Shin-okubo area in Tokyo is widely known as a Korean town but not a lot of people know there’s also an Islam Yokocho (alley) near the station. Some halal grocery shops, mosques (ex. an apartment room used as a prayer room), and halal restaurants are in the Islam Yokocho.
Where is it?
It’s very easy to get there. Come out from JR Shin-okubo station exit and you will see Matsumoto Kiyoshi drug store at the corner across the big road in front of you. You turn that corner and will see some shops with halal signs.
Grocery shopping for my Indian food cooking
My recent visit to Islam Yokocho was to buy some dried beans and spice for my Indian food cooking. I’ve been interested in cooking Indian food like curry and sabzi these days. After trying a good number of recipes, I realized the spice bottles from Japanese brands are so small. I would finish up a bottle after cooking one or two dishes. Like cumin seeds…they are used in almost all recipes! In the halal shops in Shin-okubo, you can find all kinds of spice and beans including the ones you can’t get in normal Japanese supermarket for very reasonable prices.
Beside spice and dried food, they sell big bags of foreign rice like jasmine rice and basmati rice, frozen halal meat, canned food, drinks, curry paste, and various other halal certified products mainly from overseas. I got a small bottle of hing for my daal curry, mix daal, basmati rice, and some spice.
I knew my shopping bag will be heavy, so I went with a backpack and I was right. Still, carrying around 500g bag of rice and 500g bag of daal in a backpack with my other belongings was hard. Then I remembered my Muslim friend in Japan told me she mainly uses online shop to get halal grocery, great idea. But I enjoyed the shopping experience in Islam Yokocho and some friendly conversation with the people there. I felt like I was not in Japan. The experience is not something I can get from an online shopping.
Halal lunch at Nasco Food Court
We had a halal lunch at Nasco Food Court. They have biryani (chicken, beef, mutton, and fish ) for lunch. Couscous was also on the menu but they didn’t have it that day. Their biryani was simple and delicious! I wanted to try the kebab outside but I was already too full after eating the biryani. There were also Neapli and Indonesian restaurant in the same building. I am going to try the Indonesian next time. I hope they have Ayam Penyet, my favorite Indonesian ayam dish!
Lastly, if you are going to Halal Yokocho, don’t miss the 24h open Yaoya (vegetable shop) at the corner. This yaoya is very popular because they are open 24h and they are cheap. And I have seen some boxes of durians in this shop!
Shin-okubo is a fun place. Needless to say, the Korean town is so lively. There are many restaurants and shops along the main street and even on the small streets stretching to Shinjuku. It seemed like all shops packed. You will also find other Asian shops like Vietnamese and Indonesian in the area. Great place for international grocery shopping and food adventure!