From traditional tastes to the tastes of the people! 16 local gourmet dishes in the Kanto (Greater Tokyo) area
The Kanto region is centered around Tokyo, where you can enjoy tastes from all over Japan, and consists of the 7 prefectures of Tokyo, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Yamanashi. Edo-mae sushi and tempura are famous all over the country, but there are many local gourmet dishes that you can enjoy in a more lighthearted and fulfilling way. ANA carried out a project in collaboration with “Tastes of JAPAN by ANA,” which works to discover the most charming locations all over the country, and Trip Advisor, to introduce some of the most popular restaurants in Kanto based upon customer reviews.
Popular local gourmet spots in Tokyo
Monjayaki is made by mixing cabbage and other ingredients with flour lightly dissolved in dashi (stock) and then fried. It’s similar to okonomiyaki, but it is eaten while the batter is still moist and glutinous. It can be eaten with various toppings, including mentaiko (salted cod roe spiced with hot red pepper), cheese, and baby star ramen. It is a local cuisine that was born out of a downtown candy shop.
Tsukishima Monja Street (Chuo)
This is a mecca for Monja with more than 50 specialty stores on a street of about 500m. You need to try and compare the sauces and toppings at each store. The mentai mochi cheese and tuna curry are classics, and there are also unique flavors like cream sauce and pepperoncino.
Dozeu refers to pond loach that has a slithery style of swimming. It has been popular around Asakusa as a highly nutritious food for regular people since the Edo period, when marine products were highly valued. Dozeu nabe is made by immersing the loach in sake and boiling it in a sauce. Yanagawa nabe is made by pouring whisked eggs into dozeu nabe.
Komagata Dozeu Asakusa Honten (Taito)
This is a long-established store that has upheld the tastes of Edo for more than 200 years. The loach is dunked in sake, boiled in a sweet miso and astringent sauce, and then topped with plenty of spring onions. The texture of the loach, which has soaked up the flavors, is fluffy and even the bones are soft enough to eat. It is rich in calcium and will give you a lot of stamina!
Popular local gourmet spots in Ibaraki
In winter, high quality anko (goosefish) are caught in Ibaraki Prefecture. It is said that other than the bones no other part of this fish is thrown away and anko nabe (anko hot pot) is made by boiling the meat, skin, and offal with vegetables and soup. Dobu jiru is a hot pot cooked without water, using only anko liver and the moisture contained within the vegetables. It has a strong and unique flavour that is somewhat on an acquired taste.
Ajidokoro Omori (Oarai)
This restaurant is highly rated for its anko dishes served between October and March. The anko hot pot stewed with miso and dashi has such a condensed, delicious flavor that it makes you want to drink every last drop of the soup. For the dobu jiru, which requires a reservation, you can choose the diluted dashi, for first timers, or the more intense version with no dashi for more experienced patrons. The kaiseki (a set menu of selected food served in order), which includes ankimo (dish made with monkfish liver) with ponzu (juice pressed from a bitter orange) and kara age style fried anko are also popular.
（I had no idea such a delicious hot pot existed. Apparently, it was originally a fisherman’s dish, but I highly recommend it to anyone who once to fully appreciate the taste of anko. It is a luxury item that costs over 3000 yen, but it is worth it. I think that the zosui (seasoned rice-porridge with vegetables, fish, and other ingredients) eaten as the final dish of all kinds of hot pots are all delicious, but this hot pot’s zosui is particularly delicious and might be even better than the hot pot itself.）reviewed by pipeman2014
Northern Ibaraki Prefecture has been known as a place for soba since the Edo period. Amongst the soba served there, Hitachi Aki Soba is a brand that is known as the pinnacle of gen soba. Using the highest quality ingredients, these soba noodles have a fragrant taste and plump texture. It is also used in famous soba stores throughout the country.
Sobaen Satake (Hitachiota)
This restaurant prides itself on its Hitachi Aki soba made from in-house milled soba (buckwheat) flour. As soon as it enters your mouth the sweet flavor and the rich fragrance expands right to the back of your nose. The thickness of the noodles is varied like a lot of countryside soba. The rich texture of the noodles wrapped in soup is delicious. It’s highly recommended you try the tempura made using seasonal wild plants and homegrown vegetables.
（It seems the owner looks over the entire store and gives instructions, so the customer service is top-notch. Until now, I have visited only highly regarded and famous stores in Hitachi-Ota City and for me, in terms of taste, cost performance, customer service, store atmosphere, location, parking, etc., I think that this restaurant is fantastic and is the best overall.）reviewed by maxmaxtom
Popular local gourmet spots in Tochigi
Utsunomiya City is frequently able to proudly boast as being one of the highest consumers of gyoza in Japan and is known as a gyoza town. A feature of Utsunomiya gyoza is that it contains a lot of leek and cabbage and the authentic local way to eat them is with a sauce mixed with a lot of vinegar. Regulars are said to always order yakigyoza by saying just “yaki”, suigyoza by saying “sui” and agegyoza by saying “age”
Masashi Miyajimacho Honten (Utshunomiya)
This restaurant has been dedicated to gyoza for 50 years. The iron pan grilled gyoza achieve a superb collaboration of tender, thin top skin and a crisp grilled bottom layer. The crunchy crispness of the filling using plenty of vegetables is irresistible. It’s best enjoyed with the water dumplings floating in soup. Of course, take-out is also available.
Sano City is a ramen paradise with more than 100 ramen shops crowded into it. Sano ramen is characterized by a noodle making method in which dough using high-quality water and wheat is stretched using bamboo. The soup is soy sauce based and each store has their own original flavours, such as salt and miso. You can’t overlook the emergence of creative taste innovations.
Ramen Yamato (Sano)
A discerning shop that offers home-made noodles made using the traditional bamboo stretching method. The hiramen (flat noodles) made with a blend of three types of flour are firm, and smooth. It is perfectly complimented by the special soy sauce based clear soup. The stewed chashu (roast pork) that melts in your mouth is also superb.
There are actually plenty of ramen places in Sano, but I came here as it was recommended by the man at my hotel front desk. Apparently the allure of Sano ramen lies in the hand-pounded noodles and the special water used to make them. Indeed the noodles were springy and delicious. They were served in a delicate broth with a generous helping of bamboo shoots and pork slices. I was surprised by how large the portion sizes were — my mother and I found that we ordered too much.
But one thing we absolutely didn’t regret ordering was the intriguing “”soya sauce ice cream”” (one generous scoop for 200yen). It reminded us of salted caramel ice cream, but better because it didn’t have the cloying taste that sometimes accompanies caramel flavour. Two thumbs up!reviewed by choralmelody
Popular local gourmet spots in Gunma
Mizusawa udon is a special product cuisine found around Shibukawa Ikaho Onsen, a renowned hot spring. Its roots stem from udon noodles that were served to worshippers of Mizusawa temple. The udon, made with pure water that springs from a marsh, is so white that it is almost transparent. They are slightly thick and firm and mainly served with soy sauce and sesame sauce.
This is a famous restaurant for Mizusawa udon, founded in 1582 (Tensho 10), the same year as the Honnoji Incident. The 100% udon finished with Mizusawa water and natural salt has a fresh texture that goes down well. It is recommended that you try both the soy sauce and sesame sauce. They also sell raw udon that can be cooked at home, which is a great souvenir.
The soup udon was unique and the sauce (to choose between two) for the udon served cold was special. The udon were kind of springy with good volume if that’s what you like. Also try the omelette (tamago yaki) which is nicely grilled and sweet and I think the fungi tempura is a specialty of the prefecture. The seating was tatami style and several interesting decorations inside the restaurant.reviewed by GaryY633
Kamameshi (a small pot of rice cooked with vegetables and chicken or seafood, and served hot individually) started as ekiben (boxed lunches sold at train stations) sold at Shinetsuhonsen Yokokawa Station. Vendors sold freshly cooked hot food by hand from the station platform to the train passengers when the train stopped. The deliciousness of Toge no kamamashi has attracted a lot of attention, and now boasts to have a national reputation as a gourmet representative of Gunma Prefecture.
Togeno Kamameshi Oginoya Yokokawa (Annaka)
This shop has been selling Toge no kamameshi since 1958, with a stated desire to provide a “warm and local lunch box”. More than 10 kinds of ingredients, including chicken, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts and apricots are scattered throughout the boxed lunch like jewels. The container is Mashiko-yaki (Mashiko ware), and you can use it as an earthen pot to cook about 1 go (3⁄4 metric cups) of rice.
（Toge no kamameshi, that so many people know today, was born 60 years ago. While eating kamamesi, which has retained the same taste for many years, I realized that this restaurant has continued running since it was established 130 years ago. There is a collection stand for containers, showing that it has moved with the times and incorporated recycling and reuse. I hope that kamameshi continues into the future.）reviewed by yu-chann88
Popular local gourmet spots in Saitama
Buta (pork) miso don consists of pork marinated in miso, meticulously fried and topped on rice. It is said that its roots stem from hunters in the Chichibu region preserving wild boar meat by applying miso to it. The firmness of the meat, which is different to that of gyudon (beef bowl), and the taste of the savory sauce is addictive.
This is the shop where buta miso don originated. The pork is prepared with a homemade miso sauce and is complemented perfectly by white rice cooked with Chichibu water, which achieves a beautiful harmony. The meat grilled on the charcoal fire is juicy with the fat dripping to perfection. You can choose between normal, medium, and the special size depending on your level of hunger.
（Even the normal size I ordered was quite a large serving and the large size my husband ordered was overflowing with miso fried pork. There was a line for this donburi restaurant but we were served quicker than expected and the food was delicious.）reviewed by VEGA0305
In Gyoda City, “furai” (“fry,” or fried food) doesn’t refer to regular fried food, but okonomiyaki-style dishes made by baking ingredients mixed into flour dissolved in water. Similarly, “Zeri fry” doesn’t refer to standard jelly, but to a dish made by deep frying kneaded potatoes or okara (soy pulp, a byproduct of tofu-making) without flour into a type of croquette without an outside layer. Both are homemade dishes with a history of around 100 years.
Fried foods were a favorite snack for joko (female craftsmen) in the early Showa period, due to their filling nature. The Zeri fry in this picture are fried and covered in sauce, with a moist outside and creamy inside. Even if you are eating it for the first time, it gives you a strange sense of nostalgia.
Popular local gourmet spots in Chiba
An original ramen from Katsuura City that was devised to warm the bodies of fisherman who had been chilled to the bone by their work at sea. What makes it different from general tantanamen is that generous amounts of rayu (chili oil) is added to the soup instead of sesame paste. The added ingredients are generally onion and minced meat, and there are shops that add leek and garlic.
This shop was founded in 1954 and is where katsuura tantanmen originated. The soy sauce based soup made with homemade chili oil has a superb taste with a richness that flows out from its spicy flavor. You can choose your level of spice all the way up until “very spicy”, but it’s best not to overdo it on your first try. If you drink the soup completely, the word “maido” (thank you) appears at the bottom of the bowl.
（I went into this restaurant not knowing how spicy it was, but I like spicy food, so I ordered quite spicy and it was too much for me. If you are a first-timer, you should order the regular level of spice. It was not only spicy, but the taste was very good.）reviewed by minnie1425
When it comes to a highlight of visiting Naritasan temple, eel dishes are at the top of the list. There are many specialty shops along the sando (the approach to the temple), and delicious smelling smoke from grilling rises from the storefronts and whets the appetite. You can enjoy the freshly grilled, plump meat coated with a generous serving of secret sauce. The honesenbei (fish bone crackers) and kimosui (soup with eel liver) are also a must try.
Kawatoyo Honten (Narita)
This restaurant is particular about “slicing eel fresh, steaming them fresh and grilling them fresh” on site. The connoisseur craftsman uses the finest ingredients to which he adds a mildly sweet sauce that has been passed down since the restaurant’s founding. The Unaju special, which uses 1.5 tail portions of fluffy grilled eel is a highly sought-after dish.
Popular local gourmet spots in Kanagawa
If one thinks of Shonan’s specialty, one usually thinks of shirasu (sardine whitebait), which is caught in Sagami Bay between spring and autumn. You can enjoy the freshness of just caught fresh shirasu or enjoy the richness of boiled shirasu simmered in a large pot. Please note that fresh shirasu will not be available between January and March, when it is illegal to fish for them, or when the sea is rough.
Tobiccho Honten (Fujisawa)
This is a popular store in Enoshima, symbol of Fujisawa. In addition to the classic kamaage shirasu (iron pot boiled shirasu) and raw shirasu don, you can enjoy a lot of shirasu dishes such as the half-and-half raw and kamaage “double don”, and the shirasu kakiage don, with its massive kakiage (deep-fried mixture of vegetable chips and fish). The tatamiwashi (dried shirasu flattened like a sheet) is also recommended!
Yokohama is a port town brimming with an international atmosphere. While you can enjoy food from various countries, Chuka man (Chinese buns) are popular because they can be easily eaten while walking around. Beginning from the classic pork filling, you can try other fillings such as shark fin, shrimp chili and black sesame. Refrigerated souvenir chuka man are also a must buy.
Yokohama Chinatown (Yokohama)
Chinatown, Yokohama is a gourmet spot in Kanagawa. There are many richly colored Chinese restaurants steaming nikuman (meat buns) at the storefront. Try to find your favorite while strolling and eating. If you ask Yokohama locals which store has the best nikuman you can’t stop them talking.
Popular local gourmet spots in Yamanashi
This is a local dish from Yamanashi Prefecture that was loved by the eminent daimyo, Takeda Shingen. It is different to udon in that the stretched wheat noodles are immediately simmered in a pot without allowing them to sit. The nikuzure noodles (where, during cooking, the shape of the ingredients breaks down slightly) are mixed with miso sauce, and the unique thickened texture warms the body to the core. The added ingredients are mainly vegetables.
Houtou Fudou, Higashikoiji (Fujikawaguchiko)
This is a thriving store that has opened several stores around Lake Kawaguchi. The wide and firm homemade noodles are a perfect match for the rich special miso soup. It uses plenty of healthy ingredients such as pumpkins, mushrooms and wild plants. Add their secret condiment to get twice the flavor!
This is a “B class gourmet” from Yamanashi Prefecture, which simmers chicken gizzards, hearts, liver, and kinkan (unlaid eggs) in a high heat. The chicken gizzards are coated in a syrupy sauce made by blowing off the moisture, which tightly condenses the flavor. If you use it as a snack while drinken sake, be careful not to get too carried away and drink too much.
Okuto Honten Kofu Ekimae (Kofu)
Torimotsuni was invented here around 1950, shortly after the war. The secret is to sauté the chicken with sugar and soy sauce and then finish it with a high heat while shaking the pan quickly. The crunchy texture of the gizzard, the moist texture of the liver, and the crisp texture of the kinkan creates a perfect harmony in your mouth.
From seafood that evokes deliciousness just from their photos, to mountain culinary treasures and unique dishes that can only be understood once you start eating them. The Kanto area is full of diverse local foods. Why not take a trip and enjoy the authentic menu with your eyes and taste buds♪