Gourmet Fair at Tokyu Toyokoten in Shibuya ウマすぎグルメ祭

This looks like it will be a great fair. The Umasugi Gourmet Fair at Tokyu Toyokoten. (loosely translated as too delicious gourmet fair)

A wide variety of food including Chinese soup dumplings, karaage (juicy Japanese fried chicken), ramen, and much more.

Tokyu Toyokoten in Shibuya. 8th floor.

Note that the event closes at 6:30 p.m. on the final day.

Hokkaido Food Fair in Ikebukuro 春の北海道うまいもの会

Ramen, uni donburi, hairy crab shumai, and much more seafood. Sweets from egg custard, Marusei butter sandwich, Royce chocolate potato chips and more  at the Hokkaido Food Fair in Ikebukuro Seibu.

Event is from Thursday, March 22nd to Tuesday, April 3rd on the 7th floor of the South (Minami) building. Note that the event closes at 4 p.m. on the final day.

Shikoku Food Fair at Shinjuku Odakyu 四国・山陽の観光と物産展

Starting today, March 21st to Tuesday, March 27th at Shinjuku Odakyu on the 11th floor is the Shikoku Food Fair. Highlights include seafood, fresh fruit, and of course udon noodles. There are a few eat-in counters including  katsuo tataki donburi (see photo above), ramen, and udon.

Note that the event closes at 5 p.m. on the final day.

Tokyo Cheap Eats

Tokyo is a great city for eating well on a budget. The first thing to look for is restaurants that specialize in a dish, like ramen, tonkatsu, or soba. Also, remember the word “teishoku” which is like the daily special or set meal. It is often includes rice, miso soup, pickles, a main dish and a side dish or two. In all of my years eating in Tokyo I can count on one hand the bad meals I have had.

Here are my favorite cheap eats in Tokyo (and this is just scratching the surface):

1. Maisen tonkatsu in Omotesando. Who doesn’t love breaded and deep-fried cutlets? And, it is conveniently located near Omotesando Hills and Takeshita Dori in Harajuku.

Isehiro Yakitori Lunch Donburi

2. Isehiro yakitori in Kyobashi. The lunch donburi special is 1,800 JPY for five sticks of grilled yakitori over a bowl of rice with soup and pickles. This is a bargain when compared to the dinner full course which starts at 6,300 JPY. This is one of my favorite yakitori restaurants in the city, especially at this price. I like to sit at the counter and watch the chef grilling the skewers. Chuo-ku, Kyobashi 1-5-4.

3. Ivan Ramen. Ivan makes his own noodles, trained at the CIA, and has worked under luminaries such as Andre Soltner and Bobby Flay. Other favorites include Afuri in Ebisu, Jangara Ramen (chain), Ippudo (chain).

4. Uoriki Sushi in Shibuya’s Tokyu Toyoko-ten depachika. Uoriki’s main business is as fishmongers, they have a big retail shop in Tokyu, so the quality of the seafood is very good. Also, the location is great, literally underneath Shibuya station. It is located in the depachika, near the seafood section. Don’t worry if there is a line as it usually moves quickly. Just put your name on the waiting list.

5. Saiseisakaba tachinomi for offal. Everything we’ve had here has been great, from sashimi brains (even Shinji was afraid to try this at first), to all of the grilled innards. My favorite dish here is always the tender tongue. And, I love the genki (and handsome) staff here. Locations in Shinjuku, Monzennakacho, and at the Shin Maru Building outside of Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi exit.

6. Narutomi Soba in Ginza. A bit off the beaten path yet located between Tsukiji and Ginza. I was brought here by two Japanese food writers. Be sure to get the gobo tempura, you’ll thank me later.

7. Tenmatsu for tempura at Nihonbashi. The “business lunch” is a bargain at 920 JPY. Be sure to ask for a seat at the counter. Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-8-2. It is located just next to the historic Nihonbashi bridge. And conveniently located between Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi – both with magnificent depachika.

8. Tamai for anago in Nihonbashi. Most people I know adore unagi. If you don’t live in Japan chances are you haven’t had anago yet. Similar to unagi, but I find it more delicate.

9. Buri tachinomi for sake and small bites. A short walk from Shibuya station, the menu has a variety of dishes and not only are the staff hip, so are your fellow diners. Shibuya-ku, Ebisu Nishi 1-14-1

10. Depachika. When I am at a loss for where to go, I head to the basement of any major department store. Especially Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Shinjuku Takashimaya, Shinjuku Isetan, and Ginza Mitsukoshi as these all have rooftop gardens where you can bring any bento that you get at the depachika to enjoy. While you’re at it, pick up a beer or can of sake to enjoy.

This is just a tiny bit of what’s delicious and affordable in Tokyo. Just recently, Robbie Swinnerton of The Japan Times shared with readers a great sukiyaki restaurant, Sukiyaki Yoshihashi, in Akasaka that has a lunch bargain starting at 2,100 JPY.

Popular Omiyage – Baumkuchen


This photo of baumkuchen comes from the Juchheim website.

Baumkuchen is a very popular omiyage, or gift, in Japan. It can be found at all depachika. This German cake is made of thin layers of cake that are baked onto a spool. At first sight the cake is a delight on the eyes as the layers are so delicate.


We received this Juchheim baumkuchen as a gift at a home party and we were thrilled. It is an ideal dessert and everyone is happy to receive a baumkuchen.


Other popular baumkuchen companies include:

Nenrinya at Tokyo station’s Daimaru

Club Harie at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi

Taneya at Tobu Ikebukuro

Since I posted this I got this note from a reader. Very good to keep in mind if your travels bring you to Hiroshima.

When I read your post today I immediately felt I should tell you about another place to get real artisanal Baumkuchen. If ever you come to Hiroshima, please do not miss to visit Kyo Tagashira’s “Felderchef” in Hatsukaichi or his “Mehl” downtown Hiroshima. Kyo-san has learned in Germany and makes fabulous, authentic German cakes and bread. He is certainly worth being mentioned! 🙂


He is a very pleasant guy, very serious about his work though.

Kyoto and Kyushu Food Fairs


Wagashi, vinegar, nama yuba, and much more to be had at the Kyoto Fair at Ikebukuro Tobu. One of my  favorite products in my pantry, kuro shichimi (photo) is from Hararyokaku. The black shichimi is used the same as regular shichimi, but for me it has a more mellow, rounder flavor. Thursday, March 15th to Tuesday, March 20th. 8th floor. Note the event closes at 5 p.m. on the final day.

Shinjuku Keio will be holding at Kyushu Food Fair from Thursday, March 15th to Wednesday, March 21st on the 7th floor. Note that the event closes at 3 p.m. on the final day. Regional foods include karashi renkon from Kumamoto, Nagasaki castella, Saga wagyu bento, Fukuoka mentaiko, and much more.

Kagoshima, Iwate, and Kyushu Food Fairs in Tokyo

Three great food fairs starting Wednesday, March 14th through Tuesday, March 20th.

Don’t miss the shochu at the Kagoshima Fair at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi’s 7th floor.

Show your support for Iwate at Nihonbashi Takashimaya’s 8th floor.

If you are in Shinjuku, then don’t miss the Nagasaki castella cake, Satsuma-age fish cakes, and Nagasaki champon noodles at the  Kyushu Fair at Takashimaya’s 11th floor.

*Note that all three events close at 6 p.m. on the final day.

Tohoku Event at Ikebukuro Tobu

Tohoku Event at Ikebukuro Tobu


Thursday, March 8th to Tuesday the 13th, Ikebukuro Tobu will be sponsoring a Tohoku event promoting food, sake, and crafts from the Tohoku region. Highlights include local jizake and ramen from Kessenuma.


The event is on the 8th floor and closes at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Go and show your support for Tohoku.

Towari Soba Shochu 十割蕎麦焼酎


Part of the beauty of shochu is that it is made from a variety of base ingredients. While sweet potato (imo) and barley (mugi) are very popular, it is worth exploring the others, such as buckwheat (soba). This Towari is rich and intense. The aroma of buckwheat is undeniable. This comes from the unique koji that is also made with buckwheat.

Towari is made in Miyazaki prefecture. It is 25% alcohol. The shochu can be had any way, straight, on the rocks, or with hot water.

The perfect food pairing is with soba noodles. As it is a rich shochu, I also like it with richer foods such as deep-fried dishes or well seasoned dishes such as a miso marinated fish.