When we envision the city of Tokyo, we often see bright neon lights, tall skyscrapers among beautiful old temples, the strange world of anime, and of course, the adventure that is found in hunting the best dishes in the city. While the city boasts of Michelin Star and high-end restaurants and food joints, Tokyo street food will always be present amongst aforementioned places. You find it in every corner of the city, little food stalls standing erect with smiling vendors who don’t seem to mind the long hours, selling different snacks and dishes that will surely tickle your taste buds. One might think that Japanese food is limited to seafood dishes only but there’s a big world out there waiting for you in the culinary state that is found in the streets. The streets of Tokyo is one of the best places to find delectable dishes that you won’t find anywhere in the world. Think of scrumptious dishes that come as cheap but don’t scrimp on flavor and taste. A little walk there, a few steps in here, and you’ll find yourself buying one after another of these beautiful looking dishes.
There are endless types of Tokyo street food you must try before leaving the land of the rising sun and we’ve curated a list of dishes you should try while you’re out in the streets of this wonderful city. A fair warning though, some of it can be really addictive! If you can, bring a friend and share the best of these dishes with them. After all, food is twice delicious when shared!
10 Street Food You Must Eat While in Tokyo
1- Tamagoyaki – this isn’t your ordinary omelet served on a plate with a drizzle of ketchup and whatnot. This is omelet served on a stick! It’s sweet, fluffy, and unlike any other egg dishes, you’ve had. A lot of tourists rave on this because of its clever take on a street food. Literally means grilled egg, it’s made by frying the egg mixture in a frying pan, rolling it into several layers to create that perfect rectangular shape that is its trademark. The typical price for a single serving of tamagoyaki is 100 yen and is found all around Tokyo especially in Outer Market of Tsukiji.
2- Takoyaki – you’ve probably seen this often in the streets and is actually one of the most popular street food in Tokyo. Takoyaki is crispy, almost golf-ball sized snack that is made of wheat flour, green onions, and of course, octopus. Literally means fried octopus, takoyaki is often served with a drizzle of special takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce), mayonnaise, and fish shavings. It’s crispy on the outside and incredibly soft and gooey on the inside, perfect for an afternoon delight or simply to snack on with beer. The typical price of takoyaki is 400 to 600 yen and is found almost in every corner and street of Tokyo. But if you like to try the best takoyaki in Tokyo, head on to Gindaco and you’ll probably find yourself having more of these little fellows.
3- Ningyo-yaki – don’t let these adorable darlings fool you. You’d think that this small dish is nothing but another sweet treat from the streets but once you’ve taken a bite or two of these, you’d find yourself devouring more than you have to. Made with a pancake-like batter that is poured into cute, intricate molds, it is filled with anko (red bean paste) and is cooked until golden brown. It’s best eaten while it’s hot and best paired with any cold drink or maybe coffee too. If you don’t fancy anko, you can always opt for chocolate or custard filled ningyo-yaki. They also come in various shapes and sizes! The typical prize for ningyo-yaki is 500 yen for seven pieces and is found mostly in Sensoii Temple.
4- Mitarashi Dango – these cute little dumplings has the perfect blend of sweet and savory. Made with rice flour, it’s molded into little balls, put on skewers, and grilled over charcoal, attaining that charred but delicate flavor it’s famous for. They are donned with a generous serving of sweet soy sauce glaze. It’s sweet, salty, and chewy which is the perfect snack for everybody. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s cheap. The typical price for mitarashi dango is 100 to 150 yen per stick and is mostly found outside temples or in festivities.
5- Crepe – though the dish didn’t originate in Japan, it’s still popular among people especially the young ones. They often come on the go and in cone shape serving, making it easy to hold. Made with the freshest ingredients, Japanese crepes are crispier than the typical ones and you can always choose if you like something sweet or savory. You can opt for strawberries and whipped cream or maybe some crispy fried chicken pieces with a drizzle of sweet soy sauce glaze. The typical price for crepes range from 300 to 600 yen, depending on the toppings and is mostly found in any Harajuku area.
6- Menchi katsu – who knew that wagyu, one of the best beef dishes in Japan, can be coated in panko and deep-fried into perfection? Menchi katsu is one of a kind dish has been sweeping off people’s feet because of its extraordinary crispiness and possibly one of the most tender meats you’ve ever eaten. It’s a true indulgence once you’ve taken a bite of this glorious dish. The typical price of menchi katsu is 220 yen per piece and is found in Satou Steak House which holds long lines but is rest assured you’ll have the best in the city.
7- Potato Chips – they may come off as typical and easily found in your favorite supermarket but these potato chips are a different kind. It’s the bomb! Made with freshly cut potato chips with its signature crinkly texture, they are fried until it attains its perfect golden brown hue and is topped with your choice of ingredient. It can be a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup, whipped cream, cheese, soft-serve ice cream, almost anything! And the interesting part is, it works! It’s the right blend of sweet and salty and you’ll find yourself easily addicted to this snack. Perfect for sharing, too. The typical price for potato chips is 240 to 320 yen and is found in The Calbee Plus Store.
8- Karaage – though best enjoyed over drinks, this chicken dish is an addictive one. Marinated in mirin, garlic, soy sauce, and rice wine, they are coated with a thin layer of cornstarch to get that perfect golden brown hue when it’s fried. It’s crispy and savory, just the perfect snack if you’re craving for something light but delectable. You can also dip it in specialty sauces. The typical price for karaage is 300 to 400 yen and is usually found in Shibuya. If you like something different, try the chicken fries at Kin No Torikara.
9- Daigaku Imo – if you like it fried and coated with sweet glaze, then this street snack is the one for you. Sliced into thick chunks, these sweet potatoes are fried until crispy and glazed with caramelized sugar or honey. It’s sprinkled with sesame seeds to enhance that nutty flavor. From afar, you can almost see them glisten because of the perfect, thin coating of the glaze. It’s best eaten while it’s hot and is also nutritious! The typical price of daigaku imo depends on how many grams you’re buying and is found in Chibaya, a neighboring district of Asakusa.
10- Yakisoba – found in any essential food guide in Japan, yakisoba is one of the most popular street food in Tokyo and is actually found in high-end restaurants too. It uses ramen-like noodles that are tossed with slices of pork, vegetables like cabbage, onions, and carrots. It’s then doused with a generous serving of Worcestershire sauce. It’s also topped with fish flakes, seaweed flakes, and pickled ginger. It’s best paired with a toasted bun, too. The typical price for yakisoba is 350 to 700 yen and is found in most food stalls and high-end restaurants in the city.
Serkan is the founder of Tokyo by Food. He came to Japan to study and he could not go back because of the delicious Japanese cuisine. His passion for Japanese food and Tokyo led him to create this sweet platform. His aim in his life to helping people in need through his business. Therefore, he created Food for Happiness Project.