What to Eat in Ginza Tokyo?
For food lovers hunting for good food around Tokyo, I’m writing a series of the food we tried (or almost tried) around Ginza, Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinjuku. Look out for our honest reviews. :P First up, what to Eat in Ginza Tokyo?
Tsukiji Fish Market
Before starting your day at Ginza, head to Tsukiji Fish Market to enjoy a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of its restaurants. Find these restaurants in the inner and outer markets (usually opened from 5:00 am to noon or early afternoon).
We didn’t eat at Tsukiji Fish Market because we had our fresh seafood at Sankaku Fish Market, Hokkaido. Compared to Sankaku, Tsukiji is way more crowded and expensive. Nevertheless, if Tokyo is your only stop, you should try and taste the oozing freshness at Tsukiji Fish Market.
The more popular sashimi restaurants are in the inner alleys near to the main entrance. In particular, Sushi Dai (寿司大) is the most popular one and you might need to wait for 2 to 3 hours. A set of 10 sushi pieces and one roll should cost you about ¥3,900 (S$49). You can also go for Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司) if the queue at Sushi Dai is too long.
For more information about the market, read my blog post: “Visiting Tsukiji Fish Market | Ginza, Tokyo“.
Kimuraya | Ginza
Want to take a break from your shopping and have a snack in Ginza? Head to Kimuraya’s head store in Ginza for anpan or other types of bread. Anpan is a freshly baked bread (“pan”) with a sweet filling of red bean paste (“an”).
Kimuraya is the first Japanese-owned bakery in Japan. It was said that the bakery’s founder, Yasube Kimura, created anpan in 1875 and became the pioneer for sweet breads in Japan. Yasube Kimura was coming up with ways to increase bread’s popularity in Japan when he decided to use a special yeast for bread making. This special yeast is called fermented sakadane that’s used for making Sake.
So when you smell the bun, there should be a tinge of sake aroma. As this sakadane produced a more flavorful bread, red bean paste (“an”) was used as a filling.
Their No.1 bestseller is Sakura Anpan with sakura topping to give a salty accent to the sweet red bean wrapped in the soft dough. History had it that Kimura added a salted cherry blossom leaf in the middle of the anpan because it was presented as a snack for the emperor going on a trip to admire cherry blossoms in Mito.
Kimuraya also has seasonal specials for the different seasons such as Ichigo (strawberry) and kurikabocha (chestnut and pumpkins).
Personally, we tried their No. 2 bestseller (¥162 yen, S$2), Ogura Anpan, the “original” anpan of purely bread and red bean. Coming from Singapore where we eat lots of pastries and bread with red bean paste, the anpan was nothing to shout about. Then again, the store was crowded with locals and tourists, proving that the anpan is still popular among the people. Perhaps we would have a better review of it if we had tried their No. 1. Too bad it was sold out when we were there. I wonder how Sakura tastes like…
Other than this Kimuraya outlet in Ginza, you can also find Kimuraya’s anpan at its outlets in Shinjuku and other parts of Tokyo and also at Tokyo’s major departmental stores.
However, if bread is not filling enough, the Ginza outlet has a café, grill and restaurant above their bakery.
- www.kimuraya-sohonten.co.jp (in Japanese only)
- Opened Daily except New Years Holidays
- Hours 1F Bakery, 2F Cafe: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm (LO 8:30 pm) | 3F Grill: 10:30 am – 9:00 am (LO 8:30 pm) | 4F Restaurant: Lunch 11:00 am – 3:00pm (LO 2:30 pm), Dinner 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm (LO 8:00 pm)
- Address 4-5-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (1-minute walk from Ginza Station A9 Exit)
You can easily enjoy delectable food at one of the high-class restaurants in Ginza. Ginza offers the finest cuisine of any category, pick from Japanese, French, Italian and Chinese cuisines.
However, if you want a more affordable option, head towards Yurakucho JR station. Because over there, you will have a Japanese salary-man experience at one of Tokyo’s interesting dining districts, Yurakucho Gado-shita (“below the girder” / “underneath the railroads”).
Under the elevated tracks of Yurakucho JR station (between Yurakucho and Shinbashi; and Yurakucho and Tokyo), you’ll find dozens of hidden restaurants packed in small alleyways. These restaurants ranged from small Yakitori joints and Izakayas to beer halls and French wine bars.
If you are planning to go to a Izakaya, there’re some rules you might want to adhere to. I found a good-to-know guide online but not verified by any means:
- Firstly, everyone should order a drink once they get their seats – be it beer or non-alcoholic drinks like Oolong tea (Uron Cha ‘ウーロン茶’). However, if you are ordering sake, you can read the menu first. Izakaya is still considered a bar despite of how delicious the food might be.
- Subsequently, the shop will serve a small starter dish, called Otoshi, with your first drink. Some chains served this complimentary while others charge from ¥300 – 1000 (S$3.80 – 12.60). Some say it’s rude to refuse the Otoshi but as foreigners, we probably can get away with most “rude” gestures. :P
- Lastly, it’s generally expected to order at least one dish per person.
It will be good to research which Izakaya to go to before you go. Even though there were menus with photo pasted on the stores’ glass doors, we were still a bit lost. We had to look at the photos and figure out what each shop specialised in because different Izakayas have different specialties such as fish, seafood, chicken and pork.
In the end, we went to Mutsumi because based on the photos, its specialty is most likely pork. It costs ¥1,645 (S$21) for two Yakitori sticks and a Donburi* set with salad and miso soup. (*Japanese rice bowl dish)
Verdict: The pork belly Yakitori stick was juicy. As for the set, the salad was fresh, the miso better than those you find in Singapore and the meat in donburi (rice bowl) was thick and juicy. Definitely a value for money set that salary-man will go for.
We were there a little earlier than 11 am because our trip to the nearby JCB Plaza ended earlier than expected. We were there to redeem complimentary airport limousine tickets because we hit a certain spending on our JCB cards. Anyway, people were only starting to stream in when we were about to leave. We were too early for the salary-man’s lunch hour. Hence, we didn’t manage to immerse ourselves in a true Izakaya atmosphere. But it was still interesting to find such an unique dining area.
Typically, Gado-Shita is packed with salary-men drinking away into the night after work. And during summer, some restaurants open up toward the street and provide outdoor seating. If you are going during the peak period, be prepared to sit right next to strangers and get all “smoked up”. Other than the smoke from the Yakitori grill, the dining places allow smoking indoors.
MUJI Cafe & Meal
After shopping at the first floor of MUJI Yurakucho, we walked up to the 2nd and 3rd floor for the rest of the store. The first thing that welcomed us on the 2nd floor was Café & Meal MUJI which sells healthy food at reasonable prices.
The Cafe has a mixed rice concept (杂菜饭) where dishes were displayed like that of a ‘create your own salad’ counter. From there, choose the 2-3 dishes you want the staff to plate for your meal. Since we were still full from our lunch at Gado-shita, we had MUJI’s afternoon tea set of coffee and cake instead. The cheesecake served was surprisingly nice! :)
- Muji: www.muji.com/jp/flagship/yurakucho/en
- MUJI Cafe: cafemeal.muji.com/jp/?area=footer
- 10:00 am – 9:00 pm (Food at 9:00 am)
- Yurakucho Muji: 1F Infos Yurakucho, 3-8-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku (next to Yurakucho Station, Exit D9)
That’s all, folks~ Enjoy the food in Ginza! If you are researching for interesting sites to visit in Ginza, look forward to my subsequent post, “Walking Around Glitzy Ginza, Japan”.