Shimokitazawa. With its narrow streets and bright neon lights, it’s home to young trendy creatives, cool hipsters, vintage clothing stores, live houses and a long list of street food vendors where you can grab and eat on the go. But which are the ones worth grabbing a bite at? Let us tell you.
Takoyaki Lab: Takoyaki has a cult status in Tokyo and the competition is fierce. Fortunately for you, you can find top notch octopus balls in a tiny kiosk in Shimo. Made from scratch right in front of your eyes, these doughy balls are a game changer. They feature a golden yet not-too-crisp exterior, while holding generous chunks of fresh octopus pieces laced with a molten, gooey sauce. Toppings come in the form of a Japanese BBQ sauce, bonito flakes and mayo (should you want it). Six balls will cost you ¥330, eight for ¥430 and ten for ¥530. You’ll want to eat them straight away—but be careful, as they come piping hot. A curry flavor is available on weekends.
3-34-1 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku.
Creperie: Follow the strong aroma of batter being cooked and you’ll stumble upon a pink kiosk with a shrine of vintage Disney stuffed toys, boy band posters and a pink tv displaying classic Disney Movies. Although this may sound like the bedroom of a 7 year old girl, it is actually a loved creperie attached to the front of someone’s studio. There may not be a sign or a name, but you’ll see queues of anticipating locals getting their fix of crepes filled with either New York cheesecake, cinnamon, chocolate or black sesame with ice cream and more.
2-28-6 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku.
Street Yakitori: Owned by a charming elderly chap who passionately grills the most melt-in-your skewers, you can choose from either reba (chicken livers), tsukune (chicken meatballs), negima (leek and chicken thigh), or tori kawa (chicken skin). One will cost you from ¥120 – ¥140 yen a pop. Buy five.
3-31-3 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku.
Tenmaya: This take-out stand outside its restaurant dishes out exemplary curry pan (curry-filled bread). Perfectly crispy and firm on the outside and featuring an assortment of saliva-inducing curry flavors with chicken or beef. The meat is tender and juicy and the memorable curry variations aren’t greasy either – which is always a bonus.
1F Souden Bldg., 2-12-12 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku.
Robson Fries: This hidden haunt specializes in recreating the French-Canadian dish poutine. What you get here are fries cooked twice, swimming in copious amounts of delectable cheese and gravy. The more indulgent can choose additional toppings such as roast beef, sausage, popcorn chicken, jalapeños or meatballs. You can even double the portion of fries for an extra ¥300.
2-31-5 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku. www.robsonfries.com