Yoshimoto Nara has to be one of the Japanese art scene's best modern exports. With such a distinct illustrative style, he has an incredible following worldwide and has exhibited nearly everywhere. Less well known than his work is his co-owned cafe, A to Z Cafe in Omotesando, which was put together as a joint project with local design firm Graf and acts as both a gourmet cafe and a shrine to Yoshimoto Nara's paintings, installations and aesthetic.
The cafe is sectioned off with different levels and places to sit, drink and smoke if you'd like to. The centre piece of the room is a free-standing cubby house set up to look like Yoshimoto Nara's studio. Its walls are covered in original drawings from the artist and a small desk is set up with a number of intricate pencil shavings, dolls and knick-knacks which Yoshimoto Nara has either constructed or drawn inspiration from. The rustic wooden slats of this structure are continued thematically throughout the cafe. The style of the cafe balances simplicity with craziness and no part lacks colour, art or something adorable. One cozy corner has a large plastic peace sign which has been stuffed with dolls of Yoshimoto Nara's classic characters.
Although there is a tasty a la carte menu, lunch is a good time to go as the cafe serves bento-style sets with a little taste of everything for only ¥1,000. The set lunch arrives on a large but light wooden tray with miso soup, rice, a side dish, sashimi, tea and cold pickled vegetables accompanying your choice of either meat or fish. The food is not overly thought out, just simple, fresh with clean tastes and textures. For an extra ¥200 you can finish the meal off with a caramel dessert.
There are also desserts off the menu to choose from, including Japanese pumpkin coconut cake, matcha parfait, milk gelato and warm chocolate cake. If the set doesn't tickle your fancy at all the savory menu is less traditional and ranges from pasta with tomato and eggplant to coleslaw walnut salad or roast beef. Alcohol, tea and single-origin coffee is also available.
This cafe is a little off the main drag, but there is a large 'A to Z Cafe' board and menu at the front of the building to reassure you are in the right place. A small lift is at the back of the entrance: just head up to level five and wait to be served.