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Must Eat Foods In Yokohama And Where To Eat Them

By Sumire Yamada Proudly born and bred in Yokohama, with a thirst for adventure, experiencing new cultures and sharing awesome experiences with others.
03 September 2020
Must Eat Foods In Yokohama And Where To Eat Them

Food in Yokohama and throughout Japan marks a sense of occasion; a chance to be merry with friends, family or community. Well known for our carefully crafted seafood specialty – sushi – this is simply the start of the many culinary delights to be discovered in Yokohama. Witness ramen whipped up before you in minutes, sushi chefs artfully crafting bitesize masterpieces, and happy people everywhere taking a moment to enjoy a meal. Must-eat Yokohama foods can be sourced on almost every street and alleyway, with whole buildings exclusively dedicated to food. There are just some of the must eat food in Yokohama, as well as the best restaurants in Yokohama serving them. We have a stubborn partiality for only the freshest ingredients, coupled with patience for balancing flavor that has been cultivated over centuries, has resulted in a cuisine that is akin to art. Food in Yokohama itself has the added benefit of influence from the west and China thanks to its being the first port city in Japan. So prepare to drool over Yokohama food as the medley of aromas waft to you from the hundreds of eateries dotted all across the city!


Sushi

Sushi

A trip to Yokohama – no matter the length, 24 hours or a month – simply must include sushi. A trip without it is like a trip to Paris without eating a single pastry. The best sushi is made with the freshest produce – the fish is hardly touched in fear of contamination – and crafted with inherent Japanese precision which everyone agrees is certainly worth the effort. The more skilled the chef is and the fresher the fish, the more you’ll need to budget as sushi is considered an art worth paying for. However, some of the best sushi in Yokohama can be found in its backstreets. At Amimoto Izu order directly from the chef who daily welcomes the fishmonger to deliver the catch of the day in the early hours of the morning. Of the popular restaurants near Yokohama Station Sushidokoro Enishi is a local gem that has to be experienced in person. Hougyo is a popular restaurant set on an entire floor of the Sogo Yokohama Department Store and is worth getting a reservation for; they have a great selection of sake to be enjoyed with your sushi and offer a kid-friendly nigiri set menu.

Authentic Ramen

Authentic Ramen

Yokohama is the birthplace of instant ramen, which must be why ramen here is extra-special and something that should be high up your Yokohama to-do list! You’ll see noodles being kneaded, tossed and cooked everywhere in Yokohama, and get the opportunity to admire the graceful way chefs prepare ramen as you walk through the streets of Yokohama (a sight I sorely missed when I lived in London for a year!). Here you will find ramen in all textures, colors and flavors; accompanied with various topping varieties. Opt for a ramen tasting at the Ramen Museum in Yokohama – the number one stop to learn all about this Japanese favorite. The museum boasts eight restaurants, each restaurant focusing on an authentic regional ramen dish, including Yokohama style ramen which is particularly thick and hearty style ramen. Educate yourself and have fun simultaneously at the Cupnoodles Museum, where you can learn more about the invention of instant ramen and create your own special cup of noodles packaged to go. Some of the best ramen in Yokohama can be found in restaurants near Yokohama Station such as Yoshimuraya, but prepare to queue with the locals and don’t worry if you slurp; it is not considered rude at all. If you’re feeling hungry after a day of sightseeing, nothing feels more Japanese than catching a seat at your favorite noodle bar with a good bowl of ramen!

Nikuman - Steamed Meat Buns

Nikuman - Steamed Meat Buns

My favorite street food in Yokohama is nikuman; a steamed bun with a difference. It is sold in abundance up and down the streets and in the best restaurants in Yokohama Chinatown; it’s a Chinese delicacy that the people of Yokohama have accepted with open arms! The best nikuman is served fresh; immediately after the cooking process. It is often bite-sized with a crispy bottom, soft doughy top and a delicious tender meat or vegetable core. With hundreds of taste combinations to choose from I recommend sharing so that you can try as many different fillings as possible (you are bound to gobble up more than you’d like to – I always do). Look out for the soupy fillings; it can take you by surprise when biting into these spherical beauties! Serving customers for over a century and located in the busiest street in Chinatown, I recommend a visit to Edosei for some of the best nikuman. The Butaman menu is what the locals go for, filled as they are with seafood goodness.

Soba Noodles

Soba Noodles

A thin traditional noodle made from buckwheat and usually served in a piping hot broth (soba can be sampled at the Ramen Museum), or cooled and eaten with a dipping sauce or nori. It is so popular that it can be found at free-standing restaurants and street-food vendors, as well as cooked in most Japanese households. Minatoan Yamashita is a local and expat favorite, but prepare to queue as the food here is cooked fresh according to the principles of Japanese cuisine. The soba tsuyu is a recommended choice during summer, and the combination of soba with a bowl of tentsuyu, coated ebi tempura or kakiage is a hit amongst many, and the tempura is to die for! Bonus points; the menu is well illustrated with great kiddie choices.

Yakitori

Yakitori

Yakitori are grilled skewers of tasty, tender chicken like no other; spiced to perfection to extract the best flavors. It’s not just the juicy white meat that makes it onto the skewer, but the momo (thigh), teba (wing) and tsukune (chicken meatballs) are used too, my all time favorites! Grilled to perfection, it makes for a healthy snack. Enjoy this tasty treat a mere 5 minutes away from Yokohama station at Yokohama Yakitori Kabou, a popular restaurant chain across Japan and even found in the USA. Well known for their authentic street food flavor since 1985, their succulent yakitori has the population of Yokohama addicted, but they also serve excellent sushi and sake. Alternatively, you can enjoy a Yakitori Yokohama taste experience at Denbai which serves up a perfectly marinated variation of this grilled skewer-chicken; add a group of friends and a splash of sake and call it a party!

Hiroshima styled Okonomiyaki

Hiroshima styled Okonomiyaki

Photo Credit: i0.wp.com


This is a savory pancake combined with vegetables, meat, seafood and some other ingredients. But it’s not to be confused with Kansai-style okonomiyaki, where all ingredients are pre-mixed. More of a challenge to cook, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki is a combination of ingredients topped and cooked in layers on top of a pancake base. It’s a thing of sheer elegance to witness an experienced chef concoct Hiroshima style okonomiyaki right in front of you, a performance best witnessed at one of the best restaurants in Yokohama, Botejyu, where they make okonomiyaki that will have you coming back for more!

Tempura

Tempura

Photo Credit: taste.com.au


A popular Japanese specialty loved the world over, this delicacy with its crispy outside and soft, juicy inside, paired with the perfect dipping sauce, is another firm favorite among local street food. Great tempura should be light and crispy, but not greasy, and can be found with a wide variety of fillings. Once you’ve tasted properly prepared tempura in Japan, there’s simply no going back and you will have to return time and again for the real deal. Tempura at the family-run Fukunishi is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of perfect tempura. Their helpful English menu and Mr Fukunishi’s impeccable grasp of the English language makes this one a hit among my expat friends. Once again, don't be surprised to see a line running out the door; this Michelin star establishment is a popular choice and for good reason. Ginza Tenichi may be a challenging find the Yokohama Takashimaya Store, but your search efforts will be well rewarded when you get to watch a blank canvas turn into a tempura masterpiece, almost too beautiful to eat.

Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu

Very much like schnitzel, tonkatsu is a reasonably priced, golden-brown, crumbed and deep-fried pork cutlet, usually served with a sauce that enriches the flavors of the pork. The Japanese love experimenting with global cuisine, giving it a local twist and this is just one shining example of this. Good versions of this yoshoku (western-inspired Japanese cuisine) should not be over greasy, and are usually served with shredded cabbage and rice, curried to make Japanese curry katsu or sandwiched between fresh white bread with a delicious sauce to lap up. It is so popular that you’ll find tonkatsu being made and served all over Yokohama, with one of my favorite spots being Katsuretsu An. The English menu might be the initial drawcard, but that the friendly staff and great tonkatsu is what keeps the loyal patrons coming back for more. With unlimited refills of rice, cabbage and miso combined with the fact that they are one of the largest tonkatsu chain restaurants in Japan, Tonkatsu Wako Yokohama Porta is definitely another option worth checking out. It's not often a chain restaurant can be consistent with the quality of their food, but at Tonkatsu Wako the tonkatsu is always crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and is never ever greasy.

Sake

Sake

Of course, no trip to Japan is complete without our national drink – sake; a fermented rice wine loved by many across the world. A favorite pastime for locals is milling through the streets and avenues of Noge, hopping in and out of restaurants and bars, in constant search of the best food and drink. This lively district is where I recommend you go in search of great sake, food and a warm, atmospheric vibe. Check out Hanasaku; a new-age bar serving an age-old drink, where you can choose from a variety of sake, coupled with some bite-sized portions of yummy Japanese tapas-style cuisine; the ideal way to kick off a night out in Yokohama. The Hub, near Yokohama station, is a popular bar where you are likely to catch expats and locals alike letting off steam throughout the day. Head to Meishu Center Yokohama if you’re in the mood for a more serious sake adventure; they boast a sake tasting bar and bottle shop offering over 100 different sake sourced from artisan brewers situated in the countryside of Japan.