Ichibanya Sembei Shop, Tokyo

The tourist-clogged route leading up to the famous Senso-ji Temple is lined with hundreds of shop stalls selling all kinds of goods - everything from cheap toys and souvenirs to traditional crafts and clothing. There are also a number of food stalls, including one of our favorite sembei shops in town.

The Ichibanya shop sells over a hundred varieties of sembei, with exotic flavors like garlic, wasabi, hot pepper, shiso, plum, seaweed and many more. You'll even find shrimp, bonito, cod roe and other seafood surprises. And while a few of the more outlandish variations may seem like novelty items, many of the flavors are actually very good.

Of particular interest to the sembei aficionado is the little charcoal grill up at the front of the shop, where you can watch the final step in the sembei-making process and then sample some fresh sembei hot off the stove.

Individual sembei start at around Y50, and you can grab a basket and load it up with different flavors as you make your way around the shop. If you're having trouble deciding, there are also gift-pack assortments of some of the most popular flavors.

(To get to the shop walk down the side alley that runs parallel just to the right of the main route to Senso-ji Temple; the shop is around 2/3 of the way to the temple, on the right.)


1. Ichibanya sembei shop, Asakusa, Tokyo

2, 3, 4, 5. Assorted sembei

6. Sembei toasted on a charcoal grill

7. Fresh sembei hot off the grill
8. Novelty giant sembei

Copyright (c) 2004 Robb Satterwhite. Photos copyright (c) 2004 bento.com

Open daily 9am-7:30pm
Asakusa 1-31-1

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