Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo Japanese Railway Café With Diorama At 111 Somerset
Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo is a new Japanese railway café in the heart of Orchard at 111 Somerset. On top of having coffee and cakes – the most important part of a café, Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo also has an N-scale train diorama which you can rent to drive model trains on, and a Plarail layout on tatami.
Getting to 111 Somerset is easy with a sheltered walkway from Somerset MRT Station Exit A on the North-South Line.
Unlike some online articles claiming that Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo is the first Japanese railway themed café in Singapore, that title actually belongs to JAPAN RAIL CAFE opened by JR East themselves at Guoco Tower in Tanjong Pagar in January 2017. Although, given, they don’t do dioramas at JAPAN RAIL CAFE but mainly decorate the interior with decals.
Unless I missed something, Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo is most likely the second Japanese railway themed café in Singapore.
Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo is located on Level 2 (#02-54) of 111 Somerset, above FairPrice Finest. The café is split in 2 sides – the counter in a shop lot, and the seating area on the outside kiosk.
The colourful Plarail layout makes the seating area stand out easily.
Midori no Madoguchi Ticket Office
The journey in Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo starts from the Midori no Madoguchi (Green Ticket Window), or ticket counter. Orders are placed for food, drinks, and seat reservations here.
Yes, it’s not me dreaming that I need a reserved seat, it is how it works here at Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo. Buying food and drinks doesn’t always come with a seat.
All reservations and payment are made before seating. More on this shortly.
The Midori no Madoguchi is nicely decorated with Plarail and N-scale train models. Oh yes, and food and drinks. I almost forgot about food and drinks.
The Midori no Madoguchi is nicely decorated with Plarail and N-scale train models.
Oh yes, and food and drinks. I almost forgot about food and drinks.
Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo has a wide variety of coffees prepared fresh on order. Prices are denoted by station symbols and line colours.
For the colour blind, 01L to 10D Yamanote Line costs S$7, 11X and 12D Ueno-Tokyo Line costs S$6, 21X Chuo Line costs S$12, 31L to 33L Keiyo Line costs S$15, and 41D and 42D Keihin-Tohoku Line costs $8.
Bottled drinks are also available in the kids menu, and food includes line-based roll cakes and a butter toast.
While there’s a 10% service charge indicated, I was not charged it. I don’t know if it’s waived in general, or that my seat reservation fee covers it.
Steps to Dine-In at Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo
Seating in Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo is arranged by train departures and numbers.
According to your arrival time, you will be assigned a train number along with your arrival time which is when you enter the seating area, and departure time which is when you have to leave the seating area.
As I visited during an off-peak period with empty seats, I was given an immediate boarding.
While waiting for my coffee to be prepared, I walked around the outside of the café to view the N-scale diorama first.
The ends of the diorama have a balloon loop with Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower in the middle of them. Each balloon loop also has a tram line running within it.
The N-scale railway layout is in a reverse J alignment with trains travelling in a single loop. I guess this helps non-experienced train driver of the hours to not crash at the end of the line and not know how to reverse a train.
There’s another exit at the other end of the seating area, but that is not in use.
An information board is provided in the queue to the seating area.
Just like JR railway stations, the sign is very visible with solid yellow and black colours.
Ironically, despite being called Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo, the route map featured in the café is of the Osaka Metro and not a Tokyo region map. Erm…
Seat Reservation Fee
There are only 12 seats available in Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo, of which, only 1 is free of charge, known as Priority Seat. This is on a tatami mat, although I don’t know who might be eligible for it – actual priority persons or just by queue?
A tatami seat with the bigger table costs S$0.60, a Plarail seat with the smaller table costs S$1.50, a counter seat facing the N-scale railway diorama costs S$2.00, and the diorama seat costs S$3.50.
Do note that these seat reservation fee is not inclusive of track usage where a separate track fee and train fee applies.
N-Scale Railway Diorama Rental Fee
The N-scale diorama rental fee when you want to use the track to play with trains.
Reservations are posted on the white board, with reservations to be made at the Midori no Madoguchi physically. No online or phone reservations are taken.
N-Scale Diorama Rental Fees
- 30 minutes: S$10
- 60 minutes: S$15
- 120 minutes: S$25
- 180 minutes: S$38
The N-scale diorama rental fee is not inclusive of the seat reservation fee of the diorama seat at S$3.50.
You are free to bring your own trains.
If you do not have your own train, you may rent a train from Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo which costs from free of charge to S$10. I would assume that this is dependent on the type of train you want to rent.
Boarding at Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo
At 3.30pm, I was brought in to the seating area by the Japanese café staff member. I was also given a ticket with my train number, seat, and arrival and departure times.
D8 is the corner seat of the counter nearest to the Tokyo Skytree balloon loop.
The view of the Tokyo Skytree balloon loop from Seat C8.
Grab poles and handgrips are available at counter seats C10 and C11.
Familiar-looking Japanese handgrips hang here.
This grey one, on the other hand, looks too familiar. Sus.
The diorama seat is located within the diorama area, separated by a flap door. The counter seat offers a wide view of the N-scale train diorama and its controls.
For those who have paid the track fee for playing on the diorama, an operational timetable is provided according to the booked timeslot.
Arrival of Food and Drinks
A few minutes after, my food was delivered to my seat. Following which, the staff chopped my ticket, like the ones I get from stations when I keep my tickets and not feed it through the machine.
This is a brilliant and low-cost method of elevating this café experience, but can be improved, which I will write about below.
I go an unadvertised Yamanote Set which costs of a hot coffee and Yamanote Roll Cake. Separately, the Yamanote Roll Cake costs S$8 and Sakura Blend costs S$7, but the Yamanote Set which includes the Yamanote Roll Cake and a hot coffee of choice in the Yamanote green section costs S$13.
The Yamanote Roll Cake (S$8 a la carte / S$13 set) was served with a Type 923 Doctor Yellow fork. The green in the Yamanote Roll Cake is Matcha or green tea, with cream and Azuki or red beans inside.
The Sakura Roast (S$7 a la carte / S$13 set) was served with a matching plate and cup with my Yamanote Roll Cake.
A cold oshibori is provided to wipe your hands before the meal.
During the timeslot when all customers are seated, the owner comes around to check for tickets and clip them.
Sounds of Tokyo Station are also played during the meal from train arriving and departure sounds to escalator bells.
This is sometimes interjected by NTUC’s announcement reminding people that the COVID-19 situation evolves and intensifies around the world and to practice safe distancing.
On the tatami area, there is also a reverse J shaped Plarail layout.
Both sides of the Plarail layout have a balloon loop for trains to turn around. The balloon loop beside Seat T4 is supported by 2 Plarail J-14 Block Piers on each pier to keep the track level when heading out of the raised tatami area.
Those who rent the Plarail layout are issued with Seats T3 and T4.
The J-11 Recombination Plarail Station can be accessed from these seats to stop trains on the layout.
This station is simply named プラレール駅 or Plarail Station.
The linear end of the Plarail layout uses the stock R-10 U Turn Rail. There’s also a separate yard line on this end.
Plarail seats are labelled as Seats P1 and P2.
Although I’m not sure if this is flexible considering that the Plarail layout spans the Tatami Seats as well.
Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo Coffee Sales
Coffee products are available at the shelf to purchase and bring home.
Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo is a refreshing addition to Singapore with dioramas and coffee coming together. It was a pleasure to have coffee and cake with metal coasting sounds from the N-scale trains on the diorama and Plarail motors and plastic trashing from wheels.
My visit was during an off-peak weekday afternoon, so entry to Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo was rather easy. However, I did spot queue poles, and understandably so, considering that there’s only 12 seats available on the seat map, and 1 of the seats seem to be missing in the N-scale diorama area. During weekends and peak periods, the queue may stretch especially when Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo operates with boarding times for each batch of 12 passengers and fixed half-hourly travel periods, rather than a free flow of customers like a normal café.
Tetsudo Izakaya Little TGV vs. Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo Comparison
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Tetsudo Izakaya Little TGV in Tokyo on my previous visit to Tokyo. Nope, unfortunately, I did not create an article on it as the key attraction (aside from the dioramas and restaurant interior) is the staff, and photos of any of the very attractive staff were prohibited, even if she was just a small speck in an overall interior photo. But, it’s for good reason.
In terms of train boarding accuracy, comparing Japanese railway café to Japanese railway café, Tetsudo Izakaya Little TGV is slightly more accurate in terms of boarding procedures, as you visit the Midori no Madoguchi only for the entry ticket and seat reservations, as how a Midori no Madoguchi would function. The café crew will come round to take your orders in your seats ie. after boarding.
The food and drinks menu at Tetsudo Izakaya Little TGV is also more railway themed and immersive with the snacks actually looking like trains, rather than just colours of the train line. For example, if you order the Doctor Yellow Tamagoyaki, a very nice conductor will come to your table to couple the “coaches” together for you. You can also order a 3-car or 4-car set.
Tetsudo Izakaya Little TGV’s conductor will also very excitedly prance over to your seat to check for tickets when you have made your food orders, and call out your ticket details before clipping it. Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo, on the other hand, only asks for your ticket, clips it, and hands it back to you, silent KTM style. The ticket stamp is also given on the ticket before ticket checking, which is quite a flip around from actual ticket use, as the stamp is only given at the exit on request, as the stamp invalidates the ticket.
Which means my ticket was clipped correct on an invalid ticket.
For accuracy, Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo should consider giving the stamp after the meal instead.
But yes, one thing that Tetsudo Izakaya Little TGV lacks is a rental diorama and kids area because 1. it’s not very for kids though they do have a kids menu and 2. their diorama is only for running their trains. You can still get a diorama seat like I did, but it’s for train watching.
And yes, most customers like me were more immersed in the diorama rather than the very attractive staff.
The Train Otaku In Me
I understand that the above points can only be made with a nerdy understanding of railways in Japan. To the common public, a ticket checked is a ticket checked, and a coffee order is a coffee order. While I enjoyed my coffee and cake, the attraction for me at Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo is definitely their fittings, which otakus would notice, so bear with me for that.
Still, I applaud this amazing effort by the owners to bring an essence of Japan trains to Singapore with surprisingly high detail.
How to go to Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo:
Shinjuku Kissa Tetsudo
111 Somerset Rd
Use Somerset MRT Station Exit A and take the sheltered walkway to the adjacent 111 Somerset shopping mall.
Reservations not possible online or by phone.