Ikebukuro has made a name for itself as an entertainment and food destination for locals and foreign visitors alike. It is a commuter hub, with three subway lines and multiple train lines running through it, making one of the most busy stations in Tokyo, only second to Shinjuku Station. Ikebukuro is also a relatively affordable residential area, and with ample things to do in Ikebukuro, it is never boring.
While Shibuya is famous for its Hachiko monument situated outside the station, Ikebukuro is known for its iconic owl statue, “Ikefukuro” (a combination of “Ikebukuro” and “fukuro,” meaning “owl) inside the station. Ikebukuro’s personality contains multitudes. It’s a busy commuter area, otaku and electronics heaven, major destination for shopping, and entertainment center to rival Harajuku and Asakusa. Ikebukuro also has a relatively new Chinatown and is home to Sunshine City, a huge commercial complex that contains an aquarium, shops and restaurants, planetarium, observation deck, and Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo.
Ikebukuro is also known for animal-themed cafes. Cat lovers would quickly fall in love at Nekobukuro, where you can have unlimited playtime with the felines while having unlimited access to the drinks machine. Meanwhile, enjoy your dose of coffee, tea or soda while mingling with thirteen bunnies in Usabibi. Once you’ve made some new animal friends and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Ikebukuro, it’s time to find out where to eat in Ikebukuro to refuel for the next round of shopping, exploring, and sightseeing.
While yakiniku is a familiar Japanese dish, Yakiniku Zen Ikebukuro puts a twist on this favorite recipe, cooking meat on a bamboo grill. Each order is tender and juicy but without the overpowering smokiness that is often associated with yakiniku. Plus, you know you’re getting the best cuts of Japanese beef, the highly-coveted kuroge wagyu. It’s quite affordable price at lunchtime with prices ranging from 1090-490 yen for set meals, fantastic bang for your buck. Learn more about wagyu in Japanese Wagyu Beef: The Forbidden Meat.
For a seafood dinner and a fiery show, grab a counter seat at Teppanyaki Orca. The Orca Course includes 9 courses, including hors d’oeuvres, seasonal fish, grilled lobster, 60 grams of wagyu tenderloin steak, and dessert. The Special Course, meanwhile, features abalone, egg custard with sea urchin, grilled lobster, and others. The staff are quite welcoming, and can speak some English.
For vegan and plant-based dishes, come to Ain Soph Soar Ikebukuro, located nearby Sunshine City. They offer three types of veggie burgers: a cheeseburger, seitan “chicken” burger, and coriander burger, which you can enjoy with a side of salad, chowder, fries, onion rings, or veggie meat karaage. But Ain Soph Soar also offers Japanese-style dishes in addition to Western eats, like Mushroom Hayashi Rice. They also offer a handy allergy chart. Their vegan desserts are stunning, with colorful parfaits in flavors like chocolate and matcha, caramel-drizzled brownies, fluffy pancakes, puddings, and ice cream. They also have sparkling wine, sangria, champagne, and more! For fresh, plant-based food, Ain Soph Soar is the Ikebukuro restaurant to visit. For more vegan food in Tokyo, check out Tokyo Vegan Guide: 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in Tokyo.
Kabuto is one of the highest-rated restaurants in Japan, and as for unagi (conger eel) restaurants, it is considered the cream of the crop. The opinionated chef, who has since retired and passed the business along to his son, was quite a character, and some seats at his restaurant were reserved nearly a year in advance! Now, there is still quite a backlog, so unagi lovers will need to make a reservation at least 2 months in advance. Grilled over charcoal, then either glazed with sauce or seasoned with salt, the unagi cutlets are tender and oily, and the sauce lends a sweetness to the coveted cut. The chef also makes unagi skewers of different parts like belly and collar, and their tofu is from a specialty tofu supplier.
Ikebukuro is known for themed cafes and restaurants, but often the food at these establishments can be a bit of a letdown. Butler Cafe Swallowtail goes against this stereotype by offering delicious pastries and sumptuous course dinner. The menu changes monthly, so there are always new treats to enjoy from Swallowtail’s chef and patissier. While you sip from fine china, the servers who are decked out in three-piece suits, will wait on you. As they have undergone rigorous training to become butlers, you can expect the utmost professionalism. The atmosphere is also beyond the standards expected of a themed cafe, with a chandelier dripping from the ceiling, plush seating covered in brocade fabric, and cozy fireplaces and finely carved grandfather clocks punctuating the walls.
Famed as a “ramen battleground,” Ikebukuro houses numerous ramen joints that are sure to satisfy your ramen cravings. Taste ramen the way it should be made, at the ramen shop of the “Godfather of Tokyo Ramen,” Kazuo Yamagishi. Head to Taishoken Honten, the brainchild of the late Yamagishi, whose claim to fame is his invention of tsukemen, a style of ramen where noodles and broth are served separately, with cold noodles dipped into hot ramen soup just before consuming. Yamagishi’s Morisoba is an absolute must try, with a unique blend of seafood, chicken, and pork broth and generously-sized portion.
Meanwhile, for those who dig rich chicken ramen, Torinoana is the best ramen restaurant in Ikebukuro to visit. This ramen joint offers Paitan or white soup ramen, a salty ramen with a creamy chicken broth, topped with green onions, white onions, menma (bamboo shoots), and chicken thigh. Or, go for the red chicken ramen for an added kick of spice, made with a base of soy sauce broth.
For those who enjoy the simplicity of salt-based ramen, head to Kuwabara. The ramen shop serves anything shio ramen with a light, nearly clear broth, with is paired with roasted pork chashu. The noodles are thin and straight, and the bowl of ramen can be topped off with an egg and nori (seaweed paper) in addition to chashu. They also make mazesoba (“mixed noodles”) which is a style of soupless ramen.
The last ramen restaurant in Ikebukuro to visit is definitely Hanada, which offers creamy miso-based ramen broth, with your choice of either plain or spicy soup. Thick and chewy noodles, miso flavor with a lingering sweetness, and a generous slice of pork chashu marks this ramen joint. Indeed, Ikebukuro is a ramen haven for every ramen connoisseurs.
Where to Eat in Ikebukuro has covered themed cafes, ramen restaurants, teppanyaki, wagyu skewers, vegan food, and more. Now that you have an idea about the offerings of this Tokyo neighborhood, go and explore the anime, shopping, electronics, entertainment, and food of Ikebukuro!
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