Hoppy Street is Asakusa’s most famous location for eating, drinking and experiencing Tokyo’s downtown nightlife – and everything is cheap! This narrow street is located to the west of Sensoji Temple and runs from north to south for about 80 meters. On both sides, Hoppy Street is lined with cheap old-fashioned taverns, called izakaya, which are open day and night, and usually crowded with happy customers. Many of these izakaya are decorated with lanterns and have outdoor street-side seating which gives the whole area a special festive atmosphere.
Hoppy Street is named after the Hoppy drink, a cheap beverage with a similar taste to beer but a very low alcohol content (only around 0.8%). Typically Hoppy is mixed with shochu, a much stronger distilled alcoholic beverage, but Hoppy can also be used as a mixer for other cocktails. In the past, cheap Hoppy mixed with shochu was a popular drink in downtown Asakusa, where the local people couldn’t afford to drink beer. These days beer is also popular here, but Hoppy mixed with shochu is seen as a nostalgic drink and a part of local culture.
Hoppy Street, has also been called Nikomi Dori or “Stew Street”, because most of the izakaya here serve nikomi, which is a kind of cheap stew made from beef tendons and vegetables. Each business has their own special variation on this stew, so when bar hopping on Hoppy Street, trying some of the different stews is part of the fun.
Here are some of the best known izakaya on Hoppy Street.
This Showa era izakaya was established in 1959 and is famous for its special spicy version of beef tendon stew. This store also serves Korean-style cheese chijimi pancakes, and “Denki Bran” (or “electric brandy”), another cheap local drink, which is a sweet blend of brandy with gin, wine, curacao, and medicinal herbs. Okamoto has English, Chinese and Korean menus and some multilingual staff. Here is a map of the location.
Address: 1-40-7 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo-to 111-0032
Monday – Wednesday & Friday & Saturday: 11.00 – 23.00 (Last Orders: 22.30)
Thursday: 17.00 – 23.00 (Last Orders: 22.30)
Sunday 11:00 – 22.30 (Last Orders: 22.00)
This is a two-story izakaya serving nikomi style stews, kushiyaki kebabs, and sashimi. Pork giblet stews are available as well as the usual beef variety. This store has an English menu and on the second floor they have tatami seating. Here is a map of the location.
Address: 2-3-16 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo-to 111-0032
Weekdays: 11.00 – 23.00
Weekends: 9.00 – 23.00
Suzuyoshi has Hoppy on tap and a particularly good shochu selection. On the food menu is yakitori grilled chicken, grilled fish, sashimi, and Korean-style beef tendon stew with lots of garlic and spices.
Here is a map of the location.
Address: 2-5-5-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo-to 111-0032
Weekdays: 12.00 – 22.00 (Last Orders: 21.30)
Weekends: 9.00 – 22.00 (Last Orders: 21.30)
Closed on Tuesdays
Located halfway up Hoppy Street, Izakaya Koji has plenty of seating both inside and outside the store. On the menu is slow-cooked beef tendon stew with a tofu topping, deep fried ham cutlets, chicken gizzards simmered in garlic, smoked beef tongue, and other delicacies. Izakaya Koji has an English menu. Here is a map of the location.
Address: 2-3-19 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo-to 111-0032
Tuesday – Friday: 15.00 – 23.00
Weekends: 9.00 – 23.00
Closed on Mondays
For over forty years Tanuki has been serving its own special salty-sweet stew of beef tendons and konnyaku jelly in a lightly flavored soy-based broth. Also on the menu is a rich selection of grilled seafood, grilled vegetables, and yakitori chicken. Here is a map of the location.
Address: 2-5-12 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo-to 111-0032
Monday, Tuesday & Friday: 15.00 – 22.00
Weekends: 11.00 – 22.00
Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays
Shochan is a tiny eatery first established in 1951 which serves a simple but substantial nikomi stew of beef, onions, and konnyaku topped with tofu. Also on the menu are nikujaga style meat and potato stew, chicken wings, and tasty pickles. This store has an English menu. Here is a map of the location.
Address: 2-7-13 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo-to 111-0032
Weekdays: 13.00 – 22.00
Weekends: 10.00 – 22.00
Closed on Tuesdays
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.