Tan Tan Men in Asakusa
Cold noodles in a spicy black sesame sauce = AMAZING SUMMER FOOD. My first summer in Tokyo, I ordered the hiyashi kurogoma tantanmen at Asakusa’s Chinkatei so often, they started giving me free plates of gyoza.
Chankonabe in Ryogoku
Want to eat like a sumo? Of course you do.
Monjayaki in Tsukishima
Monjayaki (runny savory pancake) is fun to eat but it’s even more fun to say. If you’re bored, try chanting it to yourself in a crowded place while trying not to laugh. Bonus points if you add Jim Carreyesque facial contortions and emphasize different parts of the word. MONJAyaki! monjaYAKI! MONjayaKI!
Gelato in Shibuya
What’s better than snapping a selfie in front of Hachiko and losing yourself in the scramble crossing? Snapping a selfie in front of Hachiko and losing yourself in the scramble crossing WITH GELATO.
Kebabs in Asakusa or Ueno Ameya Yokocho
Kebabs are a quintessential drinking food in any city and the stands throughout Tokyo have clogged a special place in my heart. They’re also great for striking up convos with the gregarious Turkish expats who run them. The guy at my favorite stand even taught me how to say thank you in Turkish, “teşekkür ederim.” He also put me on to dondurma: gooeylicious Turkish ice cream.
Even if you’ve just walked out of a tabehoudai baiking (all-you-can-eat buffet), when that smoky perfume hits your nostrils, your betsu bara (other stomach) kicks into high gear, and you’re ready to eat all over again.
Yatai in Asakusa Koendori
When I was staying at Sakura House in 2012, I used to spend most nights tossing back cheap happoshu with my buddy Shun. Shun worked at Tonbou, one of the cozy yatai food stalls that line both sides of Asakusa Koendori. They’re great spots for sipping sake and munching otsumami (beer snacks). You may leave wondering how that much tasty food can come out of such a tiny kitchen.
Xiao Long Bao in Shinjuku
I used to have to go through Taiwan so I could stop by Din Tai Fung for dim sum. Now, all I have to do is go to Takashimaya Times Square. I’ve waited up to an hour to get my xiao long bao fix and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Well played, Tokyo.
Pudding in Asakadai
One Friday last November, I spent over ¥4000 ($40 USD) on pudding from Maison de Premier. That purchase led to one of the best weekends of my life.
Sesame Milk Coffee in Hiroo
The sesame coffee at the Ueshima Coffee Shop (aka “Precious Coffee Moments”) is SERIOUSLY ADDICTING.
Cream Puffs in Department Stores
I’m not much of a shopper, but I regularly explore the basement levels of department stores with a single-mindedness that borders on obsession. The object of my quest: CREAM PUFFS. I’m salivating just thinking about them.
The best thing about Tokyo ramen is that you’re totally spoiled for choice. Here are the two best.
Ichiran in Harajuku: Fatty, garlicky, spicy, and available all over the city. Fukuoka’s own Hakata-style ramen served customized to your taste. The Harajuku location always seems less crowded.
Curry Tsukemen Syuuichi in Ebisu: Now, whenever I smell curry, I’m thinking, “I wonder if I can get noodles with that…”
Konbini, my old friend. Always open, your warm neon glow welcoming me in for a drink and a wide selection of indulgent food I shouldn’t eat, but am going to anyway. Your service with a smile and a polite bow. Your knowing wink– all grace, no judgment. One juicy fried chicken and kari kari ume musubi to go. No bag, please–they’re already in my mouth.
Korean BBQ and Fried Chicken in Shin-Okubo
Spike D is all about that spicy fried chicken and Korean food is the perfect mix of seared, sweet and heat. Keep that chickin mul and bibim naengmyon comin!