Speaking of Tokyo, in addition to the image of a bustling modern metropolis, the famous Mount Fuji or beautiful cherry blossoms, people are also impressed by its extremely rich culinary culture. Apart from the tasty dishes in Michelin-starred grand restaurants, street foods here are also worth exploring and enjoying.
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Tokyo street foods are usually pretty cheap, cooked right in front of your eyes and taste really good. Trying them will surely bring you an awesome and interesting experience.
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So, let’s take some time to discover the best street foods in Tokyo that you should try at least once!
Dango (# best street food in tokyo)
Dango is a type of Japanese dumplings made from glutinous rice flour. It is not made from steamed glutinous rice flour like Japanese mocha or boiled like Vietnamese “banh troi”, it is grilled and typically covered in sauce rather than being filled. Normally, 3 or 4 dango are served on a skewer and often enjoyed with green tea.
Coming with different variations, Dango is not only a traditional and popular snack in Japan, but also a simple one that enriches Japan’s culinary culture.
Okonomiyaki – Japanese Savory Pancake
Okonomiyaki is one of the most well-known Osaka specialties. It is also known as “Japanese savory pancake” or “Japanese pizza”, one of the traditional dishes of the land of the rising sun. The name Okonomiyaki is a combination of the word Okonomi which means “as you like it” and the word Yaki which means “grill”. That is also what makes it stood out from other types of pancakes in the world.
Okonomiyaki has flour as its main ingredient and the other ingredients are “as you like it”. That means you just put whatever you like in your pancake. Therefore, the ingredients of this Japanese pancake are quite diverse and rich, ranging from vegetables, shrimps and meat to eggs, fish, squids, octopus, cabbage, seaweed, and seafood. It is typically served with nori, ginger, tonkatsu sauce and sometimes Japanese mayo and fish.
This delicious “grill as you like it” pancake has become a popular phenomenon even in Western countries.
Japanese Crepe (# best street food in tokyo)
If you visit Harajuku, you will definitely see crepe shops dominated Takeshita Street and become the culinary signature of this neighborhood. Japanese crepes are a great dessert invention on this planet, even more so than Dango!
Imagine a thin layer of perfectly cooked dough folded and filled with whipped cream, ice cream, matcha cake, fruit like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, kiwis or mangoes, then chocolate sprinkles and more. It sounds very interesting, doesn’t it?
Once you taste it, you will definitely become a crazy Japanese crepe addict in no time. It is truly one of the best crepes in the world.
Watame – Japanese Cotton Candy (# must eat food in tokyo)
Watame cotton candy is usually packaged in bags printed with popular characters of Japanese animations and is often sold at Japanese festivals.
Watame cotton candy is normally pink, smooth and deliciously sweet. It is different from the kind of cotton candy that melts in your mouth. The texture of Watame is like cotton, but after putting it in your mouth and chewing it becomes a kind of gum. Very unusual and interesting, isn’t it? This cotton candy is very popular with Japanese children.
Ikayaki (# best food to try in tokyo)
One of Japan’s most loved street foods is the tender grilled squid known as Ikayaki. Different types of squids in different sizes are used in this dish. Therefore, the portion of squid usually served on a skewer may be the whole body, rings cut from the body or parts of the tentacles.
You can come across many Ikayaki restaurants around Tsukiji fish market or in Shinjuku neighborhood.
Hot squids are just taken from the grill and topped with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, or a traditional Japanese sauce that typically includes rice wine, miso paste, ginger, and soy sauce. The sauces give Ikajaki a little salty and sweet taste, yet it is very delicious. Even if you don’t like seafood, this grilled squid is also extremely inviting.
Yaki Imo – Roasted Sweet Potatoes (# food must try in tokyo)
A great street snack for colder seasons in Japan is sweet potatoes roasted over charcoal, also known as Yaki Imo. The sweet potatoes usually have a reddish-purple skin and white flesh, but the flesh turns bright yellow when it is done.
These roasted sweet potatoes are extremely pleasant and enjoyable as well as healthy and nutritious, especially because of the delicate flavor they get from being roasted over a wood/coal fire.
Traditionally, Yaki Imo is sold from a truck that goes around the streets. Though you can still spot these street vendors in winter time nowadays, you usually find the sweet potatoes oven-baked and sold in shops or supermarkets.
Tamagoyaki – Japanese Rolled Omelets (# must eat in tokyo)
Tamagoyaki is a type of Japanese fried egg, made by rolling several layers of fried beaten eggs together to create a square shape in a specialized rectangular pan called makiyakinabe or tamagoyakiki.
There are several types of Tamagoyaki that combine eggs, sugar, and soy sauce. Some use sake and mirin. Others like “dashimaki tamago” use grated fish sauce and dashi seaweed, and yet some use pureed shrimp, grated mountain yams, sake to cook into a sticky paste.
Tamagoyaki often appears in Japanese-style boxed lunches. These days, it is not only a street food but also one of the most beloved and popular breakfast in Japan.
Yaki Tomorokoshi – Japanese Grilled Corn (# best japanese food tokyo)
Yaki Tomorokoshi, simply known as grilled corn, is skewered on a bamboo stick, with a bit of miso, soy sauce, butter, and salt. Tomorokoshi is made following a quintessential Japanese process with simple ingredients prepared in a careful and thoughtful way.
The hush of each corn ear is removed or tied at the end of the ear to serve as a handle. The “naked” corn is placed on an oiled grill and is often coated with soy sauce for a wonderful savory taste. It is no doubt that the Japanese version of grilled corn is the best in the world.
Yakitori – Japanese Skewered Chicken/Seafood (# famous food in tokyo)
Yakitori is a Japanese style of skewered chicken or seafood and vegetables. You can find Yakitori everywhere in Tokyo. The delicious smell, the crispy outside and soft sweet inside of the chicken and seafood together with draft beer or sake are perfect for street snacking or dining with your friends.
Most Yakitori places are open from morning until late at night, so you can enjoy it anytime. These Yakitori eateries are countless in Tokyo, but Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane or Piss Alley) in Shinjuku is recommended because that’s where you’ll find the best Yakitori in Tokyo.
Shioyaki – Japanese grilled salted fish (# must try japanese food in tokyo)
Shioyaki is grilled salted fish, either mackerel or salmon. And as the name suggests, the seasoning of this dish is often nothing but salt. Therefore, it is quite salty.
The fish is cleaned and salted for about 20 minutes then skewered on a stick for grilling. Shioyaki also pairs well with rice, miso soup, etc. Though it is not recommended for those who are not fond of salty food, it is still really tasty and worth a try.
Yakisoba – Japanese Stir-fried Noodles (# tokyo street food blog)
Another famous noodle dish of the country of cherry blossoms is Yakisoba – Japanese-style stir-fried noodles, which originated in China and is considered a variation of Chinese fried vermicelli. Yakisoba is made by stir-frying ramen noodles with thinly-sliced pork, vegetables (usually cabbage, onions, or carrots), yakisoba sauce, and salt and pepper. Other ingredients include anori (seaweed powder), beni shoga (pickled chopped ginger), katsuobushi (fish scales) and mayonnaise. It has a unique taste with a thick sweet sauce resembling oyster sauce.
Yakisoba is available everywhere, from street vendors, cheap eating places to luxury restaurants. It has become a popular dish of a delicious and nutritious breakfast in Japan. You can also buy a box of Yakisoba and eat in the park or at a station while waiting for your train.
Taiyaki – Japanese Fish-shaped Pastry (# food must eat in tokyo)
In the shape of a very cute sea bream (tai), Taiyaki is attractive by its extremely sweet crispy crust and very delicious red bean, custard, chocolate or cheese filling.
Over time, Taiyaki has become an indispensable dish on traditional holidays. While many Japanese cakes are usually made seasonally, Taiyaki is sold all year round and can be found at most supermarkets or roadside bakeries.
Taiyaki is best when eaten hot. Soft inside but crispy outside is the special feature of this cake. A bite of a Taiyaki will give you a great taste of its sweetness and its hot and soft red bean paste melting in your mouth. Taiyaki is purely adorable and yummy.
Mochi (# must try food in tokyo)
Mochi is a traditional Japanese sticky rice cake with a chewy outer layer of pure Mochi rice flour and a delicious sticky filling like sakura and matcha, red bean paste, etc. Since long ago, Mochi has been a cake of family and friendship bonding. It symbolizes luck, prosperity and above all, reunion, togetherness and joy sharing.
If you visit Tokyo, you should try this cake right away. It will definitely impress you because it is made with lots of craftsmanship and care and also diverse in shapes and taste (sweet or savory). You can satisfy your sweet tooth with handmade mochi at the food stalls around Ueno Park or you can buy this treat at many café in Tokyo.
Takoyaki – Grilled Octopus Balls
Takoyaki is a beloved and very “addictive” Tokyo street food. It is a ball-shaped snack which some people call “Octopus Dumplings” or “Grilled Octopus Balls”.
The main ingredient of the filling is minced or diced octopus that can be mixed with other stuff and sprinkled with some spices as well as seasoned with a sauce. The crispy outer layer is a mixture of Japanese stock Dashi, all-purpose flour, baking powder, eggs, salt, and soy sauce. Takoyaki is often served with mayo, nori and green onions and it goes well with beer or other alcoholic beverages.
You can buy Takoyaki from street vendors, convenience stores, supermarkets, food courts, and of course specialty restaurants. What a cheap and great snack!
Kyuri Sticks (# tokyo best street food)
You must be surprised to see street food vendors selling Kyuri (Japanese cucumbers) on bamboo sticks. Well, this is a very popular snack on hot summer days because it is very refreshing. Japanese cucumbers have thin skin and no seeds; the inside is crispy, juicy and never bitter.
Kyuri is usually served with a layer of miso on top. Take a bite and you will enjoy the cool, lightly sweet and wonderful taste.
Age GyozaJapanese Gyoza, originated from Chinese dumplings called Jiaozi, has an attractive crispy bottom of the outer layer wrapping the delicious inside with the flavor of lots of stuff such as wood ear, minced pork, onions, Nari chives, cabbage, ginger, garlic, etc. blended to create the famous Gyoza dish.
Gyoza is prepared in 3 main ways: pan-fried Gyoza (Yaki Gyoza), boiled/steamed Gyoza (Sui Gyoza) and fried Gyoza (Age Gyoza). Gyoza is quite easy to make and easy to enjoy, so lots of people love it. You can find this dish in many places from ramen shops, Chinese restaurants to street food stalls in Tokyo.
Simple, smooth and sweet, Kakigori is a treat best enjoyed in summer. It is a dessert using thinly-shaved ice flavored with syrup and sweetened condensed milk or ice cream.
Popular fruit flavors of this treat include strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea, grape, melon, “Blue Hawaii,” sweet plum and colored syrup or more modern creations like caramel and chocolate. In some places, Kakigori has a variety of colors by using two or more different types of syrup.
As a summer treat, Kakigori is usually sold at festivals, convenience stores, cafés and restaurants. During the hot summer months, you can find Kakigori almost everywhere in Japan.
To fully experience Tokyo’s rich and diverse cuisine culture, you don’t have to visit luxurious and expensive restaurants with prestigious Michelin stars, modest but popular eating places or street food stalls can help you do just that.
There are so many great Japanese street foods to enjoy in Tokyo, and this post only lists the top ones recommended for you. With a very cheap price, you will see these dishes made before your eyes and enjoy them straight from the stove. Such an interesting and fascinating experience you should gain during your visit to the capital of Japan.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, to and from Tokyo you can refer to
- Private Narita International Airport Transfers (NRT) for Tokyo 23 Wards, Hakone, or Karuizawa
- Private Haneda International Airport Transfers (HND) for Tokyo 23 Wards, Hakone, or Karuizawa
- Airport Limousine Bus Transfers from/to Narita and Haneda International Airport (Free Wifi Onboard)
- Tokyo Amazing Sightseeing Bus Day Tour
- Tokyo Highlights Private Day Tour
- Nikko Day Tour from Tokyo
- Mt Fuji & Hakone Day Tour: Lake Ashi & Ropeway Day Trip from Tokyo
- Nikko Cultural Day Tour from Tokyo
- Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, or 72 Hours)
- Tokyo Skyliner and Tokyo Subway Ticket
- Shuttle Bus Transfers (One Way/Round Trip) from Shinjuku/Ikebukuro to Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea
- Tokyo Disney Resort Park Ticket
- Klook Pass Greater Tokyo
- SHIBUYA SKY Ticket
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter Ticket
- Skyliner Narita Airport Express Ticket
- TeamLab Planets Ticket
- TOKYO SKYTREE® Ticket
- Limousine Bus Narita or Haneda Airport to Tokyo
- Skyliner Narita Airport Express With Tokyo Subway Ticket
- JR Tokyo Wide Pass
- Sky Hop-on and Hop-off Bus Pass
- 4G Prepaid Sim Card (JP Airports Pick Up) for Japan
- 4G WiFi (BKK and DMK Airport Pick Up) for Japan (Unlimited Data)
- JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)
Are you looking for more Tokyo travel guide and top things to do in Tokyo: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Tokyo itinerary 3 days — What to do in Tokyo in 3 days?