Share House Gourmet: Ethnic Eats

Moving to Japan from a different country for the first time is such an overwhelming experience for us foreigners – especially when it comes to dining! It is a dream come true to be able to indulge in the real deal of authentic Japanese food at the izakayas, cheap yet high quality sushi from the revolving conveyer belts, and piping hot yakitori fresh off the grill.

Image Source: Justonecookbook

But when we get homesick, it can be tough to find a spot that gives our taste buds just enough to remind us of home or the exotic flavors we crave. Life in a share house is great for those who are interested in learning about other cultures – especially when it comes to international cuisine! Residents in our share houses enjoy having dinner parties, cooking together, and exchanging recipes from their home countries – what better way to make friends than sharing your favorite food together!

1. Lotus – Nerima, Tokyo

Lotus, a newly opened cafe specializing in Southeast Asian flavors has caught the eye of many locals with its natural & trendy decor, colorful murals of Vietnam on its walls, and exotic menu that packs a spicy punch! Try the banh mi or spicy green curry with a cold guava juice/coconut milk to cool you down from the kick.

Located walking distance from Happy House Clover, Happy House Mint, and Happy House Herb share houses – click the links for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 1-7-2 Nerima, Tokyo

2. Poca Tacos – Nakano, Tokyo

Image Source: Chari Cafe

The Japanese have mastered taking the essence of international food and experimenting with flavors that work well with the Japanese palette – creating a delicious homage to the original dish. At Poca Tacos from Oregon, you won’t find a 20₱ or $1 giant burrito that you might get from an authentic taco truck, but if you’re looking for a light and tasty taco to hit the spot, your taste buds will surely have a fiesta – and there are vegetarian options too! The Mexicali-inspired interior is spacious and colorful, making it feel like you’re enjoying a lunch in Tijuana…now pass the Tequila!

Located near Happy House Orange, Happy House Asian, and Happy House Vitamin Color share houses – click the links for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 2-12-11 Nakano, Tokyo

3. Negura – Koenji, Tokyo

Image Source: Moshi Moshi Nippon

In the style of Koenji, Negura is a hidden gem with funky vibes, scattered with local art goods, ethnic trinkets, and super cool owner that all the locals know for his fascination of India and exotic spices. There is only one curry on the menu daily and the chai tea rum is a must try!

Located near Happy House Koenji – click the links for more info!

Address: 3-48-3 Koenji-Minami, Tokyo

4. Shamaim – Ekoda, Tokyo

Shamaim, meaning Heaven in Hebrew, most definitely lives up to its name – our staff had the pleasure to host last year’s holiday party here and the food was simply divine! With the all-you can eat course, your desire keep on ordering the authentic pita and hummus will be neverending.  Perched on the first floor of an inconspicous suburban building just a minute’s walk from Ekoda station, Shamaim presents an intimate atmosphere of middle-eastern decor, friendly staff and lively music.

Located near Happy House Herb – click the link for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 4-11 Nerima, Tokyo

5. L.A. Garage – Mishuku, Tokyo

There are countless places to have a burger in Tokyo, but few that reach the “it” factor of a truly glorious burger – we’re talkin’ drip-down-your-arm juicy status! Eating at L.A. Garage feels like hanging out after school with friends in a diner/friend’s garage/drive-in movie all rolled in one. Get emotional over their juicy jalapeno cheeseburger and get all the nostalgic feels as Tom & Jerry cartoons play on their huge projector screen!

Located a 1-minute walk from Witt-Style Mishuku share house – click the link for more info and resident reviews!

Address: 3-29-4 Ikejiri, Tokyo

Thanks for reading and happy eating! Tulip Real Esate specializes in female-only share houses in Tokyo. Why not make a viewing appointment to check out one of our share houses and get yourself a bite to eat afterwards?

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Resident Interview: Vijaya from New York, USA


Vijaya started living in one of Tulip’s shared houses in July 2015, when she first moved to Tokyo from New York. She stayed in Happy House Herb for a few months and then moved to Chilli Pepper and Cream shortly after its opening. Today we got a chance to chat with her at Kagurazaka Saryo, a well-known green tea and dessert cafe near Chilli Pepper and Cream.

 First question, Vijaya, what interested you in our share house in the beginning?

I came to Tokyo with an English-teaching program but they didn’t provide an accommodation in Tokyo. Then I started looking things up on my own and went to see a few apartments with regular housing agencies, but they were all too pricey. I wound up meeting Norie-san [Tulip’s founder] at Happy House Herb. The price was really good and I could just move in without any hassle. No need to set up the electricity, the internet and so on. We arrived in July and a lot of my friends didn’t have internet in their apartments until December. Settling down in a share house was much easier.

 So you have lived in Happy House Herb and you are now living in Chilli Pepper and Cream. What do you particularly like about these houses and how would you compare them?

I like the people a lot. I made a lot of friends in both houses. I like that Happy House Herb resembles what I thought a Japanese house would look like, but the thing that made me want to move out was that the room was a little small. I would always be in the common area. Even though I like the people I was living with, sometimes after a long day of work I just wanted to read and rest in my own room. What I really like about Chilli Pepper and Cream is that there is always this friendly environment, but I can also just crash in my room when I’m tired. The rooms are big enough for an American like me to feel comfortable. I also like that there is a tumble dryer and an oven in the common area. The location is probably one of the things I like most too. The neighborhood of Happy House Herb was a little quieter. I really like that, but actually, my current neighborhood is more suited to me.

 How so? How would you describe the surrounding area you live in?

Kagurazaka reminds me a lot of my home in New York. Very metropolitan. It’s very cultural, but also very, very modern. I guess it’s more foreigner-friendly. The nicest thing is that you have all those small local Japanese shops, but at the same time I can just go to Starbucks and Burger King if I miss America. And it’s really close to Roppongi where I work. I can get up at 7:30 and still arrive to work at 8:00. The house is right across the station.

 Do you have any favorite spots in Kagurazaka?

The Canal Cafe is probably my favorite. When I first moved here, I saw people paddling the boat up and down the canal. Then I found out that we can get a paddle boat at the restaurant. It’s a bit expensive but it’s worth it. I like the variety of the supermarkets we have here too. There is one with really nice salad and imported goods. I also found a really nice whisky bar when I was taking a walk on one of the small streets.

 What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

Karaoke. It thought I was gonna hate it, but when I first went with my friends here, I ended up loving it. I also love going to the park. There are a lot of really nice parks around here, especially Shinjuku Gyoen. Though you usually have to pay to get in, they have some free days that I always try to go to. I also like walking by Yasukuni Shrine. Sometimes there is a flea market there.

 Has living in a shared space helped or changed you in any way?

Back in New York I always used to share a bedroom with my sister, but I guess the way you interact with strangers is a little different. When you talk to them, you make more effort to get to know them. One day I was talking to this Japanese girl next to my room in the kitchen. Then I found out that she actually went to a law school in New York. And that’s what I’ve been wanting to do, so we could connect from there.

 Have you had any challenges in the house? And what did you do to overcome or resolve those problems?

In my share house, we don’t really run into each other in an unpleasant way. There are only 8 people for three toilets and two showers. There has never been any time where I have to wait for a toilet, and there isn’t a line for the shower either. Tulip has a cleaning staff that cleans the common space every week, so I don’t have to clean after other people.

 Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?

I’ll be here for one more year, at least. When I came here, I initially thought I would stay for one year, but then I got to liking it. When they wanted prolong my contract, I was like “definitely.” My plan in Tokyo is to keep learning Japanese. Ideally, I’m thinking of going to a law school here if I could. But it would take me a couple more years to master the language. I will see how things go.

 Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your share house?

As a foreigner, I would highly recommend it. Share house is probably the best option if you don’t know how long you are gonna stay. My program is bringing in a lot of English teachers, and I’ve been telling people to take a look at a share houses. When you first move in at a regular apartment, you have to pay like 4 or 5 times rent up front. Then you need to buy electrical appliances and all other things. People only stay for one year end up being in debt because they had to pay so much in the beginning. With me, I’ve been able to spend my salary on exploring Japan and traveling around Asia.