Kiwi food YouTubers Thomas & Sheena Southam are on an eternal quest to find the most delicious local food the world has to offer. This week, they check out the best cheap eats in Tokyo.
Tokyo. This one word is enough to send a frisson of excitement down the spine of anyone who loves to eat. This vibrant, complex city is a gastronomic paradise. In a city with over 160,000 restaurants you won't have any trouble ticking off the crowd favourites of sushi, ramen and sashimi but if you're out to hunt down some unique local favourites read on...
1. Eel hotdogs and fish burgers at Delifucious
"Delifucious" is a burger joint like no other- with a former sushi chef at the helm, the uniquely Japanese menu is dominated by burgers using fish sourced each morning from Tsukiji fish market. The menu embodies the name of the restaurant- a combination of the words delicious and everyone's favourite swear word.
You won't miss your wiener after a bite of the boiled conger eel tempura dog- julienned cucumber and a filet of buttery eel that's battered and deep-fried before being drizzled in a sticky, sweet sauce made from eel broth, soy and mirin. Also worth eating is the Kobuzime fish burger, a deftly balanced tower of crumbed fish, a tangle of slaw studded with tsukemono, tart Japanese pickles and microgreens all slathered in a tofu and kombu (kelp) sauce.
Delifucious: 1 Chome-9-13 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0043, Japan
2. Soba at Kanda Matsuya
When a restaurant is serving the same dish it was 130 years ago, you know they're doing something right. Restaurant stalwart Kanda Matsuya specialise in soba, buckwheat noodles which are te-uchi (handmade) in a glass booth at the back of the restaurant.
The traditional atmosphere of the restaurant is an experience in itself but the soba which are served both hot and cold are a revelation. Because the soba are te-uchi, the most popular way to eat them is cold, dipped into tsuyu, a soy based dipping sauce, so as to savour the nutty flavour and chewy texture of the noodle. The water the soba was cooked in will appear in a teapot on your table, cap off your meal by pouring this your remaining tsuyu and sipping on the savoury, warming broth.
Kanda Matsuya: 1 Chome-13 Kanda Sudachō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 101-0041, Japan
3. Oden at Maruken Suisan
One of Japan's most beloved fast foods, oden, a bubbling hot pot of vegetables, tofu and fishcakes can be found everywhere from the most exclusive of restaurants to the ubiquitous konbini (convenience stores).
Maruken Suisan is a family run oden stall that sees a constant stream of hungry diners lean at one of its communal tables for a quick sake and plate of oden. It's a pick and mix of savoury snacks- daikon radish, hard-boiled eggs, tofu and house made fish cakes swim in a simmering dashi broth (stock made from kelp and dried bonito flakes). Simply point to what you want and you're away.
Order a cup of sake and drink three quarters of it before asking for dashiwari where the staff will top up the rest of your sake cup with oden broth and a sprinkle of shichimi (Japanese spice mix). Savoury, spicy with a warming burn from the sake- it makes for a unique end to your oden feast.
Maruken Suisan: 1 Chome-22-8 Akabane, Kita-ku, Tōkyō-to 115-0045, Japan
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