- Quality: ★★★★ – Delicious!
- Location: Aoyama, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
- Type: All Vegan – Sandwiches, Salads
- Price: $$ – Moderate (Lunch set ¥1200)
- Menu: Click Here
- Website: Restaurant Website, HappyCow Page
- Hours: Mon-Sun: 8:30-22:30 (Last Order 22:00)
About & Location:
Pure Cafe is a cafe connected to the Aveda Salon in the fashionable Aoyama District of Tokyo, near Harajuku. To get there, get off at Omotesando Station on the Tokyo Metro Line. Then, continue up Omotesando ave (across Aoyama ave), passing the Prada building, and a small shrine. Turn right when you reach the small shrine, and walk until you see the Aveda Salon and signs for Pure Cafe.
What keeps me coming back to Pure Cafe is the food. While the types of dishes themselves are what you might expect from any cafe- mainly sandwiches, salads and small desserts – the content of those dishes is constantly changing and always interesting. For example, last fall they briefly offered a Columbus sandwich, with mashed potatoes, various vegetables and habanero salsa. They also recently offered a banana bread pudding for dessert, and then a chestnut cake. Right now, I believe they have several vegan donuts, so I’m hoping I’ll get there in time to try them. They swap out sandwiches, salads and desserts regularly, replacing them with new and more seasonal items every few months. Every time I go, they’ve replaced what I want with something new, and I’m bitter – until I try what they replaced it with, and then it becomes my new favorite.
I usually get the lunch set, which comes with a drink, a side salad and soup (￥1200). If you aren’t quite so hungry, or aren’t interested in side dishes, you can also generally get a sandwich on it’s own for about ￥600, and then perhaps get a dessert or something else on the side.
The Tandoori Tofu sandwich had tofu, tomato, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, and homemad tandoori sauce.
The Grilled Autumn Veggie Sandwich had onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, sweet potato, eggplant, and a balsamic vinaigrette on rye bread.
The Colombus Sandwich had mashed pottoes, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, onion, and habanero sauce on focaccia bread.
The Kansai Ragout Sandwich had lotus root, onion burdock root, carrot, lettuce, and a thick root ragout sauce on rye bread.
In February, I tried the Mr. MUSTARD sandwich potatoes, tofu dip, mustard dip, rape blossoms, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, and long slices of cucumber. Although it appears very simple, it was DELICIOUS.
In June, I tried the Cobb Sandwich. I’m not sure where the name comes from (it doesn’t bare a particularly strong resemblance to a cobb salad), but it was pretty unusual. It came on rye bread, with a filling of chickpeas & Japanese pumpkin (kabocha), as well as tomato, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, and Pure Cafe’s “original cobb dressing” (a French dressing). I love sandwiches with unusual filling so this was a real treat for me. That said, I wouldn’t eat it often – starch between starch doesn’t make the best full meal.
They also have some incredible salads and grain salads. In June I got the Jambalaya Grain Salad, a mix of brown rice, tempe, cucumber, celery, carrot, red kidney beans, tomato, paprika and a Cajun spice mix.
The desserts are equally delicious, and also change with the seasons:
Atmosphere & Service:
Pure Cafe has a very casual atmosphere, and you place orders at the front. You receive a number on your receipt, and when your number is called, you run up to pick up your tray. Service is very quick, in spite of the fact that the cafe is often very busy. The tables are located close to one another, so during busy hours it can get fairly scrunched (sometimes a bit uncomfortably so, as you may have to weave your way through tables to get out). However, it reminds me of cafes back in San Francisco, so that slightly-overcrowded feel strangely appeals to me. Still, I would prefer it if there were larger spaces between the tables. I’m a very little person, but when I try to get I still sometimes feel like I’m playing a game of don’t-get-your-purse-in-someone’s-salad.
Extra Note (Grocery, Take-Out):
Pure Cafe also has a small grocery section inside of the restaurant, where you can buy organic or vegan snacks from Europe and the US. They also have a take-out fridge where you can buy sandwiches and desserts to-go.