Right up your alley
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
This alleyway in north Tokyo features 30 bars and restaurants, ranging from seafood joints to wine bars and izakaya
There's more to Tokyo's bar scene than the serious, formal bars of Ginza. Talk, laugh and just be yourself at these lively and cool bars
Traditionally a sedate spot, Tokyo’s most touristy neighbourhood is getting used to staying up way past midnight
Get a cheap taste of the good old days