Tokyo restaurant guide

Tokyo can be overwhelming when it comes to food because there are so many choices! Everywhere you go, you will see a restaurant nearby and most of them with queues outside. The thought of joining the queue would inevitably pop up in your mind, but what if the restaurant is not that great in the end? No fear, I have compiled a list of restaurants for each of the main areas in Tokyo. I would suggest starring these locations in your Google Map before you head out, or for the well-planned, get your hotels to book them for you beforehand (otherwise it is very likely you will have to queue up at the restaurants).

Please bear in mind that on tabelog, any restaurants with a rating more than 3.5 are considered as good. I also found the review website a bit convoluted as better ratings are given to more expensive restaurants in general. I have given the restaurants the same scale of rating as follow, with five ♥ being the highest score for most categories:

  • Food
  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Price
  • Tourist friendliness
  • Smoking/ Non-smoking: Y/N

Marunouchi (丸の内)

Marunouchi is famous for the Tokyo Station iconic brick building. Apart from that, the tree lined shopping street Nakadori Avenue nearby is also a good spot to shop and have a relaxing walk or a coffee. This avenue connects Tokyo Station and Imperial Palace to Ginza, and due to the trees that are lined up on both sides of the road, it’s a perfect place to avoid the sun on a hot summer day. More importantly, this area houses my favourite sushi restaurant in Tokyo, alongside other famous restaurants such as Joel Robuchon.

  1. Manten-zushi

    Obviously, most people who visit Tokyo would want to try the famous sushi restaurants such as Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten, or Saito. However, these places always have long waiting lists, and due to the nature that most of these omakase sushi restaurants have only approx. 10 seats, it’s almost impossible to book. Not to mention, they also cost a fortune, most likely to be USD250 per head and up. However, I did try Kyubey in Shinjuku, and Sushizen in Ginza, both are really famous and fancy, both costed about USD200 per person (dinner) each time, but my heart was set on Manten-zushi after giving it a try. Why I liked it? Because I had learnt my lesson about expensive dinner prices in Tokyo and decided to go for lunch instead, hence it’s more than half the price than the usual USD200 pp affair. I expected the portion of the food to be a lot less, but it was a full-blown 18+ pieces of sushi, plus seafood miso soup and other small dishes in between. I counted, and I couldn’t believe I had eaten more 22 different dishes including sushi by the end of it (2 pieces of sea urchin sushi as well!!!). The omakase meal lasted for 2.5 hours because there was so much food, the sushi chef were nice and not overly chatty, and the food was just soooooo good. Quality-wise, I am very confident to say that this is better than both Kyubey and Sushizen, so good that I went back for the second time. I ranked down the ambience because of the fact that this place is in a basement mall and it can get quite packed, unlike the other really high-end places where it is a lot quieter. Overall, I paid 6,500 yen (approx. USD59) for the omakase lunch, totally worth it!

Ginza (銀座)

Ginza is an upscale shopping district in Tokyo filled with shopping malls, department stores and designer stores. But what people also say about Ginza is that restaurants have to be really good in order to survive in this area. Therefore, there is no doubt that I have a lot of restaurants suggestions in Ginza!

  1. Ramen Kagari

    IMG_8165

     

    This is a michelin recommended ramen place tucked away under an oyakodon place in an alleyway in Ginza. There is always a queue at this place though unfortunately, so be ready to wait for at least 45 minutes before you get to enter the tiny ramen place with only 8 seats. Personally, I am not a big fan of ramen in Tokyo because most of them are way to salty for me, including the infamous Rokurinsha. However, the chicken broth at this place is just so outstanding, I drank half of it (at least), although I did suffer from dehydration for a bit afterwards since it was still salty. This place only offers a few types of ramen, and we went for the chicken one as they are more famous for it. The ramen was beautifully presented, with some vegetables, bamboo shoots on top, coupled with a few slices of amazingly tender chicken. The noodle they used is apparently called chuka soba, which is a type of Chinese noodle, it went very well with everything and I was a bit sad to finish it so quickly 😦

  2. Yuushokutonsaiichiniisan (遊食豚彩 いちにいさん 銀座店)

     

    This place offers amazingggggg Kagoshima Black Pig shabu shabu, I love it because the pork slices are so thin it melted in my mouth the moment I ate them (cholesterol alert!). What I also love was the set up, pork to be cooked in hot water for a few seconds only, then dip it into this yummy chicken broth soaked with spring onions before eating it. I love the broth, especially with yuzu sauce, so please ask for the sauce too if you are there! They offer different dinner set menus and the place itself is quite spacious, each set came with a full plate of vegetables and tofu, a few other pork hot dishes, miso soup and fruits as desserts. We had the set which was about 4000 yen (36USD) per person, not expensive at all by Tokyo dinner standard.

  3. Genkatsu

    Not until this did I know that the Japanese breaded deep fried pork (pork katsu) I have been having in Hong Kong or abroad are so different from the ones in Japan. Apart from Genkatsu, I also liked Tonkotsu Maisen (please refer to Shibuya section), but what I like more about this place is their innovative menu which offers different types of filling inside of the pork cutlet. The pork cutlet on its own was pretty tender and perfectly fried (not oily at all), I chose the one with yuzu filling and it made the tonkotsu really flavoursome without being overpowering.

  4. Akomeya

    This place stands out for me because of its uniqueness. The restaurant is part of a high-end grocery shop in Ginza which sells a lot of local delicacies, and the restaurant itself in its very special way, specialises in rice. It was the simplicity of the menu and the combination of the food that made everything tasted so delicious, I would never imagine myself appreciating the taste of rice so much!

     

  5. Ushigoro

    Hands down the best yakiniuku I have ever had anywhere else in the world! Ushigoro offers really high quality beef at their restaurant, for ~8600 yen and up, you could opt for different set dinner courses. The set dinner course I had included about a few different kinds of beef for the bbq, raw beef sashimi, a main course (rice/ noodle), and dessert. The way the beef melted in my mouth was so memorable I went back for the second time.

Shinjuku

Shinjuku has so many restaurants it is actually difficult to decide on one to go to. However, I have picked two restaurants that I quite liked in particular as my recommendation to you.

  1. Shin udon

    My friend and I queued up for almost 2 hours to try the udon here, we were so hangry we ordered 4 bowls of udon between the two of us, and finished all of it. Shin udon is really famous for a reason, it was absolutely delicious!! The one I liked the most was the cheesy udon with bacon, a bit unconventional, but the flavour went very well with the udon broth anyway. If you have the stomach for it, I would definitely recommend you to do the same, order more! The menu does look amazing, and the thought of queuing up for another 2 hours for this really motivated us to try more in one go.

  2. Nabezou, Meiji Street Store

    IMG_6828

    A Korean friend of mine who has been living in Japan for a long time brought me to this place. I like this place because, who doesn’t like all you can eat shabu shabu? Nabezou is a shabu shabu chain in Japan, this branch is apparently one of the nicest and most comfortable. You can pick and choose up to two different broths for the shabu shabu, the beef and pork slices came in boxes to your table and will be refilled as soon as finished, there is also a salad bar with a wide variety of vegetables including tofu.

Roppongi

  1. Moon at Mori Art Museum

    If you want nice food with an amazing view of Tokyo, Moon is the place. I wasn’t expecting the food to be this nice at first because after all, this is a restaurant in a museum. However, the presentation and the flavours of each dishes were really well thought out, it really added a nice touch on top of my museum experience! The price point of the set lunch was also reasonable, I only paid 2900 yen for my 3 course meal. Online booking was available for this restaurant, which is always a plus.

    • Food: ♥♥♥♥♥
    • Ambience: ♥♥♥♥♥
    • Service: ♥♥♥♥♥
    • Price: $$
    • Tourist friendliness: ♥♥♥♥♥
    • Smoking/ Non-smoking: N
    • Website: http://thesun-themoon.com/moon/
  2. Gonpachi

    IMG_5839

    This is the legendary restaurant where the movie Kill Bill was filmed. The ambience of the restaurant was absolutely amazing because of the interior design, it was very lively in the evening and the food was really good too! The restaurant mostly serves izakaya food, I was there with a group for dinner, we ordered a fair bit together with lots of beer, and the bill only came up to about 5000 yen each. I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are into the photo opportunity as well as good food 🙂

Shibuya

  1. Usando Garden

    IMG_7845

    Usando Garden is an indoor food market with many different food stalls and seating. It is a cute traditional wooden Japanese house sitting behind Omotesando in one of the small streets. If you would like to get a quick drink/dessert and escape the crowd on the main road, come here! They also have a shaved ice shop!

    • Food: ♥♥♥
    • Ambience: ♥♥♥♥
    • Service: ♥♥♥
    • Price: $
    • Tourist friendliness: ♥♥
    • Smoking/ Non-smoking: N
    • Tabelog: http://urasando-garden.jp/
  2. Tonkotsu Maisen

    The Tonkostu Maisen on Shibuya is quite unique because it is located within an old bathhouse behind Omotesando. Apart from the nicely made fried pork fillet, it was also quite an experience to sit in the high-ceiling hall for this meal, it was as if we went back in time.

Asakusa

Asakusa is famous for its beautiful Senso-ji, this area probably can be at least a half-day trip in Tokyo. Since you will be spending half a day here anyway, why don’t you try some of its famous restaurants anyway?

  1. Sometarou Okonomiyaki (風流お好み焼き 染太郎)

    Sometarou is an okonomiyaki restaurant that has more than 50 years of history. This place is really unique because it is a tatami restaurant and you get to make your own okonomiyaki under the instructions of the helpful staff. Although honestly, I think the food was okay, I had better okonomiyaki elsewhere, but the whole experience was really worth it.

  2. Hommage

    Hommage is a one michelin-starred restaurant, all the dishes from the menu was prepared using French techniques, however, the flavours are very locally Japanese. I was impressed with the entire flow of the menu, every dish was special in its own way, even the petite fours! I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking to have a local high-end meal without too much French influence to try Hommage! I will let the photos speak for themselves here.

So this is the end of my long list of recommendations. I try to include a few restaurants in each of the main areas in Tokyo, I hope you’ll find it useful. There are so many good restaurants in Japan it is impossible to know every single good restaurant obviously, but if you do end up going to any of the ones above, let me know what you think!

 

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