From Yurakucho to Shimbashi! Top 10 Izakaya Under Tokyo's Railway Tracks
One experience all tourists must have is partaking in a meal (or two) at an izakaya (Japanese pub). Conveniently located near train stations, izakaya are famous unwinding spots for Japanese businesspeople. Whether it be skewered food, a retro atmosphere, or cheap prices, every izakaya is unique. This post will examine the top 10 izakaya in the heart of Tokyo's business districts, from Yurakucho to Shimbashi. Discover which one best fits your heart and stomach!
Apr 10 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
1. Matsusou (Yurakucho)
This extremely popular izakaya specializes in skewered food and is famous for their seasonal dishes. They're particular about only using Japanese produce. The izakaya has terrace seats, as well as counter seats, so patrons can decide whether they wish to watch the food being prepared or the Tokyo traffic.
Their seafood, especially the grilled sanma (Pacific saury) pictured above, is especially delicious in the autumn (autumn is sanma season in Japan). As with any izakaya, dishes that pair well with alcohol, like marinated seafood salads and meat skewers, are popular.
2. Umakabai (Yurakucho)
This izakaya is known for its basashi (raw horsemeat) dishes. A Kumamoto specialty, basashi is available in many styles here. Some of their popular dishes include an assortment of raw basashi, basashi meat for yakiniku (Japanese BBQ), stewed horse giblets, and basashi sushi.
In addition to Kumamoto dishes, this izakaya has many brands of shochu (distilled liquor). Popular in Kumamoto, customers can try ones made with wheat or potatoes. Due to the high alcohol content, most Japanese will have it either with ice or mixed with hot water.
3. Mako-chan Under the Tracks Branch (Shimbashi)
This historical izakaya specializes in skewered food, like yakiton (grilled pork offal skewers). They have a special sauce used for any barbecue that's thick and full of flavor. Diners have the option of having their skewers grilled with sauce or salt, but most will select the sauce option.
It possesses a lively atmosphere and cheap prices. They quickly deliver the food, meaning that customer turnaround is quick as well. So, even if it's crowded at first, do not fret. Breathe in the delicious meat aroma and observe a different side of Japan at this izakaya!
4. Rashomon (Shimbashi)
This long-established izakaya specializes in skewered foods like yakitori and beer. During the week, it is crowded with businesspeople, and on the weekends, many travelers pay a visit. While price plays a factor in why so many people come to this izakaya, the top reason behind its popularity lies in the smokey, enticing aroma surrounding it!
5. Baden Baden (Yurakucho)
This izakaya prides itself on recreating Germany right here in Tokyo, Japan. Many remark that it makes them feel as though they have been transported to a German beer hall in Munich. They are well-known for serving German beers such as Hofbrau Dunkel and Schwarze Weisse in authentic German glassware, ranging from slender, tall glasses, to heavy-handled beer jugs. In addition to beer, German cuisine such as juicy sausages, pretzels, and schnitzel are available.
6. Shimbashi DRY-DOCK (Shimbashi)
This izakaya loves its beer. Diners can enjoy various craft beers, beer made in microbreweries, and even international beer. This includes the world-famous Asahi Super Dry! They can also select snacks like French fries or more substantial food, such as omurice (rice wrapped in a fluffy omelet), to enjoy with their beer.
It has two floors, with a dining space, tables, and chairs set up on the second floor. There is a 500 yen charge per person to use the second floor. The first floor is a standing-only area, but does not have a cover charge.
7. Manpuku Shokudo (Yurakucho)
This cafeteria-style izakaya is open 24 hours a day for customers to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever! Decorated so it gives off a retro vibe, businesspeople who visit this izakaya remark that the food reminds them of their childhood.
Though it offers many delicious dishes, the adult lunch plate is the one that's often talked about. The plate includes fried pork cutlet with a thick sauce, fried egg, and neapolitan (spaghetti with onions, bell peppers, sausages, with a ketchup sauce). It's similar to a children's lunch plate, though it can be accompanied with beer.
8. Achikoko (Yurakucho)
This Okinawa-themed izakaya allows diners to experience the best of Okinawa while remaining in Tokyo. A popular dish here is the shima tofu (tofu from the islands of Okinawa), but most people look forward to drinking local Okinawan beverages here. They stock drinks like the must-try Orion beer, shikuwasa (Okinawan lime) juice, and Awamori (a unique distilled liquor from Okinawa). Note that Awamori's alcohol content is high, so it is strongly advised to drink it with water or ice.
9. Ton Ton (Yurakucho)
This small but popular izakaya is known and loved for its skewers. Patrons compliment not only the taste, but the texture of the skewers. Among the favorites are tsukune (chicken meatballs), as well as chicken liver skewers. It is recommended to have these served with sauce, not salt, as it is full of flavor. On the weekends, travellers wishing to soak up the retro atmosphere will come by for a few sticks and mugs of beer!
10. Torihachi (Shimbashi)
This izakaya prides itself on its reasonably-priced chicken dishes. Though the skewers are popular here, the most popular item is the deep-fried chicken katsu (cutlet). Diners remark they have never experienced this type of chicken katsu before! Due to its popularity, it may be sold out during your visit. Those who really want to eat this should reserve their chicken katsu the night before.
From themed stores to ones that specialize in skewers, each izakaya has made its own mark in their respective areas. They're all located under the train tracks, so they're easy to access and sheltered from the rain. Experience an izakaya like a regular Japanese person by unwinding at any of these izakaya!
*Thumbnail photo credit: Shugo Nozaki/Flickr
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.