Akasaka-Mitsuke serves as a common stop for both Tokyo Metro Ginza and Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line. As one of the prominent Sound of Music song lyrics connotes, the hills are indeed alive, since Akasaka-Mitsuke sits in an area composed of 25 hills housing grandiose hotels, entertainment halls, fine cafés, and restaurants. Aside from that, the commercial district is strategically situated near the shopping arena, nightlife district and Tokyo’s seat of government.
Akasaka, which literally means “red slope” was formerly lined with the “madder plant,” whose roots were used to produce a red dye. The name Akasaka-Mitsuke also denotes the Akasaka Guard Post, which protected the Edo Castle. A smorgasbord of culture, being the seat of various foreign embassies, tradition, and old and new Tokyo, Akasaka-Mitsuke has a lot of eye candy to offer. And after your stroll in this glorious arena, you might be wondering where to eat in Akasaka-Mitsuke, so fill your famished self with the food offerings at these Akasaka-Mitsuke restaurants and shops.
1. Uoshin Nogizaka
Reasonably-priced sushi will definitely lure you into Uoshin Nogizaka. At this izakaya, offering fresh seafood, you can expect exquisite, high-quality sushi and sashimi since the owners are also seafood wholesalers. The space at this restaurant in Akasaka-Mitsuke has an open, spacious feel thanks to the transparent vinyl walls and rustic design which even uses crates as seating! For foreigners, there’s no need to be intimidated since Uoshin Nogizaka’s staff are fluent in English. Don’t miss the house specialty nokke sushi, a cucumber roll topped with salmon roe, chopped tuna, crab meat, and sea urchin.
2. Ninja Akasaka
Black interiors, trapdoors and scroll menus… For a five out of five ninja star dining experience, then Ninja Akasaka is the place to be. This restaurant is run by wait staff that is trained and dressed as ninjas. Once the ninja servers are done taking your orders, they will disappear only to again appear midair with their sword and tricks. Even the food is ninja-inspired! They offer several different course menus including the Yamata Spirit Course (with dishes such as shuriken-shaped grassini breadsticks served with foie gras, bouillabaisse, and nigiri sushi), three different vegetarian courses, and a halal-friendly course meal free of pork and alcohol. While the courses might be on the pricey side, the dining experience at Ninja Akasaka includes both dinner and a show.
For laid-back Japanese fare in a restaurant with gorgeous traditional yet modern Japanese architecture, Umaya is the restaurant in Akasaka-Mitsuke to visit. Housed in a hidden little enclave, you’d hardly know this charming restaurant was even there. Umaya serves yakitori grilled chicken, pork shabu-shabu, and hotpot and vegetable dishes from Kyushu. Private rooms are available for a more intimate dining experience. Umaya is also very foreigner-friendly and offers an English menu.
If you’re in the mood for shabu-shabu in Akasaka Mitsuke, Shabugen is the restaurant for you. While a little on the pricier side, Shabugen offers shabu-shabu with the most delicious, seasonal ingredients. Many set course meals, like their 9-course Kuroge wagyu beef shabu-shabu, even include a cost-effective nomihoudai (all-you-can-drink) plan, perfect for celebrations and parties. And each person is provided with their own personal shabu-shabu hotpot, so you can feel free to enjoy your meal at your own pace.
5. Akasaka Aono
Hope you saved room for dessert! A Japanese sweets shop with a signature Akasaka mochi, and dedication to using only the best raw materials, Akasaka Aono has a main store in Akasaka and a branch in Akasaka-Mitsuke, as well as a few other locations. In addition to namagashi (fresh Japanese confections), this Tokyo wagashi shop also makes mochi and yokan. While only the Akasaka main store has seating, you can take out some of the Japanese sweets from the Akasaka-Mitsuke store to enjoy later or give as gifts. Boxes of their Japanese desserts come beautifully packaged in furoshiki, traditional cloths used for wrapping, and Akasaka Aono is known as one of the first shops to use furoshiki in their packaging. Their special Akasaka mochi consists of a soft mochi made with walnuts and brown sugar, dusted with kinako (soybean power). With a gentle sweetness and tender texture, this is one Japanese dessert you’ll have to try in Akasaka-Mitsuke.
The marriage of traditional and contemporary is indeed evident in the sights and the flavors of Akasaka-Mitsuke. With a few ideas about where to eat in Akasaka-Mitsuke, go forth and enjoy the food scene in this stunning Tokyo neighborhood.
Aleli is a wanderlust whose main itinerary is to culture soak in the places that she sets foot on, sinking her teeth in the gustatory offerings that the place has to offer and knowing the story behind it. Food for her is a marriage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the rich history of every city she explores and uses the pen as her tool to share to the world each unique experience she unravels.