Proof that some of Tokyo’s best secrets are hiding underground. 

Building basements in Japan can be secret havens, concealing everything from modern-day food halls to longstanding old establishments, from the busy streets above.

One hidden gem we recently discovered is located in the basement of the Nishiginza department store in Tokyo’s upmarket Ginza district. Frequented by locals, we never would’ve found the place ourselves if we hadn’t happened across a poster at a train station that read “Fun! Tokyo!” with an image of a huge pancake stack on it.

The poster also came with the poetic message, “Don’t Search, Explore” in Japanese, and though we would’ve loved to have stumbled upon such epic pancakes while out exploring, we needed to know where we could taste these immediately, so we ran an online search for them.

▼ That search led us to the cafe, called Bridge, where the very same poster we saw at the train station was on display.

Bridge is a long-established coffee shop that opened in 1958 when the Nishiginza department store opened. Directly connected to exits C5 and C7 of Tokyo Metro Ginza Station, this basement area exudes an old-fashioned vibe that hasn’t changed much in the past six decades, and the cafe itself retains an old-school kissaten coffee-shop feel.

Our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma stopped by to try the pancakes, and when he stepped inside, he was enveloped by the old-fashioned atmosphere, which is so retro it still contains a smoking section.

Despite the small look of the place, it actually seats 84, so there was plenty of room to accommodate diners. When Masanuki took a seat and perused the menu, the Melon Pancake stood out as one of the main highlights, priced at 2,200 yen (US$14.62) or 2,900 yen with a drink.

Masanuki opted for the with-drink option, ordering an iced coffee, which he enjoyed while waiting for his pancakes to arrive. After about 10 minutes, the sweet stack was brought to his table, and he was shocked to see that it matched the image on the poster perfectly.

▼ No false advertising here!

Musk melons are a delicacy in Japan that can set you back a hundred dollars for carefully made varieties, and this glorious mound did a great job of replicating the look of the expensive fruit.

▼ Topped with a stalk of mint in place of a melon stalk.

The melon cakes can also be ordered for four people, in which case they increase the size by 1.5 times. Masanuki’s melon for one was plenty big on its own, so he reckons the serving for four would likely be as big as a volleyball.

Taking his knife to the melon, it slid smoothly through the layers, and when he peered inside, he found…

▼ …it was filled with actual pieces of melon!

Excited by this sweet surprise, Masanuki eagerly scooped up a forkful containing all the main components and found it to be a dreamy combination of fruit, pancake, vanilla ice cream, and melon cream. It was a wondrous combination he’d never tasted before, and one that melon lovers will fall head over heels for.

It wasn’t just the flavours that bowled him over, but the contrasting textures and temperatures as well. The coolness of the melon and vanilla ice cream highlighted the warmth of the thick, freshly cooked pancakes that encased them, and as the ice cream melted, it melded wonderfully with the cake and cream.

The melon flavour was perfectly pronounced, and Masanuki would confidently place a wager on there being no other melon pancake in the world that tastes more melony than this one.

Who knew such a great dessert was hiding in such humble surroundings? It just goes to show that when you explore, and maybe search a little, there are great hidden gems to be found all over Tokyo, and some of them are even hiding in plain sight!

Cafe information
Bridge / ブリッジ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-1, Nishi Ginza Department Store B1F
東京都中央区銀座4-1 西銀座デパートB1F
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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