If you wish to experience geisha entertainment, teahouses, and high-class Japanese restaurants, Kagurazaka — a fashion and entertainment area — is the must-visit district. Aside from the cafes lining the streets, Kagurazaka is also famous for its Awa Odori (Awa Dance Festival) every July, which takes place around Bishamonten Zenkokuji Temple. Kagurazaka is known as Tokyo's French Quarter, with the highest density of French restaurants in Tokyo, two French schools, and a flourishing French expat community.
Let’s explore more of this former geisha district and find out where to eat in Kagurazaka in this Kagurazaka food guide.
Where to Eat in Kagurazaka
1. Chichukai Uomaru
If you are looking for Japanese seafood dishes with a Mediterranean twist served to the tune of the Ramones, Chichukai Uomaru should definitely be at the top of your list. Neon-orange sea urchin, Hyogo oysters, and other fresh catches from the ocean are prepared right in front of you, and the unfussy atmosphere, and slight grunge attitude gives you permission to loosen up and enjoy yourself.
Torijaya, a restaurant specializing in chicken, udon noodles, and banquet-style course meals. For lunch, they serve up oyakodon (chicken and egg donburi) sets made from free-range chicken. Tender chicken and creamy egg combine to make the most comforting bowl imaginable. They also have more elaborate meals like their Udon Suki course which includes a massive hot pot filled with thick udon noodles, seasonal veggies, shrimp, clams, mushrooms, and more. Kaiseki (traditional Japanese multi-course meal) is also available upon request.
This Michelin-starred restaurant in Kagurazaka was awarded one Michelin star for its artisanal soba noodles, tempura, and selection of regional Japanese sake. Their soba can be seen being painstakingly made from scratch and cut by hand into perfectly even noodles. You can choose between two types of soba noodles: the standard soba noodles which are made with a small portion of white wheat flour, and the 100% buckwheat flour noodles. Have your soba noodles hot on a chilly winter day, or for al dente noodles, choose chilled soba. The tempura is a must-try, made with a batter that's light and crunchy, just crying out to dipped into some sauce. For hand-crafted soba noodles (and Michelin-starred noodles, at that!) Kyourakutei is very reasonably priced, with most soba and udon sets coming in at around ¥1,000, though you'll likely want to go with the tempura soba set for around ¥2,200.
4. Washoku Ebihara
There's no menu at Washoku Ebihara. That's because Ebihara is a restaurant where you can try kappo cuisine, a traditional Japanese multi-course meal that consists of dishes chosen entirely by the chef and cooked in front of the guest. It's similar to the ultra-seasonal multi-course kaiseki banquet, but less formal in nature. You choose one of three chef selection meals at different price points, then the chef has free rein to do as he pleases, letting his training and creative impulses guide him. As their offerings change depending on the availability of seasonal ingredients, you'll get an entirely unique experience from other past guests.
5. Kagurazaka Esaki
To combat the winter weather, Kagurazaka Esaki serves up piping hot oden, a type of Japanese hot pot dish that consists of a variety of fish cakes, tofu, eggs, and veggies. Unlike many oden places, where the ingredients simmer interminably, the ingredients in Esaki's oden are perfectly cooked, from clams to soft-boiled eggs. Bear in mind that this restaurant can get quite packed during winter, so you may have to wait outside in the cold, but after the first sip of soothing broth, and the warmth spread through your body, you'll feel it's all worth it.
6. Rito Kitchen
Go on a tour of Japan's islands without even leaving Tokyo! The atmosphere of Rito Kitchen (literally "Remote Island" Kitchen) will transport you to a far off island where you can indulge in a variety of regional homestyle dishes. The restaurant offers an “Island Tour Lunch Set” which changes monthly and is best paired with local beer and sake. To support local industries from Japan's islands and learn more about their cuisines, come by Rito Kitchen and indulge your tastebuds!
For those who have a sweet tooth, Kinozen, a sweets shop which has been operating since 1948, is famous for their melt-in-the-mouth Matcha Bavarian Cream. When winter rolls around, the restaurant serves oshiruko (also known as zenzai), a sweet red-bean soup with chewy mochi or dango balls; and in the spring they offer strawberry anmitsu, a Japanese dessert made with agar jelly, anko (red bean paste), sliced fruits, and a type of soft rice cake called gyuhi. Aside from sweets, Kinozen is also well-known for kamameshi ("kettle rice") a mixed rice dish traditionally cooked in an iron or ceramic pot and seasoned with sake, soy sauce, and mirin.
8. Kagurazaka Saryo
Tea-lovers should head over to Kagurazaka Saryo, a Japanese teahouse which serves various types of tea alongside decadant matcha desserts like matcha cheesecake, matcha fondue, matcha cream milk crepe cake, and even matcha frozen s'mores! Their creative treats are handmade by the pastry chef, without any additives, and pair well with a hot cup of tea. In addition to desserts, Kagurazaka Saryo serves healthy dishes like clam and seafood udon, spicy keema curry, and Kyoto-style yuba (a tofu-like soy product) with crispy shrimp.
Baikatei has been serving organic and additive-free wagashi made with local Japanese ingredients since 1935. Business flourished during the Showa Period, back in the days when Kagurazaka was a hanamachi geisha district, and today this an award-winning wagashi shop continues to create wagashi masterpieces that blur the lines between art and food with their stunning seasonal motifs. To find out more about the many types of Japanese wagashi, check out our article, 7 Wagashi Shops in Tokyo.
This Where to Eat in Kagurazaka food guide has touched on a few of the best places to eat in Kagurazaka, from wagashi shops to a Michelin-starred soba restaurant. Kagurazaka is indeed the face of refined dining experiences and entertainment. The area’s places will not only entertain and satisfy your hunger, but it will also treat your eyes with the various sights that showcase the history and Japanese-French fusion.