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Mi Choripan: Argentinian street food in Yoyogi-Uehara

by Robbie Swinnerton

Special To The Japan Times

It’s not hard to track down Mi Choripan, Yoyogi-Uehara’s South American asador (grill). Just look for the porch hand-decorated in cheerful, primary colors, listen for the sound of Caribbean beats leaking out onto the street, and sniff the air for the telltale aroma of sizzling meat.

This is the only place in the city devoted to the Argentinian street-food favorite known as choripan. Like a supersized version of a grilled Spanish chorizo sausage, it comes sandwiched between two halves of a small French loaf, loaded with toppings and a dollop of tangy chimichurri sauce.

The basic no-frills choripan (¥750) is hearty, but it’s worth spending another ¥200 for some lettuce and chopped tomato salsa. Or go the whole hog with the ¥1,100 custom version, loaded up with extra toppings. Apart from the sides of fries and salad, the only other options on the menu are empanadas — tasty fold-over pasties containing either chicken, beef or cheese.

The man behind the open grill is Shinya Nakao, who went to South America and brought back the idea and recipe. And it’s his personality that underpins the dining space, with its laidback, handmade ethos. His take on Argentina’s soul food feels right at home on Inokashira-dori.