Insatiable foodie Pree Scruby sates both appetite and curiosity in one of Tokyo’s coolest culinary enclaves, Commune 246.
Like in many major Asian cities, open-air dining in Tokyo’s sprawling metropolis is something of a rarity. However, Commune 2nd, the latest incarnation of the eclectic dining precinct formerly known as 246 Common, remains a curious sanctuary just minutes from the bustling inner-city area of Omotesando.
When Commune 246, an ambitious, community-driven canvas consisting of food carts and coffee stalls, concluded in 2016, Tokyo’s culinary soul died a little inside. However, in January 2017, the concept emerges from the ashes anew, this time in the form of Commune 2nd, an experimental connotation seeking to reduce waste, increase green energy usage and create a place for people to really connect. Along with communal desks to entice roaming workers, the area also houses the Freedom University campus, an association that encourages learning through experiences, fostering intelligence and creativity.
Commune 2nd ultimately provides a relaxed space for like-minded locals, business people and overseas visitors looking for sustenance and innovation in equal measure. Perched on a prime piece of real estate in Minamiaoyama, within the Minato ward, this wonderful labyrinth of food trucks and beer bivouacs could very easily be missed by the untrained eye, its location marked solely by a flapping fabric banner overhead.
From falafels and French fries to crisp karaage (Japanese fried chicken) and cocktails, there’s no missing the beard-and-beanie, craft beer and cardigan vibes of the trendy Tokyoites who run their small businesses here. Most of the produce is locally-sourced, which adds to the authenticity and feel-good-factor that underpins Commune 2nd. Many started their businesses at the nearby Farmers Market@UNU (United Nations University) and share a solid desire to build a boundary-free community, whilst embracing sustainable business practices.
The entrance to this rabbit warren of wonders is marked by the jaunty, smoke-filled Tobacco Stand, offering cigarettes from around the globe, accompanied by highballs and coffees, depending on one’s mood. Hard to miss is the neon signage of Schmatz, which sits smack bang in the middle of Commune’s alfresco area, offering schnitzel, sausages and swigs of fine German beer. A constant buzz surrounds the shiny white tiles of the Brooklyn Ribbon Fries stand, as they serve up golden fried strips of Hokkaido-grown potato, along with their very own spiced ginger ale.
Surprisingly, it’s a tiny wood and steel-clad trailer in the corner of Commune 2nd that proves to be the most popular spot; offering just four kinds of Japanese and foreign craft beers at any one time, Beer Brain Craft Beer boasts barely enough room to swing a cat, yet manages to captivate customers with its simple chalkboard menu of craft beers, which include the Ringo Star and Baby Bob, part of a roster of revolving brews.
Patrons can also seek shelter in a large, heated canopy where long, wooden communal benches and rustic tables provide an informal place to comfortably share a bite and a conversation. Here, the onsite DJ provides the background beats, serving up an array of eclectic funk by the likes of Prince and The Sugarhill Gang, whilst also managing to assemble deliciously fresh tacos on demand for hungry punters.
Such impressive multi-tasking demonstrates just why Commune 2nd really is a breath of fresh air in an often process-entrenched city.
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