Hidden Gems: Scopp Cafe Shinjuku
Shinjuku is an interesting place. No matter where you turn, you’re bound to find something that will spark your interest or pique your curiosity. It is at those moments when you realize that you’ve stumbled upon gold. When you’ve created a moment that will last you a lifetime. That is what Scopp Cafe represents.
Hidden in plain sight, this basement cafe is found right on the edge of Shinjuku Niichome, as crowds of people pass by the ordinary building on their way to clock in a new day at the office. As you descend the stairs of the building, you see blue crystals hanging from the ceiling, as well as an orientalist style lamp that casts a mysteriously inviting shadow. Eventually, you’ll see an odd door that is a confident robin’s egg blue in color, with a water faucet (yes, a faucet) fixed in the middle. You've entered another one of Tokyo's many crazy cafés.
Opening the door, you’re greeted by people with smiles as big as the Cheshire Cat, as you take in the ambiance. Soft lighting, comfortable pillows, and wooden furnishings decorate this place, giving it a comfortable feel. You can choose to sit where most of the pillows are, or a place closer to the bar, just make sure you make your request known before seating. Open from 12 pm to midnight on Mondays through Saturday, and from 12 pm to 10 pm on Sundays, going to the cafe is a good choice for a lunch break or if you’re looking to try something new after a late work shift. The café itself has a pretty diverse menu, ranging from pizza and salads to something heartier such as macrobiotic dishes and set meals. Vegans might have to watch out here, as many of the dishes do use milk, but if you’re vegetarian, the penne Gorgonzola might be more up your alley. You can even order a latte with an impressive art design if you’re feeling a little more creative.
Watching my two companions, one ordered the “Scopp” rice, which is the signature dish of the cafe. The entreé consisted of a generous portion of rice, with freshly cooked rice noodles tossed with roasted vegetables, and slivers of roasted chicken breast, completed with a fresh Caesar salad. The other friend ordered something more “sturdy,” a pork demi glace casserole number, with ample amounts of sauce and cheese, sitting on a bed of white rice. Resembling a Canadian poutine, the “Doria” (as it’s referred to on the menu) was recommended by the staff as one of the most popular dishes in the establishment. The cafe fare came hot, fresh and visually appealing. The priciest thing on the food menu is the homemade pizza, clocking in at about 1,600 yen, but don’t worry, as most of the dishes are considerably inexpensive. Also, be a little prepared to read some katakana, as there doesn’t seem to be an English menu in sight. Still, it shouldn’t be a deterrent for you to have a delightful time. If you’re looking to drop by for a quick and enjoyable lunch in a curiously looking grotto or wanting to wind down after to long day’s work in the heartbeat of the city, then Scopp Cafe may just be the place.