It had been one of those days. As a tourist, you come to know them very well: hours of aimless walking, constant sweating and incessant direction checking.
At first, the joy of being in a new country diverts you from such discomforts. Everything is exciting and thoroughly thrilling. Finding myself in Asakusa, I was happily distracted from my sweaty clothing and sore feet by the sweet plumes of incense wafting in to the air, the delicious deep fried goodies filled with mung bean that I was munching on, and the enormous red temples all around me. It was in this euphoric, pinch-me-I'm-in-Japan state that I decided to power through the midday heat and on to the Skytree. This would be a mistake.
Although it is not a far walk from Asakusa, the heat and long streets suddenly became all too much for me. I had run out of water. I had not eaten in far too long. I was fast wishing I was back on my couch at home. And then I saw it, the most heavenly sign that was ever created. It read: Unlimited Coffee.
Stumbling in like a war victim, I gasped out something about water to the kindly waitress, and was quickly given a seat beneath the aircon vent along with a vat of icy liquid. Senses regained, I began to register where I was.
Unlimited Coffee is a café that, as you may have guessed by being less dehydrated than I was, does not serve unlimited coffee. It does, however, provide cracking good coffee and delicious food. With its tasteful wooden finishes and twinkling fairy lights, it looks good too. Their own branded merchandise, coffee beans and coffee making paraphernalia line the walls. A small bar area is found in the back of the space. Light spills in from their large front windows, and the open plan dining area gives the room a friendly, communal feel. All in all, this was the correct place to wander in to whilst feeling particularly vulnerable on a hot summers day in Tokyo.
I ordered the smoked salmon rice salad, and it pushed all the right buttons. The cold rice and beans were beautifully flavoured with mustard, and the salmon was smoky and generous. Iced coffees were in high demand by other customers, and the smell of freshly pulled coffee alongside the gentle tinkling of ice was a heavenly combination. What's more, not only does this spot serve up some top class grub and coffee, but they offer barista training courses, too. If this is something you're interested in, why not stop by for a coffee and investigate during your next visit to Sumida.
Stumbling in to Unlimited Coffee reminded me of why I love to travel: it is often in your most disorientated or exhausted state that you make your best discoveries.