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Mam & Pap restaurants in Tokyo 2009/3/8 22:37
Tokyo 23-ku
Sadly, we've been to Tokyo 4 times and have yet to find an "authentic mam & pap" type Japanese restuarant. Previously followed tips in guide books but never felt we had the authentic experience. Love Japanese food and had wonderful meals at ryokans OUTSIDE Tokyo but never had any luck IN Tokyo. Could you recommend 2 to 3 restaurants suitable for non-Japanese speakers ? Will be in Tokyo again early April. Ideally, would like name of restaurant, tel no., directions (incl which exit) and what to order. Our son loves yakiniku and kani meals. We don't mind and in fact would expect small cramped restaurants, but the important thing is that the food is good and not expensive, right.
Okonomiyaki, I know this is not "haute cuisine" but we never got around to trying this so if someone could recommend a good Okonomiyaki place, that would fill a gap in our experience of Japanese food. Ideally, would like somewhere close to a subway or JR station. We will be staying in Akasaka.
Lastly, I remember reading somewhere there's a "drunkard's alley" (I may have got this name wrong) under or near a rail line off Ginza which is supposed to have lots of small specialty restaurants. Does anyone know what I am referring to ? Is this suitable for non-Japanese speakers and is it safe (the only bad experience we've had in several trips to Japan was getting ripped off--overcharged a lot in a small mam and pap restaurant down some alley in the centre of Nagasaki which is why I asked the question here).
by ice (guest)  

Definitely not in Akasaka... 2009/3/9 09:35
It's not surprising that you don't find "Mom and Pop" type restaurants if you stay in Akasaka, which is some of the most expensive real estate in Tokyo!

Really you need to go out into the suburbs, where they are all over the place, you could just pick any suburban station, on the Chuo line for example moving west from Shinjuku and start looking around and you would find one.

As for Ginza, you may be referring to the area under the tracks near Yurakucho station, which has a lot of smaller yakitori places etc. Still being an area with very high rent though, I doubt this is really what you are looking for- you need to get away from the expensive areas of the city.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/3/9 11:07
Mam & Pap restaurants?

I recommend here "Kitchen Tanizawa"

address: 2-2-15 Takadanobaba Shinjuku-ku
tel: 03-3208-7610 (no reservation needed)
nearest station: Takadanobaba (Tokyo Metro Tozai Line-T3) Exit 6 or 7
what to order:Mix Grill Set
Humburg and Ebi(Shrinp) Cream Korokke(Croquette) Set
Jumbo Hamburg Set and Cheken Grill Set are also good.
Cost: 1000-1500 yen / person
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

No English 2009/3/9 11:33
Don't expect any help with English in small, self-run restaurants except in tourist areas. Everything will be written in kanji, sometimes even prices.

IMO, you should stick to places listed in guidebooks or chain restaurants. The food is not bad at these places...really.
by Kato (guest) rate this post as useful

ideas 2009/3/9 16:25
The "drunkard's alley" is probably Shinbashi. It's not exactly an "alley," but all the middle-aged office workers get off at Shinbashi station to go for yakitori, beer and other junk food.

Drunkyards in general are so-called "gaado-shita" which means "under the guardrail." Try to look under railways for crummy old bars, but don't expect them to speak English. Ask for "osusume (recommendations)" and see what kind of food you get.

You can also try walking around big universities. There will be reasonable places fit for college students.

Also, I wonder if you have been to Asakusa, the old town area of Tokyo, which is touristical and low-key at the same time.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

asakusa 2009/3/9 16:41
Yes,Asakusa is a district full of traditional Japanese food. Just wonder around Sushiyadori street to Rokku in one day you'll find many of them. And one more thing you must try is Dojo Loach!
by tangerina (guest) rate this post as useful

Probably no point phoning 2009/3/9 18:55
Yes, I was going to add, the more "mom and pop" the restaurant, the lower the chances that they will speak/understand English or have an English menu. If you don't speak any Japanese it really isn't worth phoning them if you find one- the chances of you being able to communicate with the person on the other end are quite low.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Thanks all 2009/3/9 19:22
The phone no. was for my hotel concierge to make the reservation.
I understand the overall gist of what all of you are saying--namely that non-Japanese visitors should stick to restaurants which cater to gaijin and not try to venture into local haunts. Just that we were getting a bit tired of doing that and thought we could piggy back on one or two of your recommendations and "have a bit of fun" in the process.
by mthk (guest) rate this post as useful

too small for reservations 2009/3/9 19:48
The small, family run places are not likely to take reservations- they are usually the kind of place that people will just drop into on their way home from work. Anyway, I second the Asakusa recommendation- quite a different Tokyo to Akasaka (despite the similar names!)

There is also the possibility that what you are looking for doesn't in fact exist- can you describe more what you are expecting?
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Venture! 2009/3/9 21:47
I don't know about others, but at least I never intended to say "that non-Japanese visitors should stick to restaurants which cater to gaijin and not try to venture into local haunts." In fact, quite the contrary. It's just that the mom & pop type don't communicate in English, and that exactly is the fun of it.

But being ripped off is another story. I do hear about a lot of foreign tourists getting ripped off at restaurants and bars. This is not because of the language barrier, but because people who apparently look like foreign tourists are likely to become targets.

So (instead of asking anonymous posters on the internet) why not use these posts as clues and ask the hotel staff for actual recommendations? Or tourist information centers, or go on a reliable day tour and ask the tour guide. They know best. And don't put English on top of your list. Just say that you're looking for a safe place.

As for okonomiyaki, why not go to "monja street"? It's a street that connects Tsukishima and Kachidoki stations and there you will see rows of monja restaurants. Monja is a traditional junk food originally from Tsukishima area, and it is similar to okonomiyaki. Most monja restaurants also have okonomiyaki on the menu, and if you don't know how to cook it, they will assist you. Most restaurants on this street have windows and, as far as I know, are very safe.

Btw, are you Ice or Mthk?
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/3/10 01:03
Will give Monja street a try, which stn is better and which exit-I found knowing this makes it a lot easier for non-Japanese speakers.
mthk is my husband, he answered that last post for me.
by ice (guest) rate this post as useful

Okachimachi too 2009/3/10 01:11
The open market place at/near Okachimachi is littered with tiny restaurants and small shops/markets. Even if you don't eat there, it is worth a trip. Get off at JR Ueno and head towards Chuo-dori. You'll see all the people wandering in the direction of the marketplace. It basically follows under the train tracks.
by Dr Bob rate this post as useful

Dr Bob 2009/3/10 01:26
Looking at our Tokyo City Atlas, I am guessing your market place is north of Ueno-Okachimachi or Ueno-hirokoji stations, and if that is correct, then we should take exit 3 or A5 and walk north up Chuo-dori ??
by ice (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/3/10 01:37
Just curious, "authentic experience" not sure what that might be? Can you describe this in detail as what a "authentic experience" should be like? The better I can understand this criteria maybe the better the recommendation.

A good local restaurant probably won't have any English menus therefore not meet your criteria.

Anycase there's also a "piss ally" (just a name) in Shinjuku under the railroad tracks. Its not as "gloried" as it used to be because of a fire a few years back and its reduced size.
by ExpressTrain rate this post as useful

Monja Street 2009/3/10 08:39
To go to Monja Street, how about Tsukishima Station exit 7. Then once you're out of the station, ask for Monja Street or in other words Monja-dori.

The following Japanese website might give you a clue on where the restaurants are scattered. Tsukishima Station is at the very top of the map and Kachidoki Station is at the very bottom.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

To ExpressTrain 2009/3/10 09:13
When I mentioned ''drunkard's alley'' in my original post, I must have been thinking of "piss ally", could you tell me how to get there--which exit etc. On the whole is it safe and what sort of restaurants can I expect to find there ?
by ice (guest) rate this post as useful

Piss Alley 2009/3/10 11:08

If you are interested in "Piss Alley" in Shinjuku, I suggest you check out this past thread...
by Dave in Saitama (guest) rate this post as useful

You can't miss it. 2009/3/11 00:06
I don't know the exit numbers to get to Okachimachi marketplace, but it's really hard to miss because it's so big and spread out. All of the maps outside of the train stations should have it indicated rather clearly. If you go on a Sunday it's wall to wall people.
by Dr Bob rate this post as useful

Koenji 2009/3/19 20:39
The area around Koenji had a lot of sort of Mom & Pop (or Mam and Pap) restaurants from what we saw. We went to a ramen restaurant which was really, really cheap and very mum and pop-ish along the alleyways on the right side of the station. It's near a bunch of places that sell porno-anime stuff.
by Maneki (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/3/19 23:13
Sorry but where's Koenji ?
by ice (guest) rate this post as useful

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