Mitsuyado Seimen (Tsukemen), Shimokitazawa

Mitsuyado Seimen is a new noodles place that specializes in a variation of the Ramen called "Tsukemen" ("Dipping Noodles"), a dish where the noodles and the broth are served in separate bowls, as in the below picture. You eat these noodles by simply dipping them in the broth.
Shimokitazawa has another Tsukemen place called Yasubee which is very popular, that I will try to cover on another occasion.

What differentiate "Mitsuyado Seimen" from other Tsukemen restaurants is that Mitsuyado lets you choose the temperature and firmness of the noodles. You will have 5 options: Kori-Jime (very cold and al dente), Hiya-Mori (cold just enough and firm), Numeri-Otoshi (room temperarure and quite firm), Atsu-Mori (as hot as regular Ramen noodles) and Yu-Dame (Kama Age style)

The restaurant recommends you to go for Hiya-Mori. I've never tried any other option, but Hiya-Mori does it for me.
You also need to choose the amount of noodles you want: 200g, 300g, 450g, 600g, 750g (+¥100), 1,500g (+¥400). The first time I ate there, I went for 450g and it was too much though I do eat quite a lot. Since then, I go for 300g which seems to be just enough. The price increases by an accesible ¥400 for the heavy 1,500g portion so try it if you're into a Sumo vibe!

I am not sure what the broth is made of but it seems to have some Tonkotsu (Pork bone and fat), some vegetables and some Niboshi (dried baby sardines) in it, which gives it a slightly fishy taste to it. The broth also has a distinctive Yuzu taste, which is the house flavor of "Mitsuyado". I personally find the broth to be slightly too rich, but I guess you can adapt by less dipping the noodles in it.
The broth will come with some Chashu (Chinese Style Bbq Pork), Menma (Japanese-style Sungan), Naruto (fish cake) and leek in it.

The above broth and the noodles is what you'll get if you order the regular Tsukemen (¥780), but if you feel like that is not enough, you can order their most-popular "Marutoku Tsukemen" (¥980) which comes with the below toppings:
Large Nori sheet (Dry seaweed), 2 big slices of additional Chashu, boiled vegetables (sprout, nira etc) that are hidden under the Chashu in the below picture and an Ajituske Tamago (flavored Egg)
When you're done eating the noodles, the staff will bring you some lighter broth which you add to your regular broth, so you can drink it like a soup. It's good but still quite rich and salty, so try not to down the whole thing as you might end up being thirsty for the rest of the day.

Mitsuyado Seimen is open 7 days a week from 11:30am to 01:00am (L.O. 24:00)
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-31-2
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Mixture (Bakery), Shimokitazawa

A little bit of history before I introduce the bakery "Mixture". When I first moved to Shimokitazawa in 2001, there was a bakery called "Taieido" in my neighbourhood, managed by an adorable old couple and a young man helping them once in a while. Taieido opened in 1959 and based its business mainly on supplying the kids at Seitoku Highschool nearby. Customers in the area grew over the decades and Taieido even had some celebrities among its fans, most of all for its famous curry-stuffed bread.

I would go there in the morning to buy their "Creme Pan" (custard cream stuffed bread) out of the oven, and I still remember how the old baker would always tell me to "be careful because the cream is hot".
Unfortunately, the old man suddenly passed away in the summer of 2005 and the bakery closed.

What a surprise when a few months later, the bakery opened again at the same place, under a new name "Mixture". The young man who used to help the couple had quit his full-time job to re-open the bakery and keep the legacy alive. The current menu has a section called Taieido Series, with breads that look and taste the same as what the old bakery used to sell.

The below bread is that "Creme Pan" (custard cream bread) I was talking about. It is not gourmet bread but if you like custard cream and feel like eating something sweet, definitely try it. It's a good example of a very popular bread in Japan.

My recommendation for this bakery is definitely their Sandwhich Loaf. Sandwich Loafs' dough usually contains way more water than milk, but "Mixture", contrarily to the norm, mainly uses milk in its recipe. This gives the bread a very rich taste unmatched by other bakeries. The stuff is REALLY good. Try it, it's ¥280. It's usually out of the oven at 14:00.
They will ask you how many cuts you want. I assume 6 cuts is the most popular but I go for the not economical 4, as I like my toasts thick in the morning.

They have a pretty varied menu as they also offer pizzas, sandwhiches, lunch menus etc.... Check it the menu (in Japanese) here

"Mixture" is closed on Thursdays
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 3-31-5
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Part 2 - Okame (Oden), 15mn walk from Shimokitazawa

There is no particular order in which you should order your Oden, but people tend to order it towards the end of the meal, which we do as well.

Here are the stuff we ordered yesterday:
Uzura egg (quail eggs) and Gobo (burdock) both in Satsuma-Age ( fried fish cake)
A whole portion of Tofu with some leek and Yuzu peel on top of it. An absolute must.

Rolled cabagge stuffed with minced meet, some Hanpen (white surimi) and some Shirataki noodles (the white block of Konjak noodles on the left)

If you are into fish, you should absolutely try their Tako (octopus), which is really just boiled slices of octopus , quite chewy but oh so fresh. You eat it with a separate Wasabi-Shoyu sauce.

For an idea, for all that stuff, we paid just over ¥6,000 for two with 2 beers and 2 cold sake. Do the maths! Nothing extravagant right?

Every other Oden ingredients are good, so just go nuts. You can eat Oden only too, so if you want to skip on the other fares, don't hesitate to do so. You will just miss on some good stuff!

"Okame" is closed on Wednesday, and usually open from 17:00 to 24:00.
In the winter time, the place is packed from about 18:00 and you will have to wait a good half-an-hour before you get a seat. The only way to make a reservation is if you book for at least 4 people, in which case they'll seat you in their tatami room on the second floor. It's nice and quiet, but you'll miss on the izakaya atmosphere of the ground floor.

The place is much closer to Higashikitazawa, but you can walk from Shimokitazawa. 15mn walk.

Shibuyaku, Uehara 3-25-9
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Part 1 - Okame (Oden), 15mn walk from Shimokitazawa

"Okame" is one of the best well-kept secret in the Shimokitazawa area (though much closer to Higashi-Kitazawa). This rather hard-to-find place is specialized in outstanding Oden fares but the rest of its menu is also excellent. Talking about the menu, don't be surprised when you have a look at it: there are no prices on it. Rest assured though, a good dinner with sufficient drinks will usually costs an average of 4,000 to 5,000 yen per person. Nothing outrageous considering the quality of the food. Prices will jump up if you order a lot of their excellent Sashimis.

Here's the Oden below, with all the ingredients stewing in the broth
Click here for the Wikipedia article on the "Oden", but be advised that the article has a major flaw in that it has reversed the Kanto and Kansai word in its "Regional Variations". What you need to know is that the Kansai (Southern Central region of the main Honshu Island) version has a lighter broth than the Kanto one ( Tokyo and the prefectures around). "Okame" serves the delicate Kansai version which is said to be truer to the taste of its ingredients as the clearer broth interferes less with them.

When you get in, they'll serve you the always good Otoshi (side dish served before the meal, on the above picture). It changes daily and yesterday's was a Squid dish and the other an Eggplant one. No need to say that it goes well with your opening beer.

As I said earlier, "Okame" is basically an Oden restaurant, but they also serve other delicious cuisine. Went yesterday for the above "Anago No Agedashi" , a lightly deep-fried Eel served in a Tentsuyu broth (the broth served with Tempura) and some chopped Spring Onion. It was served with Eggplant, Shishito Peppers, Shiitake mushrooms and Nori dry seaweed.

Chose the "Yamaimo No Isobeage" as well: Japanese Mountain Yam rolled in Nori sheets and deepfried. Add some touch of salt and go for it. Theirs is really good.

I always order their great Hakusai Zuke (pickled Chinese cabbage ) on top of which they grate a little bit of fresh Yuzu for the flavor. So good! And the portion is big (above picture)

I strongly suggest you order their Kajiki-Maguro No Teriyaki (Swordfish Teriyaki sauce) which is a killer. The fish will melt in your mouth!

La Befana (Italian), Shimokitazawa

In a previous post, I talked about the company "Jackpot" which manages few restaurants in Shimokitazawa. The Italian restaurant "La Befana" is one these. I've only been there for lunch so I can't give you any idea on their dinner but their lunch fares are good. You have a big mixed salad (below), choice of Pizza (that they bake in a stone oven) or fresh Pasta and a drink for ¥1,100. You can also update that lunch menu to Four antipasti + Pasta or Pizza + Drink for ¥1,600. There is an even more "deluxe" lunch menu but please go check it out by yourself.

It might not be the best pizza in town, but their thin doughed "Pizza Margherita" (mozzarella, tomato, basil) is worth it, tasting like a real Italian pizza with a nice smoky flavor from the fire.

The restaurant is a minute away from the Shimokitazawa station West Exit.

Open everyday.
Lunch 11:30-14:30 (L.O.)
Dinner until 23:00 (L.O. 22:00) except on Sunday and holidays (L.O. 21:00)
Setagaya-ku, Daita 5-31-3

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Kokoro (Soup Curry), Shimokitazawa

"Kokoro" is one of the few Soup Curry restaurants in Shimokitazawa that I know of, the other one being the uber-famous "Magic Spice".
The Soup Curry was born in Sapporo, in the Northern Island of Hokkaido, where it's become as popular as the Ramen, with more than 200 restaurants all competing for the best of its genre. The trend has gone southward and you can find Soup Curry restaurant all over Japan now.
This Japanese remix of the Indian curry is exactly like its name describes it, that is a soupy one. Each restaurant takes pride in cooking the perfect bouillon in which they'll add the spices and the ingredients that they will slowly stew, for the perfect soup.

At Kokoro, I always order the "14 vegetables soup curry" (okura, tomato, carrot, potato, eggplant, mushroom, baby corn, green pepper, green beans, cabbage and please e-mail me the remaining ones...) which I find to be a killer. When ordering you have to tell them how hot you want the curry to be (which is measured in numbers, the mildest being 1) and whether you want white rice or brown rice. Anything from 1 to 5 is easy. From 6 to 10, you have to like hot stuff. I have never tried anything over 9 but I would assume that it's a little bit too much if you want to enjoy the excellent taste of the soup. Their soup consists of chicken, pork, beef bouillon, bouquet garni, tomato, onion, coriander, cumin, cardamom, clove and cinnamon.
I've seen this guy order level 15 and he kept talking about how "hot" it was and how that's the only thing he tasted... Now you're informed, so don't ruin the delicate mix of all these ingredients with something too spicy!

14 Vegetables Soup Curry


"Kokoro" is on the North Side of the station (5mn walk).
Open everyday until 22:00 (L.O. 21:30)
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-34-8

click here for a MAP

Tom's Kitchen (Chinese), Shimokitazawa

Once again, and like a lot of other places in Shimokitazawa, this restaurant is probably one of the best of its genre in Tokyo in the price/quality range. "Tom's Kitchen" doesn't focus on any local cuisine in particular and its super friendly chinese staff will serve you anything from the Beijing Duck to the Sichuan-style Mah Paw Dau Fu (or Mabo Dofu in Japanese) but whatever you order, you're guaranteed it'll be good. And they're open until 01:30am so what can you ask for more?

The restaurant is managed by Jackpot, a company that owns about 15 restaurants in Tokyo, half of them in Shimokitazawa. They do anything from chinese to sushi to izakaya to italian and it's usually cheap, good and with always great service. You will know the restaurant is one of theirs as they have a wooden board outside that says "やってます” (we're open)

My favorites are the "Cold Mabo Dofu" (that I have never encountered anywhere other than this place) which is cold Tofu with some chili sauce on it, the hot "Dry Dan Dan Mian" (noodles sauteed with minced meet, sprout, chili and Chinese Pepper) and the "Suan La Tang Mian" (noodles in Hot and Sour Soup) which might be a Japanese only recipe as I've never seen this outside Japan. Japanese love to transform anything into a ramen dish, same with the Dan Dan Mian that you'll find anywhere in Japan in a soup, instead of the dry version which is the authentic way of serving it in China.
You should also try their Lamb sauteed with cumin and garlic. It will remind you how big China is and how much some of their western province cuisine tastes like food from the Middle East.

Hot and Sour soup noodle. Its strong taste of black rice vinegar is addictive!

Fried Rice

Closed on Tuesday
Hours: 12:00 - 01:30 (L.O. 01:00)
Setagayaku, Daizawa 5-36-13

click here for a MAP

Spicia (Indian), Shimokitazawa

If you're looking for a relatively cheap, really good Indian place, "Spicia" (Kitazawa 2-23-12, 03-3414-5055) is THE place to go. The chef used to work for the Taj Hotels in India, so we're talking about some serious culinary experience here. Not to mention the staff who are extremely polite and more than willing to help you with your menu choices, so feel free to ask them.

The sag curries are powerful in terms of spinach aroma and very pasty. Try the great Sag Mutton (above) with their garlic chip nan (below). Spicia has a great choice of Nans (plain, cheese, garlic, sesame, basilic) as well as a nice Masala Culcha (sort of vegi stuffed Nan). My favorite is the sesame nan. For amateur of mexican Quesadillas, the cheese Nan is a great alternative.

Tried yesterday for the first time the Keema Mattar curry (Minced lamb curry with peas) which was wonderful. Ask to make it slightly hotter. It was matching the sesame nan (below )perfectly.

No pictures here, but definitely order their soup.

They are open 7 days a week so enjoy!

It's a 30sec walk from the West Exit (on the Inokashira-line platform). Exit left, climb the stairs, take left and turn left immediately on the street parallel to the train. It'll be on your right after 50 metres
Setagayaku, Kitazawa 2-23-12
click here for a MAP