There are several things to do in the broader Morishita area, east of Sumida River, but “Cattlea” alone is almost worth the train ticket. On the outside it’s a small neighborhood bakery but even a little Japanese will let you in on the big secret: almost a century ago (in 1927 to be more accurate) the owner of the, already 50 years old at the time, bakery (named oddly enough after a Costarican orchid), decided to put together the new gastronomical fad of the time: curry and (a Western method of cooking) deep frying. The result was something that has come to be one of Japan’s most popular fast foods: karepan—i.e. deep fried bread with a curry filling.
At 194 yen “Cattlea” karepan is expensive, at least by karepan’s standards: it’s at least 50-60% more expensive than the version you get at most convenient stores. But really, and leaving aside the Japanese obsession with ganso (Japanese for “founder” or “inventor”) and how they’re certainly better than anyone following, Cattlea’s karepan is among the best things you can eat in Tokyo and a steal at this price. It’s just crispy enough on the outside to satisfy your teeth, the bready part is neither too thick nor to thin, and as for the curry itself, it’s the closest I’ve tasted to what a pretentious food critic would call “edible velvet”; plus the amount of curry used is easily double that of the konbini karepan.
Get there from the A7 exit of Morishita Station on the Toei Shinjuku and Toei Oedo lines–turn right, walk for a few yards and you’ll see it right there. They’re open everyday (except Sundays) from 07:00 to 19:00 but the best times to get your karepan freshly baked are at or around 07:00, 11:00 and 15:00. And while you’re there, wander a little: Morishita is classic shitamachi (old school downtown Tokyo) with a very nice neighborhood atmosphere.
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