If you’re visiting Japan in the coming months and are at a loss of where to start your search for delicious eats, here is my autumn collection of restaurants in Tokyo and foods to warm you up this season.
Shanti Soup Curry – Website (Japanese Only)
Address: Sekai-do Building 1F, 2-10-10 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (東京都渋谷区道玄坂2-10-10 世界堂ビル1F)
Recommendation: Egg & Vegetable Soup Curry (エッグと野菜のスープカレー)
Notes: The presentation is a bit disappointing, but I always love me a helping of grilled veggies on a cool autumn day. In terms of flavor, it is salty but full of protein, and the spice level can be adjusted according to your liking. I first came across soup curry during my trip to Hokkaido, and it quickly became one of my new favorite foods. When I came back to Tokyo, I discovered Shanti was on my walk between the train station and school so this will surely be my go to for a quick warm-me-up during the winter.
Nihonichi – Website
Address: The Diamond B1F, 1-4 Nanko, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa (神奈川県横浜市西区南幸1-4B1F)
Recommendation: Pork & Green Onion or Chicken Thigh & Green Onion (たれの豚ねぎ or たれのももねぎ)
Notes: Without a doubt, one of my favorite Japanese foods is yakitori which is grilled chicken skewers though the word has expanded to include different kinds of meat. When I’m feeling too lazy to cook, I stop at The Diamond, a department store in the basement of Yokohama Station, to pick something up for dinner. There is an area called The Diamond Kitchen where they have a slew of different prepared foods and I usually get myself a few skewers (or like 8-10 if I’m having a REALLY bad day) from a stand called Nihonichi. They have about 10 or so different kinds of yakitori, but my favorites are the ones with pork and green onion or chicken thigh and green onion. Both offer a nice contrast of chewy meat and crunchy onion and are best eaten to fill you up right before a nice nap.
Yoshimura Ramen – Website (Japanese Only) | Shop Review (English Only)
Address: 2-12-6 Minamisaiwai Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa (神奈川県 横浜市西区 南幸 2-12-6 ストークミキ１Ｆ)
Notes: Without fail, this place always has a line out the door, and for good reason. Yoshimura’s ramen is fantastic especially when eaten after a night of too many drinks. For me, I’m very much married to a diet of fruits, veggies, and meats, but ramen is like my exotic boyfriend with whom I cheat on my regular diet. It’s salty, overly filling, and strangely addicting. At Yoshimura, like most ramen places, you order first from the vending machine the size you want and toppings, and when you sit down at the bar, you give the cooks your chips from the machine. They’ll ask you how you want your noodles cooked (normal, soft, chewy) and then you wait. When they set the heaping bowl of ramen before you, pounce like a lion on its prey and enjoy the gratifying meal.
Mizuguchi Shokudo – Website
Address: 2-4-9 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo (東京都台東区浅草2-4-9)
Recommendation: Iributa Pork Set (いり豚 水口オリジナル)
Notes: Right off the bat, I’m going to say this place gets a 10 for atmosphere but not for the reasons you might think. Mizuguchi is an old-fashioned, Japanese-style cafeteria where the clientele mainly consists of neighborhood ojiisans who come to watch sports on TV, have a smoke, and catch up with their friends. There isn’t anything pretentious about this place. The interior is run down and stuck in the past, but this place is well loved, if that makes ANY sense. When I eat here, it’s like being served a home-cooked meal, and to me, portion sizes are equivalent to that of a Thanksgiving feast. Servers walk around in well worn aprons, crocs, and bandanas on their head, and they’re always so warm and welcoming. Mizuguchi is a restaurant I don’t get to eat at often enough, but when I do, it’s always a treat.
Urth Caffe – Website
Address: 8-9 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (東京都渋谷区猿楽町8-9)
Recommendation: Grilled Cilantro Chicken w/ Pesto Sandwich and Organic Green Tea Boba
Notes: Let me preface this by saying that the only reason I came across this place was because Rola, a famous model and personality in Japan, mentioned it on her Instagram. That said, the quality of this place is great, but I think it’s overpriced. For a sandwich and side salad, it’s roughly $15. It’s a quick and healthy meal, but same quality food can certainly be found cheaper elsewhere. Truthfully, I prefer going just for the bubble tea. It’s light in flavor, goes down easy, and refreshing.
Kua Aina – Website
Address: Maison de Yu 1F, 1-10-4 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku (渋谷区渋谷1-10-4 メゾン・ド・ユー1F)
Recommendation: Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich (I usually get avocado added for an extra cost)
Notes: Kua Aina is a Hawaiian themed restaurant offering a variety of sandwiches and hamburgers without the hefty price tag. Whenever I go to the Shibuya location, staff welcome customers by saying aloha instead of the usual IRASSHAIMASE. Love is in the details, my friends. Anyway, I didn’t understand why I was so drawn to this place at first. I thought maybe because I have this relentless desire to go to Hawaii, the whole theme of the restaurant was a temporary thirst quencher. That’s not it though. In a world of Japanese / Asian / ethnic food, sometimes I just want a sandwich, and sometimes I’m so lazy that I don’t want to make one for myself so Kua Aina fills that gap.
FabCafe – Website
Address: Dogenzaka Pier 1F, 1-22-7Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo (東京都渋谷区道玄坂1-22-7 道玄坂ピア1F)
Recommendation: Chicken & Lemon Sandwich (チキンとレモンサンド)
Notes: Since starting school, I’ve grown to love FabCafe so much that I use it as my go-to work cafe when I need to get some writing or studying done. Much like any cafe in Japan, you have to order food or drinks to be able stay and work. I usually get the chicken and lemon sandwich and a different iced tea every time. Though small in portion, it is filling, packed with all kinds of textures, and elegantly served.
Bake Cheese Tart – Website
Address: 1-31-10 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (東京都目黒区自由が丘1-31-10)
Recommendation: Baked Cheese Tart (duh!)
Notes: Growing up, my go-to snack was some kind of cookie, but I HAVE DISCOVERED THE CHEESE TART, Y’ALL. It’s a simple dessert that’s not too sweet with just the tiniest hint of tang. The middle is soft and fluffy whipped cheese without the overpowering smell surrounded by a crunchy cookie crust. With this, I’ve developed a taste for more sophisticated sweets. Get one for a quick dose of sweet after lunch or get a box of 6 to share with your friends.
Recommendation: Green Tea Latte
Notes: If I had a coffee addiction, the green tea latte would be my regular morning order before work or school. Though it’s not overly sweet, I know it is still loaded with sugar which is why this is only an occasional treat. Paired with the green veggie & basil sandwich, the green tea latte makes for the perfect refuel on a frigid winter day.
Gong Cha Japan – Website
Address: Bell Pier 1F, 6-6-2 Harajuku, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (東京都 渋谷区 神宮前6-6-2 原宿ベルピア 1F)
Recommendation: Green Milk Tea with Pearls
Notes: One thing I really appreciate about this place is that their milk tea isn’t overly sweet so it doesn’t feel heavy in my stomach after I drink it. Usually when I get bubble tea, it’s heavy on the sugar and dairy, but this one has a refreshingly balanced taste of tea and sweet milk. It’s delicious. What’s more, the shop is located among the back shopping alleys of Harajuku so it never seems to be too crowded.