Ishiyama Shoten and Ameyoko Center Building in Ameyoko

Ishiyama Shoten & Ameyoko Center Building

Ishiyama Shoten & Ameyoko Center Building

The fish stall at the base of the building is Ishiyama Shoten. The large building in the center is the Ameyoko Center Building.

Ameyoko Center Building アメ横センタービル

Taito-ku, Ueno 4-7-8, Ameyoko Senta Bldg. 台東区上野4-7-8アメ横センタービル

10:00 – 20:00

Closed the third Wednesday of each month except for December.

www.ameyoko-center-bldg.com/ (Japanese)

In the basement of the Ameyoko Center Building there is a handful of shops with fresh seafood, meat, and dry goods. What makes this worth visiting is its collection of spices, fresh herbs, and produce for Southeast Asian cooking. Here you will find many ingredients for cooking Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Malaysian food. Rice paper, curries, noodles, fish sauce, and other ingredients that are often not sold at local supermarkets are available here.

Ishiyama Shouten 3 Go Ten 石山商店3号店

Taito-ku, Ueno 4-7-8 台東区上野4-7-8

Tel. 03-3833-6668

9:00 – 19:00, closed the 3rd Wednesday (except for December, no holidays)

no website

This shop is at the fork when you enter into Ameyoko. Here you will start to hear the men with low, grating, guttural voices. Ishiyama specializes in tuna and you will find large red blocks of glistening raw tuna to smaller saku cuts (to make sushi or sashimi at home). These all are sashimi quality. Ishiyama Shouten also sells other seasonal seafood products including crab, salmon, and other seasonal fish.

Shimura Shouten in Ameyoko アメ横の志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Shimura Shouten 志村商店

Taito-ku, Ueno 6-11-3 台東区上野6-11-3

Tel. 03-3831-2454

9:00 – 19:00, no holidays

http://homepage3.nifty.com/ameyoko/ (Japanese)

This candy shop, overflowing with chocolates and sweets is famous for its 1000 yen bags. It is a show where an enthusiastic salesman shouts out to the customers as he fills a bag up with candies, sweets, and snacks.

Ameyoko’s Fruit Shop Hyakkaen 百果園

Fruits Shop Hyakkaen 百果園

Fruits Shop Hyakkaen 百果園

Fruits Shop Hyakkaen 百果園

Fruits Shop Hyakkaen 百果園

Fruits Shop Hyakkaen 百果園

Taito-ku, Ueno 6-10-12 台東区上野6-10-12

Tel. 03-3832-2625

10:00 – 20:00, no holidays

www.guidenet.jp/shop/083c/ (Japanese)

This fruit shop sells whole fruits boxed for gift-giving, however they are most famous for their seasonal fresh fruits skewered on waribashi (disposable chopsticks) like strawberries, pineapple and melon. The fresh fruits are juicy and a refreshing, healthful snack.

Ameyoko near Ueno Station アメ横

Ameyoko アメ横

Ameyoko アメ横

Ameyoko アメ横

Ameyoko アメ横

Located under the Yamanote line train tracks at Ueno station heading south to Okachimachi station on the way to Akihabara, the electronics town, is Ameyoko, a boisterous, lively outdoor market. Not nearly as impressive as Tsukiji Fish Market, but this is open on seven days a week, which is a good alternative if Tsukiji is closed. Ameyoko got its name from “ame-ya” as there were a lot of candy (ame) shops there before, and from “America-ya” as products from America was sold there. Yoko means next to and the shopping arcade is next to the train line, part of it actually under the tracks.

The fishmongers call out in huffy voices offering discounts and bargains. “Omake” means that they are offering great discounts and may even barter with you, or they may call out “sen yen” (1000 yen) and point to a tray loaded down with seafood. And while negotiating prices is rarely done in Japan, it is done here. You will find a bit of everything from seafood, fruits, vegetables, and dried goods.

At the end of the year, upwards of 400,000 people will squeeze into the narrow alley to pick up ingredients to make osechi ryori (New Year’s food) like kazunoko (herring roe), sudako (vinegared octopus), and salmon. There are about 400 shops squeezed into the 400 meters long walkway. Ameyoko has always had the image for bargain shopping.

Pig's feet (tonsoku) at Ameyoko

Pig's feet (tonsoku) at Ameyoko

Fishmonger at Ameyoko

Fishmonger at Ameyoko

Fishmonger at Ameyoko

Fishmonger at Ameyoko

Kotobukido in Ningyocho 人形町の寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Kotobukido 寿堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-4 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-4

Tel. 0120-48-0400 (toll free number in Japan)

9:00 – 21:00, closed Sunday

This 5th generation shop is so small that only a handful of people can enter at one time. The three-story gray building with red trimming displays some of their confectionaries behind glass display windows up front. The unmistakable aroma of cinnamon wafts into the street. Their signature sweet, koganei imo, is shiroan (white bean paste), egg yolk, and sugar dusted with cinnamon and baked. Order one of these and the staff will serve it to you with a cup of tea.

Cheap Eats in Ginza – 2/2

New Castle ニューキャッスル

New Castle ニューキャッスル

The slightly spicy curry served at this nostalgic mom-and-pop shop has long been a neighborhood favorite. The small wooden building looks out of place among Ginza’s designer boutiques and department stores, and the cooking is simple as well: one curry served in four sizes, each named after a station on the Keihin-Tohoku line. The handwritten menu starts with the Shinagawa (¥480), which is a bit on the small side (perfect for the OL watching her waistline). Ooi (¥530) is what most of us would consider the normal, while Oomori (¥630) is larger and comes topped with an over-easy egg; the largest portion, Kamata (¥740), is also crowned with an egg. A small counter and a few tables complete this compact, dimly lit restaurant. With only about 20 seats, diners feel as though they are in the living room of the elderly couple who run it. Look for the building with a small curtain overhang advertising coffee and karai raisu (“spicy rice”) instead of the more common kare raisu.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 2-3-1 中央区銀座2−3−1

Tel: 03-3561-2929

Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 11am-5pm, closed Sun & hols.

Bairin 梅林

Bairin 梅林

Ginza’s first dedicated tonkatsu eatery, Bairin uses Kagoshima kurobuta pork that’s renowned for its inherent sweetness. Another drawing card is the original sauce, whose sweetness comes from apples and vegetables. Opened in 1927, Bairin Tonkatsu’s interior probably hasn’t changed since—and that’s part of the charm. Diners at the long counter can watch as the pork filets are dipped in an egg batter and panko breadcrumbs, then deep-fried until golden brown. Meanwhile, another chef rhythmically chops cabbage into a fine julienne for the side salad. The restaurant gets extremely busy during lunch, but turnover is quite fast, so don’t be shy to join the queue. The donburi dishes offer excellent value, particularly the katsudon (¥980). Bairin Tonkatsu’s main store is located just off of Chuo Dori, but there are branches throughout the city, including the newest in Akihabara.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 7-8-1 中央区銀座7−8−1

Tel: 03-3571-0350

Open daily 11:30am-8:45pm. www.ginzabairin.com

Bunmeido

Bunmeido

Famous for its castella sponge cake, Bunmeido is where we like to go to refuel with sweets and coffee. The café-restaurant also offers a signature hayashi rice (¥1,000), with a selection of sandwiches rounding out the lunch menu. But it’s the desserts that the well-coiffed fashionable shoppers of Ginza daintily nibble on: tarts with artfully arranged fresh fruit, chocolate sweets and other Western pastries. Japanese-style treats include a parfait of mattcha ice cream with a sweet azuki bean paste. Bunmeido’s high ceilings and large stained-glass window may have some feeling like they are back in church, but the only confessions you’ll need to make are for overindulging. The location on the main Chuo Dori thoroughfare is also a fantastic people-watching spot. Even if we’re not hungry and just need to rest our feet, the extensive drinks menu includes freshly squeezed juices, teas and a satisfying matcha latte.

Note – this photo is one of the small to-go Bunmeido shops off of the main street, not the one written about in the article. This shop is good for getting packaged sweets for gift-giving.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-7-10 中央区銀座5−7−10

Tel: 03-3574-0002

Open daily 11am-9pm. www.bunmeido.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for other Ginza Eats. And Cheap Eats part 1 of 2.

This article first appeared in Metropolis magazine on May 13, 2010. Some of my favorite cheap eats in Ginza.

Cheap Eats in Ginza – 1/2

This article first appeared in Metropolis magazine on May 13, 2010. Some of my favorite cheap eats in Ginza.

With shops like Forever 21 and H&M recently opening on Ginza’s main drag, the neighborhood is beginning to shed its reputation as a jet-setter’s playground. Yet budget-conscious diners have long known that the area is home to excellent inexpensive restaurants. Here are some favorites that will leave some yen in your wallet to splurge on a bit of fast fashion.

Tenryu Gyoza

Tenryu Gyoza

This popular Chinese restaurant, renowned for its jumbo gyoza, often has a line outside at lunch. Neon lights over the door and a red sign on the sidewalk designate the entrance just off of Chuo Dori, along with a display case of plastic versions of the popular dishes. The gyoza set menu (¥1,020) comes with six thick-skinned, chewy dumplings stuffed with pork and vegetables served with a bowl of rice. Notably, no garlic is used in the gyoza, which means Tenryu could serve as an off-price date destination. Other popular dishes are chahan (¥920), yakisoba (¥920), shrimp in a sweet and hot chili sauce (¥2,100), sweet-and-sour pork (¥1,900), and more. The gyoza are so popular that they’re even sold to go, omiyage-style.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 2-6-1 中央区銀座2-6-1

Tel: 03-3561-3543

Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm, Sun & hols 11:30am-8pm

Scorpione Stazione

Scorpione Stazione

Located between Yurakucho station and the area’s large Muji store is Scorpione Stazione, popular for its selection of pastas and its large portions. On a recent lunch visit we had a hard time choosing, so tempting were the options, in particular the pastas with seasonal seafood. The lunch set includes bread and olive oil, a serviceable salad, a generous helping of pasta, and coffee or tea. Service is professional, albeit rushed, and during our visit the pasta was a bit overcooked—but, at ¥1,000 with everything included, we weren’t about to complain. Scorpione Stazione is the ideal spot if you’re on a lunch break, but if you hope to linger, let the staff know to bring your drinks after you’re finished; our espressos arrived while we were still eating. This is a large restaurant with about 100 seats, and at nighttime the prices rise to more standard levels.

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 3-8-3 千代田区丸の内3-8-3

Tel: 03-5219-1610

Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-1am, Sun 11:30am-10pm. Lunch until 2pm.

http://meturl.com/scorpione

Pyon Pyon Sha Ginza Una

Pyon Pyon Sha Ginza Una

Located near the Sony building and the Sukiyabashi crossing, Ginza Una is the local branch of the Iwate-based Pyon Pyon Sha restaurant chain. The signature dish is the regional Morioka specialty of reimen, a bowl of spicy, cold noodles. A similar Korean dish uses noodles made from buckwheat, but the Morioka variety is made from potato and wheat flour. Ginza Una’s reimen (just ¥1,100 as part of a lunch set) comes with kimchi, beef, hard-boiled egg, cucumbers and watermelon, with a broth made from both beef and chicken. If you’ve never had this dish before, this is a fantastic place to try it, especially in the heat of summer. The menu includes other popular Korean dishes, like the spicy tofu soup known as chige (¥800) and the popular hot-stone rice bowl bibimbap (¥1,000); Iwate beef is the base for hearty meat dishes like gyumeishi and bulgogi. In the evening, Ginza Una offers reasonably priced set menus with an all-you-can-drink option.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-2-15, Ginza Glasse 11F   中央区銀座3-2-15 Ginza Glasse 11F

Tel: 03-3535-3020

Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun & hols 11am-10pm

www.pyonpyonsya.co.jp

Click for Cheap Eats part 2 of 2. Click for other Ginza Eats.

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou in Ningyocho 人形町の重盛永信堂

Shigemori Eishindou 重盛永信堂

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-1-1 中央区日本橋人形町2-1-1

Tel. 03-3666-5885

9:00 – 20:00 (Saturday and holidays until 17:30)

closed Sundays

Commanding the corner with its large display of stuffed cakes and sweet crackers is Shigemori Eishindou. It opened in 1917 as a shop selling ningyoyaki of shichifukujin (the seven lucky gods). The azuki paste in the ningyoyaki cakes are rich, sweet and the cake is chewy.  If you look behind the counter you can see the work space in back is where the ningyoyaki are made.

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Ningyocho Imahan 人形町今半

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-9-12 中央区日本橋人形町2-9-12

Tel. 03-3666-7006

11:00 – 22:00, no holidays

www.imahan.com/e-guide/ningyocho_shop.html (English)

Ningyocho Imahan is a branch of the Asakusa shop that opened in 1952. Imahan is synonymous with sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, and grilled wagyu steak. The large two-story red building with black tile roof sits on the corner. The entrance to the restaurant is to the right behind the blue noren and the retail shop is to the left. The retail shop has cuts of wagyu beef cut for sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, yakiniku, and steak.

Tamahide in Ningyocho 人形町の玉ひで

Tamahide in NIngyocho 人形町の玉ひで

Tamahide in NIngyocho 人形町の玉ひで

Tamahide in NIngyocho 人形町の玉ひで

Tamahide in NIngyocho 人形町の玉ひで

Tamahide in NIngyocho 人形町の玉ひで

Tamahide in NIngyocho 人形町の玉ひで

Tamahide 玉ひで

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 1-17-10 中央区日本橋人形町1-17-10

Tel. 03-3668-7651

11:30 – 13:00, 17:00 – 22:00, Saturday 16:00 – 21:00

closed Sunday and holidays

www.tamahide.co.jp/ (Japanese)

Tamahide will be easy to find as there is a perpetual line out the front door. The large white building looks like a castle with the large stones surrounding its base. Opened in 1760, this fifth generation shop is synonymous with a dish called oyakodon. Literally, mother and child, this dish is made from chicken cooked in a sweet soy broth with eggs added at the last minute until they just start to set. This is poured over a bowl of rice and eaten with a lacquer spoon. If you want to upgrade the dish ask for the duck and to downgrade ask for ground chicken. Seating is communal at low horigotatsu tables, with a hole under the table to put your feet into. For a real treat come in the evening for a full chicken sukiyaki course.