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An insider's guide to Tokyo’s Koreatown

TOKYO, Oct 09 (Nikkei) - One step out of Shin-Okubo station and you will find yourself in Koreatown, a bustling Tokyo district exploding with energy.

The noise and crowds may be a little overwhelming for first-timers, but the area is a gold mine for fans of Korean street food and barbecue, sweets to die for and beauty products. Upbeat hits by K-pop superstars such as BTS and Blackpink play from street-facing speakers, luring you into stores selling Korean pop-culture merchandise -- from tumblers, paper fans and key chains to mouse pads emblazoned with your favorite band member's face.

The streets of Shin-Okubo offer plenty of hole-in-the wall takeaway food. About three minutes on foot from the station you'll find Jongno Yataimura, a famous vendor that serves up authentic South Korean grub.

The most popular item on its menu is the potato mozzarella corn dog. Instead of sausages, this Korean staple coats a stick of cheese in homemade batter and potato cubes. The concoction is made mainly from rice flour, which yields a chewy yet fluffy texture. Combined with the melted cheese inside, the deep-fried corn dog is a great midday snack. There are bottles of ketchup and mustard as well as sugar for those who like their corn dogs sweet and salty, in true Korean style. Jongno sells about 300 of them at weekends. There will probably be a long queue but it is fast-moving, so the wait time shouldn't be too bad.

For those who don't fancy the corn dog, grab a cheese dakgangjeong, South Korean-style fried chicken coated in a sweet-yet-spicy sticky sauce topped with cheese, or hotteok, a pancake filled with honey syrup. ...continue reading


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