Tokyo, a melting pot of culinary wonders that ranges from traditional to bizarre. These bizarre gastronomic masterpieces are manifested either in the ingredients used or the theme of the restaurant. Food and restaurants in Tokyo may go beyond conventions, but this unique food fare adds to Tokyo’s charm that lures foodies and tourists both foreign and local. Let us look what’s beyond the noren as we unravel the weird and strange food experiences in Tokyo you may encounter when visiting it.
Animal Themed Cafés.
Cats, owls, hedgehogs, goats and even penguins. Tokyo has a wide array of animal-themed cafes within the city and across nearby districts that fuses a coffee shop with a playground where pet lovers can mingle and have a quality time with their favorite animals.
Cat lovers rejoice for our feline friends are the star of cat cafés spread across Tokyo. There’s Cat Café Calico in Shinjuku, which houses almost 50 cats in its two-floor cafe and Neko JaLaLa in Akihabara, which houses exotic breeds of cats such as Abyssinians and Main Coons. For those who are fond of nocturnal birds like owls, head on to Tokyo’s pioneer owl café, Fukurou No Mise. Interested in birds and owls, Tori No Iru Café not only showcases owls, but it is also a refuge for parrots, parakeets, doves, and other bird species. Aside from the birds, feel free to order a meal or drink as it serves a full menu. Meanwhile, hedgehogs are the main attraction at Harry’s in Roppongi while Sakuragaoka Goat Café in Shibuya’s main centerpiece is goats along with their pasta, pizza, and beef stew on the menu. Lastly, penguins in aquariums surrounding the restaurant walls are the star of the show in Penguin Bar Ikebukuro, the only penguin bar in Tokyo.
Harvest. Cook. Eat.
If fishing for the fresh catch is your thing, then Zauo is your best stop. This restaurant has a big tank wherein you can catch your fish. After catching one, an expert chef will cook the fish according to your preference. Wanting to feel like a chef for your family or special someone? The Higashi-Nakano’s Self Kitchen is the best spot for you. For a minimal fee, guests can use the kitchen fit for a pro and raid the ref to whip up some gastronomic treats that one can enjoy with family or friends.
Deviating from conventions.
Imagination is the limit for the owners of these restaurants who have creatively incorporated some wacky or even disturbing themes—from the interiors, menu offerings and eating utensils used. The Robot Restaurant, which holds variety show-like robotic performances tops the weird yet entertaining must dine in places in Tokyo. Also tops the list is the jail-like restaurant, the Alcatraz E.R., located in Shibuya, wherein diners are locked up in prison cells/hospital prison, which is the restaurants dining area and is served by wait staff dressed in nurse uniforms. The food is similar to your conventional izakaya fairs, but the way it is served borders to shocking: bowel like looking sausages and drinks served in urine bottles and syringes. Speaking of prison-themed restaurants, The Lockup Dungeon Café in Shibuya is an eerie restaurant that is somewhat similar to a science hub of a mad scientist. Imagine dining in prison cells with food identical to dissected body parts served in beakers, petri dishes, and test tubes. And while dining, expect some zombie visitors saying their hellos. Still not getting enough of the scary-themed restaurants? The Vampire Café at Ginza looks like a vampire castle with interiors of pitch black and red.
For those who do not fancy creepy-themed dining places, Tokyo, particularly in Akihabara, is a home to maid cafes wherein one would be treated like a king or butler café’s that treats every woman like a princess. For members of the Lonely Heart’s Club, cuddle cafes like Soineya allow customers can have a “platonic relationship” with any of the café’s girls and even cuddle with them.
Ever wondered the infamous ninja moves? At Ninja Akasaka, ninjas are no longer a thing of the past. In fact, they’re just in Chiyoda serving steaks and sashimi to hungry customers. Samurai? These warriors are celebrated (and cook) at Ranse no Koshitsu Sengoku Buyuden in Shinjuku. This samurai-inspired restaurant serves various shochu and horse meat.
Alice in Wonderland fans unite at these Alice in Wonderland themed restaurants with foods and décor enlivening the much celebrated Wonderland, which is situated across Tokyo. Welcome yourself to the mystical and labyrinthine world and have a chance encounter with the White Rabbit and Cheshire Cat.
There are still the much talked about vending machine dispensed burgers of Tateishi Burger in Horikiri and sushi served in spaceship-like chutes at Uobei. Indeed, Tokyo’s dining scene is not just a feast to feed your hungry tummy. Tokyo’s array of restaurants allows its dinners to experience and explore their senses and imagination while dining. Indeed, these bizarre dining spaces make a unique mark in the culinary world that is distinctive of Tokyo.
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.