A Frugal Eats blitz through Düsseldorf's Japantown


I've long been intrigued by the famed Japantown or Japan Quarter area of Düsseldorf, Germany, but haven't had a chance to go there. It's about a 5 hour drive from Zürich, and there was no work-related excuse to go there - until last week that is. So, following up on my mostly Japanese frugal eats blitz through Paris, here is my 2-day all-Japanese blitz through Düsseldorf.

Düsseldorf has a Japantown because a lot of Japanese businesses have their German or European headquarters there. It is said to have their third largest Japanese expat population in Europe. (I think the top two are London and Paris, though I can't confirm this.)

The Japantown, or Japanese quarter, is centered around Immermanstr.. There are restaurants, travel agencies, appliance stores and the like, all catering to the expat population.


There are grocery stores too of course. The two that are on Immermanstr. are Shochiku and Taiyo Shokuhin. Shochiku is a cramped store that has just about all the Japanese groceries you could want. It seems to be Japanese owned and operated, since the store people were yelling out at each other in Japanese, though the cashier on the second day I went there was an extremely bored looking German woman. (She stared blankly at the Japanese customers asking questions in Japanese; eventually a young Japanese man showed up and sat near the register to politely respond to the Japanese customers. It was kind of funny.) It also carries a lot of Korean foodstuffs - about 60 to 70% Japanese food, 30-40% Korean. There's a nice looking fresh fish and meat counter, which had sashimi-grade fish, and a small fresh produce section. There's a small selection of prepared food like sushi and salads. I saw Japanese familes/couples with small children, Japanese businessmen on their way home from work juggling a shopping basket and a briefcase, and a few German people shopping there.


Dae-Yang Asiatische Lebensmittel or Taiyo Shokuhin is just a couple of storefronts down from Shochiku. It is Korean owned and operated (they were yelling at each other in Korean). The customer mix was similar to Shochiku, though there were more Germans there, perhaps because the aisles are bit wider here than at Shochiku. The stock is about 50/50 Korean/Japanese.


There are a couple of Japanese bakeries too. Here is Bakery Taka, again on Immermanstr.; they have things like anpan, melonpan and of course, Japanese white bread or shokupan. There's a small eat-in area.


Maruyasu, with several locations in Düsseldorf, is a Japanese delicatessen. They sell bentos, sushi, and cooked food or osouzai. (I wasn't that impressed by their sushi or bentos though. The sushi at Shochiku was better and cheaper, and the bentos were just ok. The onigiri were pretty mediocre to be honest. Surely green seaweed is not supposed to dye the rice a bright green.)

Maruyasu, Düsseldorf, Germany

At Takagi, a small bookstore on Marienstr., just a short block south of Immermanstr., there were a noisy group of German tweens squealing in delight at some cute manga or Hello Kitty or whatever. (Actually there were quite a few Germans who seemed to be treating the area like a tourist stop. There was a group of about a dozen older teenagers in Taiyo/Dae-Yang getting all excited by the Japanese candies, and a group of 5 middle-aged people loudly wondering amongst themselves what this or that food was and making rather rude comments, as though they thought none of the Asians around them could understand what they were saying. A bit off-putting.)


Once more to the ramen

Takumi noren

What cheap Japanese food does a Japanese expat crave? That's right, ramen, as I did in Paris. From perusing some Japanese web sites, there aren't that many ramen places in Düsseldorf, but the one we went to, Takumi at Immermanstr. 28, was not bad at all. All the seats, including the outside tables, were filled at 12 noon on Saturday, mostly with Japanese families. (At the table next to ours, a young mother breastfed her baby under a discreet large bib before tackling her ramen. That kid is going to grow up to be a ramen lover for sure.) Takumi is a Sapporo style ramen-ya, which means the soup is a bit lighter than other styles (Kyuushuu style, Nagoya style, etc). Here is negi ramen with shio (salt/plain) soup. It was very good, though the noodles could have been better. A level better than the ramen I had in Paris I'd say.

Düsseldorf ramen from Takumi

The Guy had their egg ramen (it had some cute name, like Ajitama Ramen or something, but I may have that wrong) with miso flavored soup. It was really nice, but what blew us away were the freshly cooked, crispy, juicy and meaty chicken karaage.

Düsseldorf ramen from Takumi

So is Düsseldorf worth a detour?

As a tourist destination, the city itself lacks the character and atmosphere that you get in many other German cities. It's a strictly business kind of town. As for the Japantown itself, similar areas in say, New York's East Village or Los Angeles or San Francisco, or even Paris or London, are really more vibrant and interesting. On the other hand, if you live nearby (especially in Germany) and want to do a bit of Japanese grocery shopping and the like, it's a good place to go.

Overall though, I was a little underwhelmed by Düsseldorf. One thing I noticed was that the Japanese people walking around there really stood out, in the way that Japanese expats in Paris, or London, or New York, don't (it's easy to tell the tourists apart from the residents in New York for example). The way the girls/women dressed for instance was very Japanese and not at all adapted to their location, if that makes any sense. I am guessing that the Japanese community in Düsseldorf may stick to itself and doesn't really try to become part of the overall city or German culture much. I could be wrong, but that's the impression I got.


Takagi GmbH Books & More 高木書店
40210 Düsseldorf
TEL: 0211 2107238
Japanese books, gifts, stationery; Japanese language learning aids. Has a small selection of Clickety-Clack bento boxes. The owner lady is very friendly.
40210 Duesseldorf
TEL: 0211 1793308
Mon-Fri 12:00 - 15:00 and 17:30 - 22:30, Sat-Sun 12:00 - 22:00
Sapporo-style ramen restaurant. The young staff don't seem to speak much German.

All the other addresses mentioned are listed on the Japanese food stores in Germany page.

Addendum: We stayed at a low-service apartment-hotel via Central Apartment. A low-service apartment-hotel means that they don't come to change your linens and make up your bed every day, but you have a small equipped kitchen, laundry in the building and other comforts of home. The apartment we got was in a residential area just a few blocks from Innermanstr., and was large, modern, light and impeccably clean. The kitchen even had a Zojirushi rice cooker, and JSTV was available on TV. (They seem to market quite aggressively to Japanese travelers.) The rates were very reasonable too. I liked it a lot more than a conventional hotel. The only thing against it was that the furnishings are on the Ikea level, and feel rather flimsy, but it's basically just like staying at a friend's apartment while they are out of town, without their clutter to deal with.

View from my Mac, Düsseldorf version

[Update: I got sick of all the debating about using the ß or double-s in the German word for street, so I've abbreviated all mentions to str. This is not a language/grammar site! No more comments on that particular subject will be published. If it bothers you, get over it.]

Filed under:  food travel japanese restaurants shopping ramen germany

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Yes, I think you really managed to get the atmosphere there. You should see the bookstores on weekends: full of German cosplayers squealing away and hogging the Purikura-machine...

For ramen I would have expected for you to visit Naniwa, as it seems to be the most popular place among the Japanese and from my humble experience the best I've ever been to (except I've never been to Japan...). If you ever find yourself in Düsseldorf again (yes, it's an incredibly boring town) you really should go there, preferably on a very empty stomach!

hi guys,

I must defend my current home town a little bit.
Surely it is not Paris or London, but for a 600 000 inhabitants town it does have some things going on, esepcially concenring culture and concerts. And it is fantastic to walk along the wine and try one of the many bars there in summer or just get a bottle of wine and relax by the river. Again, don't directly compare, it's not the big city atmosphere, but more personal..Try the small shows near Karlstadt and especially avoid tourist-apcked Altstadt on saturday night, but prefer Ratinger Str. closeby (that's where the locals go)


Ahh...so they were cosplayers! I wasn't too sure if they were just dressed like that normally since I'm not up on German teenager fashion. Besides...as cosplayers they weren't that outstanding ^_^;

I have to mention that my mood was big hampered by the fact that something (maybe the trees...) were making me sneeze my head off and my eyes to water like crazy. Under less itchy-sneezy circumstances I may enjoy the town better.

Great article! I am "starring" this one on Twitter in case I find myself touring Germany.

I have to say that I'm really enjoying this series about cheap Japanese eats in Europe. Having been to some of the places in the US, it's an interesting comparison and contrast.

I think Düsseldorf is quite an ugly city but I do like the good restaurants and shopping places. Did you visit Bakery My Heart? They have an amazing Melonpan with buttercream filling.

My favourite Japanese restaurants are Yabase and the Benkay in the Nikko hotel.

I like the Ramen at Takumi's more. The noodles are not the greatest but I think the broth is better than the one Naniwa offers.

I didn't get to try Bakery My Heart, because they were closed for the long weekend...boo. It looked nice from the outside though! The Bakery Taka things we sampled were okay and made me feel nostalgic.

We actually went for Takumi because I'd read on some Japanese blog that they thought the Naniwa soup was 'thin'. And I like my ramen soup to be hearty.

That was an interesting read! I'll definitely visit Düsseldorf in the near future. I crave a good bowl of ramen. There once was a top notch Japanese ramen restaurant where I live, but unfortunately they moved. That itself was not so tragic, since it was still nearby, but, the chef (from Kyoto) had decided to take the relocation as an opportunity to upgrade his establishment to a full service Japanese restaurant. Which is good, because they offer outstanding menus, regrettably no more ramen though... Such a pity!
But hey, my ramen ain't so bad, so I get by!

Nice article... any chance of ever visiting Belgium for a review of the very rare Japanese restaurants here? :)

A must for every single chance we visit Düsseldorf is (apart from the tokusei miso in naniwa) okonomiyaki in a small bistro called 'Fuga' on Stoffelerstrasse, a bit off center, but everytime worth the trip :), especially for their matcha cake hmmm... himmlisch lecker!

Um, it's "Immermanstraße" actually.

Other than that, I prefer Takumi's ramen to Naniwa as well. I feel like Naniwa is overrated, and the athmosphere in Takumi reminds me more of Japan. There is also a growing Korean community in Düsseldorf, with many Korean supermarkets and restaurants in close vicinity of that Immermanstraße as well. And their supermarkets also tend to be a but cheaper compared to those on the "most famous street".

Argh, can't believe I missed that. Thanks! (though I did keep the Swiss way of spelling Strasse...just what I'm used to. ^_^;)

I thought there was a spelling reform in the '90s, and that ß is no longer insisted upon? (I live in Seattle, but my German teacher lived in Munich a few years ago and has been discouraging its use.)

In Germany you can use either the ß or ss. In Switzerland, where I learned my German (such as it is!) you never see ß used, except for German (as in, in Germany) place names and such. Not sure about Austria.

Not quite. As I understand it, while there was a spelling reform in the 1990s, it merely changed the rules for use of ß in Germany, and did not eliminate it (see http://en.wikipedia.org / wiki / German_spelling_reform_of_1996 ). My impression is that Germans don't really consider it correct not to use the ß where spelling rules would call for it, unlike the Swiss, who don't use ß at all.

The spelling reform, however, was not universally followed, even by major newspapers. I believe Austria follows German spelling rules.

Oh, I see what you were saying about "either ß or ss". "Strasse" (new spelling) and "Straße" (old spelling) are both accepted forms.

Oh, I see what you were saying about "either ß or ss". "Strasse" (new spelling) and "Straße" (old spelling) are both accepted forms.

Maki, I agree with you about the community keepign to themselves. It can cause some problems in shopping when I want to ask something. But I guess it is a small *nuisance* compare to the benefit of beign able to get anything I want.
Like Asami, I like Yabase. In fact I was there with my family on 30-4. the only problem is ordering, although they ahve Englisha nd German menu, there is only one waitress who is fluent in both German and English. But the food and service are excellent.

Straße vs. Strasse ...
Since the last german spelling reform in the 90th, either way to write it is correct . And substituting ß with ss is generally ok. Plus knowing when to use ß should not be expected out of not-native writers anyway.
Interesting article, though i will probably never visit. Düsseldorf seems to be one of those many generic "bombed down and rebuild ugly" towns i've seen to much of. Plus Amsterdam is closer to where i live and mixes tons of flair with a fairly great japanese community. Did you ever write about it, or plan to?

I don't have plans to visit Amsterdam in the near future, but I'd love to for sure! I was there for about a week like 12-13 years ago, but only did the normal touristy things. I did enjoy a lot of great Indonesian food though.

Well, unlike the "subjonctif" in French, you have ß in a LOT of words in German. I think not being able to use it is a little like not being able to pronounce the "th" in English - you show that you don't master the language. Also, every German probably knows that the reform was in 1996.
All in all: According to both old and new rules, every word with an ß cannot be substituted with ss, and vice versa. It's just that certain words which used to be written with ß are now written with ss. And "Straße" (or any other word) with ss is only accepted when you use a font where ß is not available, or when you write in capitals.

In general, especially on the internet, a "ß/ss" mistake is common and not all that grave. But seriously, I couldn't let this misinformation remain here just like that. Oh, and since I'm not done nitpicking: It's the "Immermannstraße".

A bit late to hop on the comment train here, but still wanted to thank you for the article. I plan on visiting Düsseldorf this year since my mom claims it's great for shopping - so we plan on a shopping trip there. I've been craving sushi ever since I've tried it in Japan so would love to check out the Japanese area there, thanks for the tips!

Too bad about the off-putting Germans and their remarks. It's an unfortunate thing that human nature tends to that. It sounds very similar to the way we non-Asians get treated in Asia.

I ate at Takumi once in the summer last year. The food wasn't bad although, of course, I've had better in Japan. Also, I was somewhat put off by all the humidity from the cooking. Perhaps, they've changed and finally bought a de-humidifier. Hehe.

In any case, I still need to do a lot of exploring in Düsseldorf. My brief visit there was not enough.

Maruyasu has a second (actually I think it's their main) sushi place in the basement of Shadow Arkaden) which in my opinion has better sushi and a much bigger selection that the store on the corner of Immermannstr. They don't have onigiri there though.
And too bad Bakery My Heart was closed, I like them much better than Taka.

Hey, i just stumbled about your blog, browsing for Japanese recipes.
Düsseldorf is my hometown, and as I'm half japanese, I visited the Immermanstraße almost everyweek since I can remember. I want to put out some things clearly and give some inside-tips ;-)
About that "cosplayers". They really annoy the shit out of most people who shop for groceries or just want to visit a restaurant. Most japanese hate them. Though they say to love japan so much, the behave absolutely unjapanese. They're always loud, moving in big annoying crowds and I assume most shop owners dislike them. On the other hand they somehow contribute to the flair of the city. Düsseldorf seems ugly, but it's a very diverse and very interesting city, if you dig a little deeper.
And once you have accepted them, every once in a while you can really laugh about some unbelivable bad cosplays. I vividly remember a Final Fantasy character with a huge sword made out of paper-mâché and silve ductape.
Maybe some germans look down upon japanese culture, but there are also many who are crazy about it. Maybe you just had a bad day with them. Usually you see many otaku like yuppies :-)
If you ever visit Düsseldorf again, I would like to point out two restaurants.
There's Benkay inside of Hotel Nikko. It's a bit hard to find, you have to go into the inner courtyard of that hotel Nikko complex, and than you'll see a door (on the right side, if you enter from the entrance next to the Nikko main entrance), which leads into the lobby of Hotel Nikko but also to the entrance of Benkay. Usually it's a very expensive dining experience, but from Monday til Saturday between 12 -14 o'clock they have two each day changing business menus for 12 Euro. They are so great in terms of quality and what you get for your money. Give it a try.
And then there's Nagaya. I only visited it once with my girlfriend, Since she had worked there for severall years and finally wanted to eat there as a guest. We paid 36 Euro per person, but what we got for it... Can't really remember how many courses, but I think about 5-7. We ate for two whole hours and it was the best meal in my life. Sadly the restaurant is located in the Altstadt, near the Rhein, so its a little walk from the Immermanstraße. Just visit their homepage: www.nagaya.de
I'm very sorry for my bad english, but I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say


thanks for this nice articel.
i found it as i wish to open noodles shop in dusseldorf
and would like to hear your ideas
i am thinking of not only lamen but
also udon and thai soups
please tell me what you think
thanks popi

Hi there,

you should go next time to:


although I do like sushi I am not a total expert
but I know the kikaku since 25 years. Always very good
sushi, friendly atmosphere and attentive staff.

Heard about it?

I would also recommend Benkay! I stayed at the Hotel Nikko after I flew from Tokyo to Frankfurt (JAL has a free bus service from Frankfurt to Düsseldorf :)
I had dinner at Benkay, and it was indeed VERY expensive (like most other things seemed to be at that time in the Hotel Nikko), but it was worth it! However, it's incomparable to the lovely Japanese meal I had at the Hotel Nikko in Narita.

It's a shame I did not read this article before I arrived in Düsseldorf, as I did not know there are so many Japanese grocery stores on the Immermannstraße! I did not get much time to have a look around before we took off to Bonn.

Oh, and it always bothered my Swiss friends at the Kantonsschule, when I used ß ;-)

First off: There are still cases when the "ß" simply has to be used in German. Those cases would be long vocals (eg. ei, au or ie) followed by a rather sharp "s"-sound. Otherwise its either optional or "ss".

Secondly: I can actually explain why the Japanese in Düsseldorf do not blend in as much as they do in other cities.
The majority of the Japanese in Düsseldorf are simply staying for just a couple of years. They work here for a while and then go back to Japan, which is why most of them do not really wish to adapt to German customs and send their children to a special Japanese school.
If you meet Japanese people living in Germany for quite a while or who are gonna stay, you will find that they blend in quite well.

P.S.: Another shopping trip for Japanese groceries for me today.

Wow, I spent a few months in Germany near here and never even knew it existed. That tells you just how much I actually got out and about!

Just read up on this blog and have taken notes of the restaurants to try in the blog and comments.

I've lived in Dusseldorf for about four months so far and I'd have to say that for the size town, it's remarkable the food options (especially the Japanese, Korean and for some reason Laotian) that are available. I'm an American expat who has lived in India, Singapore, China, Korea, and various parts of the East and West Coasts (US) and so I am picky about my Asian eats.

The expat scene is very fun here as I've already met and befriended lots of people of various nationalities including Japanese and Germans.

Overall, I'd say Dusseldorf has been a remarkably good surprise for food, friends and fun. Also, the airport is rather nice and fly directly to many destinations on Lufthansa and Air Berlin should you need to try the food from various locales in their mother countries.

i wonder why nobody said anything about the annual japanday in DDorf. That's usually the day when 2000 cosplayers come to celebrate the street fair with ten thousands of other people.
At first i thought you had written about it when i read may, but you missed by a couple of weeks.

yes, we coplayers are often annoying. The german youth is quite loud and if your meet up and celebrate a day with your manga friends, then what would you rather do than going to book shops and eating japanese cuisine. The main problem is that the scene is pretty young in average compared to the american or even french scene. Although there are some pretty good cosplayers here (3rd place on the WCS in japan). so please bear with us, we will better ourselves given enough time.

And considering the old people: well, especially the old people are xenophobic here in germany. due to lost wars and the german wirtschaftswunder roughly a quarter of us germans has a migrant background, which might not be a bad thing if it weren't for the bad german integration politic.
Other than england and france we don't have a long history of imigration.
Right now the chances for immigrants (i don't see the japanese as immigrants in this point) to go to an higher school (gymnasium) are 2-6 times lower than those of germans. this leads to a critic perception of foreigners and you know germans are usually critic and old people even more so.

I just went there this weekend, and it was a really good atmosphere! Only Nippon-kan was unfortunately no longer there, and the prices (non-food) where so expensive that I rather collect some cool japanese goodies online. We ate at Takumi and wow!! That was soooo good! I really enjoyed the gyoza especially.

I wish there were more towns like this around my home ^_^

Very interesting.
Im am not sure that there is a Little Tokyo in London, i think that Dusseldorf and Paris are the only european cities with a japanese area.
My post of the Little Tokyo of Paris : http://www.gavroche-pere-et-fils.fr/little-tokyo/

Dear Readers:

Would you kindly recommend your favourite Japanese restaurants in Düsseldorf, especially to eat nabe, ton katsu, and Japanese curry?

Thank you in advance!


I smiled when I read this report, esp. concerning the (well, wannabe...) cosplayers and shopping behaviour of (some of) us Germans ... yes, it can be annoying at times, but also reveals much of the mutual interest and misunderstanding between Japanese and German ...

Lucky to live less than 1 hour driving distance from Duesseldorf for many years now, I've been enjoying nice food and shopping occasions quite a lot.

Two locations not mentioned above I briefly wanted to review here:

* Kyoto - Japan Art Deco

This shop is just left hand side of Takumi (you can see part of the shopping window on the first picture). They have very lovely things, and concerning cooking equipment you can find top quality knives and ceramics. Too expensive for me, but if money is not a consideration for you and you're just looking for "the best", maybe it is worth a visit... just this week I saw a Sushi knife for almost 1000 Euro displayed.

* Soba-An

A new stylish Soba restaurant around the corner of Immermannstrasse (Klosterstraße 68). I was there only once, very curious because they make Soba themselves. Unfortunately, I left Soba-An a bit disappointed. The taste was good, but the length of the Soba was between 3 and 7 cm, so very obviously they had problems producing a sufficiently strong quality of the dough.

A look into the Soba maker's workshop (separated from the guest-room by a window) reveled the possible source for their problem: next to (self milled) buckwheat they seem to use ordinary 405 flower to mix the Soba flour (which I assume is readily available in Japan?).
My own Soba-making attempts failed several times with such a mixture, until I replaced the 405 flour by sth more glutenous, which is usually used for Pizza or Italian noodles ...

It is a year now since my visit to Soba-An, and I wonder if the length of their Soba meanwhile improved. I will check out next time ;-)

I did check out Kyoto Art Deco actually, and while the prices are what they are, I was not that impressed by their selection...it's sort level of stuff you see at tourist-trap stores in Japan.

Soba is not that al dente like pasta...though I can't comment on soba that I've never tried, obviously.

I am a bit surprised to read your sharp comment concerning Kyoto Art Deco. Though part of their stuff is obviously for the tourist (who saves the money for a ticket to Japan), they also have quite some higher quality things on sale (I have never seen in the tourist-trap stores I visited in Japan).

You maybe got me wrong on the Soba comment ... the texture was good, not so the length. If the dough isn't sticky enough, everything falls apart while cutting.

We were also in Dusseldorf last year but we have been a bit disappointed .... There are many nice little Japanese shops.
We ate at the Teppanyaki restaurant in Hotel Nikko but the quality wasn't all that. Maybe it's because we are used to another quality standard due to our own mobile teppanyaki.


Team 2TheSuite

It's funny though that most Japanese restaurants in Duesseldorf that offers sushi's are not run by Japanese themselves, with the exception of Maruyasu.
Somehow the Japanese in Duesseldorf have secretly sworn to eachother offer noodles, instead of sushi.

Hi there, for me Your discussion is very interesting and sometimes very funny, too. I have lived in Duesseldorf for years and live now with my japanese girl friend in Neuss. We know all this locations from different visits, of course. Usually we cook at home for us and our friends...

By the way: Even as a German it isn't easy to use the ß correctly. Sometimes I need a dictionary, too. So: Don't worry and like Duesseldorf and the German language as it is. Stay cool!

Great article! I'm yonsei (4th generation) Japanese American from Hawaii. We just moved to Wiesbaden, husband stationed here. I've been looking for ingredients to make ozoni and nishime with New Years coming up. It is tradition and it's hard to find what I need in the few Asian markets in Wiesbaden and at the commissary. Luckily I stumbled upon your blog! We are making the 2 plus hour drive to Dusseldorf tomorrow and hope to have some good ramen at the place you recommended and find the ingredients I need! I was almost ready to pound my own mochi for the ozoni but crossing my fingers that they have some! And please please let them have mizuna! Thanks for the article. Also took notes on some of the places that other people commented about. Wish me luck!

Interesting that nobody mentioned the Kagaya on Charlottenstrasse, for it is the best restaurant for Tonkatsu, Curry, Yakisoba and so on. When you enter the restaurant you feel like you enter a restaurant in Tokyo (i have never been in Tokyo but thats what my Girlfriend said). It is rather small and its alway quite funny to order something since nobody really speaks German or English :) My guess is that around 80-90% of all the guests there are japanese. Oh, they have the best Miso soup i have tried so far, much better than the one from Takumi which is also very good.

About Düsseldorf, i think you learn to love the city after a year or two when you just move there, it has ALOT of beautiful and hidden places and and dont forget, its a rather small city :). Too bad it was almost completly destroyed in second world war. If you visit Düsseldorf again, give Pempelfort a try.
One more thing, Düsseldorf was rated again on 6th place in Mercer's Quality of Living Ranking.
Take care!