1. Toranomon Yokocho
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaToranomon Yokocho
  2.  Shushokudo Toranomon
    Photo: Shushokudo Toranomon Shushokudo Toranomon

6 best restaurants at Toranomon Yokocho

Seafood, Okinawan cuisine, Thai street food, craft gin and more – you can mix and match them all in this modern food hall

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen
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When day turns to dusk, Tokyo’s yokocho alleyways are lit with paper lanterns and filled with the chatter of office workers ending a long day with a pint of beer and a bite to eat. These clusters of streetside food stalls are long-standing features of neighbourhoods like Ebisu, Shibuya and Shinjuku, where some vendors have been operating for decades. But now a new generation of modern yokocho has arrived in Tokyo – welcome to Toranomon Yokocho.

When you can’t choose between fresh platters of seafood, skewers of yakitori or izakaya dishes paired with locally distilled gin (and how could you?), an evening of hopping between these 'capsule restaurants' is everything a foodie could dream of.

Many of the venues that comprise the yokocho have been hand-picked from Tokyo’s top restaurants, including some with Michelin stars. These offshoots offer the same high quality food as their bigger brothers, albeit in a slightly pared down menu that is more casual and affordable. Though the open plan set-up makes it easy to hop from one counter to another, sampling food from all 26 kitchens in one night could be a challenge, so we’ve picked some of our favourites to give you an idea of where to start.

Note: Toranomon Yokocho is currently operating on shortened business hours (11am-8pm) due the current Covid-19 measures imposed by the authorities. In addition, restaurants have been asked to refrain from serving alcohol while the state of emergency is in place. 

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Food hopping

  • Restaurants
  • Toranomon

This izakaya and bar features an on-site distillery producing craft gin made with locally sourced shochu from Tokyo and Ome spring water. The gin label featuring a black and white tiger on its front, Common, is exclusive to this Toranomon venue – you can pick up on the gin’s botanical notes in cocktails like the Toranomon Lemon Sour and Toranomon Highball. 

The izakaya menu here features homestyle classics like Napolitan pasta, garlic mentaiko toast and crispy karaage fried chicken, each matching perfectly with the restaurant’s seasonal gin.

  • Restaurants
  • Bistros
  • Toranomon

Most of the venues at Toranomon Yokocho are run by popular restaurants across Tokyo and Äta is no exception, with its main outlet based in the posh neighbourhood of Daikanyama. House-cured gravlax, oysters on the half shell and bubbling pots of lobster gratin are just a few of the irresistible offerings at this bistro-style seafood kitchen.

One item that’s only available at Äta’s Toranomon location is the Nagisa Afternoon Tea. Rather than being piled with cakes and scones, these tiered platters are heaped with an assortment of fresh seafood like grilled prawns, mussels in white wine sauce and octopus ajillo. 

At lunchtime, the restaurant offers a European-influenced kaisendon (¥1,200) with fresh sashimi, marinated tomato and avocado over a bed of fragrant turmeric rice. If you've got a bit of rice left over towards the end of your meal, you can ask for the complimentary ginger chicken broth to pour over it and finish the rest as a bowl of ochazuke (soup over rice). 

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  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • Toranomon

With a mix of Chinese, Taiwanese and Okinawan cuisines, this trendy counter-style restaurant offers a little bit of everything in dishes that complement, rather than compete with each other. 

The dishes are all appetiser-sized so you can sample a little bit of everything as you sip on fruit-infused awamori (an Okinawan version of shochu). But the food still packs a punch with exotic ingredients like umibudo (sea grapes). Other menu items include homestyle favourites like congee with youtiao donut sticks and goya champuru (bitter gourd stir-fry) – all made with fresh ingredients free of additives or preservatives.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Toranomon

Authentic Thai food isn’t hard to come by in Tokyo, but restaurant menus are often limited to ever-popular dishes like pad thai and green chicken curry with little variation. This award-winning restaurant, originally established in Bangkok, also has locations in New York and Ho Chi Minh City, with a menu featuring specialities from the northeastern part of Thailand. 

Food from the Isan region is characterised by its balance of sweet and sour flavours with a high umami factor, like somtum (green papaya salad), which the restaurant takes its name from. Popular lunchtime items include the Isan Special Set of Thai fried chicken and sticky rice while there are also items exclusive to the Toranomon Yokocho location, like a variation of the signature papaya salad made with seasonal fruit.

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  • Restaurants
  • Toranomon

Served with a mountain of shredded cabbage and sweet-sour sauce to offset the richness of pork fat, tonkatsu is a treat as well as a staple of Japanese cuisine. While tonkatsu is considered a casual dish, often served in the form of a sandwich or boxed bento, Tsukanto has jazzed up the ubiquitous crumbed and fried meat into something that can be paired with wine in the after-dark hours. 

The menu, created by Michelin-starred chef Naohisa Ohashi, features rich cuts of pork loin and fillet served with grain mustard as well as gamier morsels of meat such as venison, duck and wild boar. Unlike the traditional method for deep frying tonkatsu, Tsukanto slow-cooks the meat before frying it at a low temperature so that the flavours don’t get lost from being cooked in oil for too long. The result is a skillfully attained, blushing pink centre that is tender throughout.

  • Restaurants
  • Toranomon

A sister store of Ginza’s two-Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant, Zurriola, Plancha Zurriola is a more casual eatery specialising in tapas-style plates. With a focus on cuisine from the Basque region that straddles the borders of Spain and France, the restaurant features a taste of top-notch food and wine from the Spanish coast at a fraction of the price of the Ginza location’s ¥18,000+ menu.  

Head chef Seiichi Honda selected menu items he considered best grilled on a plancha grill, like whole prawns seasoned with minced garlic or the memorably named Catalan street food known as the bikini sandwich.  One item featured at the Toranomon restaurant is the signature Basque cheesecake – it started out as a treat for regulars at Zurriola’s Ginza restaurant, but it’s available to anyone at the Toranomon location. Just make sure to get your order in before it sells out.

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