Harajuku, located in Shibuya ward, is the epicenter of youth culture and a trendsetting hub where cutting-edge brands and items converge. Popular among fashion-conscious young people, it's also one of Japan's premier shopping districts.

Harajuku refers to the area surrounding Harajuku Station and extending to Omotesando Station. Many of the globally renowned Japanese "kawaii" trends originate from Harajuku. With its numerous unique shops, the area bustles with people seeking popular products, trendy items, and notable stores.

While Harajuku Station is known for its quirky and cute shops, the area around Omotesando Station offers a more sophisticated atmosphere that appeals to adults as well.

This article introduces a unique café in the Harajuku area that's creating a buzz.

Harajuku's Café Scene

Harajuku, with its diverse array of unique and delicious establishments, is often referred to as a fiercely competitive district for cafés. While there are many popular staple cafés, new ones frequently open, making it impossible to visit all the desirable spots even if you had countless days.

Harajuku has always been a popular tourist destination with numerous commercial facilities. Many people want to take a break at a café after shopping, naturally leading to a high concentration of cafés in the area.

Moreover, when something becomes popular in Harajuku, it often gains nationwide fame. This results in a plethora of distinctive cafés, including those that are Instagram-worthy or offer internationally trending sweets.

INITIAL at Omotesando is one such establishment that's making waves in the area.

What is INITIAL Omotesando?

INITIAL at Omotesando was originally conceived as a shop offering "Shime parfaits" - delicious parfaits made with seasonal fruits and plenty of fresh cream, catering to those who enjoy sweets late at night. In Japanese, "Shime Parfait"  refers to the practice of ending a meal or drinking session with a parfait.

INITIAL Omotesando originated in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, where the Shime parfait culture was already popular. This concept has now been embraced in Tokyo, with INITIAL at Omotesando continuing the tradition by staying open relatively late, with last orders at 20:15.

While marketed as "parfaits for after drinking," the sweets at INITIAL at Omotesando, including their parfaits, are meticulously crafted in both appearance and ingredients. The desserts are less sweet to enhance the natural flavors of the fruits, making them easy on the stomach. As the café opens around noon, feel free to visit for delicious sweets even if you haven't had alcohol or a meal beforehand.

Highlights of INITIAL at Omotesando

Artistic Parfaits

parfait
source:Official facebook

INITIAL at Omotesando's parfaits are renowned for their beauty, often described as works of art. The café's most popular items are the parfaits that feature different fruits and ingredients each season, surprising customers with innovative menus on every visit.

Pay special attention to the detailed design. Each ingredient in the parfait, beautifully presented in an elegant glass, is carefully crafted to be enjoyed by both the eyes and the palate.

These parfaits are perfect for social media, with many customers praising their creativity, saying things like "Too cute to eat" and "I was moved by how beautiful it looks."

The parfait menu changes with each season. As fresh fruits have a short season, it's recommended to visit early if there's a particular parfait you're interested in trying.

Commitment to Quality Ingredients

ingredient
source:Official facebook

Beyond their Instagram-worthy aesthetics, INITIAL at Omotesando's dedication to quality ingredients is another noteworthy aspect. Every dessert is meticulously crafted using carefully selected seasonal fruits and fresh ingredients to create the finest offerings.

The café is particularly particular about fruit selection, directly contracting with fruit farmers to ensure that the best harvest reaches the shop as quickly as possible, often on the same day. They've also invested in the latest equipment to maintain the fruits' sugar content and freshness.

The fresh cream and soft serve ice cream are made using fresh Hokkaido milk. Even the use of sugar is carefully considered, with sweetness adjusted to complement the fruits and cream. These sweets are crafted with care to ensure that not just the appearance, but also the taste, is enjoyable.

Open until 21:00

INITIAL at Omotesando is open until 21:00 (last order at 20:15). This is because the shop originally opened as a specialty store for "Shime parfait" - desserts to be enjoyed after alcohol or meals.

Before the spread of COVID-19, when it opened in 2019, it was open until 23:30 and was popular, often fully booked until late at night. Thanks to this shop, the Shime parfait culture became accepted in Tokyo. However, due to the impact of business restrictions during the pandemic, the closing time was shortened to its current schedule.

The appeal of Shime parfait lies in the ability to conclude a drinking party or dinner with a beautiful and luxurious dessert. To serve as a palate cleanser after meals or alcohol, Shime parfaits are mainly fruit-based and designed not to be overly sweet.

Recommended Menu at INITIAL at Omotesando

Parfaits

Parfaits
source:Official facebook

The most highly recommended item at INITIAL at Omotesando is their parfait. Not only are they visually stunning, reminiscent of works of art perfect for social media, but they also showcase a deep commitment to quality ingredients. With just one bite, you can tell that each element of the parfait has been carefully crafted.

The fruits used change with each season, so there are many menu items that can only be enjoyed at specific times. In spring, you can savor strawberry parfaits, early summer brings white peach parfaits, and summer features mango as the main attraction. Come autumn, not only fresh fruits but also chestnuts and pumpkins are generously used in the parfaits.

As a Shime parfait specialty store, one of the unique features of this shop is that you can enjoy adult parfaits that incorporate herbs, liqueurs, and wine. While the prices may be on the higher side, they offer a special experience that matches the cost.

For on-the-go! Custom Gelato

Custom Ggelato
source:Official facebook

INITIAL at Omotesando is a popular spot, so it's not uncommon to find it fully booked. In such cases, it's recommended to get their custom gelato for takeout as a walking snack.

Takeout orders are prepared on the spot, so you can purchase without a long wait if there's no queue.

INITIAL's gelato is homemade and created with carefully selected ingredients. You can choose from about 10 flavors, including berry varieties, nut flavors like pistachio, chocolate-based options, and tea flavors like milk tea.

Personally, I recommend the pistachio and Earl Grey milk tea flavors.

Note that if you order gelato for in-store consumption, you're required to order at least one drink, so keep that in mind.

Soft Serve Ice Cream

soft cream
source:Official facebook

The soft serve ice cream at INITIAL at Omotesando, which has its main store in Hokkaido, is made using plenty of fresh milk from Hokkaido.

The standard flavors include milk, raspberry, pistachio, and chocolate. The milk flavor is made to highlight the original taste of milk, with controlled sweetness. The pistachio flavor, made with generous amounts of Sicilian pistachios from Italy, is rich and has many fans.

While you can mix flavors, some people find that certain combinations blend too much, so be cautious. Nevertheless, all of INITIAL's sweets are crafted to bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients and have a refreshing aftertaste.

Fruit Sandwiches

fruits sandwitch
source:Official facebook

Parfaits aren't the only specialty at INITIAL at Omotesando. Their fruit sandwiches have also sparked a trend due to their cute appearance and delicious taste.

The introduction of fruit sandwiches was prompted by the creation of a perfect cream for fruit sandwiches. With an abundance of delicious fresh fruits directly shipped from contracted farms, they began offering this new menu item.

The specially crafted cream uses almost no sugar. Its mild sweetness allows the sweetness of the fruits to stand out, making it enjoyable even for those who don't have a sweet tooth.

Fruit sandwiches are designed for takeout, making them a great option for on-the-go treats. Be sure to try these fruit sandwiches that are as delightful to look at as they are to eat.

Tips for Usage

INITIAL at Omotesando does not accept reservations. As it can sometimes be fully booked, those who want to enjoy a parfait should plan to arrive early, factoring in potential waiting times.

Weekends and holidays are expected to be particularly busy. Depending on timing, it can be close to full even around lunchtime at noon. If you want to enter without waiting, it's best to visit right after opening or on weekdays.

If the café is full and you can't wait for long, it's recommended to opt for takeout menu items like gelato, soft serve ice cream, or fruit sandwiches.

Access

INITIAL at Omotesando is a 4-minute walk (333m) from Meijijingumae Station. It's a 7-minute walk from Harajuku Station and a 10-minute walk from Omotesando Station.

As it's located on a back street and can be a bit difficult to find, it's recommended to use navigation apps.

Basic Information

- Address: J-cube Building A, 1F, 6-12-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Closed: Never
- Phone: 050-5597-2604
- Hours: 12:00 - L.O.20:15 (Weekdays), 11:00 - L.O.20:15 (Weekends & Holidays)
- Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/initial_omotesando/