Making Eyes at Passengers from the N3331 Cafe
By Lynda Deaver
“The only way you could get closer to a train while eating something is by grabbing an onigiri at a convenience store and not stepping behind the yellow line when the loud speaker at the station tells you to.”
That would’ve been a compelling tag-line for N3331. Probably not wanting to exaggerate, they settled on “At the former Manseibashi Station platform, the closest (?) cafe and bar to a train in the world.” Question mark not withstanding, dining at N3331 was the closest I’ve personally been to a train while at a cafe.
The name N3331, pronounced “en san san san ichi”, can be split into two parts. The “N” stands for “Nippon/New/Next”, and the “3331” represents the rhythm of the Edo-style ippon-jime, which is a rhythmic hand clapping sometimes done after parties or special events in Japan.
The restaurant itself is inside the renovated Manseibashi Station. The old Manseibashi Station opened in 1912 but then closed in 1943. When the station was renovated over 70 years later, it was reborn as a mAAch ecute shopping complex.
Going up to the second floor of mAAch ecute, you get a look inside the old station and finally arrive up at the platform. You can spend some moments out in the small grassy area in front of N3331 to catch a glimpse of the trains or you can head inside the restaurant to get your seat next to the window. Colorful cushions hang out near the back of the cafe, where there’s another open terrace to enjoy the view.
At lunch, N3331 serves a few different dishes, such as curry and sandwiches, but you have to be quick. When I arrived around 3 p.m., three of the four dishes were sold out, so I ended up having the hayashi rice. In the evening, N3331 turns into a bar serving high-quality Japanese alcohol.
The real draw, of course, is the trains. N3331 is situated between the Chuo Line tracks, one headed toward Kanda Station and the other toward Ochanomizu Station. If not for the windows in the restaurant and on the train, you may very well be able to reach out and high-five the passengers.
Riding the various trains in Tokyo can be an adventure, but sometimes there’s nothing better than relaxing with a glass of sake, watching the world (and the trains) go by.
Monday – Saturday, 11:00 – 23:00
Sunday, Holidays, 11:00 – 21:00
mAAch ecute Kanda Manseibashi-ten
1-25-4 Kanda-sudachou, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Closest Stations: Akihabara Station (4-6 minutes), Kanda Station (2-6 minutes)