I ate a lot of my meals around Waseda and Takadanobaba. None of these places except Ippudo really make the highlight reel, but for those curious what Waseda students eat, here are a few spots I frequented:
Ippudo. My favorite ramen place (locations throughout Japan and in NYC) and open until 5am. The broth, noodles (choose how you want them done — I always get ‘firm’), mystery black sauce and melt-in-your-mouth pork slices make me insane it’s so good! There’s also a jar of marinated bean sprouts on the side which are amazing and perfect on rice or their ramen. Also, their gyoza are easily one of the top 3 gyoza I’ve had in my life — super delicate and delicious. One order of gyoza is only 200 yen and contains five super tiny gyoza and a dot of yuzu paste. ^^ At lunch (11am-3pm) you can get the ramen + rice + gyoza for only 750-yen.
Naan & Curry. I love Japanese food, but sometimes you just want a break from rice and noodles. Enter Naan & Curry. Naan & Curry is located by the west entrance of Waseda University and it’s really delicious and affordable. Super affordable – under 700-yen for your choice of two curries and unlimited freshly baked naan! Their butter chicken is 100-yen more but super decadent and IMO worth the up charge. All dishes comes with a side of yogurt, which I don’t care for — this place’s yogurt is too sweet. People that run this place speak English and menus have pictures and English, as well.
I can’t read the name of this kaiten-zushi spot right across from Takadanobaba station, but it’s literally just to the west of the station. It features a number of plates for 120-yen and is always busy, but I prefer the 105-yen store in Shibuya (Uobei by Genki Sushi) for taste and value. In any case, not terrible if you’re in the area. If you’re okay standing, there’s a better tasting standing sushi bar right next door that has great lunch specials, but is affordable enough at any time of the day or night.
Torikizoku. A super affordable 280-yen izayaka chain. For drinks I recommend a shochu called “tan-taka-tan” if you like the flavor of shiso leaf. Their whiskey on the rocks is also a good choice. For food, everything is really good, but for whatever reason I love their cold spicy cucumber dish best.
I don’t know the name of this 500-yen tonkatsu ramen literally across from Takadanobaba station, but it’s quite delish. Broth is really fantastic –not too salty or greasy, which is the failing of many tonkatsu ramen places for me. There’s only about 10 seats and this place always has a line of students waiting outside. You order via a English-free vending machine, so best of luck if you don’t read Japanese. Don’t forget to garnish your bowl with a ton of benishoga and sesame seeds! 🙂 One of my girlfriends here puts so much ginger in, her broth turns pink, lol.
Chikara Meshi. This is a 24-hour gyu-don chain you can find all over Tokyo, but it’s my favorite gyu-don place! First off, ordering is super easy, as you use a touch screen to order, which contains an English option. Put in the money, make your selection, and take the ticket the machine spits out and hand it to a Chikara Meshi worker. Value is great -for under 400-yen I get a beef bowl with perfectly done rice ( I really can’t get over how perfect their rice is every time) and some topping (kimchi or green onion are delicious). I always add a ton of gari (the pink pickled ginger) and a garnish of their sweet hot sauce, which is more flavorful than spicy, but super delish.