This is my first post in the new Tokyo food series I’m starting on my blog called Lovely Tokyo Eats and I’m super excited. I will be showcasing one neighborhood in Tokyo in each post and sharing my favorite restaurants, cafés, street food and sweets in that particular area. I will feature a few fancy Michelin restaurants but I will mostly focus on every day, affordable places anyone can enjoy.
Whenever I return to our Tokyo home I Instagram and tweet everything I eat with the hashtag #LovelyLanvininTokyo. I was pleasantly surprised to see many people following my Tokyo travels and the places I eat when they travel to Japan. I get many nice comments on Twitter and Instagram telling me how much they loved a restaurant that I recommended. It makes me extremely happy when I read these comments. I share my life in Tokyo so you can experience the Japan I love right along with me. I want to show everyone Tokyo is not just about sushi and fish markets (even though there are plenty of both and I will introduce you to my favorites). You can read about those in every tour book you pick up. I want to show you something different. The food local Japanese people enjoy every day.
The first area I’m showcasing is Azabujuban our lovely Tokyo neighborhood. Azabujuban is a beautiful residential area in the Minato district of central Tokyo with a perfect mix of quaint shops, upscale restaurants and trendy cafés. The close proximity to Roppongi (it’s literally right behind Roppongi Hills) and the many Embassies around the area make it one of the most popular and desirable residential areas in Tokyo. Many celebrities and politicians live in our neighborhood so there is a always a constant police presence in the area. The main street of Azabujuban is a stretch of adorable cobblestone paving that winds through the middle of the neighborhood with a fun and friendly small town feeling even though it is the middle of bustling Tokyo. Here are just a few of my favorite Azabujuban neighborhood eats. If you’re ever in the area please give them a try.
One of my favorite sweet treats in Japan are Taiyaki. Taiyaki are fish-shaped griddlecakes made with a flour based batter and traditionally filled with adzuki sweet bean paste. Azabujuban is home to the first ever Taiyaki shop Naniwaya. Naniwaya started making Taiyaki in 1909 and they still make their Taiyaki using individual cast-iron molds instead of the commercial molds that can make dozens at a time. I advise you to go early otherwise you might have wait close to an hour to get your Taiyaki due to the wait list ahead of you. There are new and trendy Taiyaki places scattered throughout Tokyo with different flavored batter and unusual fillings but the original Taiyaki at Naniwaya will always be my favorite. Address 1-8-14 Azabu-Juban tel: 03-3268-6261
Edoya is one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants and one of the best Yoshoku places in Tokyo. You have heard me mention Edoya many times in different blog posts. Their food has graced many magazine covers and the Owner/Chef has appeared on many cooking shows as well. The Chef and his sweet family will make you feel right at home as soon as you walk through the door. You can take out most of the dishes on their menu which makes it very convenient if you are in a hurry. My favorites include the Hamburger Steak and Japanese Potato Salad but every dish at Edoya is a winner. 2-12-8 Azabu-Juban tel: 03-3452-2922
Afuri is a very popular Ramen chain in Japan and they recently opened a shop right on the main street of Azabujuban. They’re famous for their light chicken and seafood based broth, very popular with female diners. Yuzu is a key ingredient in many of their soups with the Yuzu Shio (salt) and the Yuzu Shoyu (soy sauce) favored soups being two of their most popular dishes. Afuri can get very busy and there will often be a line of people waiting at the door during the lunch and dinner rush but people are in and out very quickly. The Yuzu Shoyu Ramen and Chashu Rice are two of my favorite dishes to order. Address 1-8-10 Azabu-Juban tel:03-3585-1156
If Soba, Japanese Buckwheat Noodles, are what you’re craving Matsugen is a must visit. Their soba is perfectly cooked with a beautiful Dashi soup and the Tempura Soba is one of the best I’ve ever had. The Tempura includes two huge shrimp and the freshest seasonal vegetables. My hubby had the cold Soba with Natto, Okra and an egg on top. The Japanese say “sticky” foods like Natto and Okra are very healthy and good for you. My favorite side dishes at Matsugen are the Tebasaki grilled chicken wings and the cold and creamy Namzenji Tofu from Kyoto. Sendaizaka Oak Hills Bldg. 1st floor, 3-11-12 Azabu-Juban tel: 03-3457-5690
During my last visit to Tokyo I visited Rokkakutei, a famous Kushiage restaurant, with my good friend Rie. We had planned to visit the Ginza restaurant but I was pleasantly surprised to learn they opened a new branch right in our Azabujuban neighborhood last Summer. The Rokkakutei Ginza branch is listed in the Tokyo Michelin guide and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Azabujuban Rokkakutei will be added as well. Kushiage are small skewers of meat, seafood and vegetables dusted in Panko and deep-fried . Two of my favorites were the shrimp and eggplant out of the many skewers we devoured during our dinner course that included Wagyu beef, Salmon, Scallop and Sweet Potato just to name a few. The Chef will point the end of the wooden skewer towards the sauce he recommends for that particular skewer as he places it in front of you. We later found out, at the end of our dinner course, that we had consumed twenty two skewers! Wow we had lost count but since each skewer is only one or two bites it’s easy to do. There are even a couple of special seasonal skewers not part of the regular dinner course they will offer you at the end of the meal. Just in case you are still hungry. Roppongi 6-11-18 HOU Building 1st Floor, tel: 03-5775-5020