Rub elbows with Tokyo salarymen and enjoy Japanese yoshoku

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Rub elbows with Tokyo salarymen and enjoy Japanese yoshoku

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

In Japan, diners will find plenty of places to try “yoshoku,” a Japanese take on French, Italian or Spanish dishes. The word literally means Western dish, and this variety of Japanese food can be found at every price point— from specialty, gourmet dining to casual, family restaurants at reasonable prices.

You’ve probably already seen some of Japan’s yoshoku dishes as these have become staples both at restaurants and at home. Omurice, a fried rice omelet drizzled with ketchup; hambaagu, or hamburger steak; and, naporitan spaghetti, pasta smothered in ketchup and stir-fried with onion, green bell pepper and ham, are some of the most popular yoshoku dishes you’ll find on yoshokuya (restaurants specializing in yoshoku) menus in Japan.

For a taste of these local favorites, I made my way to Shimbashi District, known as Tokyo’s “salarymen haven,” where many eateries and izakaya pubs line the streets. I chose Musashiya, a well-known yoshokuya established in 1875, for a taste of the past.

The tiny eatery near JR Shimbashi Station is always busy and you’ll find a line of salarymen anxiously awaiting the time-honored yoshoku Musashiya served up hot. I arrived at 11:30 a.m. on a weekday and already there were a dozen salarymen ahead of me. As I stood in line, I perused the menu offerings displayed on a bulletin board outside. I was in line for over 30 minutes, so come prepared to wait, especially if it’s getting close to the lunch hour. By the time I set foot inside, I knew I would be ordering the omurice with mini hambaagu for 1,050 yen ($9).

As quickly as I was seated, my order was served. The service here is catered for the busy office worker with not a second to spare. My large omurice plate came with a side of bright-red naporitan spaghetti and a small hambaagu patty drenched in brown demi-glace sauce. A small bowl of miso soup completed my set.

This presentation was like a visit from the ghost of lunchtime from years’ past. My first bite took me back to my youth back in the 70s when yoshoku was the trendy new kid on the food scene. The rich butter and ketchup flavors melded with the soft egg and steamed rice with chicken. This was a taste of the good ol’ times, despite being a little too seasoned and a bit too greasy for me. This greasiness continued onto the naporitan spaghetti, where the sweet and sour flavors were still what I remember from being a teenager. The hambaagu, arguably the best part of the meal, was tender, juicy and well-seasoned.

This gastronomic step back in time was shaken up with the miso soup. It was interesting that this Japanese standard would be what would bring a balance to the variety of flavorful items on my plate. After finishing a large portion of my meal within 10 minutes of receiving it, I knew I should vacate my seat for the next office worker waiting patiently for their turn to grub on some much-needed yoshoku fuel to survive the long workday ahead.

My quick lunch-turned-nostalgic-visit-to-my-youth left me very full and very satisfied. Visit Musashiya and check out the fusion dishes of the yoshoku and salaryman lunch bunch institution. It’s a unique Japanese take on Western food you have to try!

Musashiya offers their menu for take-out bentos and also has COVID-19 prevention protocols in place.



Location: 2-16-1 [1F] Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Hours: Mon – Fri, 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sat, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (close Sun and holidays)


Tel: 03-3501-3603 (Japanese)

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