For celiacs or gluten-free eaters, Little Bird Cafe is an oasis in the midst of countless meals drenched in soy sauce (which contains wheat FYI). Sure, if you can manage a bite or two there are several culinary experiences in Japan that are worth the stomach ache. Otherwise, Little Bird Cafe is the place to go for a delicious meal sans gluten.
The restaurant is on the fourth floor of a thin complex right next to Yoyogikoen Station. The location is perfect because it is very close to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku shopping. The restaurant makes for a great detour for a quick bite.
The space is quite small, with seats for only eight people or so. Designed under the influence of funky Harajuku, this converted apartment has plants hanging from the ceilings and olive oil canisters used as decoration. Despite the restaurants small size, there is is no need to call in advance. Seats here are cycled rather efficiently, and food is prepared extremely fast. So come hungry and ready to chow is the gist.
The atmosphere is very friendly and warm. The chef is well known to form connections with travelers and locals alike, often holding takoyaki parties on specific weekends. Despite not knowing any Japanese, the staff is very understanding and has everything on the menu written in English. They obviously care a great deal about the food they are serving, and want their customers to truly enjoy the gluten-free experience.
Now, on to the food. For anyone in tears over never eating pizza again, dry those eyes. The menu has everything that is so tasty and so bad for the gluten intolerant. Food items such as pizza, hamburgers, pasta, ramen and more can be found here. The best part is almost everything on the menu can be purchased for about ¥1,000 or less, satisfaction guaranteed.
The pizza and hamburger buns share a similar puffy, flaky rice bread. The pasta and ramen also share a similar soft, chewy noodle variation. There are several variations of pizza and pasta, ranging from Genovese to old fashion margarita.
For visitors wishing for more traditional Japanese food, Little Bird Cafe has got you covered. The dumplings are to die for, as they have that chewy and crispy consistency of a regular dumpling. The insides are juicy and packed full of flavor, and the gluten-free dipping sauce is just the right amount of tangy. The restaurant also caters karaage, which is succulent fried chicken bits. The menu is obviously very well thought out, containing something for every customer.
Little Bird Cafe also features a dairy-free menu, in which dairy-free mayo is put on burgers. Another pride of the restaurant is their specialty olive oil drinks, which are said to be good for digestion and intestinal health. The olive oil cans lining the walls now makes sense. Their olive oil lemonade is to die for, and goes great with the heavy entrees they serve. The restaurant also has olive oil for purchase, if you’d like to make your own drinks.
The dessert menu is just as impressive, boasting waffles and dessert pizzas as their most popular items. The consistency of the waffle is light and fluffy, mimicking a regular flour waffle almost perfectly. They also serve old fashion parfaits with gluten-free wafers. Of course they do it up Tokyo style with plenty of toppings to choose from. Waffles are drenched in syrup, fruit and whipped cream while the parfait is about a foot high and filled with treats.
A famous park, a former black market and a whole heap of museums—get to know Ueno:
Whether you are the one craving some gluten free treats, or the person they dragged along, this restaurant’s food is just excellent. Sans gluten or not, it is hard to tell the difference. Regardless, the environment and good times to be had are well worth the trip.
Sitting right next to Yoyogi Park, this restaurant is the perfect destination to make everyone’s day. The change in texture or seasonings added to each dish brings a new take on beloved classics, so it is well worth it to try it all. If you’re in the area, or determined enough to make the trek, Little Bird Cafe is sure to satisfy any craving.