One great thing about Tokyo is that among all those sky scrapers and bright lights, there still are some areas/streets where the old history and tradition remains. Here, you know your neighbors, the mom & pop shops are still the main stores to get groceries and everyday items from, and people still talk to each other with warm smile.
Togoshi Ginza is one of those place, with lively streets and that good ole’ vibe. Not only you can get everything you need from there, like cleaning supplies, clothes, personal items, etc., but you can get so many awesome little bites while you are doing your shopping. Or you could go there just for those yummy food, creating your own food tour of the Togoshi Ginza street. They have a mascot of their own, which is a cute yellow tiger-looking cat, which you can find everywhere on this street on most storefront.
Let’s get to the delicious food that are made the old fashion way… I will start with my favorite, potato croquette. There is a Katabami Meat Shop where you can buy fresh meat, along with some cooked side dishes like katsu, fried oyster, potato salad, etc.. There most popular item is the Potato Croquette (90 yen, roughly $0.75), made the old fashion way everyday. They do sell out all the time, and even though they try to catch up, it just keeps disappearing. With its popularity, they are also known as “Togoshi Ginza Croquette” as it is the most famous croquette on the street. They even have a cute box if you want to buy several croquette to take home with. Or, you can buy one and eat it right there and then, out side the store on the bench.
We got there a little after noon time, and most of their offerings were already starting to disappear. They only had 1 potato croquette left, but they were making some more, lucky for us, so we waited for a few minutes until they were done. And you know what, it was worth the wait, we got the croquettes hot and freshly made, how awesome is that? Drizzle over some special sauce, and there you go, take a big bite into it!!! It was super tasty, juicy, packed with flavor, no wonder this is the most popular croquette on the street!
Let’s move on to the next item, shall we? Goto Kamaboko Shop offers, well, kamaboko of course, along with oden and other interesting items. Kamaboko is a cured, processed seafood product that is used in many Japanese dishes. Oden is a typical, traditional winter Japanese hot pot with lots of veggies, boiled eggs, kamaboko, and so on. At this store, for a street eater like me, they offer Oden Croqette (70 yen). It is made with oden ingredients mixed with potato, then fried in a small ball (it really was kinda small). It was interesting and creative to say the least, but it was also a bit strange… I am glad I got to try it, but I don’t think I would buy it again. Maybe it is an acquired taste…
Next, another one of my favorite spot. Nakatsu Karaage kei where you can get some Japanese fried chicken. They are priced by weight, 100g (about 2-3 fried chickens) for 260 yen (roughly $2.50). You can either order by weight, or order by quantity, depends on what you want, or what is easier for you. The chicken were much bigger than I expected, it is so extremely juicy in the inside, crunchy and crispy on the outside. It was amaaaaazing! There are few other fried chicken spots on this street, but you should definitely try this one for sure!
There are so many other stores that offer delicious little bite, such as dumpling, sweet mochi (dango), yakitori, bakery, and many more. You will not leave here hungry. I was full after trying on several of their delicious offerings, sadly too soon… You should go there when you are really hungry so that you can eat more! I did see some other stores offering cute and interesting items, like “Face Bread” which is custom made, you can bring a photo and they make a super cute bread of that face. Another super cute one I found was at a donut shop. They had donuts with a bear in the middle, made with donut holes. Then, some strange looking bread (?) that was also custom made… these were a bit too much for me… oh, and I learned they say “Happy Wedding” in Japan instead of Congratulations which was intriguing.
The food you can find here is endless, and super fun to walk around the old fashioned streets with mom & pop stores lined up, alongside some new ones, which can’t be helped. Nevertheless, it is a great place to visit, and get your taste buds going! They have many stores you can buy snacks to take home with as well, such as osenbei (rice crackers) and umeboshi (pickled plum). Great for later, or as a gift. You will find something you like/love for sure!
Togoshi Ginza Shopping District – Yutaka-cho, Togoshi and Hiratsuka, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan