Updated: November 22, 2018
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9 Authentic "Must-Eat" Foods Of Tokyo

Tokyo

Tokyo has so many facets that its unique cuisine often gets overlooked for other aspects of its rich culture. Here are the local foods of Tokyo you should try!

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Monjayaki of Tsukishima

monjayaki
If you ask a Japanese person outside of Tokyo, what is the food that is most representative of the capital, more often than not, "monjayaki" is the first answer they'll give. It is a kind of savory batter that can be mixed with all kinds of vegetable, meats, and seafood, and that is fried on a large iron plate at your table. It is similar to Osaka's okonomiyaki, except that it is much more liquid. You eat monjayaki by scrapping bits of it from the iron plate. The taste and texture might not be your cup of tea, but I guarantee that you'll at least have a good time making it. You should at least give it a try if you have the chance.
tsukishima
Although there are many restaurants (often okonomiyaki restaurants) that serve it throughout Tokyo, the undisputed monjayaki kingdom is Tsukishima, near Odaiba. You'll find a shopping street there where virtually every shop specializes in monjayaki.

Kaminari Okoshi

kaminari_okoshi
"Kaminari okoshi" are one of the most popular souvenirs you can buy in the traditional district of Asakusa. The puffy rice and caramel crackers are one of the most representative traditional sweets of old Tokyo.
kaminarimon
The "kaminari" in their name is a reference to the famous Kaminarimon (thunder gates) of Asakusa.
Although they are most often found at take-out souvenir stores, If you go to Tokiwa Dou Kaminari Okoshi Honpo in Asakusa, you can see them being made as you enjoy them in-store.

Imo Yokan

imo_yokan
Sweet potatoes are often used in traditional sweets in Japan. One of these popular traditional sweets is the imo yokan, which originated in Asakusa. It is a kind of dense sweet potato jelly served in cubes. The texture is very smooth and creamy, and it goes really well with green tea. You can eat it as is, or you can also grill it for a more caramelly taste.
imo_yokan_blue
The most common color is yellow but they are also sometimes made from a blue type of sweet potatoes. Imo yokans are particularly popular in Asakusa, where they originate. If you are there, you should try them at Funawa, the most emblematic store that specializing in imo yokan.

Ningyoyaki

ningyoyaki
Ningyoyaki are yet another unmissable traditional sweet of Asakusa. They are small sponge cakes filled with sweet red bean paste. The name literally means "grilled doll" but they are often found in the shape of pigeons in Asakusa.
ningyo_yaki
When you're exploring Asakusa - and espacially when you are walk through Nakamise shopping street - it's imperative that you get a freshly baked one! Enjoying a ningyoyaki while strolling the historic streets of the district is part of the Asakusa experience.

Fukagawa-meshi

fukagawa_meshi
Fukagawa-meshi consists of rice that is infused in a savory miso broth full of umami, and that is topped with lots of clams and Japanese leeks. It's specialty of Koto ward in eastern Tokyo. That part of the city used to prosper on fisheries and clam digging during the Edo Era. Why the fukagawa-meshi dish is not more well-known is beyond me. It's one of the best savory dishes you can have in Tokyo!
monzen_nakacho
The Monzen Nakacho neighborhood is a particularly good spot to have it. A good restaurant that often has long lines is Monzenjaya. Their bowl of Fukagawa-meshi is about ¥1,000.

Yanagawa nabe

yanagawa_nabe
This loach hot pot is a part of the regional cuisine of Tokyo since the Edo Era. The soup is soy-based and slightly sweet, just like the one you find in sukiyaki. It contains gobo (burdock) and is topped with whisked eggs. The Yanagawa nabe is considered a very nutritious and hearty dish. It was eaten in the olden days to help combat summer fatigue.
Dojo_iidaya
A really good place to have it is Iidaya near Asakusa Station.

Unagi

broiled_eel
Unagi is a type of freshwater eel that is eaten throughout Japan. Unagi dishes are especially popular in the nation's capital where some famous unagi houses have a history of over 250 years! The dish is somewhat of a delicacy because of the relative scarcity of the eel and the elaborate preparation.

Unagi is first tenderized by being placed in a wooded steamer for a few minutes. The pieces are then skewered and dipped in a tare sauce and then boiled slowly. It is redipped in tare a few times while being broiled until the exterior becomes dark brown and crisp. The interior of an unagi skewer is very soft. The texture combined with the savory taste from the eel's natural flavor and the tare sauce makes this dish irresistible. Like the previously introduced Yanakawa nabe, unagi is believed to be an excellent remedy to summer fatigue.
unagi
Unagi is most often served on a bed of rice in a box, in which case it is called unaju. You can find unagi restaurants throughout Tokyo. If you are in the downtown area of Shinjuku, you can enjoy some amazing unagi at restaurants of long-standing with the perfect traditional atmosphere.

Kusaya

kusaya
Kusaya is one of the most stunningly strange foods in all of Japan. Originating from Niijima, a small island that is part of Tokyo, kusaya is salted, sun-dried, and fermented horse mackerel. The result is a fish with a pungent smell that is probably 10 times more powerful than natto, without any exaggeration.
kusaya_set
It is quite rare to find even in Tokyo, but if you do, give it a try if you are the adventurous type. The taste is not as surprising as the smell, and it is said to go quite well with traditional alcohols such as sake or shochu.

Tokyo Banana

banana
Tokyo is known for many things, but unfortunately, banana production is not one of them. As kind of a tongue in cheek attempt to create an emblematic Tokyo souvenir, Grapestone Co. started selling in the early nineties a small banana-shaped chiffon cake stuffed with banana puree. It turned out to be a massive hit and ironically did become one of the most sought-after souvenirs in Tokyo.
tokyo_banana
Tokyo bananas are impossible to avoid if you go to a souvenir shop of the Tokyo Station. Many people get them as a last minute souvenir before boarding the shinkansen.

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    tabikamome
    Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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