Michael Ying

S.U.B. Store Koenji

A cafe with good music, good food and good company

Michael Ying
Michael Ying   - 3 min read

The Koenji district of Tokyo is known for its thriving music scene, unique fashion and delicious food. All three of these can be found at S.U.B. store Koenji, an Indonesian record store and cafe. Only 2 minutes walk from Koenji Station, S.U.B. store is located in a small back alley right next to the train tracks. The cafe entrance can be found by the framed flyers and ticket stubs from artists such as The Police, Jimi Hendrix and the Ramones. However this cafe isn't anything close to the themed restaurants of downtown Tokyo, whose decorations merely act as tourist attractions. S.U.B. store is the real deal, a lovely bar that supports local musicians and local artists.

As soon as you open the door you'll be greeted by Andi and Kumi, the extremely friendly couple who own the cafe. With locations in Jakarta, Bali, and Bandung, Tokyo is the fourth SUBstore to open, and the first internationally, yet there is no air of business in the confines of the cafe, just good music and wonderful people. Flyers and album posters inhabit the walls of the bar and the shelves are stocked with retro Indonesian albums, art books and old toys. There is even a Doraemon poster! The cafe resembles the bedroom of a musician and not Tokyo cafe. All of this is designed to welcome the local community of Koenji, and it pulls it off splendidly. Local musicians periodically perform and even bands from overseas seek permission from Andi to play their music at S.U.B. store. S.U.B. store also supports local artists, who are able to display their work in the cafe.

The cafe serves very modestly priced coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks, and Indonesian cuisine that is cooked right in front of you. There are several options of the food menu and the most popular dish is the "Nasi Goreng Jawa", fried rice with shrimp and egg. This exquisite recipe is packed full of flavor and couldn't be further from the Japanese iterations of Chinese fried rice. The rice is topped with a fried egg and garlic and packs a flavorful punch that pairs perfectly with any beer. Other items include various pizzas, and "Nasi Gila", a Indonesian stir fry mix served with white rice. In addition to the food and drinks, there are also records for sale that range from 800 to 900 yen and T-shirts are also available to buy.

With the cafe's effort to support its community, S.U.B. store is more than just a local watering hole with good food. It is a space for the art community to thrive and mingle, and is an example of all the things Koenji is famous for. This is a cafe built for customers who are regulars, and if you're in Tokyo I highly recommend that you become one.

Michael Ying

Michael Ying @michael.ying

Originally from San Francisco, I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011 and have been living in Tokyo since 2014. I'm currently a photographer and dancer, and spend most of my free time finding new places to eat. I love it here in Tokyo! Insta: mikemisc