もんじゃ麦 本店 monjya mugi1/3
おかめ okame2/3
江戸もんじゃひょうたん edomonjya hyoutan3/3

Best monjayaki in Tokyo

Tokyo's answer to okonomiyaki, monjayaki is one of Tokyo's most peculiar dishes. Here's where to sample some of Tokyo's best pan-fried batter

By Time Out Tokyo Editors
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A type of pan-fried batter or savoury pancake, monjayaki is Tokyo’s answer to okonomiyaki, the iconic dish of Hiroshima and Osaka. Monjayaki retains a slightly runny appearance much like melted cheese even when cooked – but the delicious concoction tastes better than it looks.

The origins of monja, as it’s affectionately called in Tokyo, can be traced back to a crêpe-like confection known as mojiyaki in the late Edo period. A popularity boom in the 1980s later led to the birth of Monja Street on Nishinakadori in Tsukishima – you’ll find about 75 monja restaurants here today.

Half the fun of monja is cooking it yourself – and here’s how you do it. First, stir-fry the ingredients – ranging from meat to veggies to cheese, mochi and even crispy noodles – on the griddle. Once they’re almost cooked, form a doughnut-shaped reservoir and pour the batter into the hole in the middle. Wait until the batter starts to boil, then mix it all up and press it down with the spatula to create some crusty bits around the edges. Scoop it up and enjoy.

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Pan-fried goodness

Monja Mugi main branch

Restaurants Tsukishima

A local institution, Monja Mugi has been in Tsukishima for over 35 years and remains a favourite haunt among local celebrities, evident from the autographs scrawled across the walls. The classic mentai-mochi cheese monja is a safe bet, but for something more unusual, try the miso ramen monja.

Okame Souhonen

Restaurants Tsukishima

Okame operates four outlets in Tsukishima, with more than 60 monjayaki combinations including the popular pork, squid and cabbage option. If you prefer more intense flavours, get the Korean-inspired ‘Jyan-Monja’ (¥1,200) featuring squid, beef and spicy miso – it goes very well with alcoholic drinks.

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Edo Monja Hyotan

Restaurants Asakusa

A convenient stop for Asakusa sightseers, the popular Edo Monja Hyotan is perfect for newbies as the staff are on hand to help you cook your monja. Get the mentai-mochi cheese monja (¥1,300), which is eaten with a housemade sauce rather than the traditional okonomiyaki sauce.

Monjayaki Nishiki

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Tsukishima

Having been in business for a good 40 years now, this monja joint knows its stuff but isn't afraid to stray from the beaten path. It's heralded as the birthplace of mochi-mentaiko (rice cake and pollock roe) monjayaki, while other offerings carry interesting names which obscure the ingredients – think 'King of the Monja', 'Oh! Ishikari' and 'Monja Kuro no Yuwaku' (Monja Black Seduction). They even have a 'dessert monja' which tastes better than it sounds.

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Mukai | Time Out Tokyo
Mukai | Time Out Tokyo
Kisa Toyoshima

Mukai

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Tsukishima

Tucked away in a Tsukishima alley, this cosy monjayaki joint looks (and tastes) like it's been in business for years, yet it only opened in late March 2017. Settle in at one of the restaurant's four tables and tuck into the kaisen (seafood) or house special monja for the essential Tokyo soul food experience.

Osozai to Senbei-Monja Sato

Restaurants Japanese Harajuku

Monjayaki might be an odd venture for the people behind the famed Portugese-style egg tarts at Cristiano's but this deli/restaurant is worth a visit for their peculiar monja flavour combinations and cosy atmosphere. Order from their regular menu; it includes mainstays like the popular lemon monja, which puts a tangy twist on the classic dish. For the adventurous eaters, opt for a monja from their changing special menu where you'll find creative inventions such as a Thai-inspired monja and those featuring ox tail, sansho pepper and even black vinegar. 

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