japanese food stall

Ultimate Guide to the Best Tokyo Street Food

Introduction

Flame grilled, stir-fried, super sweet or salty, street foods in Tokyo are a must on your first trip to Japan. The best 10 Tokyo street foods are Takoyaki, Yakitori, Melon Pan Bread, Dango, Japanese Crepes, Yakisoba, Okonomiyaki, Taiyaki, Wagyu Beef, and Ikayaki.

Although there are regional variations of many of the dishes below, it’s at Tokyo street food stalls, kiosks, and izakaya that you will find the popular and unique varieties so beloved of this metropolis of 37 million hungry people!

So get inspired (and hungry) with these 10 most delicious, traditional, and popular dishes in this ultimate guide to Tokyo street food!

The Best 27 Traditional and Popular Tokyo Street Foods

Yakitori

Tokyo is known for being an excellent city for foodies, and you can’t visit a city known for its delicious food without sampling its street food! One of the most popular (and delicious) street dishes in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan is yakitori, which translates directly to grilled chicken.

Yakitori is a traditional Japanese skewered chicken dish. The chicken is first skewered on a Kushi, a skewer typically made of either steel or bamboo. The skewer is then cooked over charcoal, seasoned with a common Japanese sauce called tare, salted, and then served. Yakitori is designed to be portable, making it the perfect snack to grab at a street food stall.

In Tokyo, you can find all kinds of yakitori – everything from traditional cuts of chicken like thigh or breast meat to more unusual ones like chicken feet or intestines. Crispy grilled chicken skin is another popular type of yakitori.

You can sample yakitori all throughout Tokyo, from carts dotting the city streets to izakayas frequented by locals. One of the best places in town to try yakitori is the Sunamachi Ginza Shopping District, an area with tons of yakitori shops that should definitely be added to your Tokyo bucket list. Another is Memory Lane or Piss Alley in Shinjuku.

If you’re feeling a bit fancy, you can even try Michelin-starred yakitori at Birdland or Toriki – both spots earned a coveted one-star Michelin rating thanks to their delicious yakitori.

by Sydney at A World in Reach

Melon Pan Bread

Melon Pan Bread is a uniquely Japanese sweet delight! It is an oval-shaped sweet bread that looks like a melon – with lovely soft bread inside and a sugary crunchy outer crust. The crust is cut in a criss-cross manner which results in a distinctive diamond pattern.

The original melon pan bread has a basic sweet flavor as a result of the flour, butter, milk, baking powder, and sugar used to make this sweet treat. However, you can also get many flavored varieties as well, including melon flavor, green matcha tea flavor, or chocolate chips. You can also purchase melon pan with fillings such as cream or ice cream of varying flavors.

The history of melon bread is subject to much conjecture, as it closely resembles sweet breads in several other countries. It has definitely existed in a variety of forms across Japan since the early 1900s.

The most famous melon pan bakery in Tokyo is Kagetsudo in Asakusa, which has several outlets in the popular Nakamise-dori Street which leads to Sensoji Temple. However, melon bread is so popular that you can also purchase melon bread from many other bakeries and stores across Tokyo, as well as from convenience stores.

We really enjoyed purchasing melon bread fresh from the bakery – it was a real treat and very delicious! We would definitely recommend that visitors to Tokyo ensure they try this wonderful sweet treat during their visit.

By Anne from Japan Travel Planning

Dango

Dango is a sweet Japanese dumpling that comes served in a variety of flavors. My personal favorite is red bean paste (anko). Dango is made with rice flour, water, and sometimes tofu.

It is typically served skewered on a bamboo stick, which makes it great as a snack on the go. Dango also goes well paired with matcha green tea.

While “rice dumpling” may not sound all that thrilling compared to many of the street foods in Tokyo, the texture of Dango is what makes it unique and a must-try. It’s chewy, soft, and tender, but still firm and delectable. (If you like the texture of Mochi, you’ll enjoy Dango too.)

Dango can be found all over Japan, from restaurants and supermarkets to gas stations and street vendors. I was even able to eat Dango while attending a baseball game in Tokyo!

Arguably, though, the best place to try Dango is at Kototoi Dango in Tokyo. It’s only about a 15-minute walk from the Tokyo Sky Tree and it’s a shop that has been serving up Dango since the Edo period! They are famous for serving their Dango on a plate instead of a skewer and in 3 different flavors/colors.

by Lindsey at Have Clothes, Will Travel

Takoyaki

In Japan, ‘Tako’ means octopus, and ‘Yaki‘ means grilled. One of the most common street foods in Japan is takoyaki, a revered on-the-go snack sold at almost every pop-up food market in Japan. It’s so popular that it has become one of the most common street foods in Asia.

The snack itself is a savory dough ball mixed with diced octopus and crisps of tempura batter and green onion griddled into bite-sized spherical balls. They are then served with mayonnaise and a soy-like sauce (that is not so different in flavor to Worcester sauce), as well as some dry fish bonito flakes. 

Takoyaki is a quick and simple snack to make for street food vendors and in kiosks where they are commonly found served in a ‘boat’ with these various toppings.

Worldwide they are one of the more popular snacks on a Japanese restaurant menu. They are found at almost every market in Japan, but they are most famous in Osaka.

The birthplace of takoyaki – and a great place to find them – is the busy tourist districts of Osaka like Namba and the Dotonburi Canal area, famous for the Glico Man backdrop at the Ebisu Bridge, where the surrounding arcades celebrate them at their best.

But great takoyaki can also be found all over Tokyo, with a convenient street food shop next to Shibuya Station called Tempu, or look out for Gindako which is the largest takoyaki chain in the country.

Best served hot, melted, and sticky from the grill.

by Allan at Live Less Ordinary

Japanese Crepes

Many people think of crepes as a French specialty. But the Japanese have taken the elegant French dessert and turned it into supremely decadent street food. The main differences between a Japanese crepe and a French crepe are that Japanese crepes are much larger, and they are made to be wrapped around various fillings and eaten as street food. And the best place to get a Japanese-style crepe is in Tokyo’s famously fashionable Harajuku District.

There are several crepes stands in the area that prepares light-as-a-feather crepes stuffed full of either sweet or savory fillings. You can get a dessert crepe rolled around yummy treats like chocolate sauce, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, strawberries, and Nutella.

But you can also have a crepe for lunch or dinner filled with the likes of spinach, cream cheese, tuna fish, ham, and teriyaki sauce. The vendors take the time to present the fillings in a gorgeous and interesting way, so don’t forget to take a photo of the crepe for social media before you eat it!

Probably the most famous crepe shop in Tokyo is Marion Crepes, which has been open since the 1970s. Many people say they are the first crepe shop to open in Harajuku. This crepe stand has over one hundred varieties of crepes for you to try. After you’ve made the difficult decision, grab your crepe, and enjoy the world-class people watching of all the fashionable folk and amazing outfits in Harajuku.

by Stella Jane at Around the World in 24 Hours

Yakisoba

Yakisoba is derived from Chinese chow-mein and came to Japan in the 1950s as one of the many new influences upon Japan from the Second World War. It was made in homes and slowly began to appear on the menu in Japanese restaurants. Nowadays, Japanese festivals just would not be the same in Tokyo without this stir-fried noodle dish.

Wheat noodles, porkcabbage, and onion are the basis of this dish. A savory sauce (that includes oyster sauce) on top and a pair of chopsticks and sometimes even a fried egg plopped on top comprises a fast and cheap feast.

Great with a beer, Yakisoba is especially easy to find in Shujuku.

Okonomiyaki

If you are looking for some delicious street food and pretty filling, to begin with, think about ordering some Okonomiyaki. Typically found in many food vendor stalls, fast food outlets, or take away stands, okonomiyaki is a popular favorite dish.

A comfort style pancake dish that is made typically with shredded cabbage, vegetables, and the main filling like pork, chicken, beef, seafood, ham, or a combination of these different ingredients and lying on top of a savory pancake base.

Each region of Japan uses different ingredients that are found locally and the ones in Tokyo also vary depending on what the vendor is finding from the local market that is easy to incorporate into this savory takeaway dish. You’ll find that just one order can be very filling depending on how many ingredients are used and how tall the stack of ingredients are. It’s even better if the vendor offers you a choice of toppings that you can have on this dish for a custom flavored snack or mini-meal.

If you are looking for a wholesome and delicious takeaway Yatai or street food dish, consider trying Okonomiyaki and you’ll love this comfort style pancake dish.

by Noel at This Hawaii Life

Taiyaki

One of the most popular street foods you can come across in Japan is Taiyaki. It is a fish-shaped type of cake that is a favorite among many locals and tourists alike. It was said to be created in Tokyo back during the Meiji era and imitates the shape of the Japanese Red Seabream fish. You can commonly find this food being sold all year round in various street markets around Tokyo.

The way they make it is pretty simple as the vendors will usually get a fish-shaped mold and pour pancake batter into both sides of the mold. They will then add some fillings on one side of the mold and then close it together to seal everything up. Then it is cooked on both sides until the entire cake turns a nice golden brown color.

Most of the time for a Taiyaki, the fillings tend to be on the sweet side of things. Custard, cream, and even chocolate are used as fillings. Although in some instances, you can even find Taiyaki being served with savory items as well, with things like okonomiyaki, gyoza filling, or even a sausage inside too. It provides a very different taste compared to its sweet counterpart.

This is one food that every visitor to Japan must try because it is simply so unique and delicious. Nowhere else can you find a food shaped like a fish and tastes like a crispy cake filled with amazing goodness inside.

by Wayne Dang from Daily Tourist

Wagyu Beef 

Japan is known for it’s delicious – and often unique – foods. Tokyo is at the heart of Japan, and the Japanese food scene with over 160,000 restaurants and an unknown amount of street food vendors. You’re bound to find a few delightful things to eat in Tokyo. One of the best street foods to try is Wagyu beef.

Wagyu beef is the lesser-known sibling to Kobe beef. “Wa” means Japanese style and “-gyu” means cow or cattle. Wagyu refers to any cattle that are bred in Japan or Japanese-style. Kobe beef is a specific strain of Wagyu in the prefecture of Hyogo (with the capital city of Kobe). While you won’t find Kobe beef on the streets, Wagyu beef is still an incredible treat.

In the 1880’s European cattle were introduced and bred with Japanese cattle, creating four strains of cattle that dominate the Japanese beef trade. The most common strain is the black strain which is known for its intensive marbling – something you don’t typically see in beef. The marbling helps the fat melt at lower temperatures giving it a buttery flavor unique to Wagyu beef.

You can find Wagyu beef on the streets of Japan in a variety of ways – grilled, fire-roasted, and even on a stick! The portion size is small, so feel free to enjoy a few different types to see which one you like best!

by Pamela at The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Ikayaki

A love of seafood is evident in the range of Japanese street foods on display in all large towns and cities. Squid and octopus are great favorites in Tokyo and Ikayaki with a cold beer is always a popular choice!

A whole squid is put onto a large skewer and marinated, with soy sauce being the dominant flavor. The squid is then grilled. Sometimes parts of the squid are served alongside the main body of the squid on the skewer and a sweet soy sauce may be used as an accompaniment.

Because it is neither marinated nor cooked for a long time, the squid meat is still chewy, but the marinade has made it tender.

The Tsukiji Fish Market is widely thought of as the best place to get an Ikayaki snack, but you can find Ikayaki stalls at other wet markets in Tokyo.

Links and Further Information

  •  Get Your Guide Japan travel activities are here
  • Planning a trip to Japan? Plan your trip to climbing Mt Fuji and exploring the Yamanashi Prefecture.
  • If you love reading about culture and food, especially in Asia, check out all of my articles about Culture Through Food.
  • See all of my articles on Japan here and Asia here
  • More detailed information on how to book transport, airfares, accommodation, and travel insurance is available on my Travel Resources page.

If you’ve enjoyed this post on the best Tokyo street food, share it with your friends now pin it for later. I’d love to hear which popular dish is your favorite!

PIN IT FOR LATER

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top