Finding a Tokyo restaurant when you first visit the city, can be a challenging business. How can you even begin to pick where to eat, out of the 100,000 Tokyo restaurants out there? If it sounds insane, that's because it is. The bad news is that you won't really be able to sample thousands of restaurants during your stay, but the good news is that no matter where you go, it's very difficult to get a bad meal in Tokyo. In fact, Tokyo restaurants have the most Michelin stars in the world, and even the small standing ramen bars are known to offer incredibly good food. To be absolutely honest, a short trip around a major train station will reveal an array of restaurants and shops which sell ready-made food. The options are all very tasty.
Essential Tokyo Restaurants - Contents
Finding a Tokyo Restaurant
How do you begin finding a great Tokyo restaurant? You can either pick an area and explore it, then find a restaurant in the process and go in. As already mentioned, it's difficult to go wrong with any food in Tokyo. However, if you love having a set Tokyo itinerary then you might want to check our list of Tokyo restaurants, pick a few, then explore the surrounding area.
What to Eat in a Tokyo Restaurant
The short answer is: everything. There are endless possibilities as there is so much popular Japanese food, including sushi, ramen, udon just to name a few. Japanese cuisine follows the four seasons rule, which means certain dishes are available only when certain ingredients are available. The presentation of the food is also season specific. When it's Spring in Japan, you will find many cherry blossom motifs for example. Winter in Japan will reveal a variety of hot and hearty dishes.
Each Tokyo Restaurant usually focuses on one type of food. That's a good thing, as in their niche, the chefs can master the art of creating one dish which is simply amazing. Hence, you might want to consider what type of food you fancy, then pick a Tokyo restaurant accordingly. On our list, we will explore the different type of restaurants which offer different types of dishes, to satisfy your inner foodie needs.
Tsukiji Outer Market
Tsukiji is a major wholesale market in the centre of Tokyo. It is perhaps one of the most famous fish markets in the world, handling over 2000 tons of seafood a day. Being outside of the Tsukiji Outer Market will definitely offer you the chance to sample of the freshest sushi and sashimi.
Important: The Tsukiji Market is scheduled to close and move to a new location in Toyosu. The move is scheduled to happen in October 2018.
Address: 5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
Price $ - $$
Known to be one of the best 50 restaurants around the world, RyuGin will not disappoint. It's a small restaurant located in Roppongi founded in 2003. The restaurant won 3 Michelin Stars and plenty of international acclamation. The Chef, Seiji Yamamoto, came up with the name RyuGin during his training period, when he came across a book about Zen.
Address: Japan, 〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato, Roppongi, 7 Chome−17−24, eisu bldg
Sushi Saito is another three Michelin star Japanese restaurant. Chef Takashi Saito really goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure his ingredients are fresh and well prepared. The restaurant is known for its exquisite sushi full of flavours. Sushi Saito has been featured in many international guides and has received incredible recognition worldwide.
Address: Japan, 〒106-0032 Tokyo, 港区Roppongi, 1−4−5 アークヒルズサウスタワー
For an exquisite dining experience in a traditional Japanese setting, head over to Tofuya Ukai. The restaurant has over 6000 square metres of Japanese gardens. The chef is known to use seasonal, fresh ingredients. As a pro tip, lunch during weekdays is known to be good value. You can select the course you want. The meal will be served in kaiseki style. The main speciality is the homemade Tofu made with top quality soybeans and spring water.
Address: 4-4-13 Shiba-koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011
This is a great Tokyo restaurant which we discovered by mistake. Throughout out months spent in Japan, we decided to try and find the best Tokyo restaurant which serves incredible ramen. Out of all the restaurants we tried, we very much enjoyed this one the most. It's usually a good sign to see a queue of locals only. We very much enjoyed the dish. There were four chefs making the ramens really quickly. It's not a fancy restaurant, but one which delivers tasty food for decent prices. You should try the Yuzu ramen!
Address: Japan, 〒150-0013 Tokyo, Shibuya, Ebisu, 1 Chome−1−7, 117ビル
I'm going to start by saying that Ichiran is not really a Japanese restaurant. It is a Tokyo restaurant, however, hence I decided to include it on the list. If you want a fancy dining experience, Ichiran is far from it. In fact, there are usually long queues and the ramen bar is a little unusual with partitions around you for some added privacy. It's out of the ordinary that's for sure. What made me want to include this in our Tokyo restaurant list is the way the ramen was made. It contains various levels of spices which were so lingering, that even today I can't stop thinking about it.
Address: 1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0041, Japan
Another non-fancy restaurant, but one which we visited times and times again during our stay in Japan. It's perfect for lunch and you should a small queue. You have several options and all meat comes with refillable sides. If you want something well priced, delicious and satisfying, this is a Tokyo restaurant you need to add to your list.
Address: 4 Chome-5-11 Ginza, 中央区 Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-8105, Japan
A few years back I read Murakami's book Kafka on the Shore. One of the main characters, Satoru Nakata, keeps telling people his favourite food is the eel. Intrigued, I too wanted to try the Unagi (freshwater eel) during our trip to Japan. Turns out, it's one of the best meals we've ever had. To try unagi, we recommend Nodaiwa. This Tokyo restaurant serves unagi broiled over charcoaled and seasoned with an unforgettable sweet sauce. You can have it as a donburi meal (on a bed of rice).
Address: 1 Chome-5-4 Higashiazabu, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-0044, Japan
Price $ - $$
Founded in the 16th century, Toraya is a Japanese confectionary company which focuses on wagashi. Wagashi are sweets served with tea. Toraya makes some of the most intricate and sensational looking wagashi in Tokyo. You can go sample them in their store and purchase as many as you want. They sure make a fine present.
Address: Japan, 〒100-0005 東京都千代田区 丸の内１丁目９−１ 東京ステーションホテル2F
If you love tempura and perfectly crafted soba noodles, then this is the place for you. Prices start from 1000 yen which makes this restaurant a must try whether you are a luxury or budget traveller. If you visit around lunch, prices are better and there is hardly any queue.
Address: Japan, 〒162-0825 Tokyo, Shinjuku, Kagurazaka, 3 Chome−６ 神楽坂館
Price $ - $$
Fancy more noodles? Then head over to Kanda Matsuya, a restaurant founded 130 years ago. The same craft of making the soba is still preserved today. With decent prices, amazing wooden premises and a dedicated chef who will make some of the best soba in town, Kanda Matsuya is a great Tokyo restaurant you must absolutely try.
Address: Japan, 〒101-0041 Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kanda Sudacho, 1 Chome−13
Price $ - $$
How about a Tokyo restaurant which specialises in tea? Although tea comes with almost every meal you order in Japan, it's still pretty difficult to find a shop or restaurant which focuses entirely on serving tea. Souen is not a tea house in the traditional tea ceremony sense, but a tea specialist which took the concept of serving tea to a next level. You can book a session at the counter and enjoy sipping various Japanese teas. It's a must try in Tokyo.
Address: 5 Chome-6-23 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0062, Japan
My favourite thing to eat in this particular Tokyo restaurant was the yuba (tofu skin). I am not a tofu fan, but I absolutely love tofu skin. My husband tried the soba miso which an exciting change from the usual soba you can order pretty much everywhere else. Please make sure you arrive before you get hungry as there is always a queue to get in. Tamawarai doesn't accept reservation.
Address: 神宮前5-23-3, Tokyo, Tōkyō 150-0001, Japan
I'm sure you might have heard of Tsuta before: it's the first ever ramenya to win a Michelin Star. The beauty of this place is that prices remained just as affordable. Think less than $7 for a bowl of ramen. I know, imagine that! The trick is that you need to go there very early in the morning, pick a ticket, then come back at your allocated time to eat. The process is a little cumbersome but well worth it. How many times have you eaten in a Michelin restaurant for less than $10?
Address: 巣鴨1-14-1 Tokyo, Tōkyō 170-0002, Japan
This Tokyo restaurant made to the top 50 restaurants in the world. This sort of claim comes with a serious price tag as well as artistic looking food. So expect amazing flavours, creative dishes and incredible service. Just remember that this is more of an experience rather than a meal.
Address: 3 Chome-5-2 Akasaka, 港区 Tokyo 107-0052, Japan
Ah, the beautiful Memory Lane in Shinjuku: all lined with small eateries and bars which serve epic and quick popular Japanese food. If you ever wanted to try delicious yakitori, mingle with locals and drink sake, then head over to Memory Lane for an unforgettable fun night.
Address: Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture
How about heading to a Tokyo restaurant for some okonomiyaki? You can cook your own food and there is always someone to help you out. It's a really fun experience and a really great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese pancake which has various ingredients depending on the region. In Sometaro though, you can have it as you like it!
Address: 2 Chome-2-2 Nishiasakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0035, Japan
How would you like your meal for free? This Tokyo restaurant offers you a lot of food for free, but there is a trick to it: you must complete a food challenge to win your meal. Order a Jumbo Gyoza for 9600 yen which is around 2.5 kg. If you can finish it in one hour, you don't have to pay for it. Are you up for a food challenge?
Address: 1 Chome-14 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan