One of my favorite parts of Tokyo and somewhere I think should be on any tourist's radar when visiting, is Shimokitazawa. Just one express stop from either Shinjuku or Shibuya, it's Tokyo's answer to Greenwich Village. It's a fairly compact neighborhood with narrow busy streets, known for it's student-vibe. But it also is home to many residents. So you get an interesting overlapping assortment of people and places. You can catch a glimpse of both green-haired psuedo-punkers and blue-haired grannies intermingling among cheap 100 YEN shops, elegant boutiques, music stores, and funky speciality shops. Dining-wise, it's kind of well-known for okonomiyaki shops, but I don't think that belies the diversity of there. There's all sorts of izakayas and interesting little bars and every time I'm there, I always regret not researching some of the obsure places tucked off some of the side streets.
Anyway, one place I always manage to hit when I'm there is the Angelica bakery, about 100m from the south exit down the main drag of the neighborhood. Angelica is a tiny place that makes two great little snack items- "curry pan" and "miso pan" ("pan" being the borrowed word for bread from Portuguese/Spanish). Both have been featured on television fairly often throughout the years which is actually a good thing because they sell quickly, so they have to keep pushing them out and that means there's always a good chance of getting them while they're hot. The curry pan is crispy, gently fried on the outside, doughy on the interior, and of course filled with stewed curry beef and vegetables in the center. It's such a texture and taste sensation, you want to eat through a battalion of them. I had picked up a so-so curry pan recently at Zaiya in NYC and the difference in the bread and the curry was dramatic... Miso pan sounds like a dramatic bun filled with miso paste, but actually its a small bun very similar in consistency and taste to a well-made challah bread. The miso used is a slightly sweet red miso that is baked on top to give the bun a slight crusty, flavorful cap. Some people complain that the miso flavor isn't distinct enough, but I think it's just right.
Angelica is a great place to pick up some snacks if you're going to be checking out this neighborhood during the day.
Miso Pan- 147 YEN
Curry Pan (Spicy or Mild)- 189 YEN
A blog with photos from someone else who adores Angelica:
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