One of Tokyo’s most unique neighborhoods, Harajuku is a wonderful place to get lost in. It has a world of its own that manages to surprise every time regardless of how well-documented this place has been. It is chock-full of shops and is crowded by a mix of the city’s most fashionable, most eccentric, and most youthful people. Suffice to say, roaming its streets is a delightful assault on the senses, where the visuals are kaleidoscopic and the noise endlessly energetic. As for the smells, they are truly inviting because as much as this area is a shopping destination, the food finds are likewise remarkable. Characteristic of the neighborhood, Harajuku’s food scene is as colorful as it gets. Dive head first into sumptuous meals and treats with the area’s most popular food recommendations:

Crepes in Takeshita Street

Crepes are perhaps the food item most associated with Harajuku. Along Takeshita Street – Harajuku’s iconic shopping alley, the numerous crepe stalls are unmissable with its colorful food display storefront. Whereas a single whiff of the cooked batter is all it takes to get you to line up for one, the deciding part on what to have, on the other hand, is not as simple. Like the neighborhood, Harajuku-style crepes are flamboyant, offering endless varieties from sweet to savory flavors.

Of the many creperies in the area, Marion Crepes is the most popular. It is credited to have started the neighborhood’s love for crepes by improving on the basic French recipe and turning it into the creative treats they are now. The shop has over 70 kinds of crepes, so good luck choosing!

Address: 1-6-15 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.marion.co.jp/english/

Fluffy pancakes at Rainbow Pancake

Rainbow Pancake is dubbed as one of the best pancake restaurants in the city. Its soft and fluffy pancakes are amazing, but what really sets them apart is their creative spin on the flavors. Items on the menu include things not usually paired with pancakes like avocado and chili beans for their Mexican flavored pancake. As for the crowd favorite, the title goes to their much raved about Macadamia Nut Sauce Pancake creation. Located in an alley off Takeshita Street, its somewhat obscure location was never a deterrent for hungry pancake fans. Expect to find a long line and about an hour’s waiting time especially during peak hours.

Address: 2F Ares Garden Omotesando, 4-28-4 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: http://www.rainbowpancake.net (Japanese only)

Largest cotton candy at Totti Candy Factory

Totti Candy Factory is a testament to Harajuku’s whimsical side. This shop along Takeshita Street sells a huge collection of sweets in a neon-lit candy room, but the item they are most known for is their giant cotton candy called Totti Harajuku Special. It’s so big that it’s probably the size of three heads combined, and with its four-color streaks, it definitely feels like you’re munching on rainbow clouds.

Address: 2F Ryu Apartment 1-16-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.totticandy.com (Japanese only)

Crazy food at Kawaii Monster Café

If you feel like being transported into another world, you will most definitely be thrilled to step inside and dine at Kawaii Monster Café. The brainchild of popular artist Sebastian Masuda, this café promises kawaii overdose with its bright, colorful, and wacky concepts embodied in its décor, food, and service. The place is set up to have different experience zones distinctly designed to tickle one’s imagination. The food served is psychedelic and anything but ordinary like rainbow-colored pasta. The staff in charge of the whole experience are the so-called “Monster Girls”, revved up versions of the famed Harajuku girls.

Like Alice falling into a rabbit hole to find herself in Wonderland, your journey inside Kawaii Monster Café is a strange and dream-like one. It only takes ¥500 to score a 90-minute ticket to take a peek inside this universe, but of course, we strongly recommend that you dine-in as well to get the most out of this unique experience.

Address: 4F YM Square Building, 4-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥2,000 ~ ¥2,999

Website: http://www.kawaiimonster.jp/

Fine ramen at AFURI

The Harajuku crowd is a lover of all things modern which is why Afuri – Tokyo’s small chain of modern ramen, is the designated ramen recommendation in the area. Afuri bowls are unique because of its use of spring water from Kanagawa’s Mt. Afuri, whose ph quality is said to be the key factor for its soup base. The chicken broth is served a lot lighter than what you’d get from traditional ramen joints, and the signature bowls would have that citrusy yuzu kick. Another interesting deviation from the standard is its non-use of MSG, while in terms of service, its branches are all chic and classy spaces. In Tokyo’s ramen world, Afuri’s approach to ramen surely stands out. It brought a lot of finesse to this well-loved Japanese comfort food.

Address: 1F Grandeforesta, 3-63-1 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.afuri.com

Hawaiian pancakes at Eggs ‘n Things

Eggs ‘n Things is a popular Hawaiian pancake house based in Oahu. Inviting diners to enjoy breakfast at any time of the day, this restaurant serves pancakes and a slew of breakfast items like omelettes, eggs benedict, waffles, and crepes. It’s a piece of sunny Hawaiian culture in the midst of energetic Harajuku. A perfect pairing, no doubt about it.

Address: 4-30-2 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: https://www.eggsnthingsjapan.com

Ricotta cheese pancakes at Bills

The legendary status of Bills’ ricotta cheese pancakes is so that its original Sydney restaurant was hailed to be serving the best breakfast in the world. These days, there are more places to enjoy this world-famous hotcake with Bills opening new branches in the UK, Hawaii, Korea, and of course, Japan. Menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner vary, but good thing this signature item is available for order all throughout the day.

Address: 7F Tokyu Plaza Omotesando, 4-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 3,000 ~ ¥3,999

Website: http://billsjapan.com/en

Chocolate chunk pizza at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar

If you’ll devour anything chocolate, then this Chocolate Chunk Pizza by chocolate culture specialist Max Brenner is a must-try. Rich chocolate on pizza dough smothered with slightly torched marshmallows will give you more than enough sugar rush you’ll need to match the over-the-top energy of Harajuku.

Address: 1F Omotesando Hills 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: http://www.maxbrenner.co.jp

Kukuruza Popcorn

Harajuku is the mecca for all things trendy which is why it is likewise a magnet for international retail companies aiming to penetrate the Japanese market. One of the Western trends that have successfully achieved mainstream success in the area is artisanal popcorn, first brought in by Seattle-based popcorn makers Kukuruza. As with other food items that took this neighborhood by storm, the formula for instant popularity seems to be offering the customers an interesting set of creative flavors. Kukuruza offers a set of 36 different flavors that rotates on a daily basis. Flavors range from familiar ones like Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel Corn, to the downright innovative Truffle Fromage Porcini variant.

Address: 1F Omotesando Hills 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: http://www.kukuruza.jp (Japanese only)

Garrett Popcorn

Quick to hop on the gourmet popcorn craze is another US-based company, Garrett Popcorn. Its building along Takeshita Street is an attention-grabber with its attractive façade decorated giant popcorn and its trademark blue bucket. There are seven staple flavors with the Chicago Mix (a blend of cheese and caramel) being the most popular, while seasonal flavors surprise customers every once in a while. Like Kukuruza, Garrett Popcorn is a hit in Harajuku that an hour’s worth of queueing up is considered tolerable.

Address: 1-13-18 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.garrettpopcorn.com/harajuku

Croquant Chou ZakuZaku

When something is from Hokkaido, it must be good. Croquant Chou ZakuZaku is that confectionary shop hailing from Japan’s northern island that is making Tokyo fall in love with its unique iteration of the cream puff. ZakuZaku’s version is served as sticks with a crunchy almond-crusted coating and rich custard cream filling made with milk sent directly to the store from free-range farms in Hokkaido. The day’s supply is made fresh inside the store, which you can freely observe from behind the glass walls of its kitchen area. It’s so heavenly and addicting, you might be tempted to hoard for a few days’ stock, but alas, the shelf life is only good for a day.

Address: Cute Cube Harajuku 1F, 1 Chome-7-1 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://en.zakuzaku.co.jp

Japanese and Western fusion treats at Toraya Cafe

Toraya, one of Tokyo’s long-standing Wagashi makers, may be a company steeped in centuries-old traditions, but that doesn’t mean they do not evolve with the times. While the traditional sweets sold at their confectionery stores are left unchanged, their Toraya Cafés offer some leeway for modern sensibilities. Here you can enjoy desserts like puddings, castella cakes, and shaved ice served with a Japanese twist.

Address: 1F Omotesando Hills 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: https://www.toraya-group.co.jp/toraya-cafe/shops/omotesando/ (Japanese only)

Cake and other desserts at Magnolia Bakery

This time from New York, Magnolia Bakery is Harajuku’s go-to place for Western cakes, cupcakes, pies, and cookies. Featured in the popular US TV series Sex and the City, and occupying the floor beneath Omotesando’s very posh Chanel store, this establishment has been a hit among female Tokyoites since it first opened in 2014.

Address: B1F GYRE Building 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: https://www.facebook.com/magnoliabakeryjapan/

Belgian fries at Pommeke

Taking a break from sweets, Harajuku isn’t short of options if you happen to crave for salty food, and this one goes well with beer. Pommeke is a great place to hang out and chat with friends after a day’s worth of roaming around the neighborhood. The menu is pretty straightforward – real Belgian fries with your choice of dip and a selection of tap beer. Just perfect for pre-dinner or post-dinner drinks.

Address: 1F Halekulani Kitaaoyama 2-12-27 Kita-Aoyama, Minato, Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: http://www.pommeke.jp/en

Good Town Doughnuts

Opening its doors in 2015, Good Town Doughnuts is one of the latest additions to the already colorful and sugar-infused Harajuku food scene. However, despite being a newbie, it is already worth mentioning because one cannot simply say no to a good old-fashioned doughnut. There are 15 variants to choose from with their bestseller being the Sea Salt Caramel. If you eat in, the menu is surprisingly extensive for a doughnut shop. They offer paninis, muffins, and toast for food, and a wide selection of hot and cold concoctions for the drinks.

Address: B1F J-Cube Building 6 Chome-12-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.good-town.com

Harajuku Gyozaro

They only serve gyoza and that’s ok, because theirs are the best pork dumplings you’ll ever get to taste in all of Tokyo. These gyoza are said to be best eaten sans the sauce to fully appreciate its flavor, and while you’re at it, choose to partner it with either beer or tea, and a rather limited selection of side dishes. Though situated in Harajuku, this restaurant lacks the panache that is the driving force behind almost all of the establishments in the area. On the contrary, Harajuku Gyozaro is a no-frills diner where you simply line up, order, eat, and then get going. But then again, it’s a luxury they can afford for being the best one in their league in this very competitive city.

Address: 6-2-4 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1306/A130601/13001284/ (Japanese only)

Lobster roll at Luke’s

Generous chunks of unadulterated fresh Maine lobster meat tucked in between a slightly buttered bun is what makes a Luke’s lobster roll. A lot of New Yorkers have gone crazy over this, and somehow it has found its way to Tokyo; in particular, somewhere along Harajuku’s Cat Street. They also sell crab and shrimp versions, mac and cheese, and clam chowder soup.

Address: 6-7-1 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: http://lukeslobster.jp/#/

Asian food at Chao Bamboo

Head to Chao Bamboo for a different kind of food craving. Nasi goreng, pad thai, fresh spring rolls, and tom yum are some of the Thai-Vietnamese-Chinese meals you can order here. Of all the tricks Harajuku has hidden up in its sleeves, this ranks among the gems for it is not that easy to find authentic-tasting Southeast Asian cuisine served cheap in Tokyo. It doesn’t hurt that the restaurant’s ambiance is so on point as well. Little details in the décor – like the use of metal stools and tables extending out into the street, bring out the street food dining concept with which these meals are associated. For a little while, you’ll forget that you’re in Japan while feasting on your stir-fried dish.

Address: 6-1-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 2,000 ~ ¥2,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1306/A130602/13009408/ (Japanese only)

Comcrepe

A newbie in Harajuku but already a famous brand in its home base Toyama Prefecture, Comcrepe joins in on the already tight battle for crepe supremacy along Takeshita Street. Its star product is the Crepe Brulee, a cone-shaped crepe with a distinct caramelized crust on top. This original creation comes in five different flavors: original custard, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and cream cheese.

Address: 1-A One Takeshita Place 1-8-25 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.toyamagu.jp/pc.html (Japanese only)

Potato treats at Brooklyn Ribbon Fries

Potato specialist Brooklyn Ribbon Fries is the place to go in Harajuku for thin and crispy made-to-order potato chips. Served in a bucket and seasoned based on your preference, their ribbon fries are best consumed with their equally famous cold ginger ale.

Address: Commune 246 3-23-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://brooklynribbonfries.com

All price information in this article is as of January 2017.

Thumbnail image is from Flickr.