Japanese

10 Reasons Why Tokyo's Snack Game Is The Best

Snacks in the city.

October 26, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Here at Food52 HQ, we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about snacks. All in the name of research, of course.

As someone who plans her travel exclusively around the snack offerings—or as I like to call them, edible museums—in various cities, I keep an ear to the ground at all times. A recent topic of debate around town our open-floor-plan office space has been the all-time best cities to visit for the snack-game alone. And while the jury's still out which city is snack-king of them all (yup, I'm hanging onto that pun), there's one thing we can agree on: Tokyo is way up there.

Here are 10 reasons why we think the snacks in Tokyo are A++.

1. Tokyo Banana cakes are worth a trip alone.

"Tokyo Banana is the bestest, and look! They're even available on Amazon now," says Senior Lifestyle Editor Hana Asbrink. Tokyo Banana has a handful of brick-and-mortar locations throughout the city. "Best to stockpile them at Duty Free, though!"

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“When we're not traveling in Japan, we get our snack fix via subscription to Bokksu. It's a great opportunity to discover snacks from all 47 prefectures.”
— MsMora
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"Original is best," she says, "But there are many flavors."

2. Tonkatsu Sandwiches Might Technically Be a Lunch, But We Eat Them Between Meals With Abandon.

"My favorite snack in Tokyo? Tonkatsu sandwiches, of course," says Senior Editor Eric Kim. "Soft, pillowy white bread with a single pork cutlet in the middle, some sweet brown sauce as glue. You can get them in most convenience stores in Tokyo."

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3. The Kit Kat flavor scene is out-of-control amazing:

4. We could eat Onigiri all day. (And then more the next day.)

Pretty much everyone on the team agreed they seek to meet a multiple-onigiri-per-day quota while in Tokyo. My friend Coulter (who has said repeatedly "snacking is my only hobby") swears by the ones from convenience store chain Family Mart—especially the spicy roe iteration.

5. The Japanese 7-Eleven egg salad sandwich is the best we've ever had.

This certainly isn't the first time we've espoused the wisdom of the otherworldly Japanese 7-Eleven Egg Salad Sandwich. We like it so much, we've even reverse-engineered the recipe:

6. It's Always Time for Toast.

"Toast (and butter) in Tokyo is the BEST," says Food52 Co-Founder & President Merrill Stubbs.

7-9. Anything & everything at Yanaka Ginza!

Social Media Manager Connor Bower peaked at Yanaka Ginza, a storefront-lined street with lots of snack options. "I stuffed myself silly at Yanaka Ginza. Anything deep-fried, brown, or fatty I was all about," says Bower. His favorites were karaage, takoyaki, and some cheese and curry croquettes.

Life-changing karaage. Photo by Connor Bower

10. Don't Sleep On The Pastries.

"On my trip to Tokyo, I didn’t realize I would find the bakeries of my dreams," says Alik Barsoumian, Video Producer. "I found them everywhere—from department store basements to subway stations. My favorite 'snack' was a strawberry fromage daifuku I found at Fukumaru-Manju, a Japanese confectionary shop in the Yanaka neighborhood. Since I was staying in the area, I had a breakfast or two at Kabaya Coffee, a charming cafe located inside a historic building dating back to the early 1900s. I ordered the same matcha latte and egg toast every time. I was surprised to find numerous French bakeries in Tokyo, where I munched on delicious escargot at Rituel Bakery, and a divine rose croissant at the L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Roppongi Hills. And when I needed a quick snack, I could always rely on the chocolate Hello Pandas I carried around in my bag."

What are your favorite snacks to munch on in Tokyo? Let us know what we missed in the comments!

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5 Comments

Ryan C. November 11, 2018
I'll second Tokyo Banana. You have to go in understanding that it's all about the delicate textures and flavors rather than some sugar-laden overpowering confectionery. Keep in mind their namesake snack has a short shelf life. You won't really be able to stock up unless you plan on eating them all in 10 to 14 days. Sharing is caring however!
 
MsMora November 1, 2018
Love the way Japan embraces the seasonality of food, such as what Michele mentioned about sweet potatoes and roasted chestnuts. Nothing better than a hot roasted sweet potato on a cold night, purchased from the yakiimo man from the back of his mini-pickup. When we're not traveling in Japan, we get our snack fix via subscription to Bokksu. It's a great opportunity to discover snacks from all 47 prefectures.
 
Michele November 1, 2018
I just came back from Japan. It’s sweet potato season and my all time favorite is yaki imo - Japanese sweet potato roasted in charcoal (real wood charcoal). Sweet potato and red bean manju were also good. It’s also chestnut season. Roasted chestnuts are a favorite but also chestnut anything else too.
 
Huy L. October 27, 2018
Whenever I visit, I can't help but get those mini pancakes with butter and syrup in between at a conbini. You get two or three in a pack. The sweet syrup mixed with the slightly salty butter and delicious carbiness of the pancake... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
 
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Ella Q. October 28, 2018
Sounds delicious!