The “salarymen” district, Shinbashi (also known as Shimbashi), is a reflection of the working Japanese. The area strikes a balance between work and play, a heavily trafficked area during rush hours and an after-work hub for the industrious Japanese. Shinbashi is the location of the first railway terminal and is a stone’s throw away from the glamorous Ginza district.
For these salarymen, nothing beats the stress of a hard day’s work with some good old drink in standing-only bars or a hearty dinner at izakayas and yakitori joints with colleagues. These give tourists the feel of the vibrant, after office life of the Japanese working class. And since Shinbashi hosts salarymen, most of the eateries lined in between the Shinbashi and Yurakucho stations serve authentic Japanese dishes at an affordable price. Due to the fast-paced lifestyle of these salarymen, most of them eat at these food stalls in a fast-paced manner especially during lunchtime when these places are often jam-packed. Here is the Shinbashi food guide for making your Tokyo trip delicious.
So Where do These Salarymen Huddle?
- Musashi Robatayaki. Robatayaki or robata for short means “fireside cooking” and was said to have originated from Hokkaido. Chefs are usually behind a bar like grilling station similar to an open kitchen and are surrounded with skewers and portions of meat and produce are laid in front of the smoking hot grill. The rules are simple: point, grill, serve, eat. Diners are encouraged to participate in the cooking process by selecting their choices and once grilled; meals are then served using a robata paddle. A must visit place for an authentic robata experience in Shinbashi is Musashi, with each fair costing at a flat rate of ¥290. For a fun and interactive dining experience, this is indeed a must try.
- Nanakura. A great after-work izakaya for those craving for inaniwa udon (dry udon) and fresh seafood. Each bowl is served with duck-based dipping sauce and with noodles that is more delicate than the usual. Each order costs around ¥1080-1480 and also comes with pickled Chinese cabbage, which is refillable. Other must tries in the menu include the mini donburi sets such as the Inaniwa Udon with Mini Seafood Bowl. For those fun of rice, there are also a wide variety of rice meals topped with either tuna, marinated salmon roe, scallions and fatty tuna. It is best to go here on weekdays during lunchtime which extends up to 2:00 p.m. or during dinner from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
- Karayama. One could never go wrong with fried chicken. In Karayama, the spotlight is on their karaage, with its juicy and flavorful chicken meat that is crispy fried to perfection. A large piece only costs ¥130 per piece while the ginger fried version costs ¥150 a piece. This crispy chicken goodness is also offered either in teishoku or bento meals served with rice and soup.
- Sakanatei and Sushi Dokoro Miyako Shinbashi Ten. A Japanese eat street experience is not complete without a dose of sushi and sashimi. For those who love a quick sushi fix, head up to this standing sushi bar offers 8pcs of nigiri sushi at an affordable ¥600. Meanwhile, those who are craving for some fresh sashimi, head on to Sakanatei, which serves an “Extra Large Sashimi Set” at ¥1000. The fish used in the sashimi set varies depending on the what’s available on the menu for that day.
- Sake Plaza. This sake and sochu haven and museum will educate you about everything and anything sake and is operated by the Central Brewer’s Union and is located at the ground floor of the Sake Brewers Association Building. For ¥315 to ¥500, one can chug three to five kinds of sake, which comes at random every day. One can also purchase a bottle of sake or sochu in this sake house.
- Shinshu Osake Mura. While the Sake Plaza is highly geared to educate tourists about the staple alcoholic beverages of Japan, Shinshu Osake Mura gives you the typical salaryman’s way of enjoying sake, in a bar. And since Japanese workers value rewarding themselves after work, beer and sake is a serious business in this bar. This watering hole serves a variety of beers and sake without breaking the bank. While it can get quickly crowded on a Friday night, tourists can enjoy the Japanese beer garden experience at any time of the day in this bar.
- Shinbashi Dry-Dock. Another popular drinking joint in Shinbashi is the Shinbashi Dry-Dock. This nautically themed lager bar is a host to state-of-the-art beer dispensers and 60 bottled beer variants, which continually changes, and imported beers at a reasonable price. One can engage in casual conversations with fellow beer drinkers at the 12-seater bar or reserve a space at the bar’s second floor for ¥500 per head. The brewmaster also offers some house recommendations for those who would like to try beers other than the more familiar brands.
Shinbashi. The embodiment of work and life enjoyed by the Japanese. And while the Japanese people are world known for being industrious, Shinbashi reminds tourists that all work and no play makes John dull. Till the next foodventure!
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.