Where to eat near Meiji Shrine
Dine on a fine selection of quality soba and traditional Japanese snacks at this serene spot located right above the hustle and bustle of Omotesando and Harajuku. Serving up the famed noodles from their original shop in Kamakura, Matsubara-an offers handmade soba in a variety of styles including sudachi soba, which is served with thin slices of the citrus fruit and a hefty pile of grated daikon.
Hidden away in a quiet back alley just steps from the hustle and bustle of Harajuku lies Kiki, the domain of haute cuisine wizard Yuki Noda. He's left behind the hallowed halls of Michelin-starred restaurants in favour of a more casual setting, and is hoping to attract a young clientele with affordable lunches and seven-course dinners priced at a reasonable ¥5,000.
Walk a few blocks north from Harajuku's busy Takeshita-dori and you'll spot this little wooden café on a calm back street. As the name suggests, house-roasted coffee and homemade pies are the main attractions here, although the incessant country music also deserves a mention. Hungrier patrons can go for the big and juicy hamburg steak and a beer.
Opened in April 2017, Relax Shokudo serves the kind of down-to-earth, nutritious, wholesome and competitively priced lunches that can be surprisingly hard to find in central Tokyo. At lunchtime from 11.30am to 2.30pm, choose from the daily teishoku (which comes with rice, miso soup, pickles and a main dish; ¥980), the weekly donburi (¥1,080), or the eight-dish hakumai (white rice) teishoku (¥980).
The Japan Onigiri Society is behind this gourmet rice ball stand inside Laforet, one of teenage Tokyo's most hallowed sites. Besides standard onigiri topped with salmon or ume, you'll get to choose from healthy varieties made with brown rice instead of the usual white, and offbeat mixtures like coriander or matcha onigiri. The menu also includes artistic mini-onigiri, a daily miso soup and pickles made with the finest domestic vegetables.
Set in a European-style building filled with Taisho-era relics, this restaurant's main theme is soba-mae, which essentially means 'all things noodles'. Their appetisers, presented on carefully selected tableware and incorporating influences from Chinese cooking, are a good lead-in, while the Hashizume noodles should be your go-to main.
Kyushu ramen from Fukuoka is the speciality here, and how you have it is entirely up to you. At this bright and breezy noodle house, customers can specify particular broths (lighter or heavier), types of noodles (thin, thick or in between), quantities and toppings. There's always a queue, but don’t worry – with 73 seats, an opening will soon appear.
Opened by the former editor of lifestyle magazine Relax, this coffee stand crams a lot of action into its tiny corner-shop perch, on a back street five minutes' walk from Harajuku Station. Most of the beans come courtesy of Kagoshima boutique coffee shop Voila, and are prepared in a variety of styles: drip, French press, espresso and – if you ask nicely – with an AeroPress.
This laidback and stylish curry shop was reportedly named by none other than Pharrell Williams. South Asian diners may not recognise the fodder on offer, but fans of Japanese-style curry and rice will be in comfort food heaven – no additives are used, and all the ingredients taste fresh. Most customers opt for the two-in-one combo plates, with choices ranging from butter chicken, keema and all-veg to beef options.
This friendly Mexican eatery is well worth a quick visit. Situated just off Takeshita-dori, Chiles serves up the usual selection of nachos, burritos, fajitas, tacos and quesadillas, all at reasonable prices. Choose from a selection of six kinds of meat for your burrito, add toppings as desired, and finish off your meal with a Mexican beer or a shot of tequila. Vegetarian options are also available.
A healthier alternative to pizza, the pinsa dates back to ancient Rome and is similar to a normal pizza but lighter, crunchier and made with wheat flour, rice flour, soy flour and natural yeast. To make them even more authentic, the restaurant imports special ham and cheese direct from Italy.
Path is a sensation in Shibuya’s Tomigaya neighbourhood. The perfect hangout before or after a day out in Yoyogi Park, it serves breakfast and brunch – including their famous, super-fluffy dutch pancake – from 8am to 2pm. Get there early to secure a seat and wait around 30 minutes for this oven-baked delicacy, topped with uncured ham, burrata and copious amounts of maple syrup.
Found right beside Yoyogi-Hachiman Station, this bakery has earned the approval of both local residents and bread-hunters from other parts of the city. All the goodies here are made from strictly organic ingredients, including the popular curry bread, a taste bud-tickling creation that'll have you reaching for more. The shop is equipped with a café area.
You'll be getting your coffee in a paper cup at Little Nap, a friendly wee shop that's been serving caffeine addicts since 2011 at its location just across the road from Yoyogi Park. Music-mad owner Daisuke roasts the beans together with a friend, and does single-origin drip coffee in addition to the espresso-based drinks, which are whipped up on a Synesso machine. The lattes are on the mellow side.
Anyone looking to expand their meat-eating pursuits should check out this Yoyogi offal eatery that serves around 40 different kinds of fresh intestines. We recommend trying the liver with onion – a great introduction to the world of gut eating. The menu also includes non-meat choices like wakame soup and chilled noodles.
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Where to shop, eat, drink and adventure in Tokyo’s ‘kawaii’ capital