Asakusa has long been recognized as Downtown Tokyo for several hundred years, and like most downtown regions across the globe, it is the home to several cheap bars and eating houses. Unpretentious and tiny, Hoppy Dori has a wide range of Japanese taverns, known as Izakayas that offer cheap drinks and great food at reasonable rates. Often decorated with red paper lanterns, Izakayas were traditionally hole-in-the-wall places, where men drank sake and beer, after work. However, today they are more accommodating and in addition to losers from the nearby betting facility, you can find many youngsters, tourists and even families enjoying a drink at their favourite izakaya.
cover photo credit:Nicolas Dumazet
1. Izakayas and Hoppy Dori
Hoppy Dori is located west of Sensoji Temple, and most of the Izakayas on this street are open from morning. Most of the taverns have both a bar as well as table seats, and some of the popular ones also have seats outside, so that you can enjoy your drink, while watching the people in the street pass by. Any trip to Tokyo would be incomplete without a trip to Hoppy Dori (or Hoppy Street), the Asakusa alley named after the iconic almost-beer beverage that is very popular in this part of Japan. So, let’s check out my favourite places in Hoppy Dori to hang out…
This is a popular Izakaya in Hoppy Dori, which serves Hoppy on tap. You can also order Hoppy with schochu here, if you want to drink Hoppy the way the locals love to drink it. It also serves some really good Korean style beef tendons, and miso-flavoured giblet stew.
This is a two floor eatery which serves some great food, including mixed platters which are great for 3-4 people. You can try the sashimi platter, or the five skewer combo. Don’t forget to try the Hoppy with schochu to make the most of your night out at Motsukushi.
4. Hyoutan nabe Kaminarimon
For an authentic sake and flavoursome oden (a typically Japanese one pot dish, with assorted fish balls, deep-fried tofu, hard boiled eggs, etc.), you should head for Hyotan. With over 30 ingredients to choose from, you can customize your oden just the way you want it. And they serve a fine range of liquour too, if you are in the mood for something other than sake.
Shouchan is this perfect little hole in the wall where you can enjoy local Japanese food, and not feel like an outsider. In fact, they even welcome pets, that’s how friendly they are. The beef stew – Gyu Nikomi – is considered legendary by the locals.
Okada offers rare sake and schochu and is a popular place to pick up some great chicken yakitori and chicken kidney skewers, and even the tiara. They also serve a lot of Ramen noodles here, so reach here early, if you want to experience their specialties.
If you are a foodie, love your Hoppy & schochu and want to explore the fun side of Japan, step onto Hoppy Street. The Izakaya here are fairly cheap, and offer a great value-for-money. Make sure you reach the street in time, to get a decent chance to sit at.
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