Our Local Burger Shop

I love a good burger. While I was born in Tokyo, I grew up in Minnesota eating burgers and fries. There are some good burger shops in Tokyo, but it’s nice to have a local spot that we can decide to go to at the last minute and not have to make a special trip into the city.

Jimmy’s Diner is our local burger shop serving a generous portion of fries and a meaty burger in an American diner interior. There are booths off to one side and a counter overlooking the kitchen.

The menu is simple, a burger with many different toppings. The burger is made with Japanese beef and the bun is from my favorite local bakery. The onions are raw, but Jimmy is kind enough to sauté them upon request. The fries are crispy and the serving is big, but if you are hungry, you can request a bigger serving for a small supplement, but only if you are really hungry. The serving in the photos above are the regular serving.

I believe Jimmy’s is closed on Monday. Call ahead to be sure if you are making a special trip here. Jimmy’s Diner is about a five-minute walk from Kokubunji station’s north exit. Jimmy (Hirakawa Hajime-san) and his wife run the kid-friendly shop. It’s open on Sundays. 🙂

Jimmy’s Diner

Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 2-14-5 国分寺市本町2-14-5

https://www.facebook.com/Jimmys-DINER-1219940928032747/

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Kokubunji Tonkatsu Katsura 国分寺とんかつ桂

Kokubunji tonkatsu

Kokubunji Tonkatsu Katsura

Katsura is a homey tonkatsu shop about a kilometer north of Kokubunji station on the Chuo line. There is a perpetual line out the door. But the other day while biking by the line was shorter than usual and I joined the queue.

There is a small table in the back and a counter with tight seating. I was seated at the counter with my back to the sliding door entrance. In Japan you get used to the fact that you may have to get up and out of the way, or maybe lean in to allow someone to pass at smaller restaurants like this.

The tonkatsu comes with a generous serving of homemade pickles and a generous serving of julienned cabbage. The tonkatsu is fried in lard and panko crust is lightly colored. The meat is juicy and the portions are generous. As to be found at most tonkatsu restaurants, unlimited rice and cabbage. Budget between 1,500 – 2,000 JPY.

Katsura is only open for lunch. This is an example of a shokunin, doing one thing, and doing it very well. I wouldn’t make a special trip from the city, but if you find yourself in this part of Tokyo, it’s good to have on your radar.

Tonkatsu Katsura とんかつ桂

Tokyo-to, Kodaira-shi, Jōsui Honcho 5-7-20 東京都小平市上水本町5-7-20

Tuesday – Sunday (closed Monday and 3rd Tuesday)

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

 

Kokubunji Cribe Coffee

Yoshida-san of Cribe

Yoshida-san of Cribe

Coffee is hot, hot, hot in Tokyo. San Francisco’s Blue Bottle recently opened in Kiyosumi Shirakawa and lines have been very long. Throughout the city it is becoming easier to find a great cup of coffee. I am thrilled as my own ‘hood, Kokubunji, has its first third-wave coffee shop, Cribe. The owner, Yoshida-san is super friendly and the coffee is the best I can find on this part of the Chuo line.

Cribe Interior

Cribe Interior

Cribe opens at 7:30 a.m. and is open until 9:00 p.m. There is beer for late night visitors. The shop is small and has some benches along the wall and a small seating area in the back of the shop. Yoshida-san is serving sandwiches and doughnuts from a local shop.

Cribe Exterior

Cribe Exterior

I asked him how he picked Kokubunji to open a coffee shop and he said that he went to university in the area. I am thrilled.

Betty

Betty

This is an original coffee drink called Betty. It is a generous pour of cold milk topped with espresso. Can you see Yoshida-san’s reflection on the espresso machine? Great smile. And his Betty puts a smile on my face. Cribe Coffee – worth the trip.

Cribe

Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 3-5-5

090-9150-9111

https://www.facebook.com/lifesizecribe

Open 7 days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Nana Udon in Kokubunji 七うどん

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A recent issue of Dancyu magazine featured the hot noodle of the moment, udonUdon noodles are thick flour noodles. Restaurants are popping up around Tokyo and it’s not unusual to see long lines forming at lunchtime. Many of these shops have been around for a long time are seeing a new appreciation for these hearty noodles. In the Dancyu magazine I was thrilled to see a restaurant in our neighborhood of Kokubunji. It’s about a 15-minute walk from Kokubunji station. If you are ever near Kokubunji, it’s a good shop to have on your radar.

My first time there I asked the proprietress her recommendation and she suggested going with the standard inaka udon. She said that all of the udon comes with the tempura side dish. And, she did warn me that the portions are generous, echoing what Dancyu had also mentioned in their article. The photo above is the inaka udon which comes with a flavorful dipping sauce.

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The niku-jiru udon is a meaty soy broth with beef and onions and my favorite.

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Creamy sesame dipping sauce with udon and kaki-agé tempura, a melange of vegetables chopped up and deep-fried in a cake, and kabocha tempura. This is the small “sho” portion, for a bargain 600 JPY.

This area of Tokyo is known for Musashino udon which is a dark-colored udon that is very chewy. Nana does not serve the Musashino udon.  The noodles are softer yet still have a nice texture.

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The entrance, which is hard to see from the street.

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I had a hard time finding Nana as not only is it in a residential area, it’s a home. This is the exterior of Nana, and no, there are no signs signifying the restaurant.

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Actually, once I saw all of the bicycles parked in the driveway, I knew this must be it.

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The interior. Very simple, basically the living room of the home. This was a very early lunch, but it filled up quickly after we were seated. The husband and wife team are very kind. Portions of udon are very large so I suggest going for the smaller size. If you can’t finish your bowl of noodles you can put them in a plastic bag to take home.

Nana Udon XOn our second visit the wife gave us a bag of kombu Tsukudani to take home with us. She had warned us that it was spicy as it is made with tōgarashi, dried red chili peppers. We loved it over a bowl of steaming rice.

The shop’s great name is “Foot Stomped Udon” as the noodles are traditionally stomped by feet.

Ashi Uchi Udon Dokoro Nana 足打ちうどん処七

Tokyo-to, Kokubunji-shi, Honda 5-28-2 東京都国分寺市本多5-28-2

042-328-1002

Saturday – Sunday 11:00~14:00 (or until sold out)

Monday – Friday 11:30~14:00

Closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and each month on the 30th and 31st

Google Map

Kokubunji Menya Rikyu 国分寺 麺屋利休

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Menya Rikyū is a ramen shop in our neighborhood. It has been on television as a recommended ramen shop. There is sometimes a line, but not always. A few friends in the area also recommended it. The ramen is very good here. While it’s known for its tsuke-men we tried the shio (salt) ramen. The noodles are straight, chewy, and thick.

The ingredients for making the stock are shown on their website. What I do love is that he garnishes the ramen with buckwheat tea (soba-cha). You do get a nutty flavor and the crunchy texture of the buckwheat. If you scroll down you can see an interesting ingredient, green tea oil.

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The entrance to Menya Rikyū. Menya means noodle shop and Rikyu comes from the famous tea ceremony master, Rikyū. Hence, the connection to the green tea oil that it poured over the ramen. I couldn’t taste the tea as the broth is quite rich. The interior of the ramen shop is said to be designed after a tea room, but that too gets lost in translation.

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The shop’s name at the entrance. You’ll see a drawing of Rikyū at the counter.

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In a residential building off of the main street in Kokubunji. It’s about a five minute walk from the north exit of Kokubunji station. Worth visiting if you are in the area.

Menya Rikyū

Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 2-22-2

closed Thursday

Tsukemen Momiji in Kokubunji 国分寺 つけ麺 紅葉

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Tsukemen Momiji in Kokubunji is a popular shop that almost always has a line outside of its shop. We went recently to the shop 15 minutes before it opened and joined the queue. Most of those in line looked like college students, and all were men. The sign above the shop says that the noodles are made by hand, “jikasei men” 自家製麺. Momiji is known for its handmade ramen noodles and for its dipping broth for the tsukemen. The noodles and dipping broth are served in two separate bowls. The noodles are dipped into the dipping broth and then slurped up. And, just as done with soba, at the end of the meal hot water is brought if you want to try it with the remains of the dipping broth.
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There is a menu with some photos outside of the shop for those waiting in line. However, everyone when we were there ordered the tsukemen. Orders are made at a vending machine inside the shop that spits out a ticket. Give the ticket to your server when you sit down at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. (I can see and understand how frustrating ordering from a vending machine is for non-Japanese speakers as the menu is only written in Japanese. But, it’s a friendly shop and you could easily point at the photo on the menu outside of the shop or just say “tsukemen” to try the signature dish.)

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And, a handwritten sign listing the types of noodles that are made at the shop. The noodles are all made for that morning.

Futomen 太麺 fat noodles that are chewy with a rich texture, suggested noodles for tsukemen

Hosomen 細麺 skinny noodles that are long and with a good texture

Hirauchimen 平打麺 flat noodles that reveal the sweetness of the flour when it’s chewed

Kawarimen 変り麺 unique, original noodles; the recipe changes from time to time

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Not sure, but I believe this is the owner of the shop. First and foremost because of the music that was playing. All classic 80’s hits, stuff like Journey’s Open Arms. The rest of the staff was young and surely this would not have been their preferred music at work. The owner was busy behind the counter cooking and serving the ramen. It’s a small shop, about a dozen seats at a long counter. There are a row of seats inside the restaurant against a wall for diners who are waiting for an open seat to sit at.

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The dipping broth for the tsukemen. It was very rich with lots of umami. You can see it had negi, menma, and naruto. On the shop’s website it says that the broth is made over 3 days using pork knuckles, chicken feet, pork bones, and chicken as well as smoked, dried skipjack tuna, flying fish, and mackerel.

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This was the futomen, the suggested noodles for the tsukemen. Very chewy and filling. If I go back I’ll try the hosomen or skinny noodles as this was a lot of noodles. However, it was obvious that these were handmade noodles and not mass produced by the texture and flavor.
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The chashu pork which was very tender and meaty, a luxury as the ramen on its own was more than enough food.

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I tried the kawarimen which was on this day an aburamen, very little, rich sauce in the bottom of the bowl, noodles, and a variety of toppings like bean sprouts, seafood sausage, menma, garlic chips, and more. This too was generously portioned and too much for me to finish.

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The kawarimen was served with vinegar that had sliced lemons in it. It was very refreshing and a good way to cut through the rich sauce in the bowl.

If you are on the Chuo line or out in the Western part of Tokyo Momiji is good to have on your radar and worth visiting. The line moves quickly so don’t let that discourage you from  coming here.

Tsukemen Momiji

Kokubunji-shi, Honcho 2-2-15

042-326-3201

Tuesday – Friday: 11:45~14:30 17:45~23:30

Saturday – Sunday

11:45~23:30(中休み無しの通し営業)

定休日 月曜日