Grab a grilled cheese, scoff scones in a historic home and pig out with Pompompurin at these brunch spots in Yokohama.
Yokohama is not a brunch town. Well, traditionally at least. But this international port has always embraced global influences on Japan. And even though smashed avocado and chicken waffles haven’t gripped Yokohama quite like Brooklyn, Brixton or Brunswick, brunch is now a staple in the city’s colourfully cosmopolitan dining scene. From gut-busting buffets to bayside bakeries, tuck into the 10 best breakfast spots in Yokohama, Japan.
This place makes an art form of the grilled cheese sandwich. Perched on the Motomachi hillside, Buy Me Stand’s turquoise walls and vintage furniture feels like a homage to the humble American diner, as does the drool-worthy menu. Grab one of the old leather couches to indulge in one of the creatively named sandwiches – Ham Actor, Hella Green and Bring Home the Bacon among them – each oozing with ingredients. Wash it down with unlimited refills of the self-serve American-style pot of coffee brewing in the Bonmac machine on the counter.
Designed in 1927 by Japanese architect Yoshizo Asaka for an American lawyer and his family, this European-style mansion opened its ground floor as a café in 1979, dishing up cheesecake and scones topped with cherry sauce, blueberry sauce and fresh cream whose generational recipes are older than the home itself. Overlooking leafy Motomachi Park, Enokitei Honten’s creaking wooden floor, 150-year-old antique furniture and crackling fireplace all provide an old-world atmosphere for a cup of coffee, or something from the formidable tea, matcha and cold drinks menu.
Bills serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but brunch is its signature. Australian chef Bill Granger opened his first café in Sydney, Australia, in 1993, and his ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter quickly became the stuff of legend in the Australian brunch scene. He then began exporting these perfect pancakes to the world in 2008, building an empire across England, the United States, South Korea and Japan. This chapter belongs to the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse – the same Minatomirai building that houses the modern Chano-Ma tea room – where Bills’ ground-floor dining room peers over the water.
Without a smorgasbord of world-class cafés to choose from, some of Yokohama’s best breakfasts are found across the city’s high-end hotels. And the opulent InterContinental Yokohama Grand, which soars above the skyline in the shape of a yacht’s sail, sits at the top of this list. The ground-floor Ocean Terrace does breakfast between 6.30–10am, delivering more than 50 items out of the open-plan kitchen. The dessert selection steals the limelight – pastries, cakes, mousses, fruits – and floor-to-ceiling windows reveal million-dollar water views to match.
Meet Pompompurin, the beret-clad golden retriever from the same company that gave us Hello Kitty. The portly pup has his own café five minutes from the west exit of Yokohama station, and the theme is not subtle: expect Pompompurin menus, Pompompurin lights, Pompompurin coasters, Pompompurin pillows on the lounges, Pompompurin toys in the gift shop on the way out, Pompompurin marshmallows in the hot chocolate, and even the chairs are shaped like Pompompurin. The star swaps his beret for a naval cap in the nautical-themed section – a nod to Yokohama’s maritime history – but the rest of the café is decked out in Pompompurin’s custard yellow, where diners polish off parfait, pancakes and other puddings (that’s what the little fella’s name means in Japanese, after all).
Yokohama as a whole might not be obsessed with brunch, but this Hawaiian café certainly is. Eggs ‘n Things serves all-day breakfast on the bottom floor of the Star Hotel across from the lawns of the waterfront Yamashita Park, plating up pancakes, omelettes and eggs benedict from 9am until 10pm. This chain began in Hawaii in 1974 before crossing the North Pacific to Japan in 2010, and the island theme stretches to the floral shirts on the staff and the surfy knick-knacks on the walls.
Yokohama’s sea breeze tangles with the aroma of freshly baked bread at this bakery-café on Shinko Pier, right next door to Bills’ Red Brick Warehouse. Itself a red-brick building in the Marine & Walk retail space, &Swell serves a breakfast plate – salad, bread and eggs either scrambled, fried or in an omelette – between 8–10am, as well as sweet treats like rose croissants and full meals like burgers. A wave mural and surfboard soften this industrial diner, which pours drip coffee with beans from the Brooklyn Roasting Company to go with the shelves of baked goods to eat in or take away.
The Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel towers over Yokohama’s central railway station, and their international restaurant boasts one of the best buffets in town. Compass fuses Western, Chinese and Japanese cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the most important meal of the day available from 6–10am. A busy team of chefs in the open kitchen work on 50 dishes for breakfast – tempura is a house signature, and there are plenty of vegetarian options, too.
Situated inside the enormous, glitzy Mark Is shopping mall on top of Minatomirai station, JS Pancakes fries its signature dish all day, every day. High-quality Japanese flour is the secret to these uber-fluffy hotcakes, which form the basis of every dish on the menu. JS delivers a selection of sweet pancakes – ricotta, fruit, chocolate and banana, and lemon are a few of the options – as well as full meal pancakes topped with imported American sirloin steak and a fried egg, salmon and avocado, eggs benedict or even lasagne. Perfect for sweet tooths looking for an excuse to justify pancakes for dinner.
The stars and stripes hanging on the wall reveals one big clue as to what diners will discover on the Bubby’s menu: Americana, and lots of it. Within the Landmark Plaza at the southern end of Minatomirai, this all-day eatery opens for breakfast at 9am, offering savoury options like the griddle special (bacon, sausage, eggs and sour-cream pancakes) as well as sweets like the sautéed banana and pecan pancakes. Bubby’s other mouthwatering drawcard is a galaxy of pies served with filter coffee and a scoop of ice cream – always a good choice to start the day.
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