This district in Tokyo is famous worldwide as a hub of street fashion and youth culture, with artists like Gwen Stefani and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu taking inspiration from the area’s vibrant trends and street culture. Every day, tourists and locals alike flock to Harajuku’s busy Takeshita Street and Cat Street to admire the latest Harajuku styles–but though it’s best known as a hub for fashion, Harajuku is also a place where you can find fun, unusual food.
Strolling Harajuku, in between the 4-story toy shop Kiddy Land and the glitzy LaForet Harajuku department store, you’ll see dozens of cute and trendy cafés. Many of these, like the adorable Kawaii Monster Cafe, serve up a colorful assortment of Japanese snacks that look almost too good to eat. Even better, Harajuku is also the place to find the Calbee PLUS store, where fans of the company’s delicious treats can get their fix of freshly fried potato chips!
More than just a convenient outlet of Calbee products, Calbee PLUS offers a range of special snacks not available anywhere else, not to mention a kitchen and dining area where you can enjoy made-to-order potato chips!
You might already be familiar with the classic Jagarico potato sticks, sold in their iconic cup noodle packaging at convenience stores around Japan. At the Calbee PLUS store, you’ll find their fresh variety: Poterico.
As delicious as the original Jagarico already are, nothing compares to this freshly fried version! Crunchy, full of flavor and surprisingly light, Poterico come in two of the most popular Jagarico varieties, salad and cheese. A must-try for anyone keen on this addictive snack—super-fans can even pick up a reusable carry cup and lid at the store, making this snack habit that much more sustainable!
Coming in two different styles—thick cut and thin—this is the snack that most resembles your regular bag of chips, but don’t be deceived. Calbee PLUS Potato Chips are nothing like what you’ll find at your local supermarket!
To begin with, there’s the range of flavors to contend with. These made-to-order potato chips come in four main varieties, ranging from the standard (salt, butter, and a BBQ-like hot and spicy), to the more surprising “chocolate & chocolate.” That’s right—in Japan, chocolate-covered potato chips aren’t just a Valentine’s Day gift, but a popular year-round indulgence. The double chocolate in the name refers to the two different types of chocolate used: a drizzling of melted chocolate alongside a sprinkle of cocoa powder. Best of all, you can even get this warm and crunchy snack with a side of soft-serve vanilla ice cream, making it that little bit sweeter and more refreshing.
Depending on the time of year, the store often has additional options, too, like maple syrup, and mentaiko. The most recent special flavor is pizza, where your hot potato chips are served with a topping of ham, cheese, and—as is common on Japanese pizzas—corn!
There are a few other items on the menu that might catch your eye, like Potechurro, consomme punch flavored croquettes, and potato soup. By far the most popular of this set, Potechurro are large, churros-like potato sticks, sold individually and available with salt and cinnamon sugar seasoning.
Finally, Calbee PLUS also offers a small selection of soft-serve ice cream and iced drinks to help cut through all of those rich flavors!
Hot, freshly cooked potato snacks are only one half of the equation. Calbee PLUS is also one of the only places to buy one of the many limited-edition varieties of Calbee products, usually only available in specific regions of Japan or at specific times.
Currently available snacks include Hokkaido Imo Komachi, a regional variety of Calbee potato sticks made from Hokkaido potatoes. The different red, purple, and yellow potatoes used introduce subtle variations in flavor and make for a colorful twist on this crunchy treat.
For fans of a more classical chip-shape, you can also find Jaga Crispy: Inca no Mezame, a thick-cut potato chip snack made from Mezame potatoes. These potatoes have a uniquely sweet, nutty profile, and give these chips a deep, golden yellow color.
If you’re curious about the many different varieties of Calbee snacks available around Japan, Calbee PLUS also sells a variety pack so you can easily sample some of these flavors! The Jagarico Local Specialty Series contains eight popular flavors of Jagarico from different regions of Japan, including some surprising flavors like grilled beef tongue, mentaiko, and takoyaki.
Finally, the store also stocks limited seasonal snacks, like Ebisen Chocolat, a winter-exclusive variety of Calbee’s popular shrimp-flavored potato stick coated in chocolate. If the weather is cold enough, you might also find a packaged version of their fresh, chocolate-drizzled potato chips, or even a seasonal sakura mochi flavor during spring!
With so much on offer, the Calbee PLUS store in Tokyo is a must-visit next time you find yourself stepping off the train at Harajuku station! Located about half-way along Harajuku’s main street, Takeshita dori, Calbee PLUS is just a short stroll away from more traditional Japanese attractions like Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine—but if you’re in the mood for a taste of modern Japan, you can’t go past freshly fried potato chips drizzled in chocolate!
Yen is a freelance writer and editor based in Tokyo, Japan. In their spare time, they enjoy playing video games with friends and experiencing all of the delicious traditional snacks and candy Japan has to offer!
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