No longer a secret, “Little Tokyo on the Rhine” is increasingly drawing visitors with an appetite for all things Japanese. For decades, Japanese professionals have called this compact Düsseldorf neighborhood home. Steps from the Rhine Bank Promenade, where centuries-old pubs serve Düsseldorf’s traditional “Altbier” on tap, established Japanese supermarkets and restaurants lately have been joined by trendy ramen joints, upscale sushi spots and cute bakeries, all looking to capitalize on the rising demand for authentic Asian cuisine. The enclave, with one of the largest Japanese communities in Europe, is within walking distance of several of the city’s heralded art museums as well as the Königsallee, the lively shopping boulevard known as “Kö.” Not to be missed in the neighborhood is the annual Japan Day festivities on May 26, culminating with a grand fireworks display.
Yoshi by Nagaya
Now two years old, this sliver of a restaurant offers a more casual, wallet-friendly version of its upscale sister restaurant Nagaya a few blocks away. Each now has a Michelin star, but Yoshi seems to draw a trendier crowd with its artfully arranged raw seafood and a sleek design that affords most seats a good view of the masterful performance by its young sushi chefs.
Kreuzstrasse 17, nagaya.de/willkommen/yoshi
Savvy noodle slurpers bypass the lines in front of more popular neighborhood ramen joints for this unassuming noodle maker. Open since 2010, Soba-an serves what may well be Germany’s best soba. Firm and slippery, chewy and nutty, the house-made buckwheat noodles are the delight of Japanese families with young children in search of mild comfort food. The noodles come in a delicately umami-rich broth with sides of crisp tempura, spongy inari and sticky rice.
Klosterstrasse 68, soba-an.de
In-the-know tourists and schoolchildren from Düsseldorf’s Japanese International School across the Rhine give a frenetic energy to this established Japanese bookshop. Jammed with Japanese manga comics, German guidebooks to Japan and Japanese novels, the cozy store reserves a large area in the front for stationery, pencil cases, and boxes decorated with beloved anime characters like Totoro, who in plush form looks on approvingly from a high shelf.
Immermannstrasse 31, takagi-books.de
Three decades old, this jewel box of a shop is separated into two halves: One side is devoted to packaged teas, smooth painted teapots and delicate chasen (matcha whisks), with fliers for tea ceremonies, workshops and tastings tucked in between. The other side is a happy jumble of delicate stationery, stackable bento lunchboxes for children and stylish kitchenware, including smooth wooden spoons and white steel chef’s knives.
Immermannstrasse 26, kyoto-japan.de
This bright, comfy snack bar opened in 2010 and specializes in teas, bento boxes and freshly made onigiri -— the popular stuffed Japanese rice balls wrapped in sheets of seaweed. At any given time, at least 20 types of this popular takeout snack are arrayed in hand-labeled rows, their fillings ranging from traditional (salmon, shiitake mushrooms) to unusual (stinging nettles, shiso).
Immermannstrasse 27, waraku.de