Takoyaki Osaka Japan

Where to get stuffed in Tokyo’s coolest neighborhood. Source: Shutterstock.

EVERY CITY has it’s coolest neighborhoods. London has Peckham, Melbourne has Fitzroy and Tokyo has Shimokitazawa.

Fondly known as Shimokita to locals, the area serves as a trendy hangout spot for Tokyo’s millennials. The neighborhood has an eclectic mix of vintage clothing stores, homemade markets, independent coffee shops, intimate theatre venues, and restaurants which regularly boast lengthy queues.

But perhaps Shimokita’s crowning glory is its mouthwatering array of street snack vendors.

Unlike in Bangkok, Hanoi, or Kuala Lumpur where hawkers dot roadsides, Shimokita’s snack sellers are established in orderly and compact shops most of the time.

While inside seating in these vendors is limited, the taste of the food makes up for the fact you may have devour it in the rain.

Here are the must-try foods from Shimokita’s snack vendors, from sweet tooth satisfiers to deep-fried goodness. Make sure you bring lots of change, your own napkins, and a healthy appetite.

Takoyaki Lab

Takoyaki balls aren’t hard to come by in Japan. These bite-sized, octopus-filled dough balls are found in pretty much every neighborhood throughout the country.

But stumbling across the tiny Takoyaki Lab in one of Shimokita’s narrow lanes is a game changer.

Source: Holly Patrick.

You can spot the hole-in-the-wall style kiosk by its bright yellow awning and the beaming smile from the takoyaki maker behind the glass will guide you to the counter.

Language barriers aren’t a problem here as you can point to the menu stuck on the glass. We suggest going for six takoyaki balls with the mustard mayo dipping sauce.

Shaved tempura batter, finely chopped green onions and red pickles are also sprinkled on top to create an oh-so moreish feast.

Source: Holly Patrick.

Don’t let the thought of octopus tentacles put you off either. They’re chopped finely and can barely be tasted.

• Price: Six takoyaki balls for JPY330 (US$3).
• Address: 3-34-1 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku.

Arirang Hot Dog

Strictly speaking, Arirang Hot Dog is Korean, but the Japanese love it and we can see why.

Source: Holly Patrick.

Not only is the vendor’s dedication to plastic food displays incredibly strong (see the left corner in the above picture), they also provide the most soulful comfort known to man.

Arirang Hot Dog steers away from the generic sausage-in-a-bun combo and ventures into tasty territory by coating the sausages in everything from deep-fried potatoes to coconut sugar.

Among other popular combinations on the menu is the Chedarella.

This curious snack consists of molten cheese on a stick, encased in squid-ink batter and coated in breadcrumbs.

Source: Holly Patrick.

There are several Arirang Hot Dog vendors around Tokyo, but Shimokita’s store offers plenty of nearby steps to sit on while you enjoy your hot dog and watch the world go by.

• Price: Potato hotdog JPY400 (US$3.60). Other hotdogs vary in price.
• Address: 2 Chome-7-14 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tōkyō-to 155-0031.

Flipper’s

Not only are Flipper’s desserts delicious, but they’re also very Instagrammable and well worth queuing up for.

Source: Holly Patrick.

If you decide to dine in, you can choose from a delightful menu of fluffy pancakes topped with everything from fresh fruit to the café’s original maple buttercream, and savory salmon to bacon and eggs.

However, we suggest skipping the queue and heading around the corner to the take-out spot where the real magic happens.

Sandwiched between two icing sugar-dusted shortcrust pastry slices is a fluffy pancake coated in maple butter custard.

Source: Holly Patrick.

There are also seasonal flavors such as the autumnal pumpkin pie, chocolate, and lemon cream cheese to sink your teeth into.

• Price: Plain maple custard JPY300 (US$2.70).
• Address: 155-0031 Tōkyō-to, Setagaya-Ku, Kitazawa, 2 Chome−26−20 1F.

Tenmaya

Imagine this: Curry wrapped up in crispy yet soft pastry-style bread, coated in panko breadcrumbs and deep fried to perfection.

Sounds scrumptious right? Well, this is exactly what Shimokita’s Tenmaya restaurant offers.

Source: Holly Patrick.

The snack is known as curry pan and can be purchased all over Japan but Tenmaya’s has quite the reputation in Tokyo.

On offer are beef, keema, chicken, and egg curry pans all at the bargain price of JPY250 (US$2.25) each.

Source: Holly Patrick.

We suggest getting the chicken curry pan as it’s super juicy and offers a zing with every mouthful.

• Price: JPY250 (US$2.25).
• Address: 1F Souden Bldg., 2-12-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku.

R29 Nick ‘N’ Roll

You’ll see the queue spilling out onto the road before you see the red awning and smell sweet soy sauce soaked pork at R29 Nick ‘N’ Roll.

Source: Holly Patrick.

The kiosk cooks up traditional Japanese Nikumaki Onigiri which are rice balls wrapped in golden pork strips.

If you’re curious to try these meaty buns, we suggest going for the classic soy sauce rice roll, wrapped in pork and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Source: Holly Patrick.

But if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, order the kimchi-infused roll for a fiery snack.

• Price: Original “Nicknall” JPY290 (US$2.60).
• Address: 2-14-15-1 F, Kitazawa Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 155-003.

Holly Patrick

Holly Patrick | @HollyMaeVogel

As a recent graduate of Journalism from Westminster University, Holly is keen on exploring the stories that hide in the most curious of places. She enjoys discovering new cultures, and has strong opinions about women's rights and how modern technology is influencing the globalized world. She also has a healthy inquisitiveness to find stimulating content… and the best pad thai in town.


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