While Harajuku 原宿 is widely considered as one of the ultimate places for teenaged fashionistas to visit, especially on the weekend, the hipster haven is also host to a variety of foodie gems. Whether it’s a sugary treat or a belly busting bowl of ramen, here’s a rough guide of what to check out if you’re feeling anything between peckish to ravenous:
Catch up on the rest of my Tokyo trip here!
- Discovering Izu Peninsula
- Ryu Sushi @ Tsukiji Fish Market
- Book and Bed Hostel @ Ikebukuro
- How to buy Ghibli Museum tickets outside Japan
It’s difficult to doubt the success of a franchise that sells only one variation of ramen, and yet still sees snaking queues during lunch and dinner. Home to the tonkotsu ramen with the iconic red pepper sauce, Ichiran is one of the first eating spots that visitors, including yours truly, make a beeline for the moment they land in Tokyo.
What’s unique about this ramen chain is how secluded customers are from each other – as well as the service staff. Make your order and pay for it using a vending machine, and hand over your printed tickets to the service staff who will collect it through a hole in the wall. Then, enjoy slurping your way through your noodles uninterrupted!
Pro tip: go way after the main lunch and dinner hours if you want to avoid the queues (I queued for about 10 minutes at around 9pm). The noodles tend to soak up the broth pretty fast, so if you prefer yours al dente, choose “firm” for your noodle texture.
Custard and soft serve fans will appreciate Zaku Zakuザクザク, which means “crunchy” in Japanese. Opened under Kinotoya Confectionary, the same company behind the wildly popular BAKE Cheese Tarts, this dessert shop serves two items: Soft Serve with Almond Crunch (¥450) and Croquant Choux (¥250 for 1 pc,¥1,450 for 6 pcs, max. 12pcs per customer).
While there are mixed reviews over which item is better, I personally found that both pretty much give you bang for your buck. The Soft Serve is piled so high that it practically tilts over the cone at an angle, while the Croquant Choux stays fresh and crunchy throughout the day.
Address: Harajuku Cute Cube 1F, 1-7-1Shibuya-Ku Meijijingu Mae,〒150-0001 / 東京都渋谷区神宮前 1-7-1
Monday to Friday: 11am – 10pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10.30am – 10pm
Calbee Plus カルビー
Fancy something on the salty side? Calbee Plus カルビー deep fries chips on the spot, complete with a topping of your choice. Yes, chocolate sauce on fresh, savoury chips is totally possible here. Better have a bottle of water ready, or be prepared to face the consequences after finishing a tub of hot, crisp chips!
Address: 1-16-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Contact: +81 03 6434 0439
Opening hours: 9.30am – 8.30pm daily
Kyushu Jangara 九州じゃんがら
Yet another tonkotsu ramen chain on this list, Kyushu Jangara 九州じゃんがら is frequented mostly by the youth, but don’t underestimate its taste. Pork, chicken, and vegetable broth are added to the stock, with a generous chunk of marinated pork for that extra meaty goodness. Oh, and each bowl comes with its own distinctive red dot – made from mentaiko for a subtle, spicy kick.
A bowl of Kyushu Jangara A goes for ¥1,080.
Address: 1-13-21 Jingumae 1F & 2F, Shibuya 150-0001
Contact: +81 03 3404 5572
Monday to Friday: 10.45am – 12am
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 10am – 12am
With each Lobster Roll (¥980 – ¥1,580) stuffed with the claws of five to six maine lobsters – and nothing else- it’s no wonder that customers are lining up for a bite. Aside from lobster, the New York based seafood franchise also serves up fresh Crab Rolls (¥1,380) and Shrimp Rolls (¥950). Spoilt for choice? Go for their Half and Half Roll (¥1,280 – ¥1,580). Add Drinks and Chips (¥400) for a complete meal.
While the shop is sandwiched firmly between brick buildings in the middle of Cat Street, the taste of fresh, undiluted seafood on a crusty bun, coupled with the open wooden boardwalk that serves as the dining, is enough to make you feel like you are dining next to open water.
Address: 6-7-1 Jingumaee, Shibuya-ku/東京都渋谷区神宮前6-7-1
Contact: +81 03 5778 3747
Opening hours: 11am – 8pm daily
And last but not least…
Ok, this might not rank as high on most foodie bucket lists when it comes to Japan, but c’mon – you’d be lying if you said you didn’t miss this refreshing Taiwanese specialty tea. It is pricey compared to the old Singapore store, but on the bright side, the staff do stick the straw in the cup for you without you having to ask them.
Address: 6-6-2 Jingumae,〒150-0001
Contact: +81 3-6427-7543
Monday to Thursday: 11am – 9.30pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 10am – 10pm
(Accurate as of June 2017)