Village Vanguard… that name might seem familiar. But you may have noticed the strategically placed word ‘diner’. This is apparently the foodie offshoot of the legendary variety goods store, Village Vanguard – we’ll return to that in a bit.
I could sit and type out my woes at lengths about Village Vanguard Diner, but I’ll be brief. It’s the kind of place that tries to rock that shabby surfer scene look, culminating in a rather dingy, depressing and gauche interior with jumbled American artifacts. Potentially, someone just has a great sense of humour and foresaw photos like this:
The burgers looked promising but they were served with half-hearted mouth twitches from staff who seemed almost as fatigued as the décor.
This avocado bacon burger contained one rubbery patty and a whole lot of flavourless other stuff, including thick, soft ‘bacon’ that was about as far removed from bacon as possible whilst still resembling it. It’d make a great spy. The avocado was probably the best thing about the burger as it was the only thing that hadn’t been thoroughly processed. The onion rings were equally regrettable. Delicious memories of Honest Burgers in London and tormented me.
So, let’s not talk about how my companion left saying how he’d take a Big Mac any day or how Village Vanguard Diner is only worth a 1 out of 5 rating.
Instead, let’s talk about Village Vanguard, self-described as an ‘exciting bookstore’ and let’s pretend it has no association whatsoever with the burger place.
Maybe books were the original focus of Village Vanguard. And whilst it definitely still sells books, they’re somewhat subsumed by the absolute madness inside. Think CDs, sweets, and all kinds of useless memorabelia that you never knew you wanted. I go in an pore over the Moomins mugs and the Studio Ghibli gadgets and… the giant sharks?
Outside, at the Shimokitazawa, they have some fantastic vending machines. I really wish I’d stopped at the Very Hungry Caterpillar one as my childhood self was squealing… and this machine vanished pretty quickly. Instead friends and I ended up at the very tasteful cheerleader machine. Isn’t this ‘cute’…?
Dubious items aside, if you see a Village Vanguard, poke your head in. I defy you to spend less than half an hour in there. It’ll swallow you up.