Japan experienced rapid economic growth and development from around 1930-1970, a period known as the Showa era. During this time, not only did the economy boom, but unique cafes and shops proliferated across the country. 

However, with the large-scale redevelopment happening today, said to occur only once in a century, there are fewer areas that still retain that Showa atmosphere. The Yanaka area has preserved old buildings through renovation, allowing a lingering sense of that era to remain. It's one of the few remaining downtown Tokyo neighborhoods where you can experience the wonderful ambiance of old Japan. 

Especially famous is the 170-meter long Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street lined with about 60 stores. With its traditional craft shops and Showa-era soul food eateries, strolling along while eating feels like traveling back in time to the Showa period!

This time, I'll introduce the popular ikayaki (grilled squid) restaurant "Yakiya" - a place where it's said "you can't claim to know Yanaka without eating this!" While ikayaki itself originated in the gourmet city of Osaka, there are few places to enjoy it in Tokyo, making Yakiya a real gem.

Reasons to Recommend Yakiya

Enjoy the Taste and Atmosphere of Osaka in Tokyo!

Osaka atomosphere
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The owner of Yakiya, who fell in love with Osaka-style ikayaki, opened the restaurant about 15 years ago to recreate that taste in Tokyo. As someone from Osaka myself, it's really delightful to find a place like Yakiya offering soul foods like ikayaki that are hard to come by in Tokyo.

Not only are the ikayaki delicious, but the interior has the atmosphere of a local Osaka eatery, making it a fun place to get an Osaka vibe in Tokyo. Don't miss the miniature version of Billiken, the cute good luck charm that has been loved in Osaka for over 100 years – rubbing the soles of its feet is said to bring good fortune, so be sure to give them a rub!

Abundant Varieties of Ikayaki

Menu
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Ikayaki, literally meaning "grilled squid," is made by grilling squid until crispy, then placing it on a wheat flour batter made with a special dashi broth, and serving it with a secret sauce.

Categorized with takoyaki and okonomiyaki, ikayaki is a hugely popular local soul food in Osaka, but there are hardly any restaurants offering it in Tokyo, making Yakiya extremely precious. With various toppings including cheese and kimchi, you can find your favorite style of ikayaki. Since it has a snack-like quality, it's perfect when you get a little hungry! Once you try it, you'll get hooked, but again, there are so few places in Tokyo to enjoy it, so Yakiya regulars are a sure thing.

Recommended Menu Items at Yakiya

Ikayaki

Grilled squid
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Here are some recommended ikayaki menu items. First is the "plain" style – this is the standard, original ikayaki flavor with Yakiya's special sauce. If you're new to ikayaki, be sure to try this first!

The plain style with mayonnaise added is the Mayoplain Ikayaki. The sweet and savory sauce combined with the rich mayo is a classic Osaka soul food pairing, so give this a try too.

The Cheese Ikayaki is a must – the hot batter and melty cheese create an instant feeling of bliss when it hits your mouth. Savor the wonderful fusion of cheese and ikayaki.

For those in the know about Japanese flavors, the Mentaiko (spicy cod roe) topping is great to try. Mentaiko, made of fish eggs seasoned with salt and spices, is an essential Japanese ingredient. Its texture and spicy-salted flavor makes for an excellent accent to the ikayaki, creating addicted fans.

There are also menu items combining multiple toppings, so find your favorite and join the ranks of ikayaki fans!

Yanaka's Local Specialty "Ikasen"

Squid Senbei
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You can't miss the "ikasen," now considered a Yanaka specialty! "Senbei" means rice cracker, so ikasen is ikayaki sandwiched between senbei (made from shrimp or octopus).

The contrast between the crispy senbei texture and the fluffy, mochi-like ikayaki batter creates an amazing marriage of flavors and sensations in your mouth that only those who have experienced it can understand.

Yakiya's special sauce also shines here, with its perfect harmony with the ikayaki enhanced by blending with the senbei - the more you chew, the deeper the flavor becomes! Whoever first thought of this combination must have been a genius.

Ikasen is also great for eating on-the-go. However, if you walk around for too long after buying it, the senbei might get soggy from the sauce (what a waste!). So for walk-and-eat ikasen, it's best to enjoy it right after purchasing. If a beer sounds good, they also sell those!

Butayaki (Grilled Pork Ikayaki)

Pork and Squid
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A low-key popular item is the "butayaki" (pork ikayaki). Buta means pork, and this dish adds grilled pork to the squid before putting it on the batter and grilling, so rest assured it contains real squid too.  

Squid and pork might seem like an odd combination, but it's actually quite delicious. For example, Osaka's other famous soul food okonomiyaki has pork belly as a base ingredient, and it's common to add seafood toppings like squid, a long-loved pairing.

Butayaki has a few topping options, and the kimchi (Korean spicy pickled veggies) pairs perfectly with the pork – a must-try if you like spicy food! Cheese is also recommended, or go all-out with both kimchi and cheese. As a limited item, butayaki may sell out by evening.

Getting to Yakiya

Yakiya's address is: 3-11-15 Yanaka, Taito-ku, TokyoThe closest station is JR Nippori Station, about a 4-minute walk away.

Exit the west side of Nippori Station and walk down the gentle slope until you reach some stairs going down (called the "Yuyakedanandan" and famous for the beautiful sunsets visible from the top).Go down these stairs and you'll arrive at the entrance of Yanaka Ginza Shopping Street, with Yakiya immediately to the left.

If taking the subway, Chiyoda Line's Sendagi Station is the closest, about a 6-minute walk.

Reservations Needed? Best Way to Visit

The restaurant interior is small with seating for only 8-10 people (no private bookings available). There's usually a line forming (so you'll know right away!), and you may have to wait quite a while to get a table inside. The outdoor terrace seating or getting food to-go is recommended.

No reservations are accepted, so be prepared to line up, but the turnover is quick so you won't have to wait too long for your freshly grilled order. 

Menu items range from 300-600 yen (soft drinks and alcoholic beverages also available), but they only accept cash - no credit cards or electronic payment.

You can take the ikayaki and butayaki to-go, but the ikasen (rice cracker sandwich) is meant to be eaten right away, as it can get soggy if you wait too long after purchasing. Ikasen is only available for immediate consumption. Also, note that Yakiya is only open on weekends and holidays - it's closed on weekdays.

Yakiya Basic Information

- Address: 3-11-15 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo  
- Phone: 090-1313-9999
- Hours: Weekends & Holidays 11:00am - 6:00pm
- Official Website: https://x.com/ikayakiyakiya