Are you a fan of Japanese food? Tokyo is a food haven with a whole range of appetising and mouth-watering delights, everything from traditional cuisines to foods with a modern twist. Check out these must-try foods around Shinjuku that will satisfy all your food cravings!
All food lovers out there would definitely love Nakajima - a one-star Michelin restaurant that serves affordable yet tasty Iwashi (sardine) meals. There are a variety of ways that the sardines are prepared - they can be fried, made in sashimi style with seaweed and sesame, simmered with soy sauce (Nizakana), or in the Yanagawa Nabe with a casserole at an extra 100 JPY (0.90 USD).
The Nizakana method of preparation is special because the slow simmering still retains the sardines’ softness and the sauce perfectly complements the fish meat. Most customers would also order the Yanagawa Nabe (900 JPY or 7.80 USD) there. The sardines are cooked in a fragrant, savoury sauce and covered with a golden brown omelette. The hotpot is then topped with a generous amount of green chives – mouthwatering!
Most set lunch menu are priced around 800 JPY (7 USD), a real bargain for the quality food. The set menu includes miso soup, rice, tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and green tea. If you get a seat at the counter, you also get to see the chefs prepare the sardines and dishes.
With such affordable price and great tasting food, Nakajima is surely worth your money. It is little wonder that throngs of customers (locals and tourists alike) would line up and wait for this restaurant daily. We would advise getting there early as the crowd would get thicker throughout the day.
Address: B1F, Hihara Bldg, 3 32-5 Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward
Opening Hours: 11:30am - 2pm (last order 1:45pm), 5:30pm - 9:30pm (last order 8pm). Closed on Sundays and Public holidays
Access: 10-minute walk from Shinjuku station south exit. Look out for a Hihara Building.
Contact: +81 3-3356-453
Another Japanese delicacy you shouldn’t miss is Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). While Tonkatsu can be a commonplace item at restaurants across Japan, Katsukura is unique because of the consistency of its fried cutlets. It is really crispy on the outside with the meat succulent on the inside - and you will find this same great taste at all their restaurant outlets. Originated from Kyoto, Katsukura selects only the highest quality ingredients for all its food – the breadcrumbs that cover the cutlet are oven-baked bread, and they use cholesterol-free oil to fry the food.
Katsukura serves a selection of other fried food such as chicken, prawns, crabmeat croquette and more. The fried cutlets are served with a good load of fresh raw cabbage as well to balance the oiliness of the fried food. Prices here are around 1000 JPY to 2000 JPY (8.70 USD to 17 USD) for a set meal. English menu is available.
Address: 14F, Shinjuku Takashimaya, 5-24-2, Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward
Opening Hours: 11am - 11pm
Access: 2-minute walk from the South East Entrance JR Shinjuku station
Contact: +81 3-5361-1878
Apart from Tonkatsu, Yakitori (grilled meat skewers) is another delicacy you must try. In Shinjuku, Hajimeya is known to have very addictive and tasty meat skewers such as Torikawa-Yaki (grilled chicken skin, 162 JPY or 1.40 USD), Atsumi (chicken thigh, 194 JPY or 1.70 USD), Tebasaki (chicken wing, 302 JPY or 2.60 USD). The chicken meat is really moist and juicy, well charred together with the absolutely tasty tare sauce. Simply amazing. Make your meal better with a jug of ice-cold beer!
Hajimeya is located at Omoide Yokocho (also known as “Memory Lane”), an area with a setting that reminds people of Japan in the 1950s. The small streets and alleys here are filled with restaurants and it is very happening at night as you get to see many locals hanging out after work over some good food and drinks. Hajimeya has an English menu available. Average cost for a meal is around 3000 JPY (26 USD).
Address: Kawano Building 1F, 1-26-7, Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward
Opening Hours: 5am - 5pm
Access: 5 minutes’ walk from JR Shiinjuku station east exit
Contact: +81 3-3200-0123
Still craving for another meaty meal? Jiromaru is the right place to go for some tasty yakiniku (grilled meat) at a good price. The special thing about this shop is you can order any type of Yakiniku you want and they will charge you at a per-piece rate.
The different grades of meats are labeled A4 and A5 (with A5 being the best quality) and you can be assured that you will be served the finest, marbled meat there. Meat slice prices range from about 210 JPY to 300 JPY (1.80 USD to 2.60 USD) per piece, and they have everything from wagyu tongue, steak, ribeye, flank, ribs, shoulder and more. Veggies are also available at 30 JPY (0.30 USD) per piece. There is a small grill at the counter and you can grill the meat and vegetables on your own.
Tips for grilling yakiniku: For Karubi, cook for 80 percent of the time on one side until the meat has a nice grilled colour, and only 20 percent on the other side. For Roast, place it on the grill and wait until the bottom is nicely browned and the juices come up to the surface before flipping it over. For the best Yakiniku flavour, grill the meat slices one at a time to make sure the temperature of the meat is well maintained. If you are cooking several pieces at once, make sure that they are not overcooked. In addition, some rice and ice-cold beer would be a perfect company for the grilled meat.
The “slight drawback” of the shop is that it only accommodates about 10 people at a time and it is a standing Yakiniku shop (Nonetheless, standing is good for digestion!). English menu is not available, but you can always request for the Chef’s recommendation and it can never go wrong. A great affordable luxury!
Address: Kabuki Building 1F, 1-26-3, Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward
Opening Hours: 11am - 5am
Contact: +81 3-6380-3292
Access: 1-minute walk from Seibu-Shinjuku Station, or 5-minute walk from JR Shinjuku station east exit
5. Best ramen in Shinjuku - Fuunji
There are countless ramen shops in Shinjuku but this is one of the most famous dry ramen noodle shops in Tokyo yet the price is reasonable.There is soup ramen but the gravy soup would match the best with dry noodle style. Usually, there is a long queue during lunch time so you can reach there at 11 am or after lunch hour to avoid the queue.
Address: B1F, 2-14-3 Yoyogi, Shibuya Ward
Price: from 7 USD
Opening Hours: 11 am - 3 pm and 5 pm till 9 pm or when sold out. Closed on Sunday and Public holiday
Access: approx. 6 minutes’ walk from JR Shinjuku station south or new south exit
Contact: +81 3-6413-8480 (no reservation acceptable)
6. Oden at Otako Shinjuku
Oden is the traditional Japanese dish that has not been featured like Sushi or Tempura, ramen for a long time. It’s a very simple dish - vegetables and bean curd, fish balls are simmered in a clear traditional soup and served in a small bowl. Japanese people appreciate this dish in winter to keep oneself warm. This Otako restaurant has several outlets and is well known for those who have loved Oden for a long time. Having Oden with hot sake and beer, and great company is pure joy for Japanese workers after a hard day!
Otako Shinjuku お多幸新宿店
Address: 3-20-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward
Price: from 12 USD
Opening Hours: 3:30 pm - 10:50 pm (LO)
Access: 4 minutes’ walk from Tokyo metro Marunouchi line Shinjuku station or 3 minutes’ walk from JR Shinjuku station
Contact: +81 3-3352-4771 (reservation acceptable for more than 4 pax)
Another Japanese dessert store we highly recommend is Oiwake Dango Honpo. Established in 1945, this traditional Japanese teahouse is a hidden gem in Shinjuku. They are famous for their selection of Japanese sweets like odango (a rice cake ball in a skewer, covered with sweet sauce or dry seaweed), anmitsu (a Japanese parfait with red bean paste, fresh fruits, mocha, ice cream and more), kakigori (shaved ice topped with syrup) and more. The chewy odango that comes in a selection of unique flavours such as yuzu, seaweed, ginger, goes perfectly with the refreshing green tea (served free of charge). The ambience of the teahouse is cosy and relaxing, making it a great place to drop by for afternoon tea.
Oiwake Dango Honpo
Address: NSO Bldg. Shinjuku 3 -1-22, Shinjuku Ward
Opening Hours: 10am - 8.30pm
Access: 3-minute walk from Shinjuku-Sanctome station , 6 minutes’ walk from JR Shinjuku station
Contact: +81 3-3351-0101
From set meals, small food bites, to sweet treats, these foods around Shinjuku are our top picks. They truly stand out with their great, unique taste and their pocket-friendly prices. Have these foods got your taste buds working overtime? Try them out on your next visit to Shinjuku!
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