Guide to Harmonica Yokocho

The best alleyway restaurants and bars at Harmonica Yokocho in Kichijoji

Harmonica Yokocho
By Mari Hiratsuka |
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Located a short walk from the north exit of Kichijoji Station, Harmonica Yokocho gets its name from the way its many small establishments are arranged – scattered vertically and horizontally, much like its namesake musical instrument. This popular yokocho was originally a flea market in 1940s post-war Japan, but in the late ’90s, a number of modern bars and restaurants began to set up shop here (starting with the stylish Ahiru Beer Hall). This attracted a younger set of clientele, transforming the area into the cool hangout that it is today. A morning market is held here on the third Sunday of every month, from 7am to 10am. Here are our top five picks from Harmonica Yokocho.

Right up your alley

Restaurants

Ahiru Beer Hall

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This beer hall that sparked Harmonica’s reinvention is located right in the middle of the yokocho. The ground floor is an open standing area while the second floor features an unusually spacious seating area. Doubling as a liquor store, Ahiru offers a well-stocked variety of beverages such as sake, wine and Belgian draft beer at reasonable prices. Food wise, the melt-in-your-mouth tender diced stead (¥1,250) is your best bet. 

Restaurants, Japanese

Katakuchi

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Despite just a curtain separating it from the street, this modern-looking restaurant is surprisingly cosy. There’s a full selection of sashimi, side dishes and sake, which makes Katakuchi an ideal first port of call on your Harmonica Yokocho bar crawl. If you’re just looking for a light and quick bite, get the threepiece chef’s choice set – it’s only ¥480 for some really fresh sushi. We also recommend the ¥680 three-piece sushi set that features the luxurious chutoro (medium-fatty tuna).

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Spa Kichi
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa
Restaurants, Japanese

Spa Kichi

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This pasta specialist makes everything fresh in store, and understandably there’s always a long queue here. The flat, thick-cut pasta is wonderfully chewy and we recommend you have yours with the popular ‘ultimate flavour meat sauce’ (¥950) that’s rich and moreish and similar to a French demi-glace. You can add on toppings such as aubergene, mozzarella and natto. If you’re feeling adventurous, order the Japanese-style pasta dish made with Hakata pollock roe.

Restaurants, Chinese

Minmin

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A stalwart gyoza restaurant that’s highly popular with the locals, Minmin’s best offering is its gyoza rice set, which comes with the restaurant’s signature handmade dumpling, rice and soup. The asari fried rice (¥720) made with clam stock and the lightly flavoured butter ramen (¥760) are equally as good. Be warned though: Minmin is usually packed so expect to wait for a table to free up. 

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Restaurants

Kopanda

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This izakaya bar offers a menu of fun and inventive dishes. We recommend the immensely addictive smoked egg and potato salad, which is served with corned beef and onion chips. Wash it down with the two drinks that share the same name as the bar, such as the Panda Beer or the Panda One Cup (sake) – they both feature cute drawings of the black-andwhite bear on the labels. If you want to make your yen go further, opt for the otsukare set (the name literally translates to ‘thank you for your hard work’): this ¥1,000 combo offers you a choice of any drink plus a three-snack set that changes daily. 

Restaurants

Harmonica Quina

icon-location-pin Kichijoji

This small eatery inside Kichijoji’s Harmonica Yokocho serves up Okinawan taco rice, which fuses western and Japanese flavours. It was a popular staple for the American military forces who were stationed in Okinawa during the 80s. The dish is simple, consisting of typical taco fillings served on a heap of rice instead of inside a taco shell. Thankfully, at Harmonica Quina the toppings are more inventive than the bog-standard beef, lettuce and cheese – you can add avocado, salsa and even an omelette if you please. The menu also features Okinawa soki soba if you’re in the mood for noodles.

Nights out in Tokyo

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More to explore

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