Rather than drinks, the vending machine outside Kome to Circus is filled with scorpions, giant waterbugs, and cricket energy bars in multiple flavors. These can serve as a snack to go, a pre-dinner appetizer, or maybe just as a warning that Rice and Circus—as it’s known in English—is not for the squeamish.
Tucked away in a small, nondescript alleyway, this restaurant is not the sort of place you’d stumble upon while walking around the city. Dim red neon lights around the entrance make it look more like an underground club than a restaurant. That is, of course, until you get closer and see pictures of the exotic delicacies that can be found inside.
Rice is the only normal food at Rice and Circus
Rice and Circus has a lot in common with your run of the mill izakaya (Japanese pub). Spread across two floors, the place is filled with small tables of guests sitting in close proximity. Sounds of people chatting and shrieking in disgusted fascination fill the cozy space.
The only real difference between this place and a normal izakaya is the jars full of snakes and critters lining the walls and the people next to you eating goat testicles. Kome means rice in Japanese, and rice is the closest thing to “normal” food you’re gonna get here.
The kangaroo is really tasty, the crocodile tempura is to die for, and the grasshoppers make a solid snack—just don’t look at them before you eat them.
The rest of the menu is, well, a circus. Some of the more tame offerings include kangaroo, deer steaks, and frog. As you move along the weird scale you have badger, raccoon, and camel. Finally, there’s a whole host of bugs, a crow hotpot, and a completely edible gecko that’s been fried whole.
Lizard liquor or sea horse shots anyone?
Next, you will need something to wash down that gecko head. Don’t worry, Kome to Circus has you covered. Scorpion liquor? Cockroach liquor? Liquor cultivated from the combined male genitalia of three animals? Take your pick. With two pages packed with bizarre concoctions, you definitely won’t be leaving thirsty.
They also have normal drinks, but the genitalia drink is not bad at all—definitely better than snake liquor. If you are on the fence, just ask for a “surprise shot.” #yolo
Our recommendations? The kangaroo is really tasty, the crocodile tempura is to die for, and the grasshoppers make a solid snack—just don’t look at them before you eat them. The ethical sourcing of a place like this is highly questionable, but that’s to be expected when you dine in a circus.
The main location is in Shinjuku, but there is a small outpost of Rice and Circus in the Shibuya Parco shopping center offering an exclusive insect parfait. Yum.