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The Local Food of Tokyo

Chanko Hot Pot (Ryogoku)

The chanko hot pot has its history in the world of sumo wrestling and began in the Edo period (1603-1868). Said to be perfect for sumo athletes, it is a highly nutritional dish that can be prepared both simply and in large quantities. In addition, as a hot pot dish, everyone eats together, creating a sense of community and solidarity.

Traditional chanko hot pots are served in two styles with chicken, seafood and vegetables cooked in either water or a soup, however in sumo athlete stables, chanko hot pots are prepared in a variety of styles. More and more retired sumo wrestlers are opening specialty chanko restaurants so now a variety of flavors are available to enjoy.


Fukugawa Meshi (Fukugawa)

One of the top 100 traditional foods chosen by the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Fukugawa meshi a fisherman’s dish, made of chopped spring onions and asari clams stewed in a miso broth and served on rice.

Fresh clams are central to this dish, and their flavor mixes with the perfect balance of red and white miso. On eating the clams one’s mouth fills with their juices, and the rich miso gives the whole dish a full-bodied flavor.

Fukugawa was a fishing town in the Edo period (1603-1868), full of fishermen who caught seafood and seaweed in Edo Bay. High quality clams and oysters were especially plentiful and were a specialty of the area. Fukugawa meshi was touted as an everyday food for fishermen, being highly nutritious, delicious, and simple and quick to prepare in between fishing catches.


Tokyo Soba (Tokyo-wide)

Appearing on the scene as an everyday food in the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868), this soba is now known as one of the main flavors of Edo.

Soba is a rare dish in that it is allowed to be eaten noisily. To make the most of its aroma, soba should be slurped into the mouth along with plenty of air.


Island Sushi (Izu islands)

Native to the Izu island chain, island sushi is made from white fish caught in the surrounding seas (including flying fish, sea bass, red snapper, marlin, Japanese butterfish and striped jack), marinated in soy sauce and served atop sweet vinegar rice. The sushi is unique in that it is eaten with mustard instead of the usual wasabi.

The flavoring of the dish differs between islands so you can enjoy different types of island sushi depending on where you visit.


Monjayaki (Tsukishima)

“Once upon a time monjayaki was a much-loved children’s snack.”
In the middle of the Meiji period (1868 – 1912) the island of Tsukishima was the first of Tokyo’s reclaimed land, created on a sandbank at the mouth of the Sumida River. On the islans closely packed three unit housing blocks were developed - a quintessential downtown area of Tokyo. At the time there were a lot of children in Tsukishima, and the street side snack stalls were especially popular with children.

Monjayaki began as beaten flour cooked on hot plates in the back of these snack stands and eaten with soy sauce or honey. It is said that after the introduction of Worcestershire sauce from the west, this now typical flavor became popular for monjayaki. Over the years other ingredients such as cabbage, chopped squid and fried tempura batter have been added to the mix.

Once a snack for children, different stores now offer a variety of monjayaki menu options full of original mixes, each vying for the tastiest version.


Eel (Tokyo City-wide)

The Kanto region’s broiled eel differs from the southern Kansai region’s version in that it is first split down the back and broiled as is before steaming and grilling again. The steaming process is to soften the skin, and the history of Tokyo’s eel dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868). There is also the theory that, as an old warrior town, the people in Edo (old Tokyo) preferred to split the fish down the back rather than the stomach, as the stomach has associations with the method for ritual suicide by disemboweling (hara-kiri).