It may not share the limelight with other popular Tokyo neighbor districts, Ikebukuro is currently carving a name for itself as a tourist and food destination for locals and foreign tourists alike. It is a commuter center, hosting three subways and multiple train lines, making it a busy railway station, second to Shinjuku. Ikebukuro is also a cheap residential area, an easy option for those looking for an affordable place to live.
While Shibuya is famous for its Hachiko monument situated outside the station, Ikebukuro meanwhile is known for its iconic owl statue Ikefukuro inside the Ikebukuro Station. It is easy to distinguish Ikebukuro as a dash of Shinjuku’s busy commuter and commercial scene, a little of Akihabara’s otaku and electronics scene, a smidge of Harajuku and Asakusa’s red light and entertainment hub, and a pinch of Ginza’s shopping district feel at Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City. Tourists are sure to get the best of these worlds in Ikebukuro, for the area also has its own Chinatown and numerous historical and entertainment joints to cater to each visitor’s taste.
And after enjoying all the sights and sounds of Ikebukuro, its time to get loaded with some gastronomic delights that the area has to offer with the Ikebukuro food guide.
Famed as “ramen battleground,” Ikebukuro houses numerous ramen joints that sure to extinguish your ramen cravings. Taste ramen the way it was done by the “godfather of Tokyo ramen” Kazuo Yamagishi and head on to Taishoken Hoten. Yamagishi claim to fame is his invention of Tsukemen or eating ramen by dipping cold noodles into hot ramen soup. Yamagishi’s Morisoba is an absolute must try. Each order ranges from ¥850 to ¥1000. Meanwhile, for those who dig rich chicken-flavored ramen broth, Torinoana is the best place to visit. This chicken hole offers Paitan or white soup ramen, or go for the red chicken bowl for an added kick of spice. For those who enjoy the simplicity of salt-based broth in their ramen, head on to Kuwabara. The ramen house serves anything shio soba whether with wontons, tsukumen style or soup-less ramen. Lastly, its miso ramen represent at Hanada, which offers creamy miso-based ramen broth in plain or spicy variants. Indeed, Ikebukuro is a ramen haven for every ramen connoisseurs.
Ikebukuro also hosts some animal-themed cafes. Cat lovers would quickly fall in love at Nekobukuro and Nekerobi which offers you unlimited playtime with the felines while having unlimited access to the drinks machine. Meanwhile, enjoy your dose of coffee, tea or soda while mingling with thirteen bunnies in Usabibi. It literally is a rabbit hole for people who find comfort spending some quiet time with rabbits. Share a kampai with penguins at the Penguin Bar. The restaurant has its pool where the penguins freely swim while diners eat or drink. The Penguin bar offers teppanyaki grill food at ¥2980 for whole orders and ¥1,800 for half orders. Aside from the teppanyaki set meals, the restaurant also offers an array of seafood dishes, salads, and pasta.
While yakiniku is a familiar Japanese dish, Yakiniku Zen Ikebukuro puts a twist on this favorite recipe, grilling meat on a bamboo grid. Each order is tender and juicy but without the overpowering smoke scent. A set meal could cost ¥1,090 for a three-piece order, and ¥1,490 for five pieces.
If Akihabara is a relaxing refuge for the gents with its maid cafés, in Ikebukuro, on the other hand, you’ll be greeted by handsome butlers who will surely treat you like a queen or princess for a day. Ikemen Café or also known as St. Guiliano Music Academy, is a combination of handsome waiters acting as your classmates in this music academy of Japanese pop music. Swallowtail, meanwhile, not only offers tea and pastries in classy china, its servers are pretty men on your beck and call.
Ikebukuro is something that one shouldn’t miss when visiting Tokyo. It is an up-and-coming hub that has a lot to offer just like its neighboring districts.
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.