Tonkatsu, Curry, and Retro Cafes! Where to Eat in Kanda Jimbocho – 4 Picks!

Kanda Jimbocho Cafes and Restaurants 4 Picks


Kanda Jimbocho is a renowned old bookstore district in Tokyo, beloved by book lovers and students from nearby universities. Recently, it has also become a popular spot for tourists seeking a unique atmosphere. But where to eat in Jimbocho? If you find yourself hungry while exploring the antiquarian bookstores and vintage goods stores, try out one of these highly recommended restaurants and cafes!

Unchanged Taste for 60 over Years – Japanese Diner “Kitchen Nankai Jimbocho”

Kitchen Nankai Jimbocho is a must-visit Japanese diner where customers line up even before it opens. Known for its hearty portions, reasonable prices, and delicious food, it’s no wonder “Kitchen Nankai” has remained popular. Although the original diner, established over 60 years ago, closed in 2020, Kitchen Nankai Jimbocho has reopened as a new independent restaurant nearby, continuing the legacy.

There is always a line in front of “Kitchen Nankai Jimbocho.”

The restaurant is popular, so be prepared to wait in line. However, the staff will come outside to take your order in advance, so your food will be served quickly once you enter. 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. is a good time to visit, as the restaurant is relatively empty.

Cute retro interior and food samples
If you cannot read Japanese, use a photo translation tool or point at the food display in the restaurant’s show window.
Chef Nakajo-san, the former head cook at the old main restaurant for over 20 years, has kept the traditional taste.

Kitchen Nankai’s “Katsu Curry” (= curry with a pork cutlet topping) is considered the “original pork cutlet curry.” The flavor of pork, onions, and other ingredients, along with 10 different spices, are cooked for a total of 10 hours. The result is a curry sauce with a perfect balance of spiciness and sweetness. By coating the thin cutlets with a thick batter of fresh bread crumbs with butter, the curry is easily absorbed into the batter, making them crispy and flavorful. Despite being quite hearty, I, Visit Chiyoda editor-in-chief Marei, ate all of the katsu curry in one go!

“Katsu Curry” featuring jet-black curry sauce

What surprised me when I ordered the food was that the portion and toppings were larger than the food samples shown at the entrance. In particular, the fried shrimp is really big. It comes with rice as well, so you will definitely be full!

“Fried shrimp and cream croquette” set meal

Come to Kitchen Nankai and enjoy the traditional taste of a Japanese diner!

Kitchen Nankai Jimbocho

1-39-8 Kanda Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps:
Closest Station: Jimbocho Station

Michelin-Listed Tonkatsu Restaurant with Premium Ingredients: “Kanda Ponchi-ken”

“Kanda Ponchi-ken”, which opened in 2012 in this area known as the “fierce battle zone for tonkatsu,” offers thick, juicy, crispy-battered tonkatsu.

“Kanda Ponchi-ken”, a famous tonkatsu restaurant. Long lines form as soon as the restaurant opens.

“Kanda Ponchi-ken’s” tonkatsu is so good that it was selected as a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide Tokyo. The oil used at Kanda Ponchiken is a blend of sesame oil and corn oil, resulting in tonkatsu that is lighter and crispier than when fried in lard.

After the tonkatsu is slowly fried, it is left to rest for a while before being reheated to perfection.

There are two types of filet and loin cutlets, “jo” and “toku,” respectively, that differ in the origin of the meat. The “toku” (= special) cutlet is made with flavorful premium pork from Okinawa, while the “jo” (= great) cutlet is made with pork from Mexico.

“Special fillet pork cutlet” on the left and “Special loin pork cutlet” on the right

When you actually taste it, you will be impressed by its deliciousness! The batter is crispy, and the more you bite into the meat, the more the flavor spreads in your mouth. You can easily enjoy it without any seasoning.

The 500g “Toku Hire Whole Fillet Pork Cutlet”, a nightly menu item meant to be shared by a group of customers, is also very popular. If you like Japanese tonkatsu, why not visit Kanda Ponchi-ken?

Kanda Ponchi-ken
English menu:
1F Ougi Building, 2-8 Kanda Ogawamachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Google Maps:
Nearest Stations: Ogawamachi Station, Awajicho Station, Shin-ochanomizu Station, Ochanomizu Station, Jimbocho Station, Kanda Station

European-Style Curry Restaurant in Kanda Jimbocho with Unique Boiled Potatoes: Bondy

There are many curry restaurants in the Kanda Jimbocho area. Among them, “Bondy” is a famous “European-style curry” restaurant. European-style curry was actually born in Japan and is characterized by its mild taste due to added cheese and other dairy products, although it is well spiced. When you order curry, boiled potatoes and butter are served on the side!

Boiled potatoes with butter – so good!

Curry sauce and rice are served in separate containers, so you can pour your desired amount of curry over the rice. The cheese on the rice gradually melts and mixes with the spicy curry, creating a deep flavor that is slightly sweet, spicy, and mild. Many people become completely addicted to this flavorful curry once they taste it. The staff recommends their beef curry for first-timers.

Change the taste with the pickles on the table.
You have to order their pudding for dessert! It’s a must-have!

The curry at Bondy is so popular that you will have to wait in line, so we recommend that you visit a little earlier than lunch or dinner time. Since curry culture is deeply rooted in this town, please try their delicious curry!

European Curry Bondy Jimbocho Main Store
Kanda Kosho Center Bldg. 2F, 2-3 Kanda Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps:
Closest Station: Jimbocho Station

Like a Mountain Cabin? Retro Cafe with Graffiti on the Walls: “Sabor (Sabouru)”

Established in 1955, the cafe “Sabor” has a great visual impact! There is a totem pole outside, and the interior looks like a mountain cabin. The semi-basement floor is a mysterious and charming space that resembles a meeting place for a secret society or something out of Harry Potter. If you look closely at the walls, you will see signs and messages left by college students from the area.

Some of the messages on the walls are from the student movement around 1968, and some are by famous artists. (Writing on the walls is currently prohibited.)

The most popular menu item at Sabor is its fresh juices! Among the several fresh juices available, the strawberry flavor is the most popular.

The menu also includes thick, fluffy toast and sandwiches, and you can also get a light meal. Although it is a long-established coffee shop, it attracts customers of all ages, including young people. The staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is very pleasant.

(Left) Toast (Right) Tuna sandwich

Why not stop by Sabor after buying your favorite book in Kanda Jimbocho?

Sabor (Sabouru)

1-11 Kanda Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps:
Closest Station: Jimbocho Station