Most expats in Tokyo have been to a T.Y. Express restaurant. However, its latest offering, in chic Daikanyama, marks a departure.
Ivy Place’s aspiration is to be a bit of everything—from breakfast spot to late-night dining locale. The building itself, part of the new T-Site complex [for more on T-Site Daikanyama, see p.8—Eds], is split into café, bar and dining sections, with a terrace on each. It somehow combines modern and classic, with its sloping roofs, glass doors, stucco walls and wood accents, and fits T-Site’s vibe of understated luxury.
Inside, designer Kenichi Nagasaki has gone for natural wood and shades of beige, with Scandinavian-esque furnishings. The bland monotone palette was livened by a few nice touches, such as wrought-iron lanterns and sconces. Either natural daylight, or the orange-hued bulbs used at night, suffuse the place with a dynamic atmosphere.
On our visit, we ended up in the café, next to the patio door, as the place was packed. The opening of the door behind was distracting, and I was surprised such a layout was allowed, given T.Y. Express’s usual attention to detail. During the warmer months when that wall opens to the outside, it won’t be an issue. In the meantime—reservations, people!
Chef Ryohei Kobayashi’s menu, however, was just what I’ve come to expect: delicious choices, a few happy surprises and good value. As a starter, we tried the shiitake and smoked Gouda fritters (¥900)—mild, yet full of flavor. Next came the flatbread pizza with ricotta, semi-dried tomato, roasted garlic, anchovy and basil (¥1,400)—with a hearty wholewheat crust. Fans of sister restaurant Breadworks will be happy to know it supplies the bread items.
Naturally, T.Y. Harbor-brewed beers are on offer. The wine list is worth a look, as there are a few varieties available by the glass or carafe. The Yamanashi domestics in particular caught my eye, but in the end, I settled on a tart Reisling by Karl Scheafer (¥1,200). Our server was not very knowledgeable about the wines and told us they didn’t have any port, though there are three on the bar menu. Given T.Y.’s usual standards, perhaps it’s just growing pains.
For dessert, the chai crème brulee (¥900) and mango pudding with coconut cream (¥900) vied for my attention until I broke down and got both—and had no regrets. All told, my companion and I whiled away several pleasant hours enjoying the food, conversation and late-afternoon sun, so despite a few discordant notes, I’ll be back for another leisurely meal next time I’m in Daikanyama.