Gusto Family Restaurant: All-You-Can-Drink Coffee

Mine Serizawa

Gusto Family Restaurant

The establishment that offers too much is treated with the same suspicion as the one that’s lacking, and so much that is both 24-hours and all-you-can-whatever it may be emanates the distinct aroma of the disreputable (think truck stop, love hotel).

“Famiresu”, or family-style restaurants to the uninitiated, are worth but a passing mention for their menus–Japanese-style hamburg, curry, and ramen sets; steaming bowls of gratin and pasta; deep-fried sides or bowlets of salads and soups; comfort foods that are palatable and fairly reasonable and ultimately neither here nor there–but their real attraction as I see it is the mere 231yen that buys you an all-access pass to the drink bar.

These restaurants are ubiquitous, invariably clean, spacious, and, unless you hit the service button on your table, leave you to your own devices. Which is a luxury that strikes me as less counterintuitive than paying triple for a thimbleful of 100% organic Ethiopian blend-something-about-hemp at a coffeshop that asks you to make reservations and clear out within half an hour. Or even, you know, getting ripped off by Starbucks.

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dine in at Gusto Family Restaurant

Gusto (properly “Café Restaurant Gusto”) is my personal coffeehouse/literary salon/Nighthawks reenactment site of choice–more specifically, its espresso machine that dispenses Americanos at a single, perhaps slightly jittery, touch. Limitlessly.

Then there’s the soda machine, the latte concocter (strawberry, vanilla, green tea varieties. Oh, and the kind with coffee), the cocoas, the macchiato, cappuccino, and mochas, and the assortment of teas and drip coffees; and then there are enigmatic offerings with descriptions such as “hibiscus & rosehip + collagen” (isn’t that what people get injected into their faces?), “jasmine & oolong + dietary fiber” (I know what that is, and it still sounds icky), and “yuzu & karin + CoQ10” (dunno).

Gusto Family Restaurant - Premium Cafe

And you’re allowed to have them all! Or if you prefer, to have twenty cups of the same thing, or again, play bartender and see what a collagen grape juice mocha tastes like, the way you always wanted. It’s kind of like being a TV-starved kid on an airplane and watching ten movies in a row just because you can, or maybe it’s like the first week at the college cafeteria after you realize that you’re allowed sevenths of everything and before you calculate what percentage of your private liberal arts college tuition is being funneled into that chocolate chip-oreo-marshmallow-maraschino-crème de menthe shake.

Clearly facing such a wilderness of choices involves some sense of responsibility (right, Spiderman?); e.g. yes, you could bring half a dozen friends and each bum drinks from a single order, but that would obviously be in strict violation of the spiritual guidelines of the buffet, which are, loosely, no stealing from what is already a steal. (That is no longer being a daring and ingenious cheapo; that’s just bleh)



Then there are the practical considerations: time and pacing, time and pacing. Unless your appetite, not to speak of bladder, can handle triple espressos and a melon soda chaser in rapid succession, you might as well plan to be at your famiresu-of-choice for a while. One of my high school English teachers liked to grade papers at a Gusto; a family friend takes her five kids to one to avoid the bill shock of the multiple drinks ordered over the course of long dinners; and otherwise I often see college students pulling all-nighters there, groups of friends comfortably waiting out the interval to the first train home or recovering from the night’s hijinks, or simply enjoying the fact of a place to be indefinitely long, between this cup of coffee and the next.

Gusto Family Restaurant
Now, kids, who can name all of the classic signs of addiction in this photo?

Also in the famiresu family: Denny’s, Jonathan’s, Sizzler’s, Royal Host…If you can break down the advantages of, and difference between each, let us know.

Name: Gusto (ガスト)

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20 Responses to “Gusto Family Restaurant: All-You-Can-Drink Coffee”

  1. I am shocked that you forgot to mention Saizeriya 😉

    • CheapoMine
      CheapoMine

      i’m shocked, too 😉 this is why we need eagle-eyed cheapos like you.

  2. I am shocked that you forgot to mention Saizeriya 😉

    • CheapoMine
      CheapoMine

      i’m shocked, too 😉 this is why we need eagle-eyed cheapos like you.

  3. Have you tasted the coffee at Gusto?  Not such a bargain.

    • CheapoGreg

      I’d tend to agree. Check out https://tokyocheapo.com/tag/coffee/ for some decent+cheap coffee 🙂  If you have some suggestions of other places, let me know.  I’m the resident Tokyo Cheapo coffee snob so as far as I’m concerned, if it’s not espresso from a proper espresso machine, it’s not coffee!

      • I can be a bit of cheapo but, when it comes to coffee, I’d prefer to pay and get something good – not the $10+ you get in those older places around Tokyo though!  I get a bit frustrated when I read articles on stuff like the “top 10 coffees” in Tokyo and then article is about atmosphere or the cafe’s 10 or more syrupy flavours – I’m a bit a coffee snob too.

        • CheapoGreg

          Yeah, the original coffee making tradition in Japan is inherited from France so it’s not espresso – it’s this kind of pour method – which I consider to be inferior to espresso.  And there is no way I’m paying 1,000yen for it either! Segafredo, Bar Del Popolo and Motoya all have good coffee and are cheap – on the whole, cheaper than the swill you get at Starbucks, Excelsior, Tullys etc.

    • CheapoMine
      CheapoMine

      ah, poor gusto.
      i don’t think the brews there are bad at all–the espresso comes from an espresso machine, the coffee isn’t sitting around on a hot plate or in a dispenser–although granted, from the perspective of someone who isn’t a coffee snob. coffee ignoramus maybe. or blind worshipper at the altar of coffee.
      mostly, though, my point was that as a place to fuel study sessions, extended conversations, or all-nighters of any form, without the pressure to leave or order more than just the one ten-buck coffee, gusto-type restaurants are ideal.

      also, they’re just plain fun. and they smell better than mcdonald’s.

  4. Have you tasted the coffee at Gusto?  Not such a bargain.

    • CheapoGreg

      I’d tend to agree. Check out https://tokyocheapo.com/tag/coffee/ for some decent+cheap coffee 🙂  If you have some suggestions of other places, let me know.  I’m the resident Tokyo Cheapo coffee snob so as far as I’m concerned, if it’s not espresso from a proper espresso machine, it’s not coffee!

      • I can be a bit of cheapo but, when it comes to coffee, I’d prefer to pay and get something good – not the $10+ you get in those older places around Tokyo though!  I get a bit frustrated when I read articles on stuff like the “top 10 coffees” in Tokyo and then article is about atmosphere or the cafe’s 10 or more syrupy flavours – I’m a bit a coffee snob too.

        • CheapoGreg

          Yeah, the original coffee making tradition in Japan is inherited from France so it’s not espresso – it’s this kind of pour method – which I consider to be inferior to espresso.  And there is no way I’m paying 1,000yen for it either! Segafredo, Bar Del Popolo and Motoya all have good coffee and are cheap – on the whole, cheaper than the swill you get at Starbucks, Excelsior, Tullys etc.

    • CheapoMine
      CheapoMine

      ah, poor gusto.
      i don’t think the brews there are bad at all–the espresso comes from an espresso machine, the coffee isn’t sitting around on a hot plate or in a dispenser–although granted, from the perspective of someone who isn’t a coffee snob. coffee ignoramus maybe. or blind worshipper at the altar of coffee.
      mostly, though, my point was that as a place to fuel study sessions, extended conversations, or all-nighters of any form, without the pressure to leave or order more than just the one ten-buck coffee, gusto-type restaurants are ideal.

      also, they’re just plain fun. and they smell better than mcdonald’s.

  5. Kichijen

    Cocos Family Restaurant has a good drink bar too.


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