If you are star-struck for constellations and all things Zodiac or starlit (as most of the internet is), a whimsical dining experience awaits you on your next trip to Ikebukuro. The Eastern ward of Tokyo – a little lesser known to tourists but beloved by locals – is not to be overlooked for anyone visiting the city, and the same is true of our next food recommendation.
Entrance to the Milky Way
The Milky Way Cafe is less than a five-minute walk from the Yamanote line out of the Eastern exit of the Ikebukuro train station. It is unassuming at street level, but one of those hidden gems of Tokyo. Milky Way is perfectly situated on the route to the the Pokemon Center and Sunshine City, so be sure to stop in for a refuel before shopping.
The ground level sampuru (plastic food) case features all of the delicious snacks that you can choose from atop the grand staircase that leads you to the second floor. The display is twinkling with lights and an enchanting gold and dark blue color scheme. The Instagram-worthy aesthetic continues on through the glass doors and into the charming restaurant. Stars and a wash of royal blue greet you, and the windows that circle the seats overlook the bustling streets below, allowing for perfect people-watching if you are lucky enough to get a window seat.
The restaurant can get crowded, especially on the weekends around dinner time. Still, Milky Way is the perfect place for a date that won’t destroy the budget for the whole trip. The coasters, glasses and dishes are also star-shaped (depending on the dish).
The menu is kitschy and cute, and available in English which makes them all the more delightful because of the many funny mis-translations of the included horoscopes. The graphics show all your favorite Zodiac signs and each one correlates to a matching dessert! The dishes are each unique and delicious, though a little zany. As an example, the Gemini dessert was a medley of whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate star-shaped cookies and… cornflakes? What?
If you don’t like the dessert that matches your birth month, they have a thirteenth option, named after the mysterious lost Zodiac constellation known as ‘Ophiuchus.’ This yummy treat is a sight to behold, including sparklers AND dry ice to create a misty effect. Whoa! Although the desserts and the selfies are naturally the reason you come to Milky Way, you will stay for the light meals and frothy, icy beverages. The list of options is long and each and every selection is absolutely kawaii (cute).
Try Milky Way for a peaceful little escape from the night-streets of Tokyo. As you can maybe tell, it is one of my personal favorites. Not only is the astrological theme an instant-win in my heart, but the staff are always attentive and kind, and the view is modest but lends to the ambiance of the space.
Even if you have dinner plans elsewhere, I highly recommend stopping in for a sweet treat, a cool drink and a little Instagram story for the folks back home. (Pro Top: Check out the bathroom! Another great photo opportunity!)