In Harajuku, the holy land of Tokyo’s young people, the “king of street cuisine” has long been the crepe. Rolled around a filling of whipped cream, fruits, chocolate and/or other sweets, the thin pancake is a favorite among suburban girls who flock to the area to shop and be seen among the trendsetting crowds.

But, perhaps reflecting the hard economic times, the kids in Harajuku have developed a preference for something more solid: The croquette (korokke) has got its eye on the crepe’s throne.

Now they often walk right past the crepe shops on Takeshita-dori, turn down a small alley and beeline for Koro-chan, a franchise croquette store. There, within seconds of ordering, a hot croquette in a small paper envelope is delivered over.

“We sell about 2,000-3,000 croquettes a day,” says store owner Ryo Nakama.

All items — ranging from the most basic fried-potato croquette, the popular Koro-chan, to more fancy varieties, including one featuring Tokachi beef and cheese — are deep-fried and presented to customers while still hot and crisp. Ingredients are well-seasoned so that strollers need not be troubled with sauce.

“And it’s cheap,” says Nakama. “The Koro-chan croquette is only 50 yen, but a crepe costs 300-400 yen. You can buy seven or eight croquettes with the money you’d spend for one crepe.”

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.