top of page

Shop and Eat at Japan's biggest shopping mall : Sawayaka restaurant @Gotemba

Looking for the best shopping mall in Tokyo? Why not go a little further away? Hopping on a bus at Shibuya, Shinjuku or Ikebukuro station, in less than two hours, you are at the entrance of Gotemba Premium Outlet Mall, just inside Shizuoka Prefecture. This is the biggest shopping mall in Japan, with 290 shops offering the best price. Not only the best for shopping, but dozens of restaurants serve good quality food for shoppers. Let me give you an itinerary for the perfect experience.

Start your journey from Ikebukuro Bus Terminal at 8:05am. Soon you'll be going back to sleep and when you wake up, it's 9:40am, you're already in Shizuoka Pref. A bit early for the mall's 10am opening time, but you have an important mission. Before asking why, hurry up the hill and join the queue to the front door of Sawayaka restaurant.

It's a branch of a hamburger steak restaurant much loved by Shizuoka locals. It's so popular that they deliver numbered tickets from 9am, well ahead of the opening at 10:30am. If you walk fast enough, you may get the 100th ticket, meaning you'll be ushered in around 3pm. If you're a bit late, all tickets will be handed out and there's no chance to eat the dish on the day.

Whether you're patient enough to wait until 3pm or not, you don't need to stay there. Walk downhill to the cafeteria just opened at 10am. Along with ramen, udon, curry and rice bowls, Takoyaki octopus balls are baked in amber on a pan. On eight flour balls squeezed in a small dish, they are coated in a savoury sauce and sprinkled with bonito flakes. Smells very tasty but be careful not to gulp it down. First, it's too hot, second, it's more fun to break down the ball to search for an octopus piece at the core.

Now it's time to start shopping. Explore shops located in three areas. Not only clothes and accessories, but wines, sauces, and chocolates are on offer. As you are on the outskirts of Mt Fuji, you have many opportunities to take a memorable photo with the snow-capped scenic mountain.

Time flies quickly while you are crazy about shopping, however, it's hard for many to wait for five hours without a proper meal. That's not your fault. Sushi, washoku, tonkatsu, or pizza are responsible for luring you.

Shake Shack, an American-born hamburger shop, offers you a simple but classic burger. Beef or chicken, whichever hamburger you order, the quality of taste and quantity of portion is guaranteed. The shop's original lemonade or ale beer are a must-have accompaniment. Enough to recharge your energy to start your afternoon shopping.

Did you manage to wait until your mobile finally vibrated? Congratulations! Return the clothes you are about to try, hurry back to the shop's front door under the striking green & red signboard.

Inside the hall, you can hear cheerful chatting from guests and a sizzling sound from burgers. A variety of hamburger steaks are on the menu, of which, the signature of the shop is the simplest; 250g Genkotsu (clenched fist) hamburger steak or 150g Onigiri (rice ball). 100% beef, directly imported from an Australian farm is seasoned the least and grilled over charcoal fire.

The highlight is when it is served. A round shaped minced meat is served on a hot steel plate. After you follow her instruction to hold up a paper sheet, the server cuts the meat ball in half and places the cut ends on to the hot pan. Meat juice with oil splatters from the dish with a high sizzling sound, but you're safe as long as your shirt is protected by the paper sheet.

The rare-ish steak reaches perfection when grilled on your plate. Pop it into your mouth and enjoy the chewy texture and meaty taste. Unlike the trends of softness in texture at many Tokyo restaurants, its wildness and richness are a surprise, which makes the restaurant so frenetic among locals.

It's the final round of your shopping. Make sure everything on your list is in your bag, get on the bus departing at 4:15pm. You'll soon fall back to your dream again, and when you wake up, you are in the centre of Tokyo in the evening.


bottom of page