Asakusa's Hoppy Street - home of the best straight-up stew in town

Drink and dine with the downtown crowd in old Tokyo

Asakusa's Hoppy Street - home of the best straight-up stew in town

No need to fret if the name Hoppy Street doesn't ring a bell - this Asakusa alley, named after the classic beer-like beverage and also known as 'Stew Street', isn't exactly high on the list of standard tourist attractions in the area. That, however, is part of the charm of this roughly 80-metre long street, located on the west side of Sensoji Temple next to an off-track betting zone. Although small and unpretentious, Hoppy Street boasts an impressive collection of storefront bars that offer drinks (and more) at very reasonable rates. Traditionally, patrons at these watering holes were a hard-drinking crowd, sipping beers as they scanned the latest horse-racing broadsheets, but young locals and travellers have also discovered the spot in recent years, leading to a change in atmosphere: on weekdays and weekends alike, race fans, tourists, and families with children in tow crowd the neighbourhood. Step off the beaten track and join them next time you're in Asakusa - here's a guide to five little known pubs dedicated to working-class stews and inexpensive brews.

For classic sweet-and-sour flavours: Shochan

Beef stew (¥450)

Although not technically located on Hoppy Street, this small shop easily rates as the best stew joint in the neighbourhood. The beef stew is seasoned in the old Edo style with a kicking sweet-and-sour sauce, and the contents include supple beef tendons, richly seasoned 'devil's tongue' (konyaku), mildly sweet onions, and tofu. These simple ingredients produce a rich, flavourful dish that'll have you coming back for seconds. They even do take-out, allowing you to sample the greatness at home, perhaps combined with a nice bottle of red wine.
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For an ultra-simple taste: Tanuki

Beef tendon stew (¥500)

Tanuki is located in a narrow corner of Hoppy Street and is famed for its beef tendon stew, cooked simply in soy sauce for a down-to-earth, unfussy taste. The tendons are parboiled slowly to give them a distinctive, chewy texture, going perfectly with the konyaku yam cakes. The meat here contains very little fat, making Tanuki's dishes perfect for those who prefer a lighter snack with their drink. Locals like to ask for a raw egg served over rice to go with the stew - try it if you dare.
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It's all about the stew at Koji

Stew (¥450)

Koji, a perennially popular joint that's hosted its share of TV crews and other media, sits smack-dab in the middle of Hoppy Street. Very few customers come here for anything else than the stew - a rich, hearty concoction complete with juicy beef tendons and chewy konyaku yam cakes.
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Try a mix of the best at Motsukushi

Stew sampler (¥950)

Run by Tsukushi, a popular monja joint, this eatery is a relative newcomer to Hoppy Street. Popular items include the beef tendons seasoned in soy sauce, salted beef giblets, and miso-steeped pork giblets - try the three-dish stew sampler (¥950) for a bit of each, yielding a delicious combo of tastes and textures.
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For a spicy kick: Suzuyoshi

Beef giblet stew (¥550)

Sitting pretty in the middle of Stew Street, Suzuyoshi's main draws are stews and yakitori chicken. Order the Japanese-style beef giblet stew for a bowl of tenderly stewed meat in a miso-based, aromatic garlic broth. We also recommend the nice and spicy beef tendon stew.
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By Time Out Tokyo Editors
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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