Tag Archives: route 421

If They Build It…


I put a nice bright spot in a soggy afternoon with a visit to a hot new place in Toki (yes, Nothing-To-Do Toki) today.


Since opening just this month, Secret Time Cafe has quickly become quite the in spot, having been supported by lots of folks along the way to realization. Many who had a hand, including a couple of acquaintances of my own, are recognized with their names painted on the floor. Apparently the opening was rather a smash, word of mouth rendering Secret Time no secret at all.

The cafe feels like a bit of Nagoya or other city right in downtown Toki. Near the intersection of route 421 and local (not regional) route 19, it shares an ample parking lot with the second hand shop with the big Santa sign.

The menu has a pretty wide selection to choose from (more galettes, for one thing), everything sounding tasty, eye-pleasing and healthy. I had the taco rice lunch for ¥980 including what you see here and a drink.


They’ve devoted a lot of attention to the atmosphere here, and did a nice job, especially considering this space has been a revolving door for a number of cheap, seedy or somehow unappealing outfits in the past. That is, emphatically, history now. I didn’t have a chance to look completely around, but I’m sure I’ll be stopping by often enough. More photos and info (like what the “art” on their business card refers to) to come.


Secret Time Cafe, bar and zakkaya (notions shop) has these very welcome broad business hours: Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday, 11:30-3 and 5 PM to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11:30-3 and 5 PM to 1 AM. Closed Monday and the third Tuesday. They have smoking and non-smoking sections.

Passed It By? Don’t Be Sorry, Try This Nepali

Hot (or mild) on the heels of Upahar, and just as an 81-year old Nepali is set to overtake an 80-year old Japanese climber’s week-old Everest ascent record, there’s another recent addition to the list of area Indian restaurants that deserves more attention than it’s getting, and that’s Makalu Indian/Nepali Restaurant in Toki.


Starting its fourth month, Makalu is still looking for a little love from area eater-outers. On route 421 between Toki City Hall/Culture Plaza and Toki Ohhashi bridge, the location seems good enough, though actually getting in and out can be a bit puzzling depending on where you’re coming from and going to. The one sure entrance is from route 421. It’s quite visible as it sits in one corner of a relatively busy intersection (with small (not main) route 19) opposite a Circle K and a Shell station.


The dining area is spacious and clean, with regular tables, tatami-style seating, and counter seats, and a quality flexible varied music stream. There are numerous menu plans, and the chicken curry I had was fine. According to the friendly owner, the customers who do come tend to be regulars, so it seems to be a case of lack of awareness, or maybe just timidity. He used to work at the Nepali restaurant on route 19 in Mizunami, which has long been very popular with foreigners.

If you like Indian, give this place a try. It sounded like the owner is in wait-and-see mode, and it’d be a shame to lose it so quickly. Lunch is from 11 to 3, dinner 5-10:30. Smoking allowed all hours. Takeout available, also. More info as well as coupons can be found in the June issues of both Raseru and Chat shopper’s guide magazines.

Chic Chicken


The oniku lunch at Scratch in Toki today, where I had fun catching up with a friend I met by chance. First time I’ve had chicken like this, with big chunks of mozzarella and extra-tiny cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Line Cook

Trying out a new photo editing app called Aviary. Figured I’d kill one bird with two lines and use up the empty space with a quick mild-mannered meme. Under the chicken circumstances, this was the best I could come up with in short order. Just being light and modestly matter-of-fact amusing, not put-down sarcastic.

Geography Project? No, Just Lunch

Topography 101

It’d been maybe a couple of years, so I went to Pizzeria Cabin on the Mizunami-Toki border for lunch.

Smoke’s Gonna Come Out, an’ Lava’s Gonna Ooze All Over…

Curious natives looking on, our team approached the remote jungle island with trepidation

This mammoth of a pizza pie now lining my loins could easily serve two. It’s like a vegetarian garbage plate/Loco Moco thin-crust pizza that happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to a 1/25th scale model of a small volcanic Indonesian island, complete with miniature terraced agriculture and other signs of human habitation dotting the dense jungle. One of ten ¥980 pizza lunch special choices at Cabin (ten pasta choices come in at the same price). There are also daily higawari specials at ¥700. No non-smoking seats, unfortunately.

Below, the sun sinks behind the mountains into the western sea as the native inhabitants of the sleepy island begin their return to the village from their daily ritualistic hunting and gathering forays.

Unidentified tangled vines could be seen in the distance

All is well as the island reposes once again.

Delicious Stuff With Style, From Scratch

It’d been over a year and a half since I last went, so it was high time I had lunch at Scratch Italian restaurant located on route 421 in Toki.

Scratch in Toki

Probably the first thing you’ll notice is the unique custom-designed architecture of the place. High, irregularly sloping ceilings, playfully placed skylights, tapestry-spangled, angled walls, the antique brick floor, two cozy woodstoves, a spiral staircase to a loft-style dining space, curvy cupboard doors, a rough-edged marble slab counter, and both vintage and high-performance bicycles are just a few of the features that tell you they care about style here, but not in any hoity-toity sense. Carefully chosen, often eye-opening artwork (Egon Schiele for dessert, anyone?) can be found in every corner. I suppose the overall style might be a kind of ethnic shabby chic. The taste in music (basically jazz) is on target as well.

Chicken with Mustard Sauce

The cooking here is always special. Today I had the chicken lunch (a different preparation every day), seen above. I couldn’t stay long, so can’t fill you in as much as I’d like on the menu, but basically they have chicken or fish-of-the-day lunches with rice or bread, and seem to have started pizza for lunch as well. Pasta must be in there too, as it’s a mainstay here. Most of these lunches go for ¥1000 including soup and a drink. Lots of women go on their lunch hour or girls’ day out.

Dinners are a bigger affair, with many people choosing full course meals (changing daily, and not repeating often – you can count on variety here) as opposed to à la carte, though that’s an option. Couples often make this a romantic date spot. I’ve known foreigners who make it a point to go here at least once a month. It’s one of Toki’s best restaurants. Reservations aren’t necessary, but appreciated.

They’ve already had their popular annual Christmas concert dinner this year, but it’s never too early to book for next year.

The owners, a really nice couple who I know from a ways back, had this Fiat they’re in the process of restoring (a hobby of the hubby, to his wife’s frequent consternation), so I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

Classically curved Fiat

Yes, it’s the same kind I saw last week in a powder blue – when it rains, it pours. You can see more pictures and descriptions of this and their other restorations on the interesting Scratch Papa Diary. Their other restaurant blogs, (faithfully kept! You can check out some current menu items), are here (Mama), here (Papa) and here.