Savory Unagi

unagi-aji-no-miyakawa-ikebukuro

Ikebukuro Tobu is Tokyo’s largest depachika with over 200 food stalls. The depachika is spread out over two floors and two buildings, and is worth a careful peruse. The restaurant floors on the upper five floors of the department store offers tempura, tonkatsu, sushi, unagi, and much more. The restaurant floors are packed on weekends, but a great option for weekdays. The unagi shop, Aji no Miyagawa, grills the fresh water eel and glazes it with a sauce that is not sweet. It is a nice change from the cloying sweet soy that is often found at unagi-ya. The unajū box of rice topped with grilled eel and sauce, but on this day, the lunch set called out to me, including sashimi, and simmered vegetables. The clear soup includes the eel liver. This lunch is about 4,000 JPY. Aji no Miyagawa’s main shop is at Tokyo Station. There are a few branches in the city.

Aji no Miyagawa 味乃宮川

Toshima-ku, Nishi-Ikebukuro 1-1-25, Ikebukuro Tobu, 12th Floor

 

 

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Simmered Pork Belly Curry Pan

curry-pan-pan-rizotta

Ikebukuro Tobu is Tokyo’s largest depachika. While exploring it recently we came across what is one of Tokyo’s great curry pans, bread filled with curry and deep-fried. This one caught my eye as it is called 豚の角煮カレーパン buta no kakuni kare-pan, simmered pork belly curry bread. The bread is studded with shards of bread that when deep-fried crisp up like croutons, offering a nice contrast to the tender pork belly inside. The curry is not very spicy, but just a hint of spice. This is definitely one of my favorite curry pan in the city.

Pan Rizotta is a bakery inside of Ikebukuro Tobu. This is the only Pan Rizotta in Japan, so the only place you will find this simmered pork belly curry pan. If you are in luck, as we were, the 揚げたて agetate sign will be out indicating it is hot out of the deep-fryer.

Pan Rizotta Bakery at Ikebukuro Tobu

Toshima-ku, Nishi-Ikebukuro 1-1-25

http://www.tobu-dept.jp/ikebukuro/

Tobu can be accessed from Ikebukuro station.

Ekiben, Hokkaido, and Shimane Food Fairs in Tokyo

Amaebi Donburi

Amaebi Donburi

Today starts three food fairs in Tokyo. Get this amaebi donburi at the Hokkaido Food Fair at Tobu Ikebukuro (8th floor event space) running through January 24th.

Select from over 200 ekiben at Shinjuku Keio’s event also through January 24th.

Shimane Food Fair

Shimane Food Fair

At Shibuya Tokyu Toyoko Ten on the 8th floor is a Shimane Food Fair running through January 18th.

For more information about the depachika at these department stores, please see my list of my favorite depachika in Tokyo.

Top Ten Depachika in Tokyo 東京のデパ地下

Working at the sake section of the depachika in  Nihonbashi Takashimaya was loads of fun. As a sommelier it was my job to sell wine but my responsibilities also included selling sake, shochu, and other spirits. Who wouldn’t love to be surrounded by amazing food all day long? My breaks were spent carefully perusing the floor for new items. I would plot all morning what to have for lunch that day. The food was constantly changing and Takashimaya often held special food events on the top floor of the department store. Here I would learn about regional food, sake and shochu, and meet the purveyors who enthusiastically shared cooking suggestions and what makes their products unique.

Here are my favorite depachika in the city. It is best to pick a location based on what is convenient for you. Most of the depachika are similar. However, if I have to pick some favorites they would be Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Shinjuku Takashimaya, Shinjuku Isetan, Ginza Mitsukoshi, and Ikebukuro Tobu.

Inquire at the concierge if there are any special food events going on in the store as they may be held on an upper floor and not in the basement.

Shinjuku Takashimaya

Shinjuku Takashimaya

1. Shinjuku Takashimaya, Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 5-24-2

The restaurant floor here is great – several floors of tempting restaurants. I love Katsukura for tonkatsu. Better yet, pick up a bento and a beer in the depachika and head to the rooftop picnic area. Next door to Takashimaya is a huge Tokyu Hands for great shopping for kitchenware, tableware, stationary, and much, much more.

Nihonbashi Takashimaya

Nihonbashi Takashimaya

2. Nihonbashi Takashimaya, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-4-1

There is a branch of Taiwan’s Din Tai Fun in the basement 2 and the sake department often does weekly tastings of small sake and shochu producers from around Japan. The rooftop garden is a great place to have a bento. Also, do not miss the white-gloved elevator girls (rarely seen now) and the historic elevators.

3. Shinjuku Isetan, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-14-1

Aged sake (koshu) in a special cellar and a manicured rooftop garden for enjoying your bento. Pierre Herme and Jean-Paul Hevin are popular with the locals but I love the wagashi (Japanese confectionaries).

4. Ginza Mitsukoshi, Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-6-16

A recent renovation has made this a depachika you don’t want to miss. The restaurant floor includes a branch of the famous Hakone Akatsukian soba shop, formerly in Hiroo. Time it right and watch as the soba noodles are rolled out into thin sheets and cut with the large soba bocho (soba knife).

5. Ikebukuro Tobu, Toshima-ku, Nishi-Ikebukuro 1-1-25

Japan’s largest depachika. Spend hours here and still not see it all. Also, several restaurants on the restaurant floors including a branch of Chinese iron chef, Chin Kenichi.

6. Ginza Matsuya, Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-8-1

The French bakery Maison Kayser is here.

7. Shibuya Tokyu Toyoko-ten, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 2-24-1

Located just under the Shibuya station I love the affordable sushi at Uoriki, a sushi counter located near the fresh seafood section. The sake department here also does interesting tastings of small sake and shochu brands.

8. Shinjuku Odakyu, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-3

Divided up between two buildings it may be tricky to see all of it but worth checking out. The breads at the Trois Gros bakery are tempting. There is also a Bic Camera for electronics located above the Odakyu annex.

9. Shinjuku Keio, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku, 1-1-4

A branch of the French bakery Paul is here and the store often does interesting food shows on the upper floor with themes such as ekiben (famous bento boxes from local train stations around Japan) and regional food promotions.

10. Ikebukuro Seibu, Toshima-ku, Minami-Ikebukuro 1-28-1

In the Seibu department store is a branch of Loft, a shop filled with housewares.

OK, 11 best depachika in Tokyo!

11. Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-4-1