From Street Eats to Gourmet – The Delicious Food Culture in Nakano
Nakano is a small neighborhood just one stop by express train from Shinjuku, and it is well-known as a one of the best places to eat ramen in Tokyo. But Nakano food culture goes far beyond ramen; with great street-food, innovative restaurants, and some interesting desserts. The charming streets of Nakano are lit up by lanterns in the evening, and the tiny restaurants that crowd the neighborhood are always full of people.
If you’re a foodie, Nakano is the perfect place to explore, get some great shots for Instagram, and fill your stomach full of the best Tokyo has to offer!
Mouthwatering Oyster Ramen at Tadaimahenshinchu
Due to the sheer amount of ramen options in Nakano, business owners have to get creative in order to stand out. Located just outside of the Namco arcade, this ramen shop offers oyster ramen in soy milk which you have to eat to believe. It’s definitely a far cry from your standard ramen with a delicate balance of oyster flavor, and slight creaminess from the soy milk– but I found it refreshingly delicious (not to mention the beautiful presentation).
They offer a few different options which can be purchased from the ticket machine at the entrance (which also has English translations). As a general tip, most small ramen restaurants are operated by purchasing tickets and are cash only.
Live (and Slurp) Ramen History at Aoba
What is unique about Aoba (and a key to their continuing popularity) is their “double soup” ramen. But what exactly does that mean? Ramen is usually made using one type of soup stock, but at Aoba they mix a typical Tokyo-style fish broth with a meat-based broth that hails from Kyushu. They are mixed in front of you as you get your ramen so that the flavor balance is always right.
Here’s an insider tip, you can order an additional condiment they make specially here by asking for yuzu togarashi. This is a slightly spicy sauce with a base of Japanese citrus, also known as Yuzu. We recommend eating about half your portion as is, to appreciate the flavor, and then mixing in the additional topping if you would like to try it.
Eat Great Sushi and Sashimi at Maguro Mart
This stylish, modern Izakaya specializes in Maguro (Tuna) and gets rave reviews both online and among locals. If you’re new to sashimi, you can try their assortment of six different cuts of tuna which vary between lean and oily, or if you’re there with a group you can get a huge slab of tuna still with the bone!
Maguro Mart is also known for their rather...interesting drinks, like the Clamato. This drink is similar to a Bloody Mary with a key twist, it also contains clam juice! You can order it with shochu or beer to make it a cocktail.
Maguro Mart generally requires a reservation and a weekend reservation can take up to a month to get! Try instead for an early dinner on a weekday, as that is much more achievable.
Snack on Japanese Pancakes (Oyaki) Across from Nakano Station
As soon as you exit Nakano station on the north side you will be greeted by a delicious sweet smell. This is oyaki from Oyakidoko refutei (おやき処 れふ亭). This small stand has been operating since 1984 but still has a line of people waiting every single day that they are open.
The oyaki have fillings such as traditional anko (red bean paste) or a more modern custard or chocolate cream, and they are made right in front of you, so they are fresh as can be!
I hope you enjoyed this Nakano food guide and get a chance to get out there soon!