A bowl of egg custard pudding with mushrooms and leaves at Yoshitey in Gotanda Hills in Tokyo

Is this Japan’s new food hub? | Go, Go Gotanda | A taste of Tokyo

Brainy and cheeky. Witty and inventive. Always smoking hot.

Gotanda’s tiny dancers are foodie central for visitors to Tokyo

I am sitting at the counter of Yoshitey, one the tiniest in Tokyo I’ve eaten in. At five diners, it’s two more than usual. Chef Yoshitey Enya is delivering dish after dish: butter fish sashimi, charcoal grilled sticks of unctuous salmon, custard pudding with tiny mushrooms, and his signature dish, thin pork rolled around bright green pepper, oozing cheese. Pass the plum sake.

A bowl of egg custard pudding with mushrooms and leaves at Yoshitey isakaya in Gotanda Hills in Tokyo

The walls are framed art – thank-yous from Japanese celebrities and regular locals. Yoshitey is one of about 40 eateries in an unprepossessing food hall called Gotanda Hills, in the Gotanda neighbourhood in Shinagawa City. Another, Tsuki, is famous for its sashimi served with olive oil and salt only, while there’s said to be a three-year wait to get into Tokada.

One of the tiny eateries in Tokyo's Gotanda Hills many seating no more than five people

Enya Yoshitey’s eponymous eatery in Gotanda Hills, Tokyo’s under-the-radar food hub

The need for a facelift is offset by festooning the three storeys with tiny lights. Each tiny dancer of a diner has the ambience of a speakeasy. The joint is jumping.

We enter a bright red door that says Boss. Inside is a lacquered red counter that seats five and all around us bottles of whisky. City trains thunder past the window. Our young bartender proves to be knowledgeable and a great story-teller.

The red door leading to Boss, a tiny bar in Gotanda Hills in Tokyo specialising in whiskies from all over the globe

Boss, a tiny bar for whisky aficionados in Gotanda Hills

Gotanda straddles the Meguro River. Gotanda Station is a major stop on the JR Yamanote Line. The area around Gotanda Station is becoming one of Tokyo’s liveliest food hubs, an eat-me precinct with more than 1200 affordable eateries within a 2km radius of the station.

It has izakaya pubs, Korean barbecue joints, ramen shops and karaoke rooms big with the after-work crowd.

The welcome to Omo5 hotel in Gotanda, Tokyo, one of the Hoshino Resorts portfolio

OMO5, one of the funky hotels in the Hoshino Resorts portfolio in Gotanda, Tokyo

I am alerted to it when checking into the funky OMO5 Tokyo Gotanda, which opened in April. The city-centric OMO brand, dedicated to urban culture, is one of the Hoshino Resorts portfolio. In OMO Base (“the travellers’ fun lounge”) a huge wall map of the neighbourhood – Go-Kinjo Map – is pinned with information on dozens of eateries with QR codes for a deeper dive.

The Go-Kinjo Map on the wall in the foyer of OMO5, a guide to all types of food choices in Gotanda.

The Go-Kinjo Map in the OMO5 foyer, a guide to all types of food choices in Gotanda

The hotel occupies floors 14 to 20 of the Gotanda JP Building which also houses offices, co-working spaces, halls, and commercial facilities. From a terrace, which we find lit Barbie pink after our food crawl, or from their rooms, guests can take in views of neighbouring areas such as Shinagawa, Meguro, and Osaki. The view of the nightscape is as mesmerising as the daytime cityscape.

Pets are welcome. Indeed, there are designated Dog Rooms. In the spacious public area are cafes, shops, and a library. There’s also a big Sky Garden, where guests can relax and rise above Tokyo’s density. Room rates start at Y28,000 ($268).

City view of Gotanda, Tokyo, from the 19th floor of Omo5.

City view of Gotanda, Tokyo, from a Deluxe Room on the 19th floor of Omo5

The area is a mix of old and new, with classic Western-style restaurants that have been operating for more than half a century, French eateries, noodle shops, and trendy bakeries. Right now, I’m told, the Japanese are mad about pizza.

Luckily visitors are mostly mad about all things Japanese.

Colourful lobby lounge at Omo5 Gotanda

The colourful Omo Base, for reading, chilling and chatting

 All Photos Susan Skelly.

Susan Skelly was a guest of Hoshino Resorts


Editor. Writer. Traveller. Keeping tabs on all things fab. susan@excessallareas.com.au

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