'Kodoku no Gurume' is a Japanese TV drama that has gained popularity for the delicious meals featured and enjoyed by the single main character, Mr. Goro. Season 8 is set to air in October, with no shortage of fans waiting in anticipation. In fact, the series has become so popular that it has not only developed an overseas fan base, but many of these fans are now visiting Japan in the hopes of getting a taste of Mr. Goro's favorite dishes.
Today, we will introduce several popular restaurants that have made an appearance on the drama, Kodoku no Gurume, all within 10 minutes from Shinjuku Station. Of course, each of these three shops are also comfortable enough to visit by yourself if you feel like eating solo. Without further ado, let's make like Mr. Goro and check out some of these delicious gourmet meals!
HIROKI: Hiroshima Okonomiyaki and Teppanyaki in Shimokitazawa
Our first stop is 'Hiroshima no Okonomiyaki Teppanyaki HIROKI' (from here on simply 'HIROKI'), a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and teppanyaki restaurant in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo with a 35 year history. It's 10 minutes away from Shinjuku via the Odakyu Line. In Kodoku no Gurume Episode 9, Mr. Goro enjoys a generous seafood teppanyaki meal of oysters, octopus, and scallops.
There are two types of okonomiyaki: Kansai-style and Hiroshima-style. Kansai-style okonomiyaki is cooked with chopped cabbage mixed into the dough; Hiroshima-style is cooked by sprinkling shredded cabbage over the thinly-baked dough and then flipping it over, and cooking it over other ingredients such as eggs and noodles.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is that of a hidden, out-of-the-way retreat, yet it enjoys a good following of customers, including tourists from abroad. There are counter seats that face the grill as well as table seats that can seat up to four people. The counter seats are popular and may require some wait-time to be seated, however there is a short gap after lunch-time (around 3-5PM) where you can grab a seat more easily. While at the counter, make sure to pay close attention to the skills of the chef as he cooks the meal right before your eyes.
The most popular menu item of this shop is an okonomiyaki that includes squid, shrimp, scallops, and shiso. You can also choose between soba and udon for the noodles that are cooked inside. We recommenced soba for first-timers.
Topped with generous amounts of cabbage, soba noodles cooked in sauce, and chunky seafood pieces, this delicious dish is sure to be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. Also, because noodles are added into Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, it's bigger in volume than a regular okonomiyaki, so it's extra filling. The shiso accent adds a refreshing taste.
This shop also prides itself in its original sauce, which is never too salty and just the perfect sweetness, making for a deliciously addictive taste. You can also try adding some spicy mayonnaise as a topping. Even the crispy Kanon green onions are sweet and delicious, enjoyable, and easy to eat even for those who are not so fond of onions.
The Seafood Teppanyaki is another popular menu item. Made with seasonal Hiroshima oysters, which are only available between November and February, many people look forward to the fresh, winter taste of Hiroshima offered by this dish every year. We also recommend the course menu, which offers other popular items from the HIROKI menu. If you can't decide what to eat, try the course!
Because of the restaurant's popularity with tourists, they also offer menus in foreign languages (English, Chinese, and Korean). Their official website is also available in English and Korean.
Hiroshima no Okonomiyaki Teppanyaki HIROKI Shimokitazawa Shop広島のお好み焼 鉄板焼 HIROKI 下北沢店
- Address 2-1-14 Honey Shimokitazawa 1F, Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
3 min walk from South Exit of Shimokitazawa Station, Keio Inokashira Line; 3 min walk from South Exit of Shimokitazawa Station, Odakyu Line
- Phone Number 03-3412-3908
Business Hours: 12:00PM~9:45PM (L.O.)
Regular Holidays: None (Closed 12/30~1/4)
Ikebukuro Chugoku Katei Ryori Yan #2
In Japan, when you think about tan-tan men noodles, you most likely picture it as a soup. However, in China, it is actually more common to eat them without any broth. That's because in the beginning, tan-tan noodles were transported to be sold using shoulder-poles, which would have been difficult to carry if there had been broth in the noodles.
Located just 10 minutes from Shinjuku in Ikebukuro on the Yamanote Line, Chugoku Katei Ryori Yan #2 (from here on referred to as "Yan") is a popular shop well-known for their soup-less noodles. This restaurant was first opened in Jujo, Tokyo around 21 years ago, and has become popular with the locals for many years. Today, many of these original customers continue to visit the shop's second location, here in Ikebukuro. The shop made its appearance in the third episode of Kodoku no Gurume, Season One, where Mr. Goro enjoyed a meal of delicious soup-less tan-tan noodles, grilled gyoza, and bansansu. Watching Mr. Goro enjoy such spicy noodles without so much as a broth seemed to make for an impactful scene.
Soupless Tan-tan-men has been a menu item here since the beginning, but even the regulars have noted it as an "unusual" take on the dish, helping it to reach popularity and become the signature dish of the shop that it is today.
The first thing that will grab your attention is the arrangement of the dish, with the white noodles piled on top of the sauce, and peanuts and minced meat on the sides. When you mix the noodles well in the sauce, you can smell the strong scent of the oil, and the white noodles change in color, making the meal look like a completely different dish! In each individual bite you will notice the delicious, spicy taste of the noodles entangled with that of the sauce, meat, and peanuts.
As you continue to enjoy your meal, the spiciness will gradually set in. Even those who are generally strong when it comes to spices will notice the feeling setting in on their tongue. However, because the dish is so delicious, this spiciness only adds to the flavor of the meal as a whole.
As for a side dish to go along with the tan-tan-men, we recommend 'Bansansu.' It is a mix of tofu skins, crisp cucumbers, carrots, and garlic mixed in a flavorful sauce. The handmade boiled and baked gyoza are also delicious, and highly recommended. What began with soup-less tan-tan-men that had been previously unheard of in Japan has become restaurant Yan's special way of bringing the taste of Chinese home-cooking to their customers.
Chugoku Katei Ryori Yan #2中国家庭料理 楊2号店
- Address 3-25-5 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
1 minute walk from Exit 1B of Ikebukuro Station, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line; 3 minute walk from West Exit of Ikebukuro Station, Yamanote Line
- Phone Number 050-5869-2587
Business Hours: Mon~Fri 11:30AM~3:00PM (L.O. 2:30PM); 5:30PM~11:30PM (L.O. 10:30PM); Sat~Sun 11:30AM~11:30PM (L.O. 10:30PM)
Regular Holidays: None
Darumaya Mochigashiten: Organic Shaved Ice in Jujo
If you ride the JR Saikyo Line for about 10 minutes, you will find yourself in Jujo, where the downtown atmosphere still remains. Jujo-Ginza Shopping Street, which you can see from the North Exit of Jujo Station, has about 180 shops and dining areas, giving you a full glimpse into the daily life of Japan simply by walking by. A short 3-minute walk through here will take you to a spot where Japanese sweets abound right before your eyes. This spot is none other than the Japanese confectionary shop that made its appearance in Season 2, Episode 10 of Kodoku no Gurume.
This Waguri (Japanese chestnut) Shaved Ice is the same one we watched Mr. Goro enjoy in the series. As we can see from Mr. Goro who visited the shop in the winter time, this menu item is indeed a fall-winter limited seasonal item, made with chestnuts that are only available from October. Because the ice used in Japanese shaved ices have no taste on their own, the texture of the ice is enjoyed with the flavors added by the sauces. This sauce is made with Tamba chestnuts from Hyogo Prefecture, and sure to be pleasing to the tastebuds with its rich nutty flavor and refined sweetness. Tamba chestnuts have a long tradition of being loved in Japan, with a long history, and are said to have been used as offerings to the Old Imperial Courts and Shogunate long, long ago.
This summer's special menu item is another that brings you the traditional taste of Japan: the Specially Selected Ujikintoki (Green Tea) Shaved Ice. Everything used for the shaved ices in this shop are locally produced, and even the natural ice, Uji matcha, and red beans are carefully selected by the shop owner himself from various parts of Japan.
Amongst these are Hokkaido-grown red beans, with a strong flavor that competes with that of the other ingredients' original sweetness. The sweet, refreshing taste is the perfect cure for any stress felt from your travels. The harmony of the pure, melting ice and the simple taste of the Uji matcha is such that could only be found in the organic Japanese ingredients that go into this treat. When the ice melts, you will be impressed by how the gentle matcha taste and sweetness of the red beans blend together so well.
With a strong love for food, the shopkeeper himself continues to explore various parts of the country in search of new ingredients for his treats. He has even visited Korea several times to share the wonders of Japanese shaved ice, bringing his skills and know-how to various places outside of his own country. Each product offered by Darumaya is of the highest quality, made in such a way that only a shopkeeper with a special sensitivity to his food creations can provide.
- Address 1-3-6 Jujo-Nakahara, Kita-ku, Tokyo
3 minute walk from North Exit of Jujo Station, JR Saikyo Line; 9 minute walk from Higashi-Jujo Station, Keihin Tohoku Line
- Phone Number 03-3908-6644
Business Hours: Mondays 10:00AM~6:30PM; Wed~Sun 10:00AM~7:30PM (L.O.)
Regular Holidays: Tuesdays (open on holidays)
Each of the shops visited by Mr. Goro seem to be loved by the locals, and have a unique, nostalgic atmosphere. By traveling just a short distance away from the main downtown area, you can find delicious gourmet dishes to enjoy that incorporate a touch of Japanese daily life.
These three shops introduced in Kodoku no Gurume have a special charm that has remained unchanged and thus enjoyed by regular customers for a long time. If you have the chance, please feel free to visit these spots and experience the taste and atmosphere as can only be known through visiting yourself.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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