Asakusa is one of the top tourist destinations in Tokyo. With the iconic Sensoji Temple sitting in the area, the charming old neighbourhood is packed with good selection of budget accommodations, a variety of food choices, and also lively events and festivals all year round.
In case you didn’t know, Asakusa is also a street food paradise that any foodie should not miss. Here’s our compilation of the most famous and popular snacks in Asakusa.
Just a little reminder though, eating while walking is considered impolite in Japan, especially around the Sensoji Temple (yes, even it is street food). So be sure to eat the food you purchase on the spot, either in the shop or in the space near the storefront.
Age Manju あげまんじゅう
Image: feministjulie on flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Manju is one of the traditional Japanese treats similar to Chinese steamed bun with a filling. It is popular among Japanese people because it is cheap, tasty, and available in dozens of varieties and flavours.
In Asakusa, age-manju or deep fried manju is considered a must-try for anyone visiting the place. Made famous by a shop called Asakusa Kokonoe, age-manju appears to be a manju encased in a tempura shell, and is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
Image: Moira Clunie on flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
There are a variety of fillings to choose from – apart from the classic manju with red bean paste, there are also sesame, sakura, chocolate, curry, and even monjayaki flavour for those who prefer a savoury snack. Moreover, the manju here are fried freshly at the shop using high quality oil. Surely it is worth trying whether you are a fan of manju or not.
Asakusa Kokonoe 浅草九重
Hours: 9:30 AM – 7 PM
Access: 5 minute walk from Asakusa Station (located on Nakamise Shopping Street).
Image: dreamcat115 on flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Ningyo-yaki is traditional small cakes that come in adorable doll shapes (“ningyo” means doll in Japanese). Made from flour, eggs, and sugar, they are usually filled with a sweet red bean filling and then baked in hot iron moulds.
The common shapes for ningyo-yaki are pigeon, five-story pagoda and the lantern of Kaminarimon, but you can also find cakes in other fancy shapes such as Doraemon and Hello Kitty. This local snack is one of the iconic souvenirs of Asakusa.
Image: dreamcat115 on flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Kimuraya Honten on the Nakamise Shopping Street is the oldest ningyo-yaki shop in Asakusa established in 1868. There is another shop on the street with a similar name: Kimuraya Honpo. Although selling the same product, the taste of their ningyo-yaki is different – try both shops and find out which one is your favourite!
Don’t miss watching the cakes being made by the craftsmen and eat them fresh and hot. Although they are delicious anytime, the taste is really different when they are still warm – the sweetness of the filling goes really well with the soft and fluffy cake.
Kimuraya Honten 木村家本店
Hours: 9 AM – 7 PM
Access: 6 minute walk from Asakusa Station (corner shop located right next to Sensoji’s Hozomon Gate).
Kimuraya Ningyoyaki Honpo 木村家人形焼本舗
Hours: 9:30 AM – 6: 30 AM
Access: 4 minute walk from Asakusa Station.
Daigaku Imo 大学芋
Asakusa is famous for its sweet potato snacks and daigaku-imo is definitely one of the must tries. Also known as candied sweet potatoes, daigaku-imo is deep fried chunks of sweet potatoes that are glazed with syrup then topped with black sesame seeds.
Go to Oimoyasan Koushin for good daigaku-imo that is made using select, in season sweet potatoes. Started out as a sweet potato wholesaler in 1876, the shop sells various sweet potato confections made from high quality sweet potatoes from all over Japan.
Another hot selling item of Oimoyasan Koushin is “sweet potato” スイートポテト, a western-style sweet made by mixing sweet potato puree with butter and milk then baked. Also popular is “apple potato” アップルポテト, available only from autumn to spring combining the delicious taste of apple, cinnamon, and sweet potato. If these are not enough, be sure to try their purple sweet potato soft serve too!
Oimoyasan Koushin おいもやさん興伸
Hours: 10 AM – 7 PM
Access: 5 minute walk from Asakusa Station.
Jumbo Melon Pan ジャンボめろんぱん
Melon pan is a signature of Japanese sweet buns that is named for its appearance rather than taste – coated with a layer of crunchy cookie dough, the round bread looks like a melon and hence its name despite not having any melon flavour.
No visit to Asakusa is complete without trying the jumbo melon pan from Kagetsudo which sells up to 3,000 of it a day! At 220 yen each, the melon bread here is much larger than a normal melon pan, yet it is incredibly soft and light with pleasant butter scent. It is said that the secret lies in the fermentation technique which rising the dough slowly in a way similar to the making of Japanese sake.
Image: not_sushi_ on instagram
The shop also sells other baked goods and Japanese-style desserts, including the popular Ice Cream Melon Pan which is melon pan with ice cream in the middle. A warm bread and cold ice cream combo? Yes please!
Asakusa Kagetsudo 浅草花月堂
Hours: 9 AM – 4 PM (or until sold out)
Access: 10-minute walk from Asakusa Station.
Ground Meat Cutlet メンチカツ
Up until now, most of the snacks that had been introduced were confections, now here is a real treat for those who don’t fancy sweet foods – menchi katsu or ground meat cutlets by Asakusa Menchi! Well-loved by locals and tourists alike, it is one of the hottest street foods you can find in Asakusa, and the shop also sells thousands of it each day!
The croquettes of Asakusa Menchi are made using minced beef and pork, breaded and then deep fried. Served fresh out of the fryer, they are crispy on the outside, very moist and juicy on the inside. As such, be careful not to burn your tongue when you eat it because the juices inside is still steaming hot and they ooze out the moment you bite into it.
At only 200 yen each, the cutlet will satisfy any hunger pangs you have when walking around the district, but be prepared to wait a bit as long queues are often formed outside the shop.
Asakusa Menchi 浅草メンチ
Hours: 10 AM to 7 PM
Access: 3 minute walk from the Exit 6 of Asakusa Station.