All aboard! The choo-choo is a necessary part of this dining experience.
…Neither do I. But the intrigue of the old-fashioned train trip is still alive in books—and in one little restaurant in Tokyo. So, if you want to live your dream of playing out a scene from an Agatha Christie novel or pretending that you are a wizard genius heading off to boarding school, I have just the place for you: Little TGV, the dining spot for train aficionados. And even if visions of steam (or electric) trains aren’t enough to get your engine running, this restaurant is a definite mustsee for anyone who appreciates crazy theme restaurants in Tokyo.
Located in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, Little TGV is a wall-to-wall ode to trains. Sharing its name with France’s high-speed trains, this cute restaurant has maps and pictures adorning nearly every wall, leaving little space uncovered. A television screen offers images from (you guessed it) train rides, while a corner of the restaurant is taken up by a working model train. The space is certainly not huge, but with cozy booth seating taken straight from a train car and mixed with more conventional dining furniture, diners will feel the air of being on the go. Aside from the décor, you will be greeted by friendly waitresses dressed in animeinspired railway uniforms—fitting, considering that Tokyo’s Akihabara district is known as the shopping destination for manga, anime and video game lovers. Although the staff mostly speak Japanese, they can easily direct you to an English menu if needed. And if you still need some direction when it comes to choosing your meal, each menu has a section laid out in the design of a local metro route. First stop: shareable appetizers.
Speaking of menus, let’s talk food…. If you are looking for some low-key Japanese pub-style food served with a mixture of train themes (because, really, who isn’t?), Little TGV has a decent-sized menu to choose from. Alongside soups and salads, the menu offers up some great dishes for sharing, as well as a selection of yummy desserts. Throughout the day, some food, like the onigiri, comes served up in the shape of a train or delicately placed in cute railway-inspired dishes (hmmm … shall I have the regular electric train tonight or the celebrated Japanese shinkansen?). If the idea of choo-choo-ing your food all the way into your mouth is too much, choose a different track: the railway-themed drink menu. Based on the Tokyo rail system, you can share a speciality cocktail and a “kampai!” (a.k.a. “cheers!”) with familiar pals like the Ginza Line—just be careful and always ride responsibly.
In terms of cost, you can expect to pay a 500-yen cover charge (or fare!) in addition to the cost of your meal. The restaurant is in a popular area of Tokyo, and the menu’s prices reflect that. Plus, like many other theme restaurants, you are paying for the experience as much as you are for the food. So, try not to let the prices derail this opportunity (groan).
To ensure that no one misses out on this ride, Little TGV is open seven days a week—just like the train system that inspired it. Oh, and don’t forget to browse through the Little TGV shop on your way out to make your experience complete. Toot, toot!
LEAVING FOR THE STATION?
Stay on the right track! Here are some fun train facts:
- The Tōhoku shinkansen “Hayabusa” has a maximum operating speed of 320 km/h
- The Tokyo Metro serves 6.44 million riders on a daily basis
- The Seikan Tunnel, running from Honshū to Hokkaido, is the longest and deepest operational rail tunnel in the world Japan’s train stations account for 46 out of the 50 busiest stations in the world
- Interested travellers can book a luxurious multi-day train ride around the Japanese island of Kyūshu
- An adult traveller can get a 21-day Japan Rail Pass for just over $600, making it easy to see the countryside!
Located near the Akihabara Station, Little TGV is on the fourth floor of an office building.
littletgv.com (Japanese language only) TEL: 03-3255-5223
4F Isamiya Dai 3 Bldg., 3-10-5 Soto-Kanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
OPEN HOURS Mon–Fri: 6 pm–11 pm Sat–Sun & national holidays: 12 pm–11 pm