A soft lit symbolic lantern greets visitors at the main Yokocho alley. Photo: MAI SHOJI
food

Toranomon Yokocho puts new face on nostalgic Japanese dining tradition

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By Mai Shoji

Yokocho, or pedestrian alleys lined with small, nostalgic bistros and izakaya, are shining lights in Japanese neighborhoods that have lost their luster over the years. Bar-hopping is called hashigo, which literally translates as ladder. The more steps on a ladder you take measures how much fun you had that evening and is a part of Japanese drinking culture.

While yokocho are typically outside, a brand new one opened in June inside Toranomon Business Tower, adjacent to Toranomon Hills, instantly making it a casual-comfy place for businesspeople and visitors to explore during lunchtime or after work.

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Delifucious has a line of fish sandwiches and burgers. Photo: MAI SHOJI

But you’ll need more than one visit to check out all in this alleyway because there are 26 diverse culinary booths and thousands of menu items to sample from high-end restaurants to humble yakitori and ramen shops.

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Ramen Katsumoto gives a new edge to a nostalgic taste. Photo: MAI SHOJI

If you’re hesitant to eat inside, try Shushokudo Toranomon Distillery which has a spacious balcony where you can try numerous izakaya items along with beverages ranging from conventional to artistic.

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Shushokudo Toranomon Distillery distills original local gin Photo: MAI SHOJI

Cocktails are a mixology of their original gin distilled inside the restaurant crafted from Shima shochu and Tokyo’s Oume mountain spring. Adding seasonal herbs in the gin-making process ensures you try a different taste on every visit. I’m looking forward to their lavender gin next in line for this summer.

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Lunch sets at Shushokudo Toranomon Distillery Photo: MAI SHOJI

People who have lived in Tokyo long enough know the prestige of Cantonese cuisine Akasaka Rikyu. While the chief restaurant serves courses starting from ¥10,000, Hong Kong Shumei Shuka Akasaka Rikyu inside this yokocho provides a reasonable selection from their famous menu, including their mouthwatering roast meats and shrimp wonton noodle soup.

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Hong Kong Shumei Shuka Akasakarikyu serves the prestigious head restaurant's famous roasts and wanton (below). Photo: MAI SHOJI

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Photo: MAI SHOJI

The assorted roast meats here are just as the ones in the main restaurant and I will positively be coming back for more. After all, when you are provided the perks of savoring dishes that normally cost three times more at restaurants in the limelight, you might as well take the opportunity.

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You can try new-style takoyaki at Tsukiji Kindako produced by Tsukiji Gindako. Photo: MAI SHOJI

Gindako, a popular takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings) eatery, upgrades from gin (silver) to kin (gold) and is named Kindako at the Toranomon Yokocho branch. They have exclusive menus that chefs create seasonally under the concept of enjoying “takoyaki around the world.” Italian takoyaki comes with tomato and mozzarella, Thai takoyaki with green curry sauce, Mexican takoyaki with salsa and guacamole and so forth.

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Atelier Kohta not only gives you tasty sweets but a visual experience at the counter. Photo: MAI SHOJI

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Photo: MAI SHOJI

Just when you feel like finishing off your individually-tailored course with a dessert, you can visit Atelier Kohta to indulge in the scent of sweets such as their signature crepe suzette or montblanc cassis parfait. Owner patissier Kohta Yoshioka creates the dessert in front of you at the counter.

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Tables where you eat takeouts from various restaurants Photo: MAI SHOJI

There’s a communal area for those who want to try as many takeouts from various restaurants. Wine connoisseurs should make use of their universal Bring Your Own (BYO) policy from Toranomon Yokocho Cellar to pair with food from any of the eateries.

I’d like to go back again for teppanyaki steak, spicy Thai repertoires, Korean fusion and Italian sushi. For these popular sites, you can utilize mobile ordering for take-out food on the LINE app so you never have to wait in line.

Access to Toranomon Yokocho is easy, thanks to the new Toranomon Hills station on the Hibiya line. Depending on which direction you come from, it’s connected via an underground passageway. But either way, it’s only a few minutes walk from the station. Toranomon Business Tower also has apparel tenants, an organic supermarket and many more restaurants.

Address

3F Toranomon Business Tower 1-17-1 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0001

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Excellent photos.

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