests.
Aoyama Hoshi no Naruki | 4F
Aoyama Hoshi no Naruki serves up kaiseki cuisine (Japanese multicourse cuisine) that is made using innovative techniques while still maintaining traditional Japanese elements passed down from long ago. The restaurant is molded around the concept of “Learning from the past = Traditions x Innovation”, and they stock a wide selection of rare, high-quality Japanese wines, as well as Japanese sake and shochu that have been carefully selected from all over Japan. Their top-notch kaiseki offerings are served along with suggestions of various alcohol pairings, and it’s guaranteed to provide you with an amazing restaurant experience that will leave an unforgettable imprint of the Japanese spirit of “wa” within you.
The top recommendation here is the chef’s masterpiece, the Takumi Course (15,000 yen plus tax). It is luxuriously made with a generous serving of seasonal, top-quality ingredients that you can thoroughly enjoy with both your eyes and your taste buds.
There are seven private rooms with a capacity for anywhere from 4 to 70 people, so it’s not only a great place for tourists looking to try exceptional Japanese cuisine during their travels, but it’s also perfect for those looking for more private, luxurious settings for special events like business dinners, social gatherings, corporate banquets, welcome and farewell dinners, alumni meetings, and so on. How about coming to this modern, relaxed space set apart from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to savor in sumptuous Japanese fare and peer out at the night sky of Aoyama? There are English menus available, and they are accustomed to providing great service to foreign patrons as well. This restaurant is very popular, and it is always completely packed with customers who made reservations readily in advance, so we recommend that you make a reservation beforehand with your hotel concierge or by any other methods at hand.
ALFRED TEA ROOM | 1F・2F
ALFRED TEA ROOM is a tea brand that originated from Los Angeles, and the store in La Porte Aoyama is their main Japanese branch. With millennial pink-toned designs and carefully-selected tea blends, this tea room's menu has been developed to offer guests an experience of authentic, delicious tea in a fun and casual environment.
Boba tea has become quite popular with the younger generation in Japan, and ALFRED TEA ROOM is one of the most highly sought-after spots for it. That being said, they aren’t just like any other bubble tea shop on the street thanks to the emphasis they place on the quality of the tea. A selection of tea from around the world is assembled by a tea master, which can then be combined with toppings such as boba and nata de coco. They have vegetarian and vegan-friendly items and options as well, including vegan cupcakes and almond milk-based teas. On top of all of these, the Instagram-worthy photos that can be taken in ALFRED TEA ROOM’s designer store interior is another reason for its extreme popularity.
From its interior design to drinks and desserts, this store is a photogenic spectacle. While maintaining the top quality of the base tea, including hand-selected Japanese and Taiwanese teas, they serve creative drinks such as tea made pink with beet powder. Despite their high-quality standards and elegant atmosphere, their intention is not to be an unapproachable, high-end store but rather a welcoming street-side cafe. By providing a menu full of originality and current tastes, they attract people of all ages and nationalities.
ELLE café | 1F・2F
The popular fashion magazine ELLE was first published in 1945 in France. Based around the idea “open your appetite”, ELLE café draws upon ELLE Magazine’s focus on fashion, beauty, leisure, and health that has captured its readers’ hearts. This cafe offers a way of eating that allows modern people to shine more beautifully with healthy minds and bodies. The airy, natural feel of this lush, plant-filled cafe creates a relaxing space to enjoy. With a passion for local ingredients, ELLE café offers dishes made only from ingredients that meet their strict internal standards. In other words, ELLE café is created with the same heartfelt attention to detail that their magazine is known for.
Each dish is as lovely as a carefully-crafted issue of ELLE Magazine, and the beautiful dishes served here are as vibrant as a piece of art or fashion. With plant-based dishes and gluten-free, low sugar, and low calorie options, ELLE café endeavors to meet the needs of the modern diner while committing to an uncompromising approach to flavor. Their lunch menu, which includes free extra helpings of black tea and bread, is so popular that it regularly attracts lines out the door. If you don’t have the time for lunch out, come by for a leisurely dinner. A romantic party in the candle-lit ELLE café is sure to delight.
Salad boxes, nutrition-based herbal curries, muffin cakes, and cold-pressed juices are also available for take-out. Satisfy your spirit and appetite in ELLE Cafe’s blissfully relaxing space.
Room 403 | 1F
The jewelry store Room 403 sells a wide range of delicate and elegant designs with the concept of, “A workshop producing fine luxury”. Room 403’s pieces are all individually handcrafted by skilled craftspeople and usually made with diamonds or gold (10 or 18 carats).
Particularly recommended is the Orne Pinkie Ring (Pair Ring) (20,000 yen plus tax). Room 403’s classic pair rings have attracted plenty of attention for their delicate, simple designs. A full range of other pair items including bracelets and necklaces are available, and just browsing might have you itching to reach for your credit card!
Room 403’s rings are based around subtle, elegant designs that don’t announce themselves too loudly. The fact they can meld well with so many styles and occasions is one of the reasons they’ve earned such loyal fans. Another highlight is the ability to customize your look by mix-and-matching pieces or stacking rings for a bolder look.
The items sold here are only available in Japan, so don’t miss your chance to browse during your visit to Tokyo. While English-speaking staff are not always in-store, a phone interpreting service that can support English, Chinese, Korean, and Thai is available, so you can enjoy your shopping experience without the stress of language barriers.
Basement Level Restaurant Area
The upper floors of La Porte Aoyama feature high-end restaurants in line with the atmosphere of the area, but the basement level has many restaurants that are more affordable and appealing to the general population. They are enjoyed for their sense of everyday familiarity and approachability whether you're stopping by for lunch, dinner, or just a quick drink.
Aoyama Shokudo | B1F
Aiming to be the ultimate shokudo, the Japanese equivalent of a diner, Aoyama Shokudo makes sure to maintain their affordable price point while devoting themselves to providing high-quality dishes made with fresh ingredients. This restaurant features a large menu to suit a range of preferences, and is frequented by solo diners, friends, as well as couples for the approachable and homely atmosphere here.
Their selection of seafood items, including sashimi and tempura, is especially impressive. All the fish served here is fresh straight from the market that day and can be enjoyed with their divine selection of high-quality sake. The sake variety has a range from dry to fruity, and the restaurant suggests asking the staff for the recommendation of the day.
The restaurant only serves items on their menu that they have tried and enjoyed themselves, taking into account opinions from frequent customers and constantly sharing new ideas. To be able to dine at such a charming restaurant in the center of Tokyo is an incredible opportunity.
The popularity of this restaurant is made apparent by one of their regular frequenters who comes in over 20 times a month. They make an effort to create space for communication with the customers by welcoming conversations and small talk. The busiest time at this restaurant is around 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm (groups stay for around 1.5 hours), so it is recommended to avoid visiting during those times if you want to secure a seat quickly.
Yashuya | B1F
Yashuya is special for their ability to provide partitioned seating spaces and seasonal Japanese cuisine for affordable prices in the high-end location of Aoyama. It has a simple wooden interior that lends a sense of calm to its lively atmosphere, resulting in a relaxed and mature space that leaves a lasting impression. The restaurant was in fact designed by the same designer of the very first MUJI store, which was also built in Aoyama. It is so popular that they can usually only accept one or two groups of walk-in customers a day. From business gatherings and reunions to more casual settings, around 90% of their customers are those with reservations.
Regardless of when you visit, the restaurant exudes a seasonal atmosphere with its menu which is filled with the season's fresh ingredients and dishes. Their sashimi assortment is made from fish acquired straight from the market that day, and changes frequently in order to use fish that are currently in season. The menu itself is also redesigned about every other month to update the seasonal dishes and offer an exquisite dining experience that conveys the wealth of Japanese cuisine.
According to the owner Shibuya, most reservations are made in Japanese either via phone call or online through websites such as Ikyu, Tabelog, and Hot Pepper, so non-Japanese speakers are recommended to make a reservation via a concierge service.
COSARI TOKYO | B1F
COSARI TOKYO serves Korean cuisine that brings together both the new and old. The owner is an expert on vegetables, and they firmly believe that “food makes you beautiful and healthy”. As a result, they strive to use plenty of select seasonal ingredients, and they make it a point not to use MSG in their top-quality Korean dishes. Their most attractive appeal is that they enjoy taking ideas of classic Korean dishes and putting their own spin on them, rather than settling with traditional Korean cooking.
Their entire menu, ranging from original dishes such as Western-style chijimi and reimen (cold noodle dish) arranged to feature the seasons, to classics such as samgyeopsal and sundubu chige, is very popular with many of their customers. One especially popular menu item is the Tokyo Bulgogi (Large: 2,780 yen plus tax, Small: 1,980 yen plus tax). The secret to their popularity is their lunch set menu with 22 different options, which ensures that you’ll be able to enjoy a varied menu no matter when you come. Apart from a Japanese menu, there are English and Chinese menus, as well as staff who can speak English and Korean, so this is a great place for foreign patrons to visit. Another great perk is that they will make their very best efforts to accommodate for vegans, vegetarians, and other guests with specific dietary needs. COSARI TOKYO offers very reasonably priced meals in a comfortable, warmly welcoming space, so you’ll definitely want to stop by for a taste of their exquisite Korean cuisine and fresh, beautifully prepared vegetables. The restaurant is working towards expanding abroad in the future.
La Porte Aoyama
All of the commercial facilities in this article are managed by Japan Retail Fund Investment Corporation (JRF).
JRF has been listed on the Real Estate Investment Trust (“REIT”) section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (securities code: 8953) since March, 2002. It was the first investment firm in Japan to specifically target and invest in retail property assets.
As the largest J-REIT that specializes in retail properties, JRF strives to secure stable distributions for its unitholders and steady increases in the value of its property portfolio through selective acquisitions of prime retail properties.
For more information: https://www.jrf-reit.com/english/index.html
* This article was written for the purpose of promoting Japan Retail Fund Investment Corporation (JRF). It is not an invitation to invest in JRF’s securities or other financial instruments. Please make investment decisions at your own discretion and risk.
Asset Management Company: Mitsubishi Corp. -UBS Realty Inc.
(Financial Instruments Business Operators: Kanto Local Finance Bureau (FIBO) No. 403, Full Member of The Investment Trusts Association, Japan)
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.