The Japan News■ WORD ON THE STREET
Masahiro Onishi / Switch Coffee Tokyo
On a quiet residential road in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, Switch Coffee Tokyo has been supplying specialty beans for coffee aficionados since 2013. The proprietor of the roastery-cum-coffee stand Masahiro Onishi had honed his expertise throughout stints at cafes in Tokyo, Fukuoka and Melbourne, earlier than establishing shop simply because the nascent third-wave coffee scene was hitting the capital.
While coffee outlets that roast beans in house at the moment are ubiquitous in Tokyo, when Switch first opened, the sector seemed very totally different.
“From my experience, I knew it was hard to sell a cup of coffee in Japan, so I decided to focus on beans,” Onishi stated. “In 2013 this kind of coffee — light roast, not bitter — was still relatively new.”
Confident of the talents he had acquired in Australia’s “big coffee-culture city” of Melbourne, the Nagoya-native stated he selected to open a shop in Tokyo as a result of individuals within the metropolis can be extra prepared to embrace one thing totally different.
“I thought to myself, where do people who can afford [specialty coffee beans] live? Middle-income [earners] around their thirties.” He concentrated his search on residential areas round Shibuya and ultimately discovered an unassuming website in Meguro.
Onishi shared some of the issues he loves about this nook of the town in a current interview with The Japan News.
Where do you reside?
Nakameguro — I can simply get to the Meguro shop every single day, even when the climate is horrible. I used to reside a lot nearer, however I moved to my present place about a yr in the past. It’s between the station and the shop, so it’s simply a brief stroll alongside the river.
What do you want most concerning the individuals on this metropolis?
Meguro isn’t such a in style space — it’s very mild and quiet. There’s an invisible wall that separates the insanity of Nakameguro and Meguro. Around right here, there are a lot of aged individuals and households with kids. There are additionally a lot of fascinating people who find themselves doing what they actually need to do in life in a very pure method. That’s what makes it such a good place to reside. You can escape the craziness of Tokyo however nonetheless have quick access to central areas.
Can you advocate one thing that solely a native would know?
There’s a public tub in Musashi Koyama referred to as Shimizuyu that’s truly a pure scorching spring. It seems to be identical to a giant sento spa nevertheless it’s a actual onsen.
Any amusing anecdotes you possibly can share?
The American comic Aziz Ansari wrote a message on my wall! He was staying at a lodge in Ebisu through the cherry blossom season. He popped in to purchase a coffee at some point, however I didn’t know who he was at first. One of my common clients noticed him within the space and bumped into the shop starstruck. He got here again about 5 occasions within the week he was staying right here. Apparently, he was right here writing a story for a new drama.
Where do you hang around with associates?
I typically go to Yoyogi. There’s a nice French bistro referred to as Le Cabaret. Or round right here my favourite is sake bar Kome Kome. Those two spots are actually informal — you’ll be able to stroll in any time and seize a seat.
Can you advocate some other eating places?
There’s a restaurant in Meguro that opened not way back referred to as Kabi (reservations required). It’s troublesome to categorize the meals that they serve. The chef used to work in Copenhagen and has additionally labored in French eating places. What they do could be very a lot Japanese, however the style is nearer to European or Scandinavian delicacies. They use elements that you simply don’t sometimes discover in Japanese delicacies however the meals appears identical to Japanese delicacies.
Any options for the place to go and what to do on a date?
I really like Blue Note Tokyo in Aoyama. If you go there for the primary present, which begins round 5 p.m., you possibly can benefit from the present early within the night after which go on to a bar or restaurant afterward.
What are some of your favourite outlets?
Recently I’ve simply been shopping for bottles of wine. When I opened Switch in 2013, I didn’t drink a lot wine, primarily craft beer and whiskey. Then some buddies launched me to the world of pure wine. I’m going to a place in Nakameguro referred to as The Wine Store. I used to stay in an condo constructing reverse The Wine Store and jokingly referred to it as my private cellar. I often go there for tastings and find yourself shopping for no matter they’re serving.
If you might stay in any constructing within the metropolis, which might you select?
Perhaps the Omotesando Hills Dojunkan constructing, as a result of I feel it seems cute. Or perhaps Tower Records in Shibuya, as a result of I need to be sure the shop survives endlessly.
Can you advocate some good souvenirs to purchase?
I all the time purchase Japanese whiskey for associates overseas. Some of the great ones are very uncommon now. However, in case you go to distilleries you possibly can typically nonetheless discover small bottles of the uncommon ones. Yamazaki is nice and Ichiro’s malt is sweet too.
Lastly, what are you as much as in the meanwhile?
This yr I began providing a coffee subscription service. Once a month I ship beans to houses throughout Japan. We lastly have clients who reside outdoors of Tokyo — primarily previous common clients who used to stay within the space or individuals who’ve popped in for coffee earlier than. Customers can subscribe to obtain deliveries of good-quality, freshly roasted coffee as soon as a month.
This interview was carried out by Japan News Staff Writer C. Armoo.