10 Must Eats At Shinjuku Tokyo 新宿 – Afforable Michelin Meals, Handmade Soba To ¥350 Gyudon (<$5)
[Tokyo] Shinjuku 新宿 must be one of my favourite wards in Tokyo. While it is a business district, it is also home to considerable dining, entertainment and shopping options.
Shinjuku Station also happens to be the world’s busiest railway station, handling more than 2 million passengers.
I liked the fact that many lines lead here, especially the JR Yamanote Line, which makes travelling to places like Shibuya, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Ueno and Tokyo Station very convenient.
Travellers get a good mix of sights here, from cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen during spring time, Central Park, to the colourful Kabukicho – Japan’s largest red light district lined with restaurants and pachinko parlours.
Not forgetting large departmental malls of Takashimaya (with Tokyu Hands), Isetan, Odakyu, Keio, Lumine, and Mylord, all within a 10 to 20 minute walking distance.
There are TOO MANY food choices to list down here. Omoide Yokocho (also nicknamed the Piss Alley) is literally lined with yakitori, oden and soba shops. Or you can just go to Takashimaya and Isetan basement, especially during closing times to get some discounted food buys.
Here are 10 Must Eats At Shinjuku Tokyo 新宿 – From Affordable Michelin Meals, Handmade Soba To ¥350 Gyudon (I tried to include a range, and also added exterior photos for you to find the shop more easily.)
Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima 新宿割烹 中嶋
B1F, Hihara Bldg, 3 32-5 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture 160-0022, Japan (Shinjuku Station North Exit)
Tel: +81 3-3356-453
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2pm (last order 1:45pm), 5:30pm – 9:30pm (last order 8pm)
Closed mid-August, late December-early January, Sunday and Public Holidays
Google Maps – Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima
Probably The Cheapest Michelin Star Meal In Tokyo
Nakajima is probably the cheapest Michelin star meal you can get at Tokyo, Japan.
This is how affordable it can get. A lunch set is priced at ¥800 (SGD$9.90, USD$7.40), and we are talking about one of the most expensive cities in the world.
The star of the lunch is to my amazement… sardines.
The Iwashi (sardines) are presented in 4 different ways – the Furai deep fried sardines with panko, raw sashimi-style with seaweed and sesame, the Nizakana simmered in dashi with soy sauce, or the Yanagawa Nabe served in a hot piping eggy casserole for a ¥100 extra. Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Tsunahachi 天ぷら 新宿 つな八
3-31-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 (Shinjuku Station East Exit or Shinjuku-Sanchome Station Exits A1-A5)
Tel: 03 3352 1012
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 10:30pm
Google Maps – Tsunahachi
Historical Tempura Restaurant Popular Among Locals
Tempura restaurant Tsunahachi 天ぷら 新宿 つな八 総本店 which was founded by Kyuzo Shimura in 1923, has remain highly popular among most locals and tourists.
At the heart of Shinjuku where you get surrounded by stores from BIC Camera and Uniqlo, I was excited to find such a restaurant. FYI, another famous tempura restaurant Funabashiya Honten is within sight.
Considering that I have spent quite a far bit (can be above SGD$100) at other tempura restaurants, the more reasonable price range over here is welcomed.
Lunch starts from ¥1,512 (SGD$19.50), and dinner from ¥2,484 (SGD$32).
A basic Tempura Set goes for ¥2,484 (SGD$32) which includes two shrimps, assorted seafood, vegetables, Anago (sea eel), deep-fried small shrimps (kakiage), appetizer; and a set of rice, miso-soup and Japanese pickles (osoroi). Tsunahachi 天ぷら新宿つな八 (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
慎 Shin Udon
2 151 0053, 2 Chome-20-16 Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0053, Japan (Shinjuku Station, Exit 6)
代々木2-20-16 (相馬ビル1F), Shibuya, Tōkyō, 151-0053, Japan
Tel: +81 3-6276-7816
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon – Thurs, Sun), 11am – 11pm (Fri – Sat), Closed during New Year period
Google Maps – Shin Udon
Udon Never Tasted This Good, Awesome Find
Entering the shop, I realised it was a cramped 10-seater – 6 at the counter, 2 and 2 at the table, typical Japanese style. Counter of course to catch the chefs in action.
The buckwheat udon is made in house, fresh upon order, in cold or hot versions, topped with ingredients such as tempura, sliced beef, mentaiko and soft boiled egg.
The basic variants are Kake Udon – Hot udon in broth topped with thinly sliced scallions; Zaru Udon – cold noodles accompanied with a chilled dipping sauce; and Bukkake Udon – cold udon with thicker dashi broth.
There is a short English translation for its quite-pictorial menu, so do not worry. Shin Udon 慎 (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
2-14-3, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan (10 min walk from JR Shinjuku Station South Exit)
Japan, 〒151-0053 Tokyo, Shibuya 代々木2-14-3 北斗第一ビル 1F
Tel: +81 3 6413 8480
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 5 – 9pm (Mon-Sat), Closed Sun & New Year Holiday Period
Google Maps – Fu-unji
Umami Fish Based Tsukemen & Ramen
Fu-unji 風雲児 is tsukemen like never before, creamy broth of chicken (imagine the collagen) with fish, topped with bonito-like smoked fish powder. This is UMAMI.
The taste of the stock when you mix them all together, is quite unimaginable, and is one of the must-haves when you are at Shinjuku Tokyo.
There are 3 noodle sizes with namimori (small, 200gm or so), chuumori (medium, 300 gm), and oomori (large, 400gm).
The same price for all for the Tokusei Tsukemen 特製つけめん at ¥1000.
Its layered flavours of rich chicken broth and smoky fish powder was revolutionary good, grabbing you to just focus on its unique taste. Fu-unji 風雲児 (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
Shinjuku-ku, Nishi Shinjuku 7-2-6, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan, Tel: +03 3796 4634
東京都新宿区西新宿7-2-6 ビル1F (About 5 minutes from the JR Shinjuku West Exit, near Prospect AXE or the former Oakwood Shinjuku Apartments)
Opening hours: 11:30am-3:30pm, 4:30pm – 9:30pm (Mon-Sat), 11:30am-4:30pm (Sun)
Google Maps – Menya Musashi
Where Chefs Cook Ramen With Style And Flair
Menya Musashi’s founder Yamada Takeshi, together with Ippudo’s Kawahara Shigemi and Nanttsutei’s Furuya Ichiro are said to be icons of the ramen industry.
Both its signature and tsukemen dipping noodles (¥1000) are basic but spectacular – with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth pork, chewy noodles and addictive soup which made me finish till the last drop.
Its highlight has to be the broth, a flavourful shoyu soy sauce base made with pork and chicken bones, with taste slightly ‘seafood-y’ due to the addition of dried saury fish.
What was also impressive is the visual experience the cooks present. It was almost as if they were presenting a martial arts dance as they cooked and dried the ramen noodles in the open kitchen. All with such great force, adding collective yells of “Hey-Hai” and Japanese idioms. Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵 (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Sushi Tokyo Ten
Shinjuku NEWoMan, 4-1-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0022, Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 6274 8540
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Sushi Omakase At ¥7000
Sushi Tokyo Ten is perhaps the best find during my most recent trip. For those who has not been to Tokyo in the last 2 years or so, you would be surprised to find a new shopping mall NEWoMan right next to Shinjuku Station (South Exit).
While restaurant Sushi Tokyo Ten is located within the food court, do not discount its quality at all. Its vibes are more casual, and thus you would not get that intimidating feel like some other sushi restaurants.
The dinner omakase is priced at ¥7000 while the lunch set is at ¥3500. At first I thought I heard wrongly (plus there is no menu), as sushi meals are typically expensive in Tokyo.
The variety and taste were amazing, and I had fully enjoyed almost every sushi piece including fresh shrimps, lobster, abalone, and 2 types of uni.
35-2, 3chome, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3354 0611
Opening hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm (Mon – Fri), 7:30am – 9:00pm (Sat – Sun)
350 Yen Gyu Don
Even while Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, you still can find affordable eats here.
Let me direct you to Tatsuya, a hole-in-the-wall eatery specializing in Gyu Don (¥350) which is simmered beef on rice, and Katsu Don (¥450) pork cutlet with egg on rice. ¥350 is only about SGD$4.50.
The staff strength is lean, but the friendly elderly cooks will whip up warm bowls of donburi, complete with tender slices of beef on fluffy rice.
Blue Bottle Coffee
新宿カフェ 4-1-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Shinjuku Station, New South exit)
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm
One Of The Best Coffee Shops, Now At Tokyo Shinjuku
The hipster and executive-type Japanese are obviously into specialty roasted, artisanal coffee, especially with a specific prominent brand.
This coffee place in the heart of Shinjuku was brisk, right next to a Le Pain de Joel Robuchon bakery, where many office goers grab-and-go a takeaway cup with that signature blue bottle logo.
There is a full menu of drip coffee and espresso drinks – a Blend of Drip Coffee at ¥450 (SGD$5.60), Single Origin at ¥550 (SGD$6.80).
I had a Latte (¥520, SGD$6.50). It was smooth, very smooth, as though every ingredient came together in harmony. Blue Bottle Coffee (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Gontran Cherrier Shinjuku Branch
Shibuya-ku, Yoyogi 2-2-1, Southern Terrace (next to Shinjuku station, South exit)
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 10:00pm Daily
Some Of The Best Pastries, Especially The Croissant
Celebrity pastry chef Gontran Cherrier has found one of the best spot in Shinjuku, a double storey space at Southern Terrace steps away from the extremely populated Shinjunku station, with a connecting bridge to Lumine.
The lower floor is the bakery, while the upper storey is for a sit down meal.
Other than the signatures Kouign-Amann (¥240) and Mont Blanc (¥330), there were several items created for the Japanese market, from Pain au Curry (¥220), Pain De Seigle Au Miso (¥440), jet black looking Baguette Noir A L’encre De Seiche (¥250), to Yuzu Citro (¥450). Gontran Cherrier (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Lumine Shinjuku Lumine2, 2nd Floor, 3-38-2, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Shinjuku Station South Exit – JR Line, Odakyu Line, Keio Line)
Tel: 9:00am – 10:00pm Daily, Last Order 9:00pm
Breakfast Queen Of New York In Shinjuku
The “No.1 Dessert restaurant in New York” continues to enjoy long queues at the Shinjuku store at Lumine2. So much so that it can start an hour before opening, with a line all the way down the escalator to Level 1.
People are there for Sarabeth’s French Toast (¥1,250), Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes (¥1,450), Classic Eggs Benedit (¥1,45) and Velvety Cream of Tomato Soup.
The fat and fluffy French Toast (¥1,250) is what almost every table orders. It is a classic sweet brunch item, served for over 20 years, topped with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.
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