Otaku Dining

Otaku Dining

When it comes to eating in Akihabara, size does matter


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2010

Photo by Adrian Lozano

People once said Japanese like everything to be miniature and elegant, including their cuisine. But the opposite is true in Akihabara, where young otaku consume massive portions of food from troughs before bustling through the streets in pursuit of their next purchase.

“Otaku don’t want to waste money on food when they could be out shopping,” says Yukihiro Terao, president of the Akihabara General Research Center. “They don’t like to go into family restaurants and eat alone, either. They prefer to be out on the streets lining up and talking to fellow otaku.”

Fanboys on the go need food that is cheap, portable and high in calories. The keywords in advertisements are “stamina” and “oomori” (lots of rice), and restaurants challenge passers-by just to try and stomach their wares. In Akihabara, you won’t find much in the way of French or Italian dining, but you will find vending machines selling ¥300 cans of oden, ramen and yakitori.

eparama tuibenau

You’ll also find lots of kebabs. Star Kebab, which has been doing business in the area since 1999, now has three shops and sells “Big Boy” kebabs with extra meat for ¥600. In one location on Chuo Dori, they compete with another kebab dealer as well as a shop offering fist-sized “Bakudan-yaki” octopus balls for ¥350.

Much as there are plenty of kebab vendors in the area, curry is even more abundant, and the portions are enough to sate any otaku’s appetite. Gogo Curry sells its addictive, pasty black curry by the kilogram. Forking over ¥2,500 gets you the World Champion Class (top right), a 2.5kg pile of curry, rice, two fried shrimp, a slice each of chicken and pork katsu, four wieners, a hardboiled egg and shredded cabbage. A slightly classier version of this dish is available for ¥1,480 at Akiba Kaigan in the UDX Building.

Also in the UDX Building is Yukari, an okonomiyaki specialist from Osaka. The otaku favorite here is the Akiba-yaki (top left), which costs ¥2,980 but is an inch thick and the size of a serving platter. Staff say it feeds three, but some brave souls have managed to finish it on their own. The defunct Burger Café Asyl in UDX used to offer the Akiburger2, a sandwich piled 22cm high that sold for ¥1,890. More recently, the release of Windows 7 was commemorated at Burger King with a Whopper stuffed with seven beef patties, sold for ¥777.

Photo by Adrian Lozano

Those who can’t get enough ramen choose Daruma no Me, which offers the 2 Mega Mori—a whole kilogram of noodles—for ¥1,000. Retro joints such as Kanda Shokudo boast a menu of home-cooked favorites for around ¥500 a plate, and the portions are epic. There’s also Showa Shokudo, home of the Mega Mori Stamina Don. It’s only ¥900, with the option to add extra meat and get some exercise from hefting the bowl. Still hungry? Grab a whole turkey leg at a street vendor for the bargain price of ¥360.

What trip to Akihabara would be complete without a visit to a maid café? Of course, they offer otaku-sized menu items, too. Little BSD, among the first cosplay izakaya in the area, has giant Koakuma (“rogue”) onigiri and jumbo croquettes for ¥380 and ¥600, respectively. Maid café Mai:lish offers Akiba Cola—at over a liter, it’s three times the size of a normal drink and costs ¥1,050.

With all this on their plates, the next boom will surely be otaku dieting.


Akiba Kaigan 2F Akihabara UDX, 4-14-1 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3526-3310. Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm. www.udx-akibaichi.jp/en

Burger King www.burgerkingjapan.co.jp

Daruma no Me 1-9-8 Soto-Kanda. Tel: 03-3253-2070. Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm.

Gogo Curry 1-11-7 Soto-Kanda. Tel: 03-6206-9855. Open daily 10:55am-9:55pm. www.gogocurry.com

Kanda Shokudo 4-4-9 Soto-Kanda. Tel: 03-3253-6255. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3:30pm & 5-10:30pm; Sat 11am-6pm, closed Sun & hols.

Little BSD 3-4F, 3-7-12 Soto-Kanda. Tel: 03-3252-2733. Open Mon-Thu 6-11pm, Fri 6pm-5am, Sat 5pm-5am, Sun & hols 5-11pm. www.littlebsd.com

Mai:lish 2F, 3-6-2 Soto-Kanda. Tel: 03-5289-7310. Open daily 11am-10pm. www.mailish.jp

Showa Shokudo B1, 3-13-7 Soto-Kanda. Tel: 03-5294-2311. Open daily 11am-9pm. http://showashokudo.net

Star Kebab Various locations. See http://meturl.com/star for map.

Yukari 3F Akihabara UDX, 4-14-1 Soto-Kanda. Tel: 03-3526-3310. Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm. www.udx-akibaichi.jp/en