{Japan: Eat} A Late Lunch At The Straw Hat Cafe, Ghibli Museum

straw hat cafe omelette

These are actually not our dishes…….

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: The Straw Hat Cafe at the Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
  • When: October 11, 2013
  • *Notes: Ghibli Museum Website, the animation and art museum of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli (responsible for such movies as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro), from Mitaka Station take the bus from Stop #9 (300 Yen for round trip fare), tickets to the museum can only be purchased at Lawson stores in Japan or at certain travel agencies outside of Japan, English menus are available at The Straw Hat Cafe, almost all ingredients come from organic farms.

Full Report:

By the time we’d finished inspecting the Ghibli Museum from top to bottom, M and I were very, very hungry.  It was already fairly late in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten since our ekibens on the train much earlier in the day.   Luckily for us, the museum has the very charming Straw Hat Cafe on its premises that is only open to museum-goers.   Unluckily for us, the cafe was completely full by the time we arrived and there was a fairly long line outside.  But as I’d heard that the restaurant featured touches of Studio Ghibli’s characters in its dishes and decor, I was absolutely willing to wait for a table.

ghibli cafe exterior

straw hat menu hanging

door to cafe

close up we are full sign

And it was as nice a wait as one could have when they are absolutely starving.  There was a lovely patio area directly in front of the restaurant with tall trees providing a much needed canopy from the hot sun.  Not to mention a number of chairs scattered about so we wouldn’t have to stand while waiting.  Soon after M and I sat down, a restaurant worker emerged from inside and gave us menus to look at.  As I opened it, I was surprised and quite charmed by the fact that the menu was handwritten.  Although my Japanese reading skills are quite poor, I was able to make out parts of it and was excited to see that they had clam chowder!  This is one of my favorite soups and it was the first time I had come across it on this trip.  So I knew right away what I would be having for lunch.  M hemmed and hawed over whether to get the katsu (pork cutlet) sandwich or omurice.  I reminded him that we’d had omurice just a few days ago so he decided that he would order the sandwich.

outside of straw hat cafe

straw hat cafe menu book

straw hat cafe menu 2 pages

Finally, finally, we were summoned by the same restaurant worker who had given us the menus and led in to the restaurant.  We were given seats at the counter which pleased us since we could see some of the activity within the kitchen.  The counter was only big enough for 4 people, so besides M and I, there were two teenage girls to the left of us.  They spoke Chinese throughout their lunch and were giggly and excited throughout.

Before ordering, I asked the server if the restaurant had an English menu.  I had to double check that my translation of the Japanese menu had been correct!  They promptly brought one out and after a quick perusal of it, we decided to go with our initial choices of clam chowder and katsu sandwich.  M got a ginger ale to drink and we also put in our order for dessert: strawberry short cake.

straw hat cafe interior

straw hat cafe menu english 1

straw hat cafe menu english 2

straw hat cafe english menu 3

straw hat cafe english menu 4

All was going splendidly, the cafe’s interior was charming and relaxing and I was happy to know that the food we would be eating was organic and healthy.  In addition, I was able to see the kitchen staff preparing the drinks and they drew the cutest straw hat on top of the coffees.  And then the girls next to us got their plates.  I INSTANTLY regretted telling M to go with the katsu sandwich instead of the omurice.  The omurice was in the shape of a straw hat and cute beyond words!  There was also a flag with a Studio Ghibli character poking out of the center and the dish had Totoro characters all around its circumference.  The girls were chattering excitedly and taking a million pictures and I couldn’t help myself: while they were distracted, I snuck a couple pictures of their food as well……

straw hat cafe coffee

straw hat cafe omelette

inside of omelette

Then when our food arrived, I was momentarily saddened.  My plates didn’t have any Studio Ghibli decorations on it, nor did I get a flag in my little bun.  M promptly gave me the one from his katsu sandwich which did cheer me up.  And it was nice to be eating clam chowder again as it had been ever so long since I’d had any.  There was also a very large chunk of potato in my soup and it really filled me up.  I had a bite of the katsu sandwich which turned out to be quite tasty and the pork was nice and juicy.

After we’d polished off our entrees, M and I were served our strawberry short cake.  It was a very large slice topped with a number of juicy, sweet strawberries and a Totoro flag.  The girls next to us had ordered parfaits and once again, I snuck a picture while they weren’t looking…..

clam chowder and bread

straw hat cafe sandwich

straw hat cafe ginger ale

Strongest ginger ale I’ve ever drank, you could really taste the ginger.

straw hat cafe potato

Check out that monster potato….

straw hat cafe strawberry cake

straw hat cafe parfait

After enjoying our dessert (we practically inhaled that thing!), we paid the bill at the front and set out towards the museum’s exit.  As we passed the building right next to the cafe, we saw a small group of people pointing to the window and saying, “Look at the cats!”  Thinking that they meant real cats, I gave the window a cursory glance but did a double take as I realized there were 2 large cat figurines in the window.  They appeared to be glaring at us in the way that only cats can and they really brought a smile to my face.

cats

close up of cats