Shin-Okubo: Escape to Seoul with out leaving Tokyo

Shin Okubo Escape to Seoul without leaving Tokyo

South Korea and all issues Korean have been having their second for fairly some time. It looks as if you’ll be able to’t go anyplace nowadays with out listening to a Ok-Pop track, seeing some Squid Video games references or discovering Korean snacks, sweets and on the spot noodles on the retailer.

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In nicer instances, attending to Seoul from Tokyo was a hop and skip through a 2.5-hour flight. Journey nowadays is a bit more tough, however fortuitously for you, getting a style of Korea is barely a prepare experience or two away to Shin-Okubo Station.

The district is an extension of Shinjuku, and one Yamanote prepare cease away and even a simple stroll from Shinjuku Station. Shin-Okubo is abuzz with numerous Korean eating places, grocery shops, Ok-Magnificence retailers and Ok-Pop idol merchandise sellers.

The neighborhood is normally teeming with teen Ok-Pop followers, younger girls purchasing for cosmetics and Korean meals afficionados on the weekends. Keep away from the crowds by occurring a weekday if attainable. Beneath are a number of enjoyable issues to do when you’re visiting Tokyo’s South Korean hotspot.

Espresso and tea retailers are extraordinarily stylish in Seoul and different components of the Peninsula, so it is smart that this nook of Tokyo would additionally observe swimsuit. Seize a superbly poured latte, or picture-perfect dessert at any of the Korean-style cafes you’ll discover strolling alongside the primary avenue.

Throughout my go to, I ended at 2D Café for a visit into what is meant to appear to be a black and white comedian e book (or, in the event you’re of a sure technology, it would make you’re feeling such as you’ve stepped into the music video of 80s hit “Tackle Me”).

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2D gives an unlimited menu with fascinating lattes, muffins and frappes. I had an iced charcoal latte and a manuru pan, which is a candy bread crammed with cream cheese and topped with a garlicky honey butter and fruits. The manuru pan sounds weirder than it’s, I promise.

2D Café is fairly standard because of its funky décor, so plan to queue as much as get a seat in the event you go to throughout peak hours.

Different cafes value attempting: Seoul Café – gives good drinks and scrumptious bingsu Korean shaved ice. Manufacturing unit 45 Cafe+Rooster – a fantastic café menu and what seems like a scrumptious meals menu that includes, you guessed it – Korean-style fried rooster.

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2D Café
Factory 45 Cafe+Chicken
Seoul Café

The second you step out of the prepare station, and not far away, you’ll be overwhelmed by the entire eating places that includes wonderful Korean meals. You’ll discover many retailers for Korean BBQ and likewise many promoting fried rooster in steel pots that appear to be UFOs. The UFO Rooster, because the dish is named, encompasses a fondue cheese melting within the heart of the steel pot over a tabletop range.

ufo photo by caleb maye

For lunch, I went to the Mamonaku Busan Eki (Translation: Subsequent Cease Busan Station) restaurant, which gives a fantastic cope with an all-you-can-eat major dish for the desk like bulgogi, and an all-you-can-eat buffet of Korean meals favorites like kimbap Korean-style sushi, fried rooster, shrimp and leek chijiimi pancakes and extra.

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The restaurant overlooks the Yamanote line tracks and is themed to appear to be a prepare to Busan, South Korea. Regardless of the gimmicky feeling, the meals is nice and you’ll’t beat the 1,980 yen per particular person (about $15) value! Make reservations upfront if you wish to sit within the “prepare automotive” part.

In case you’re in Shin-Okubo for dinner, attempt Korean BBQ or the UFO Rooster. I attempted the latter at Tak Café on the primary street. At 2,299 yen per particular person, the UFO Rooster at Tak is a bit dear, however it’s scrumptious and the pricing for that is normal for the world eating places serving up comparable setups.

Once you order the UFO, you’re allowed to decide on totally different sauces and one facet per particular person. We selected the traditional yangyeom and honey butter garlic sauces for our fried rooster drummettes and a facet of seafood chijimi and japchae glass stir-fried noodles. We additionally opted for the 90-minute all-you-can-drink possibility for an extra 1,749 yen per particular person.

The UFO rooster is certainly an expertise, and also you’ll be thankful for the plastic gloves supplied as a result of it is a very saucy meal!

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Mamonaku Busan Ekia
Tak Café

In case you’re low on time or simply feeling a bit snackish, you’ll have loads of choices as there are a lot of meals stands for a fast chunk on the road. Seize a hotteok crammed pancake out there in candy and savory flavors. The japchae noodle and the honey hotteok pancakes are two of my favorites.

In case you miss the fried cheese canines from the shops again dwelling, you’ll love the Korean model. Mozzarella cheese is battered and dipped into French fry items then fried for a deliciously tacky and transportable deal with.

Different treats you’ll be able to seize on the go are cute macarons, fried potato spirals, tteokbokki rice cake sticks and extra.

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Over Macaron
Seoul Ichiba grocery store snack bar

On the lookout for a brand new face cleanser or new eyeshadow palette? Shin-Okubo has you lined with dozens of outlets devoted to Korean magnificence merchandise, additionally known as Ok-Magnificence. They’ve one thing for everybody, together with the gents!

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Common Ok-Magnificence must-haves embrace aloe vera gel, Jeju Island clay masks, anti-aging serums, and make-up. You’ve obtained to attempt the ampoule hydrating masks, which use quite a lot of substances together with snail oil, rose oil, snake oil, pearl essence, gold and extra. Korean lip tints and lipsticks are additionally extremely popular.

For males, some shops have sections with skincare and make-up compacts to even pores and skin tone and mattify oily pores and skin. In Korea, freshening up with make-up shouldn’t be taboo for males, so don’t be afraid to offer it a attempt. Lots of the merchandise function well-known Ok-Pop singers since their pores and skin all the time have to be camera-ready.

Starbox cosmetics store

Although it’s possible you’ll get the impression that you could solely get Ok-Magnificence or go to a restaurant at Shin-Okubo, you will get your arms on different cool Korean items right here, too.

Ok-Pop followers have loads of retailers devoted to their favourite teams and idols’ merchandise. Need a BTS tote bag or a hand fan together with your favourite BIGBANG member? You’ll discover that and lots extra on the many retailers devoted solely to the music style.

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Not a Ok-Pop fan? Store for some cool threads on the smaller shops within the district or try the stylish cellphone circumstances, Squid Sport merchandise, cute equipment and enjoyable socks many shops have on the market. You’ll additionally discover some trendy Ok-95 masks so you’ll be able to dodge COVID-19 in fashion.

If you wish to recreate some Korean dishes at dwelling, there are grocery shops devoted to substances and meals objects from the Peninsula. My favourite objects to purchase once I’m in Shin-Okubo embrace Korean chips, snacks and on the spot ramen used to recreate the ramdon from the Oscar-winning movie “Parasite.”

For a style of conventional Korean sweets that additionally make nice omiyage, cease by Kkultarae, a stand providing sweets by the identical title. Kkul-tarae interprets to courtroom cake and resembles a bundle or pillow. This candy deal with is made from spun almond, matcha or chocolate-flavored sugar wrapped round a nutty heart with a style much like marzipan.

Commemorate your go to with a cease at one of many Korean-style purikura photograph cubicles. Hire a humorous hat with your pals and take some enjoyable images to your scrapbook.

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Kkultarae sweets stand
Jinsei 4cut purikara photos
Seoul Ichiba grocery store

Past all of the BTS and different Ok-Pop-related merch you’ll see in Shin-Okubo, you can even catch dwell Ok-Pop performances right here. Showbox, on the bottom of Shin-Okubo, has a rolling calendar of visiting up-and-coming bands from throughout Korea.

In case you’re fortunate, the visiting bands will typically stroll across the district inviting folks to their exhibits and provide free tickets. The venue has a small stage, about 50 seats and robust air-conditioning, making it a fantastic spot to get a break from the summer season warmth, benefit from the tacky antics of the band and the excited followers fawning over their favourite member.

There are exhibits practically daily and at totally different instances, so make sure that to test their web site to see who’s performing once you’re visiting. After the present, observe the group out and up the facet stairs for an opportunity to buy merchandise and take polaroids with the band for a whopping 1,000 yen. This facet of Shin-Okubo, whereas not for me, was enjoyable to see as soon as.


Many individuals assume Shin-Okubo is a spot for younger girls because of the cosmetics and Ok-Pop retailers concentrated on this space. Nevertheless, it is a nice neighborhood to benefit from the meals and the ambiance of Korea with out having to hop on a aircraft.

Shin-Okubo is the right mixture of seedy and classy with a heavy serving of scrumptious treats simply accessible from Shinjuku Station. It’s the excellent spot for a full day, so make plans to go to quickly!

Origins and recognition of Tokyo’s Koreatown
Korean alternate college students first moved into what at the moment is called Shin-Okubo again in 1983, in response to Japan Immediately. What began as a reasonable place to dwell, quickly was developed right into a thriving space because of the arrival of extra South Korean immigrants all through the previous nearly-four many years.

The waves of recognition of Korean dramas, pop and meals lately has helped the world’s enterprise develop and Shin-Okubo is teeming with crowds of individuals even on weekdays.

Get to Shin-Okubo:
Nearest station: Shin-Okubo Station – 1 min. by foot. Shinjuku Station – round quarter-hour by foot.

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