Harajuku Food Guide: Trendy Sweets, Kawaii Treats, and Street Food Galore!
Harajuku is known as the bright and eccentric kawaii pop culture capital of Japan, and this infatuation with all things cute and colorful even extends to the food around here. Harajuku is filled with an astounding number of crepe shops, funky treats that reflect the neighborhood's unique aesthetic, and other tasty eats. We'll introduce some of the top trending foods that you should definitely try while you're in Harajuku, the mecca for Japanese kawaii fashion!
Aug 01 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
Bite Into a Warm, Crispy Cream Puff With a Sweet Custard Filling
Located in the center of Takeshita Street, CROQUANT CHOU ZAKUZAKU is a popular cream puff shop from Hokkaido. They use high-quality milk from stress-free cows raised in Hokkaido, ensuring the spectacular quality of their ingredients! Their signature Croquant Chou (250 yen, 980 yen for 4) is a freshly baked cream puff in a long stick-like shape, which is then stuffed with a delicious and fresh custard cream filling. The flaky pastry is super crispy (hence the name ZAKUZAKU, which is an onomatopoeia representing a crunchy and crispy sound) and is covered in a generous coating of baked almonds that were doused in sugar and egg whites.
If you're looking for a cold treat, they also sell ice cream (450 yen), both in a cup or a cone, which is sprinkled with the sugar almond topping of the Croquant Chou so you can still enjoy the cream puff flavors. Why not even get both and dip the pastry into the ice cream?
Hold the Giant Rainbow Cotton Candy of Your Pastel Dreams
Harajuku is known for its unique and extremely cute and colorful aesthetic, so this giant rainbow cotton candy from Totti Candy Factory fits right into the neighborhood! The large pastel colored cotton candy is definitely this candy store's most popular product. The largest one is a Harajuku exclusive called Harajuku Rainbow, and it comes in 5 colors (purple, blue, green, orange, and red for 900 yen). You can even watch them making it right in front of you! It's quite large in size, so if you think you might not be able to finish it, they also have smaller options (600 yen) with just three colors that you can get instead.
Sometimes they even make cute characters out of cotton candy, too! Each of the colors correspond to a flavor: red for strawberry, yellow for lemon, green for melon, blue for cider, purple for grape, and white for plain. They also sell the cotton candy in plastic buckets so you can take it back to your hotel with you.
They also sell a variety of confections such as candies, chocolates, and adorable cake pops, so stop by to check these out as well!
Or Head Over to Eat the Longest Rainbow Cotton Candy in Japan!
LONG! LONGER!! LONGEST!!!, which is also managed by the same company as Totti Candy Factory, is, as you can probably guess by its name, a store selling long food! In addition to cotton candy, they also have tornado potatoes, ice cream, and churros in - you guessed it - three different sizes! Depending on what you can get, the sizes vary from 32-40 cm for long to 52-60 cm for longest. It's another great way to enjoy the "bizarre" foods that can be found in this trendy area!
Continue the Rainbow Theme With Grilled Cheese and Other Rainbow Treats
Why stop at rainbow cotton candy when you can also go for rainbow grilled cheese? Le Shine is a rainbow food store which was born during the rainbow food trend that hit Korea a few years ago. Their Rainbow Cheese Sandwich (1,080 yen) is made with mozzarella cheese from Germany, and there's a little cut in the center so you can pull the sandwich apart to see the shocking rainbow colored cheese pull!
The Rainbow Ice Cream (810 yen) is also one of their top-selling items; this also features 5 colors, in which the pink part is the ice cream and the remaining 4 colors are actually whipped cream layered on top! Another item you might want to try is their Rainbow Cheese Hot Dog (950 yen), a Korean street food currently trending in Japan that consists of sugar-coated corn dogs stuffed with melted cheese. It's been rearranged with a rainbow colored cheese filling and a rainbow colored sauce layered on top.
Hopping right on the rainbow grilled cheese train is a super colorful newly opened store called Rainbow Sweets Harajuku, another vivid and Instagram-worthy brand under the same management company as Totti Candy Factory and Long! Longer!! Longest!!! The entrance is designed with glass walls decorated with rainbow lines and a rainbow gradiation LED floor, which leads you into the shop where you can purchase Rainbow Cheese Sand (700 yen), Rainbow Roll Ice (950 yen), Rainbow Frozen (700 yen), Rainbow Soft Cream (700 yen), Heart Rainbow Cotton Candy (800 yen), and even the Rainbow Cotton Candy (900 yen) from Totti Candy Factory, which is actually located conveniently upstairs!
Customize Your Own Cup of Rolled Ice Cream
Rolled ice cream originated in Thailand, but eventually made its way over to the U.S., quickly climbing its way to popularity in major metropolitan areas like New York. These rolled ice creams are made by spreading a milk-based liquid onto a cold pan and rolling it up from one side with a spatula. It's a unique version of your typical ice cream, and you'll probably be tempted to take a few pictures or videos of it being made! The Harajuku location is Roll Ice Cream Factory's main branch, and it's said that there was so much hype for it, people waited hours outside on its opening day just to get a bite.
You order by first choosing your base flavor (chocolate, matcha, vanilla, or strawberry) then selecting a mix-in (seasonal fruits, cookies, chocolate, and other sweet items) to add to the base. You can then choose 2 toppings from over 40 choices, and one of their 10+ sauces to drizzle over it! With an additional 100 yen, you can add on extra toppings. It's a lot to take in, so if you're having trouble deciding what to get, they have a bunch of set combinations (base price 850 yen) you can get instead, such as the Cookie Monster (vanilla base, oreo cookie mix-in, oreo cookies/chocolate chip cookies toppings, whipped cream/chocolate sauce, 850 yen) or the American Dream (vanilla base, graham cracker mix-in, US flag/M&M's/sprinkles/Lotus biscuits toppings, whipped cream).
One thing to note is that each one takes a bit of time to make, so even with a relatively short line you might have to wait for a while.
Gush Over Adorable Scoops of Animal Ice Cream
Who can resist these adorable ice cream scoops? At Harajuku Denki Shokai, you'll find the smallest zoo in Japan - ice cream decorated to look like animals! There are several different types of animals to choose from, and the best of all? You can stack them on top of each other!
There's a "vending machine" displayed in the shop, but it's not just a decoration. You can climb in and take pictures with it too! The store also is known for selling soda in a light bulb! Of course, it's not a real light bulb, and you'll get a straw bent into a cute heart shape to sip from it!
Eiswelt Gelato is a gelato shop originally from Huntington Beach, California. They specialize in adorable character-shaped gelato (I mean, look at that frog and tell me it isn't cute...), of which there are a total of 11, including Teddy (580 yen), Piggy (580 yen), Chicken (580 yen), Bunny (650 yen), Froggy (580 yen), and Unicorn (650 yen). There's a total of 11 gelato flavors such as sweet potato, Thai tea, birthday cake, matcha, and coffee, as well as 3 dairy-free sorbet flavors (mango, strawberry, dragon fruit).
Some of the characters can be stacked on top of each other, like the Piggy & Piglet (680 yen), Piggy & Chicken (750 yen), Chicken & Bunny (780 yen), 3 Piggy (950 yen), and even the 5 Piggy (1,300 yen)!
A Visit to Harajuku Isn't Complete Without Crepes!
One step into Harajuku and you'll notice that there are a number of crepe stands all over the place! Crepes are a huge part of the culture here, so you can even say that it's almost a requirement to have one if you're in the area. Marion Crepes is one of the oldest crepe shops in Harajuku (it's even known as the "Harajuku Crepe"), and is also one of the leading pioneers for the crepe scene in Japan. There are over 80 locations nationwide, so you'll likely see them around at some point during your travels! You can customize your crepe however you want with over 70 fillings at your beck and call, like cheesecake, whipped cream, brownies, caramal sauce, and so on.
Some other popular crepe stand chains you might see are Angel Crepes and Santa Monica Crepes. You can even order a savory crepe instead if you don't have much of a sweet tooth.
For a slightly more luxurious crepe, take a trip over to MOMI&TOY'S! The crepe batter is made with almond flour, so you can enjoy a unique taste and texture that sets itself apart from your typical crepe. Also, at the Harajuku location, not only can you get CREMIA Ice Cream (500 yen), a very popular and rich brand of soft serve ice cream, you can even get a crepe with CREMIA as a filling in the CREMIA Crepe (670 yen)! Talk about fancy!
You can get classic options like strawberry and banana with chocolate and whipped cream (or switch out the whipped cream for custard), a savory option like ham cheese salad, or even the tiramisu crepe, which is filled with a decadent mascaropone whipped cream.
If you really want to step it up with the crepe game, Parla has you covered! This super stylish and sophisticated crepe stand serves up some really fancy luxury crepes, with ingredients like caviar, figs, blue cheese, and truffles on the menu. Their crepes are aimed at a more mature crowd with refined tastes, so the prices are on the pricier side, ranging from 800 yen to 2,200 yen. If you're a foodie, though, you'll definitely want to try it at least once! The crepe on the right in the picture above is their classic item, Sicilian Emerald (1,300 yen), which consists of a combination of pistachio mascarpone and vanilla honey.
Jump Into a Fresh Cream Wonderland
Fresh cream might not be something you'd expect an entire shop to base its concept on, but that's not the case at this cafe! Milk is the first fresh cream specialty store to open in Japan. They've elevated their fresh cream to completely new levels, with exceptional care in every step along the way. Their milk is sourced from happy cows grazing in the cool climate of Hokkaido, and air is carefully pumped into the fresh cream then whipped up in order to create a fluffy and smooth creamy pillow with a "rich flavor" and "clean aftertaste."
Some of their most popular items include the Fluffy and Moist Chiffon Cake (780 yen, 600 yen for takeout), a heap of fresh cream wrapped over a moist slice of chiffon cake; Soft Cream Shake (780 yen, 600 yen for takeout), a drinkable fresh cream perfect for those who want to guzzle it all down; Milk Parfait (780 yen, 700 yen for takeout), a luxurious treat with layers of milk ice cream, special milk cream, milk pudding and tapioca; and the classic Milk Ice Cream (500 yen), a simple, coned swirly treat available in either Hokkaido Milk or Fresh Cream Milk.
Milk is so popular that they've expanded extensively, with a multitude of locations scattered all across the country. Most of these locations are only takeout stores, and only 3 of these locations have been designed as eat-in cafes, including the Harajuku location. The Harajuku menu has a few items that you won't find availabe anywhere else, so it's definitely worth a trip! These exclusive treats include the Ultimate Fresh Cream French Toast (980 yen), Fresh Cream Cheese Cake (980 yen), Milk Cream Coffee (500 yen), and even an entire doria* menu (1380 yen) offering 15 savory options to choose from!
*Doria is a rice dish baked in a creamy white sauce with various ingredients like meat and vegetables with a generous serving of melted cheese. The doria at Milk is made with 3 types of cheese (moazarella, parmesan, and cheddar) and comes with soup and salad.
Surround Yourself in the Spirit of Harajuku
If you want to fully experience the flashy Harajuku aesthetic, you should head over to Kawaii Monster Cafe! The name describes the restaurant pretty well; just imagine a room decorated by monsters who are really into the Harajuku fashion scene, and this is the result! The psychedelic decor might shock you with its flashy nightmare-like design, but just wait until you see the food. Everything is super colorful, from the noodles to the salad, you name it!
Treat Yourself to an All-You-Can-Eat Sweets Buffet
For all you dessert fiends out there: yes, all-you-can-eat dessert buffets exist! Maison Able Cafe Ron Ron opened up just last year with a fresh new concept of 40 minutes (1,800 yen) of unlimited AYCE sweets. We all know about conveyor belt sushi, but at this cafe, it's not sushi that's revolving around the room, but dessert!
The pastel pink interiors are really cute as well, but the stars are definitely the adorable little sweets. Since each plate isn't that big, you can try out a lot of different desserts without filling yourself up too much. It can get pretty crowded, so you may need to pick up a ticket beforehand to get access. (ticket distribution starts at 10:00 am)
You could also check out Sweets Paradise as another AYCE dessert option! This dessert popular chain can be found all over Japan, and it's really good bang for your buck if you've got a big sweet tooth! The basic option is 1,080 yen for 50 minutes, the standard option is 1,300 yen for 70 minutes (w/ all-you-can-drink), and the top recommended option is only 1,500 yen for 80 minutes (w/ all-you-can-drink and all-you-can-eat Haagen-Dazs ice cream). They have pretty much any type of sweet delight available, including a a chocolate fountain, and even savory dishes like pasta and curry to help you change things up.
Tuck Into a Stack of Fluffy Pancakes
Pancakes are super popular in Japan, and many pancake stores are seen as chic, stylish, and one of the hot spots for Instagrammable foodie pics! You can find them all over the place, but the Harajuku and Omotesando areas especially have a strong image of souffle pancakes, which, if you haven't seen them floating around on social media yet, are tall and fluffy pancakes that will astound you just with their appearance!
There are so many pancake joints in this area, but if you're looking for light and fluffy souffle pancakes, head over to Rainbow Pancake! (Despite its name, they are not rainbow colored.) The pancakes are cooked twice - once on an iron griddle, then again in an oven - which results in a thick but super fluffy and springy cake! You might have to prepare for a bit of a wait, since the lines tend to get pretty long. Other popular pancake shops nearby are the Australian restaurant chain "bills" for their ricotta pancakes and Shiawase no Pancake (A Happy Pancake) for their super thick and fluffy pancakes.
Wrap Up the Trip With Savory Treats
Harajuku's especially known for its desserts, but we all need some savory to balance it out! Calbee is a famous brand known for its extensive snack lineup, and some of their best products include potato chips and a potato stick snack called "Jagarico" or "Jagabee." At Calbee Plus, you'll be able to peruse their many products and also order fresh deep-fried potato chips and sticks!
For potato chips, you have 5 flavors to choose from: hot & spicy, maple syrup & cream cheese, Hokkaido butter, double cheese, and chocolate & chocolate. The hot & spicy and maple syrup & cream cheese flavors are only available at the Calbee Plus location in Harajuku. Everyone knows salty and sweet come together beautifully, so it's no surprise that you can also get the chips with a side of ice cream!
The potato sticks come in either salad or cheese flavor. You can find the packaged versions of these in pretty much any supermarket or convenience store, but it's even more delicious when it's fried just seconds after you make your order!
There are so many things to eat in Harajuku, from street foods like crepes and cotton candy, to adorable cakes and eccentric pasta plates. Next time you're in Japan, be sure to check out the distinct, flashy fashion trends in Harajuku, and enjoy some unique treats while you're at it!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.