Tokyo is a city that needs no introduction. The capital of Japan is a city where modernity and history live side by side, and when it comes to street food, it’s no different. With recipes that have been passed down through generations, that come filled with flavour, it’s safe to say that Tokyo street food transcends the test of time.
While Tokyo is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants and high-end establishments, there is a whole world of Tokyo street food waiting to be tried in this foodie haven city. Whether you’re planning your first trip to Tokyo or are returning for another venture, consider this blog post your guide to Tokyo street food must-trys during your next visit.
While they’re not Japanese (gyoza originated in China), gyoza is a very popular dish in Japan and amongst the Tokyo street food scene. Gyoza are dumplings filled with ground meat and wrapped in a thin dough. Typical fillings that you’ll find at several Tokyo markets include ground pork, chives, spring onion, cabbage, ginger and garlic, dipped in either soy sauce or sesame oil.
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Sticking to dumplings, but this time of the dessert variety; dango are small, chewy dumplings made of rice flour and are served on skewers with a sweet sauce. Quite simply, they are a Tokyo sweet must-try! While you can buy dango packaged at convenience stores, they taste much better fresh. Thankfully, there are many Tokyo food corners and market stalls that sell these dessert dumplings fresh, especially during festival times.
A Tokyo street food staple, ikayaki is a whole or partially whole squid that is served straight off the grill and doused in a sweet soy sauce and seasonings. It goes without saying, if you don’t enjoy seafood, this simple street food item might not be the treat for you. However, if you enjoy seafood, you’ll love this chewy but equally tender dish!
Yakitori is a traditional Japanese skewered chicken dish. Throughout the city, you can find all kinds of yakitori, from traditional cuts of meat, such as breast and thigh, to more unusual cuts, like hearts and gizzards – this popular bar snack ensures that no part of the animal is wasted! You can try yakitori all throughout Tokyo, from carts that dot the streets to yakitori bars.
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Undoubtedly, yakisoba is a fan-favourite Tokyo street food for both locals and visitors alike. This stir-fried noodle dish, which is reminiscent of many Japanese childhoods, is essential in any Tokyo street food guide! Made with egg noodles that are mixed with cabbage, bean sprouts, meat and sauce pair perfectly with a nice, cooled pint of beer.
Naturally, when putting together any foodie guide, we end on a dessert. While technically not a Tokyo street food item, we’ve kept this on the list as it is very common (and delicious!) all across Japan. Mochi is a sweet dessert, that is basically like a rice cake that comes stuffed with different sweet flavours, including red beans, custard or chocolate to name a few. Sometimes, you’ll even see mochi with a fresh strawberry added on top. Similar to every other dish in this guide, the best way to eat mochi is fresh!
Have you tried any of these Tokyo street foods? Let us know your favourite in the comments below…