Have a Good Morning! Nagoya’s Breakfast Institution

ByBert Wishart
Aug 31, 2022

Have a Good Morning! Nagoya’s Breakfast Institution

Japanese cuisine is well known for its delicate flavors, subtlety, and exquisite fragility. However, here in Aichi, we do things a little differently. Nagoya-meshi is famed for its full flavor, richness, and piquancy.

When it comes to breakfast, Nagoya differs noticeably from the rest of the nation. While most of Japan starts the day with miso soup, tamago, gohan, and natto, Nagoyans are heading out to their favorite cafes to enjoy ‘Morning.’

What is a Morning Set?

If a Nagoyan asks you, ‘have you had a good morning?’, there is a good chance that they are asking you about your breakfast. ‘Morning Service’ (モーニングサービス) can be found in cafes right throughout Nagoya and its surrounding cities, and for the price of your cup of coffee, for no extra charge, you will receive a small – or sometimes not-so-small – breakfast of some kind to accompany it.

Local legend has it that the Morning Service has its origins in the city’s historical links to the cloth manufacturing trade. Merchants in the industry had to be up early and required a quick meal before the morning markets opened. Some coffee shops in the 1950s started giving customers boiled eggs and peanuts with their coffee, and an institution was born.

Most of these breakfasts consist of a slice of thick-cut, fluffy toast dripping in butter and served with a boiled egg. However, as the custom has grown in popularity, cafes have begun to compete to serve the biggest, best, and most interesting Morning Service.

Where to get the best Morning Service?

Kissa Morning

A beautiful Showa-era (1926-1989) café, Kissa Morning exclusively sells morning sets well into lunchtime. The choices are a little more unusual – including sandwiches, curry, and rice – but the prime draw is the ogura toast set. Ogura (a jam made from sweet red azuki beans, often called anko) is very much a Nagoya institution, and though I’m not necessarily a big fan, when it is dripping in butter on toast, it is like a thick, sumptuous jam.

The sets all come with a hard-boiled egg, which is a little disappointing if, like me, you were expecting a soft egg in which to dip ‘soldiers,’ but I am assured that this is traditional.

  • Where: 2 Chome-32-4 Noritake, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya (map)
  • Tel: 052-451-2800

Komeda Coffee

Nagoya’s answer to Starbucks, Komeda Coffee, branched out around Japan and, in doing so, introduced ‘morning’ to the nation. Komeda comes to mind when Nagoyans think of ‘morning,’ and here, you can choose from three sets, either a boiled egg, egg salad, or ogura .

Each option comes with a half slice of thick, fluffy toast oozing with butter and so thick that my grandmother would have called it a doorstep slice’. My wife complains that it’s a little expensive as the coffee costs 520 JPY, but as I don’t like coffee, I’m happy as I can get a fantastic thick strawberry milkshake instead.

  • Where: Throughout Nagoya and beyond. Check the website for your nearest branch.
  • Websitekomeda.co.jp


Another popular Aichi dish is ebi furai, deep-fried and breadcrumbed prawns that can measure up to 30 centimeters, and the place to get them is Konparu, beneath Nagoya Station. People regularly queue up for hours to get an ebi sando [prawn sandwich] from Konparu, and as such, I was hoping to get some prawns in my morning, so I was initially a little disappointed by the ham and egg sandwich that was served up.

However, the shredded cabbage with katsu sauce – good old tomato ketchup mixed with Worcestershire sauce – gave it a welcomely authentic kissaten zing, and the melon milk perfectly encapsulated my childish mood. I am 42 years old, as my wife has to keep reminding me.

  • Where: Nagoya, Nakamura Ward, Meieki, 3 Chome 14-15 Meichika Underground Shopping Mall (map)
  • Website: konparu.co.jp

Coffee House Kako

Now this place is oshare [hipster cool]. Actually, this place is oshanti [the hipster way of saying oshare], with pure instabae [instagramable] vibes. A mix between a Showa-era coffee shop and a Victorian tea house, Kako does toast with a dollop of ogura, a lashing of clotted cream, and four different homemade jams on top.

It was delightfully sweet but refined, and while Kako is famous for its coffee, I went for a cumquat tea so thick with pulp that my spoon could have stood in it. Absolutely divine and very fitting for the surroundings.

  • Where: 5 Chome-16-17 Meieki, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya (map)
  • Tel: 052-586-0239

Bucyo Coffee

Bucyo means ‘boss’ in Japanese (which I presume is a play on the famous Boss Coffee brand, ubiquitously advertised by Tommy Lee Jones for some reason; look up the so-bad-it’s-good commercials online). Their breakfasts certainly are ‘boss.’ With your drink, you get toasted Vienna roll – baked in-house – with a massive dollop of ogura and topped off with whipped cream, which by now was pretty standard.

What wasn’t standard was the big bowl of Mr. Whippy ice cream. ‘That’s too sweet for breakfast,’ I complained. ‘I bet you finish it all,’ my wife suggested. I took the bet and lost a thousand yen.

Morning Kisa Lyon

Morning Kisa Lyon, just south of Nagoya Station, knows which way its bread (or toast) is buttered and is open for Morning Service all day.

At Lyon, you can choose from six different sets. Perhaps the most popular is the Ogura bean jam sandwich, filled to bursting with sweet red bean paste inside toasted bread; it is very much a Nagoya institution.

  • Where: Nakamura-Ku, Meieki Minami South, 1 – chome, 24 – 30 (map)
  • Websitetabelog.com

The Kato Coffee Shop

Since opening in 1986, Kato Coffee shop has been a place for coffee lovers, and this specialty gourmet roaster is renowned nationwide for its online store stocked with beans directly sourced from all over the world.

Again, the most popular Morning Service here is the ogura toast set with sweet red beans, but there is more on offer, including German sausages. Whichever set you have, the Coffee Zenzai comes highly recommended, and it is said to be a favorite of Japan’s most famous writer Haruki Murakami when he visits.

  • Where: Sakura Building 1F, 1-3-2 Higashisakura, Higashi-ku (map)
  • Websitekatocoffee.com

 Ichinomiya City

Somewhat controversially, Ichinomiya City, about 15 minutes from Nagoya on the JR line, also claims to be the birthplace of the Morning Set. Whether or not that is the case, there can be no doubt that the city’s cafes have made it their own. All across Ichinomiya, you can find cafes doing a variety of insanely good breakfast sets, often far superior in quantity and inventiveness than you can find in Nagoya.

Each year there is a Morning rally to celebrate the custom, with competitions and prizes for cafes and diners alike. Keep an eye on the Ichinomiya Morning Project website for further details.

Images: by Mark Guthrie (Own Work)
Image:  by Shinji W (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) via flickr.com – Modified
Image via http://www.katocoffee.com/com/company/access.html

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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