The best way to get a feel for the true spirit of a city is through its food.
In Japan’s second-largest city of Yokohama, the nerve center for hungry visitors is the West Gate area—just outside Yokohama Station’s west exit.
The area is alive with quaint restaurants and bustling bars being the arteries that pump flowing sake through its veins. Since Yokohama will host the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup final match, knowing where to grab a bite to eat and a swig of beer are more important than ever.
The West Gate area has everything from department stores chock full of chic eateries, to rustic hole-in-the-wall bars, to tiny shops pouring out Yokohama’s own unique style of ramen.
Yokohama is super accessible from central Tokyo, only a 30-minute train ride away. Hop on and let’s check out some of the tastiest gourmet opportunities the city is serving up.
Hook a quick left after exiting through Yokohama Station’s West Exit to the underground tunnel of wonders that is JOYNUS. This basement shopping area is full of places for you to eat, shop, rest, and repeat.
Slurp on citrus noodles at Afuri
Afuri’s fragrant yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) broth adds a delightful twang to the classic Japanese recipe. The lighter soup and thinner noodles mean Afuri’s ramen menu is great for any health-conscious travelers out there.
Their menu is available in English, making the shop completely accessible to non-Japanese speakers, too.
Vegan travelers rejoice—Afuri also has vegan ramen! Packed with colorful seasonal veggies, it’s just as pleasing to look at as it is to eat.
Guzzle down bubble tea at Gongcha
Let’s face it, you can’t visit anywhere in Japan these days without seeing throngs of people slurping on bubble tea. In fact, bubble tea is so popular here there’s even currently a pop-up theme park called Tapioca Land dedicated to the stuff. This Taiwanese chain shop always has long lines, but those chewy tapioca balls floating in sugary milk tea are an undeniable dose of instant happiness.
Gong cha’s Japanese-inspired flavors with matcha and adzuki beans sell out quickly. One sip and you’ll see why.
Exit the station to the right and even more shopping and eating awaits in this towering department store.
Drink venomous snake sake at Shuri
Get a taste of Okinawa, Japan’s subtropical southern islands, right in the heart of cosmopolitan Yokohama. The flavors of Okinawa include squid ink pasta and a healthy dish called goya champuru—which is stir-fried ham, tofu and bitter melon over rice. Don’t forget to wash it down with a glass of habushu (venomous snake liquor).
Sound strange? Of course! But, as Food Network chef Andrew Zimmern would say, if it looks good (and it does), eat it!
Crack open a cold one with the boys at Kirin City
Welcome to beer city—literally. This German-style beer house serves up the immensely popular Japanese Kirin beer on tap with lots of foam, just the (weird) way that Japanese people like it. Pair it with a carnivorous plate of sausage and steak.
You can’t miss this massive department store’s red logo upon exiting Yokohama Station. Just look to your left.
Keep it traditional at Nihon no Shokutaku Tsukumi
Dining at this traditional Japanese restaurant is like cozying up in your grandmother’s living room and being served homemade dishes with love in every dash of salt. Get familiar with the staples of a classic Japanese meal, which includes steamed rice, miso soup, pickled veggies, and fish.
When all the components come together in your mouth, you’ll understand the artistry of Japanese simplicity. The restaurant also serves fresh sashimi with a killer variety of sake to pair it with.
Chew on yummy grilled chicken at Honkaku Sumibi Yakitori Daruma Yokohama
If you travel anywhere in Japan without trying yakitori you’re doing it wrong. The tender pieces of grilled chicken on a stick are a staple of Japan’s drinking culture. Try more adventurous cuts like heart, gizzard, and chicken skin or just stick to chicken thighs and breasts. Your call. Either way, this hole-in-the-wall joint has what you need—succulent grilled chicken skewers with beer to wash it down.
Grab a burger at the California Diner Players
This American-inspired diner serves up hamburgers stacked to the gods, chunky BBQ ribs, and crispy fried chicken. For when you want a familiar taste of western cuisine.
Get real-time recommendations while you’re out and about
If you’ve got your heart set on exploring Yokohama West Gate’s gourmet scene but aren’t quite sure how that’s gonna play out with your limited Japanese skills, check out the Yokohama West Gate Restaurant Guide.
It’s an online map that lists over 100 foreigner-friendly dining options in the area and recommends different options depending on what you want to eat and drink via a customized chatbot. You can even use it once you’re inside the restaurant thanks to a concierge tool that does basic translations of what’s on the menu and offers advice on what drinks to pair with what dishes.
The Yokohama West Gate Restaurant Guide is available in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese. To access the map and concierge, you just need to scan the QR code, displayed just in front of Yokohama Station’s west exit.