A business district which has creatively transformed the space under the train tracks into a tasty retreat, Yarakucho is at par with its neighboring community Ginza in a more relaxed atmosphere for those who prefer more leisurely strolls and shopping. The area caters both the upscale and the nostalgic Japanese neighborhood feel since the neighborhood lies in the former Edo-castle gates. At night, its streets light up from red lanterns hanging from food establishments, a cordial welcome to those who would like to replenish their energy after a hard day’s work or from tireless shopping.
The highlight of any Yurakucho food crawl are the restaurants along the JR Yamanote line more popularly known as “Gado-Shita,” which translates to “below the girder.” This strip features some izakayas and yakitori joints along with an array of French wine bars and Italian restaurants. Some top of the mind food places in the area includes Shin Hinomoto, which serves classic izakaya delights and seafood dishes as prepared by its chef—who happens to be Englishman. Andy Lunt continued managing the 70+-year-old izakaya he inherited from his in-laws and continues to provide an authentic izakaya experience: a small spot with salarymen huddling over some delectable grilled dishes over a drink to its patrons and tourists alike. Popular on the menu is the signature stuffed gyoza chicken wings.
Aside from the various restaurants along Gado-Shita, Yurakucho also houses several must-try restaurants. Topping the list is The Peninsula Tokyo, which serves a classic Japanese dishes such as their Japanese beef curry and even showcases a coffee truck by the hotel’s entrance.
Another favorite food spot is Muji’s Café & Meal. Yes, the Japanese brand famous for anything minimalist and organizational products has its own café at Yurakucho. The restaurant serves coffee and Japanese baked goods like anko-filled croissants, pretzels, and sandwiches filled with the freshest and even seasonal ingredients from all over Japan without breaking your bank. Aside from deli treats, the café also offers salads and desserts. Perfect to cap off and relax those sore feet after wow-ing and window shopping on the other floors of Muji.
For some cheap and saucy soba goodness, Nadai Koraku Soba in Yurakucho offers fried noddles at ¥380 per order or a set meal with inari sushi and soup at ¥520. Meanwhile, if your craving for some soupy dishes like sukiyaki and shabu-shabu then Imahan is your best bet. Their meals are loaded with premium domestic beefy goodness in every bowl. Curry craving solved at the Club of Famous Curry Diners—a small foodcourt gathering five of Japan’s famous curry shops under one roof.
Lastly, for some liquor-filled relaxation, head on to Vinos Yamazaki and be amazed in their line of liquor collection.
Yarakucho—a place which resembles the vibe of what a Japanese salaryman life is. The area is a merriment of good (grilled) smoky food, laughter, and booze. A spot for tourists to mingle and culture-soak with Japan’s working class while enjoying delectable treats at reasonable prices. ‘Til our 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.