Oh cheese, glorious cheese! Known as chiizu in Japanese, this gooey, melty, creamy dairy delight is arguably one of the most universally-loved foods. And while Japanese food by itself is both exciting and delicious, many restaurants in Tokyo are daring to fuse the traditional Eastern cuisine with Western styles of cheese. You can definitely get your cheese fix while on your Tokyo trip, so if you’re worried about having withdrawals or maybe separation anxiety from cheese, never fear! This is a connoisseur’s comprehensive list of the wildest cheesy foods in Tokyo.
Cheese Ramen at Tsukumo Ramen, Shibuya
A drum roll please for our first cheesy food and curious hybrid, cheese ramen! Tsukumo Ramen is the place where ramen fiends and cheese fanatics alike to band together, where the beloved Chinese-style noodle meets gouda. Here, their best seller is a tonkotsu-based cheese ramen that features a mountain of freshly grated gouda on top. You can mix it right into the hot ramen broth or watch the cheese slowly melt down into the broth, but either way, it is ridiculously delicious! Tsukumo Ramen, which has just celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2018, prides themselves on quality ingredients with pork meat from domestic pigs and gouda made from milk produced in Hokkaido. They recommend a getting a cheese-topped onigiri rice ball on the side, to mop up those stray cheesy ramen juices. They have also have expanded their range of ramen flavors to include chicken and cilantro ramen.
Cheesy Teppanyaki Fondue Gyoza at Warashibe Gyoza, Kanda
The gyoza specialists at Warashibe Gyoza have invented the ultimate combination of gyoza dumplings and melted cheese! Yep, they are responsible for bringing the humble gyoza together with melted cheese in a delicious, gooey teppanyaki hot plate style fondue. The plump little dumplings are lined up on a teppanyaki at your table, where you watch the mozzarella and cheddar melt together before your very eyes. When it’s ready, you can dip the gyoza into the molten cheese to your heart’s content. Not only cheese gyoza, but they also serve seven different types of dipping sauce and all kinds of other specialty gyoza flavors too, ranging from cilantro to tandoori chicken! It’s often pretty busy here in the evenings so try and book ahead.
Cheesy Udon Carbonara at Udon Shin, Shinjuku
Let us introduce the next best cheesy dish, a bowl of cheesy udon carbonara! This ingenious fusion is brought to you by Udon Shin, an intimate restaurant that has come into fame for its high-quality udon, and for delicious, innovative creations such as carbonara udon. It kind of looks like a traditional bowl of udon, but doesn’t taste like it at all. This amazing fusion of pasta-meets-udon is one of their most popular dishes, and it’s made from fresh udon wheat noodles, an egg, a cube of butter, and a big fat slice of tempura bacon! And, of course, not to forget it’s got a generous dose of parmesan cheese too for that rich carbonara flavor. Located on the western side of Shinjuku JR Station, this tiny restaurant only has 12 seats but is still incredibly popular, so prepare to line up (but it’s totally worth it).
Cheese Tempura at Wa Cheese Tensai, Ebisu
Cheesy Chicago Pizza at Meat & Cheese Ark, Shinjuku
Some Other Cheese Speciality Stores
Contrary to the belief that as a part of Asia, Japan “doesn’t do cheese very well,” Tokyo alone has a number of incredible specialty cheese restaurants. For the cheese purists among us, you can find a surprising amount of pizza or cheese fondue restaurants dotted throughout the city just waiting to be discovered! Here are some of our recommendations which are well and truly cheesy, and that we believe deserve an honorable mention:
Hokkaido Cheese Fondue Factory Sumi Rich, Shibuya
Hokkaido is known for its excellent milk and cheese products. Here at the Hokkaido Cheese Fondue Factory they have cheese-themed fondue containers and dishes where oozing cheese is scraped directly from the wheel onto your plate!
Shibuya Cheese Stand, Shibuya
This is the place to go if you are looking for freshly made cheese products! At Shibuya Cheese Stand the cheese is actually made in Shibuya, including fresh ricotta, mozzarella, and a Tokyo buratta-style cheese, which you can have in all kinds of sandwiches and posh cheesy dishes.
Cheese Cheers Cafe, Ebisu
You’ll be cheering at the Cheese Cheers Cafe, with its modern Italian flair, where you can get blobs of mozzarella on pizza, and cheesecake in the shape of a slice of Swiss cheese! On top of that, they have carbonara pasta or pizza served in a hollowed out cheese wheels. They have another store in Shibuya too.
Cheese Garden, Sumida
You’ll find many luxurious cheesecakes amongst a variety of other cheesy or cheese-themed products at Cheese Garden. You can get double cheese hot dogs, pizzas and fondue inside an entire round of crusty bread! Pop in if you’re visiting the Tokyo Sky Tree and are in need of a cheesy snack.
Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory, Shibuya
Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory should be your go-to for cheesy desserts, with the softest milk cheesecake you’ve ever had, and a range of amazing cheese-infused cookies! With a number of milk and cheese products, there are a few branches throughout Tokyo if you want to find your new favorite cheese.
Other Cheesy Suggestions
Japan is famous for inventing all kinds of uncharted Japanese and Western-style foods combinations. For a more everyday kind of cheesy fix in Tokyo, many dishes come with a cheese option. For example, some cheese oozing out of a fluffy omurice (an omelette over rice) or inside a hamburger meat pattie (called a “hamburg” in Japanese), is a delicious addition to some more standard food fares.
If you want to add some cheese to a Japanese dish, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (a layered style of savory Japanese pancake) matches perfectly with a big dose of cheese melted on the top. Or, perhaps a big bowl of Tomato Ramen from the Taiyo no Tomatomen chain, topped with a generous cheese mound, this might do the trick to satisfy your cheesy needs. Otherwise, adding cheese to a regular gyudon beef bowl or to some Japanese curry is delicious too. If you can handle spicy foods, you can also try some cheesy Korean cuisine in Shin-Okubo, Tokyo’s resident Little Korean Town. Wherever you go, you’re sure to be able to get your hands on something crazy and cheesy in Tokyo!
Never not hungry, Lucy is an artist and foodie from Australia. You can find her hunting for the next delicious deal, documenting her food, or brunching. She lives firmly by the philosophy that food friends are the best of friends.