The Top 5 “Solitary Gourmet” Spots in Tokyo

The Top 5 “Solitary Gourmet” Spots in Tokyo

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Inogashira Goro, the lead charcter of Kodoku no Gurume
Inogashira Goro has eaten his way through Japan. Here are the top five Tokyo spots from The Solitary Gourmet you should absolutely visit.

Are you a food fan? Do you love trying new restaurants, sampling local specialties, and broadening your culinary horizons?

In that case, you should definitely get to know Inogashira Goro. This “foodie” is the title character of the long-running manga and live-action drama, Kodoku no Gurume, aka The Solitary Gourmet. Beginning its life in 1994 as a manga serialized in Weekly Spa! magazine, Kodoku no Gurume was adapted into a drama starring Matsushige Yutaka in 2012. Nine seasons have been released, with a tenth still airing.

The plot of Kodoku no Gurume is simple: Goro, a salaryman, often travels around Japan for work. Wherever he goes, he tries new restaurants and new foods. Each chapter of the manga and episode of the television drama focuses on another place Goro eats. He dines everywhere from Michelin-starred restaurants to street stalls – and, in one memorable episode, even a hospital cafeteria!

While Goro has made a few trips abroad, notably to South Korea and Taipei, most of his culinary adventures take place in Japan, particularly Tokyo. Many of the restaurants and locations Goro frequents are still around and available for dining. Here are five that foodies who wish to follow in Goro’s footsteps should definitely check out! [1]

(Also, if you need help ordering in Japanese, be sure to check out our guide to ordering in Japanese restaurants!)

HIROKI: Authentic Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki

Picture: ささざわ / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Okonomiyaki roughly translates to “grilled up whatever-you-like,” and that description couldn’t be more accurate! This dish consists of thin, pancake-like dough blended with chopped cabbage and a variety of fillings such as pork belly, oysters, shrimp, or green onions, often topped with mayonnaise, sauce, and katsuobushi (bonito flakes).


Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki typically also includes soba noodles and is topped with a fried or sunny-side-up egg. Chefs prepare the okonomiyaki on a metal plate while the customer watches, a style of cooking known as teppanyaki.

In the ninth episode of the first season of Kodoku no Gurume, Goro dined at HIROKI, a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and teppanyaki restaurant located in Shimokitazawa District, Setagaya Ward. The restaurant specializes in okonomiyaki made with fresh seafood and their original recipe sauce. Goro ate – and thoroughly enjoyed – a dish containing oysters and scallops, although HIROKI’S most popular dish also features shrimp and squid.

HIROKI is open daily from 12PM until 10PM, although Hiroshima oysters are available only seasonally – typically from November until February.

Cafe Den: Sweet and Savory Treats

Goro tends to prefer savory meals. However, he will occasionally stop in at a cafe or sweet shop for a more dessert-style treat. In an episode of Season 3, while visiting Uguisudani in Taito Ward, the Solitary Gourmet briefly visited Cafe Den, a cozy neighborhood hot spot for drinks, pastries, and stews.

Although Den’s menu does include full meals, Goro chose to enjoy one of their signature drinks, an iced coffee topped with a generous scoop of milk-flavored ice cream and an upside-down cone. Both the taste and appearance of the drink delighted Goro. He even compared it to a “clever-looking man wearing a pointed hat.”

In addition to the soft serve-topped drinks, Cafe Den is famous for its signature gra-pan. Gra-pan consists of large, square chunks of white bread filled with a creamy meat or vegetable stew and topped with melted cheese. This extremely decadent dish is highly filling and can easily serve as an entire meal!

Cafe Den is open Friday through Wednesday from 9AM until 4PM, and is closed Thursdays. Because of its small size, though, it tends to fill up quickly, so visiting this cafe earlier in the day is recommended.

Yayoi: Filling, Hearty Katsudon & More

Picture: ささざわ / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

A katsudon is a bowl of fried cutlet – usually pork – and egg served over rice, sometimes topped with sauce and green onions. These are usually large, filling meals – but when Goro gets hungry, he can easily devour an entire katsudon and still eagerly ask for seconds!

This is what he did in a Season 8 episode when the solitary gourmet visited Yayoi, a restaurant specializing in a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Western food. Goro ate a katsudon and Chinese spiced mapo noodles in one of his largest meals of the season.

Yayoi is a great choice for group travelers because its large menu and variety of foods on offer lets everyone find something they like. Katsudon is the restaurant’s signature dish, but it also serves katsu curry, sauteed pork, ramen, fried rice, and more. Yayoi is located near Minowa Station in Taito Ward. It is open six days a week from 11:30 to 3PM for lunch and 5PM to 8PM for dinner. It is closed on Thursdays.

Cattolica: Unique Pizza and Pasta

Picture: midori_chan / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Natto is a fermented soybean dish that is somewhat of an “acquired taste” due to its sticky texture and strong scent and flavor. It’s also not the first thing anyone would think of when it comes to pizza toppings. And yet, Cattolica, a small, unassuming restaurant in Sumida Ward’s Higashi-Mukojima, did just that – and Goro absolutely loved it! He paired this unique pizza with a dish of spicy, garlic-rich pasta in a late Season 7 episode of Kodoku no Gurume.

In addition to the natto pizza the solitary gourmet sampled, Cattolica also offers a seafood pizza with oysters and sauce-less dessert pizzas in flavors including chocolate and black tea. Pasta dishes are primarily Italian staples, including linguine Romanesco and a dish topped with tomatoes and ham. A “course” menu that allows customers to sample some of the restaurant’s most popular pizzas and pastas is also available.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays. It is open from 11:30AM to 2PM and 5PM to 9PM the other six days of the week.

Sushi Daidokoya: A Conveyor Sushi Experience

Kaitenzushi, also known as “conveyor belt sushi,” is a dish that is as fun to eat as it is delicious. While you sit in the restaurant, a constantly-moving belt brings small plates of sushi (and sometimes side dishes such as edamame or miso soup) to your seat. When you see a plate you want, you simply take it off the belt. There are countless kaitenzushi restaurants throughout Japan, but the one Goro enjoyed in Season 6 of Kodoku no Gurume was Daidokoya, located in the Sangenjaya district of Setagaya Ward.

Daidokoya packs its belt with traditional sushi, including tuna, salmon, shrimp, tamago (egg), and many more. The price of each roll and plate is helpfully listed above the conveyor belt. However, guests who don’t want to deal with grabbing their food from the belt can choose from a large menu including chirashi (bowls of raw fish over rice) and sushi sets of various sizes.

Daidokoya is open from 11AM until 11PM every day of the week. You should probably order fewer plates than Goro did, though – the solitary gourmet has certainly got quite the appetite!

A Simple Guide to Ordering a Meal in a Japanese Restaurant


[1] Hirofun. “ドラマ版 孤独のグルメのマップ&一覧リスト”.

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Kay Benton

Kay is a longtime Japan enthusiast and former participant in the JET Program. Their favorite thing to do when traveling in Japan is visiting as many onsens as possible.

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