This hidden cafe in Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has no crowds and really delicious food


It might only be around for a short time, but it’s worth a visit if you’re traveling this spring!

When the peak travel season really begins to pick up, Haneda Airport in Tokyo really starts to get busy. That means no matter what restaurant or cafe you stop by, there’s likely to be a line out the door, and if you’re in a rush looking to pick up a bite to eat before hopping on a plane, that can cause some serious anxiety.

Luckily, the other day wasn’t that kind of situation for us. In fact, we had just returned from a trip and had plenty of time to explore Terminal 2. We were specifically looking for a spot where we could take our time, relax, and enjoy some coffee or tea and something to eat. And we found one! A really tasty, completely uncrowded oasis in the midst of a busy international airport.

It was located at the very end of the first floor of Terminal 2, in an area devoid of other restaurants and shops. We didn’t think there would be anything down there, but when we walked on over anyway, this stylish shop appeared before our eyes. It felt like it was in its own little bubble, all by itself.

It was called Wakuraba (和蔵場), a name written with the characters for “peace”, “warehouse”, and “place.” It was a cafe and shop promoting products local to Kagoshima Prefecture, the rising star of Japanese tea cultivation. The inside was quite spacious; at the front was a shop selling souvenirs, while the back was the cafe space.

Since all the other souvenir shops in Haneda Airport were crammed full of products and shelves, we found the more open and spacious layout at Wakuraba to be rather luxurious. The products they had for sale also seemed to be stylishly packaged, giving the place a kind of trendy feel, remote from the rest of the airport.

The cafe appeared to have about 30 or so seats, some of which came with outlets, so there was plenty of room to sit and charge your phone or work on a laptop.

And yet…

…there was absolutely no one there!!

We stopped by around at 1 p.m. on a weekday, which is a prime time for lunch at Haneda (and everywhere else). All the other restaurant areas had people lining up to order, and the chain cafes were packed, but Wakuraba was empty. We wondered if it was because it was a bit removed from the main departure lobbies, which were on the second and third floors.

We were feeling peckish after our flight, so we decided to indulge in some afternoon tea. The menu offered Japanese-inspired food and drinks like green tea from Kirishima (a city in Kagoshima), sweets and dishes featuring sweet potatoes, satsuma-age (deep-fried fish cake balls), and cocktails using sweet potato shochu.

With a hankering for something sweet, we decided to order the “Beniharuka Roasted Sweet Potato with Plenty of Honey & Vanilla Ice Cream”, which we ordered as a set with Kirishima green tea for 1,210 yen (US$9.13).

Since it was, after all, an airport cafe, we didn’t expect much more than a paper plate and a tiny serving of sweet potato and ice cream, but what we actually received were two full-sized halves of a beniharuka sweet potato and a generous scoop of ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce, all on a ceramic plate! (The tea was served in a paper cup, but this was presumably so we could take it with us later.)

It was actually a pretty decent serving size. We first tried the roasted sweet potato on its own, and man was it delicious! It was delectably sweet with its topping of drizzled honey.

The vanilla ice cream had plenty of vanilla bean flavor, and the caramel sauce added a nice richness to its sweetness. We found ourselves thinking, “How is this so good?!” For anyone with a sweet tooth, this is like paradise on a plate.

But it wasn’t just the sweetness that had us over the moon. Each individual ingredient was delicious and added up to a supreme umami we could not deny. Even the accompanying Kirishima green tea had a wonderul aroma and flavor. It was impressive how many delicious things they’d managed to bring together just from one prefecture.

If you’ve ever eaten at an airport, you’ll know that airport restaurants focus less on quality and flavor and more on speed, so it’s rather hard to find a truly delicious meal at Haneda. That’s why we were so shocked to find some serious sweets at Wakuraba. We were even further impressed by the level of comfort and ease we felt there; even as we were sitting in the cafe, they offered us a taste of some craft beers.

Wakuraba was full of nice-looking souvenirs and delicious food products, and the whole place felt ridiculously spacious, so it really made for a nice retreat from the usual chaos of Haneda Airport. Sadly, the cafe-shop was only scheduled to be around until March, and although the staff told us it looks like they might be around a bit longer than that, it certainly won’t be around forever. If you’re traveling in the next few months, consider making time to stop by before it’s gone, and don’t forget to try an in-flight meal from a vending machine if you’re really hungry!

Cafe Information
Wakuraba / 和蔵場~WAKURABA~
Haneda Airport Terminal 2 1F Terminal Lobby (South) 24
羽田空港第2ターミナル 1F ターミナルロビー(南) 24
Hours: 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. (last order at 6:30)

Images © SoraNews24
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