Where To Eat In Tokyo When You’re Homesick
When I first came to Japan, I was convinced I wouldn’t miss any European food because I just LOVED Japanese food. Back in Belgium, I would eat sushi at least once a week and go to eat soba with friends on special occasions. I felt so lucky that all the Japanese food that I used to love (and more) was a lot cheaper and better in Japan (which is obvious, but still mind-blowing once you’re there).
But after living in Tokyo for a while I did start missing my grandma’s cooking and the pizza place from around the corner of my apartment back in my home country. That’s why I went on the lookout for some “foreign food” restaurants and I’ve discovered some great (and not too expensive) ones for whenever I felt a bit homesick.
This must be the crispiest, highest-quality pizza slice I’ve had in my life. This is quite a bold statement, as I’ve lived in New York City: aka the City of Pizza Slices. This place can be found near Shibuya, which is a very cute area of Tokyo. It’s on a little street with tons of little café’s and shops. However, these pizza slices are definitely more expensive than the ones you can find in the Big Apple (where you can find US$1 slices). The prices at Pizza Slice 2 range from ¥300 to ¥500 a slice (about US$3 to US$5). The interior is very modern with an open kitchen where you can see the pizza’s being prepared.
This pizza place can be found near the west exit of the Ikebukuro station. I’ve been to this place a ton of times, as it was the nearest to my university. Again, if you miss pizza, you should definitely give this place a try! A special feature about this restaurant is that the pizzas aren’t round, but square. And, they’re very tiny. Whenever I’m with a friend, we usually order three pizzas and share the middle one. One-and-a-half pizza’s does fill you up quite good, and in the end, it is cheaper. The dough they use to make the pizza is SUPER soft! I haven’t had a pizza like this before I moved to Japan! Even though a good Italian friend of mine refuses to call it pizza, she still thinks it’s really good. The place is very small and cosy. Plus, in the background, you can always hear Disney music playing.
This is another Italianesque restaurant, located in Shinjuku. I’m usually not the greatest fan of Shinjuku, but I have returned a few times for this cute place. Their food isn’t specifically categorised as Italian, but most of their dishes are pasta and pizza. The portions aren’t very big but they fill you up just enough. The interior is actually my favourite part. All the tables are very small, and most of the chairs are loungeroom or living room chairs. Hanging from the ceiling and windows are little fairy lights. It’s super cosy and romantic. This isn’t the cheapest place out of the list, as most of their dishes start at the price of ¥1,000 (about US$10). But, just to be able to experience the cuteness of this place, I would recommend you try it at least once.
Now, Mexico! This is (as I found out later on this year) an Australian food chain. They serve delicious Mexican food, like burrito’s, guacamole and chips (my favourite), tortilla’s and much more. This restaurant is located in Harajuku, near Tokyu Plaza. I used to have a student job in Harajuku, so this was really the perfect place to grab dinner after work. The service is very fast, and you can grab a seat at the window, where you have a beautiful view of the crazy Harajuku neon building signs. This isn’t very cheap, as the prices range from ¥800 (US$7) to ¥1,500 (US$14), but it’s worth its price.
If you prefer tiny and cosy restaurants, don’t look any further. This cosy place, with usually only one waiter behind the bar (we guess he’s the owner), serves amazing Mexican food and is perfect for when you’re in a group of four to five people. The place may be small but the portions are quite big and perfect for sharing. I love Mexican food and anything with cheese, so this really fulfilled my cravings. If you plan on going alone, it can get quite expensive, but if you’re with a small group and share the dishes, the price becomes very reasonable.
If you’re craving amazing burgers, be sure to check out Freshness Burger. This is a Japanese food chain. They serve a variety of burgers, with which you can order fries or other side dishes. They also provide a large range of smoothies, to make you feel healthier while you chuck down that burger, I guess. This chain can be found all over Tokyo, so if you’re craving it, just Google Freshness Burger and google will take you there. Their prices range from ¥450 (US$4) to about ¥650 (US$6), which I find very reasonable considering the size of the burgers!
When talking about foreign food, one must not forget Starbucks! I know, I talk way too much about Starbucks, but let me explain to you why it’s important. Starbucks is a chain you can find anywhere in the world, and that means also in your home country. The drinks and food also taste more or less the same in every shop, so if you crave a certain pastry or cookie, or your favourite mix of cappuccino, you can already guess that Starbucks won’t disappoint, because it will taste the same as what you’re used to. This is a very nostalgic place for me, because before I would take the train to my summer job back in my home country, I would always stop by Starbucks to catch a quick breakfast (chocolate chunk cookie and grande cappuccino with soymilk and an extra shot). I was so happy that I could find exactly the same breakfast in Tokyo.
Don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten about my vegan friends out there. Ain Soph is a vegan restaurant chain that has about three restaurants located in Tokyo. My favourite is the one in Ikebukuro. They serve a variety of pasta’s and salads with falafel. I once tried a pasta ‘carbonara’ and I was really surprised with what I got, because it actually looked and tasted like real cheese and meat (but of course it wasn’t). Also, their waffles and pancakes are amazing! The interior is quite minimalistic, and yet very romantic. It really isn’t cheap, though. The smaller dishes, range from ¥500 (about US$5) to ¥800 (US$7), but the actual meals can cost from ¥1,500 (US$14) to ¥3,800 (US$35). Even though this restaurant is more on the expensive side, I would really recommend it to everybody, even if you’re not vegan. The food is of really high quality and you’re always served with a friendly smile.
And last but not least, we cannot forget about desert! If you’ve been following me on my Instagram, you will already have seen me rave about these donuts. All the donuts are made from organic ingredients. They taste incredible! After eating a donut, you usually get a nasty, greasy after taste, but with these ones you don’t! You just want more. They have regular flavours like sugar, plain and chocolate, but also a few flavours more on the special side like salted caramel. Every month they come out with a range of adorable donuts that look like little bunnies or kittens (which are very Instagram worthy). This shop is originally from Nara, but you can also find these little heavenly cakes in Kōenji (near Shinjuku).
I hope you guys enjoyed reading about my favourite non-Japanese restaurants in Tokyo. Did any of these places intrigue you? Please let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to share if you have any other recommendations!
Disclaimer: All pictures were taken by me.