1. Kin no Torikara (Shibuya)
Kin-no-torikara is a street food spot along the Shibuya-center-gai that sells karaage aka. fried chicken. There’s a couple locations but this is the first location that opened in Tokyo. It’s always crowded with young adults for a quick snack and it’s surprisingly pretty good for 280yen. You can get 1.5x for 380yen, and double the amount for 500yen. What’s awesome is they have all sorts of condiments to add to your fried chicken. The toppings are all ranked by popularity so you can see which ones people like — I tried most of them! My favorite topping is the original spice + mayo combination. It’s a nice quick snack to grab if you are in Shibuya.
2. Moriyama Gakugei Daigaku (Gakugei Daigaku)
Moriyama Gakugei Daigaku is the only restaurant in Tokyo to be operated by Nakatsu Karaage Moriyama, a karaage specialist founded in 1970 in the city of Nakatsu, Oita. Karaage here is made using succulent meat from domestically reared chickens flavoured with a secret marinade made with ingredients such as home-cultivated garlic and ginger. In addition to offering favourites such as chicken leg, thigh, breast meat, wing tips and cartilage karaage, they also offer classic karaage bento lunchbox.
3. Karaage Senmonten Torian Tokyo (Togoshi-Ginza)
As good as it gets! Big, boneless chunks of local organic chicken, marinated in soy, garlic and other secret stuff, lightly battered and fried to perfection! This is basically what you go for, and you order in 100g increments. So don’t skimp as all their chicken is made-to-order and takes a while to fry, and you won’t want to wait for a second batch if you under-ordered.
I always accompany my karaage with a couple “tebasaki”, their massive chicken wings…
4. Karaage Daikichi Shimokitazawa (Shimokitazawa)
A branch of a karaage specialist from the city of Nakatsu in Oita named Daikichi.Varieties of karaage offered here are made from chicken that’s been flavoured with garlic and soy sauce using regular pieces of boneless chicken, wing tips, gizzards and cartilage. In addition to offering takeout, there is also eat-in space, including both counter and table seats (although slightly on the cramped side), at which they offer both set meals and alcohol.
5. Toriyoshi (Harajuku)
Possibly among the best chicken karaage I’ve tasted for the best value – this big plate of piping hot, freshly fried chicken only cost around 700yen as a lunch set and was more than enough (chicken karaage is not to be eaten in huge amounts). R had an enormous chicken curry platter with a gigantic chicken katsu piece (which turned out blurry on my phone) for the same price.
The interior decor is minimal and tasteful – full of dark wood and smooth, dark surfaces. The only setback is that the space is windowless, open plan and smoking is allowed so be prepared for some non-food aromas in the air. Also, different branches are open for different meals (some will only open for lunch or dinner).