When it comes to great food, Tokyo has some of the best to offer. After all, Tokyo has the highest concentration of Michelin star restaurants on the planet. But not all of Tokyo’s best food comes from upscale restaurants. Some food (the simpler, cheaper food) originated on the bustling street corners of Tokyo and has very humble beginnings. But as these street foods become more popular, the locals are taking it as a business opportunity and opening their own food cart. We’re focusing on the hidden foodie secrets of Tokyo’s street foods that are certain to get your taste buds flowing.
Today, most of the street vendors are being cleared away by the city on a regular basis (to their annoyance obviously) and are popping up at festivals as well as on special holidays. Luckily, the popular street food that was once unique to these vendors can now be found everywhere in lively Tokyo. From skewers to batter balls and more, here are some of the most recommended nibbles on offer.
Have you seen that viral video of a chief effortlessly flicking golden balls from a frying pan and onto a plate, carefully staking them as he works? Well these are Takoyaki, and if you haven’t seen the video, don’t worry, you will be able to see it live and in action when you order these “golden balls from heaven.” They are filled with fresh octopus, green onions, ginger and tempura flakes and are served with a delicate drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise and fish sauce. Not only is it fun to watch Takoyaki being made but this Japanese snack is also deliciously addictive. You can find Takoyaki all over Tokyo, so make sure not to miss it.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake originally made with leftovers. This surprisingly filling meal originated in the working-class neighborhoods in Osaka Japan. Now this understated dish is available in restaurants all over Tokyo, from the humble street vendor to a Michelin restaurant, you will find Okonomiyaki on every menu!
If you ever find yourself in the Shinjuku neighborhood, make sure to try some of the Ikayaki available at most of the food carts. This squid on a stick is grilled to perfection and served with sticky teriyaki sauce. For simple flavors this meal packs a punch and if you are a fan of seafood then you will fall in love with this convenient snack. Some of the more upscale restaurants may have a more flamboyant version of this street food on offer which is also quite yummy!
If you take a walk down the famed, ‘Memory Lane’ in Shinjuku, you are likely to find some of the best Yakitori in Japan. This Japanese skewer of chicken, seafood and vegetables may sound a little boring, but the flavor combinations and grilling mastery of the vendors will have you coming back for seconds or even thirds.
Just by looking at it, you may assume that Taiyaki is a deep-fried savory delight, however, looks are deceiving and this fished shaped cake is super sweet and filled with delicious chocolate and a creamy custard. You can find these golden cakes in most stalls in Harajuku, but they are so adorable you may not have the heart to bite into it – or at least take a photo before you do!