When traveling to new places, eating is integral to cultural immersion. I take my food very seriously, hence why there’s one article dedicated to recommended restaurants in Tokyo! Especially since the variety in breadth and depth to Japanese food is one of the largest I’ve experienced so far. Honestly, it’s hard to cover in one article! Also, don’t forget to check out Tips & Tricks for traveling to Japan and Things you cannot miss in Tokyo.
So, I’m all about doing the legwork and spending days researching where I should eat. After checking countless websites, asking friends from Japan, friends not from Japan but have been to Japan, and watching YouTube videos, I have compiled a list of 13 top restaurants I would recommend you to try in Tokyo. The price ranges from cheap to quite expensive, but I wanted to make sure to give you a good range. I’ve also left out the western food (Tokyo has a ton of delicious French and Italian restaurants) and chains such as Yoshinoya, CoCo Curry, or Sushi Zanmai (which are all tasty and cheap). Now let’s get going with my recommended restaurants list (in no particular order)!
Each restaurant title will have: Restaurant name, neighborhood in Tokyo (type of food…ie. sushi, ramen, etc) $-$$$$ Yes/No reservations
- Maisen, Omotesando (Tonkatsu) $-$$ No reservations needed: You MUST come here! Promise me! And go during lunch since some of the best pieces are limited daily and they run out by dinner time. It’s not expensive and you won’t find anything close to this outside of Japan. In case you didn’t know Tonkatsu is breaded pork cutlets. Sounds pretty normal? It is one of my favorite things to eat in Japan. The pork in Japan is different from everywhere else in the world for some strange reason. Their pork has fat marbled throughout the meat similar to wagyu beef! At Maisen, they give you choices for different cuts of pork, and you’ll be able to tell by the price and how limited they are which cuts are fattier. The fattier the better. I highly recommend getting the Tokyo-X loin NOT fillet, since fillet is lean.
- Standing Sushi Bar, Shibuya (Sushi) $ No reservations needed: Simple but surprisingly delicious sushi! I stumbled upon this place and it is shockingly cheap for the quality of fish that you get. It is exactly what the name says, you walk in, find a place to stand, check out the menu and tell the sushi chef what you want. They have an English menu that also teaches you how to maneuver the restaurant. You can request for the sushi to be torched (“aburi”) and I’d recommend torching some of the fattier pieces such as the engawa.
- Sushi Kanesaka, Marunouchi (Sushi omakase) $$$ Yes, make reservations: Great place to go for a date paired with spectacular food. Beautiful interior design and ambiance. They provide varied menu sizes with lunch menu starting at US$60 and dinner at US$130. I would recommend going for dinner.
- Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro, Roppongi (Sushi omakase) $$$$ Yes, make reservations 1 month prior: You must have heard of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Well, this sushi restaurant is opened by the second son of Jiro from the documentary. Much more comfortable and foreign friendly to come here than the original Jiro sushi restaurant in Ginza at the basement of a train station. Chef Jiro is extremely friendly and speaks a bit of 40+ different languages (check out our photo!). It is an experience you must have once in your life, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best sushi I’ve ever had. PROTIP: If you go during lunch it is much cheaper US$160 vs 300/person.
- Seryna, Ginza (Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki) $$$ Yes, make reservations online: They have special lunch sets that make the meal cheaper than if you go during dinner. Probably one of the best shabu shabu (hot-pot) I’ve had because the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender! I highly recommend also getting their sukiyaki (beef in special soy sauce). They use the same meat but have a more flavorful sauce that makes your mouth water non-stop. Oh how I wish I could have it now! PROTIP: don’t need to order the Kobe beef, just get the regular beef since there isn’t a big difference on your taste buds but a big difference on your wallet.
- Torishiki, Kamiosaki (Yakitori) $$$ Yes, make reservations 2 month in advance or go right when they open at 6pm: Michelin star yakitori restaurant and people generally prefer it over Birdland, the other Michelin star yakitori. They only have 17 seats by the bar where you’ll be treated with 5 star service. Yakitori’s focus is chicken, so if you don’t eat chicken then I wouldn’t go to this restaurant.
- Akatsukian, Ginza (Soba) $ No reservations needed: Located on the 11th floor of the Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza. Soba is Japanese buckwheat noodles and it’s made al dente and dipped in a cold soy-based sauce. I would recommend going with the set that includes tempura, and get the cold noodles. No reservations needed, I’d go for lunch on a weekday so there are fewer people waiting in line.
- Kagari, Ginza (Ramen) $ No reservations but line gets long: Probably one of the best ramen you’ll have. It’s a tiny 8-seater restaurant in the Ginza station, so the lines get quite long during peak hours. Order the tori-paitan, which is the one with the creamy white chicken broth.
- Yoroniku, Minamiaoyama (Yakiniku) $$$ Yes, make reservations at least 2-3 weeks in advance but if it’s for December at least 1-2 months prior: If you’re only going to come here once, I would splurge and get as many of the best meats as possible! They have a set menu for JPY 9000 but you’ll probably want to order more beef than what the set menu gives you. The meat-fat ratio is perfect and you’ll keep on wanting more. They also grill the beef for you, which is a nice touch but probably to make sure you don’t ruin it.
- Mikawa, Roppongi (Tempura) $$$ Yes, make reservations at least 1-2 weeks prior: Best tempura…ever! I’d recommend going for lunch since it’s much cheaper (~USD 100 vs 200/person). Try to reserve a seat at the 6-seater bar. Very filling meal, so make sure you go with an appetite. Also, when you order they’ll ask what dish you want in the end, I recommend the ten-don (tempura over rice). They also have one of the most beautiful entrances I’ve seen at a restaurant.
- Misono, Ginza or Shinjuku (Teppanyaki) $$$$ Yes, make reservations: Original Kobe beef teppanyaki restaurant and now with 2 locations in Tokyo. I recommend going for lunch since it’s cheaper and they have special lunch sets. Make sure to also order the garlic rice! I’m not sure why, but garlic fried rice is just so much better when cooked on the teppanyaki grill.
- Hakushu, Shibuya (Teppanyaki) $$$ Yes, make reservations: Small family owned Kobe beef teppanyaki restaurant. During peak season, it could be hard to secure seats. Cheaper than many other teppanyaki places!
- Magia di Farina aka Happy Pancake, Omotesando (Pancakes) $$ Yes, make reservations at least 1-2 weeks prior otherwise you’ll have to wait in line for hours: Japan is known for their fluffy pancakes. I mean, super-duper fluffy pancakes (check out the photo)! If you like pancakes, I highly suggest you to try this place out. Get one original “happy pancake” and try at least one of the other flavors! Don’t forget to take some good photos to make your friends back home jealous.
I hope you’ll get the chance to check out some of my recommended restaurants in Tokyo. Most of them you’ll need to get a reservation and for those who don’t speak Japanese, the easiest way is to do it through your hotel concierge. Have a great time eating!
This article is not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the above mentioned brands.