Best Eats in Tokyo, Japan | a travelhappy guide
There’s a reason that Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city in the world: Japanese chefs take pride in the pursuit of perfection, and this means the best in ingredients, preparation, and presentation.
But you don’t have to be rich to eat well in Tokyo: there are lots of cheap eats (curry, noodles, etc.) that are a must whenever we visit the city.
Dine on delicate tempura, rich pork-broth ramen, light and crispy tonkatsu, marbled wagyu beef, curry, crab shabu shabu… there is so much goodness everywhere and I can’t wait for you to taste everything.
Best Sushi: Sukiyabashi Jiro (Ginza) and Sushi Dai
At Sukiyabashi Jiro, a tiny ten-seater restaurant in the Ginza train station, you’ll savor three-star Michelin sushi made by Jiro Ono, subject of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. There is one menu per day, and the cost for the 20 courses is around $300 plus tax. Ask your concierge to make the reservation, and if you’re lucky enough to get in, be sure to arrive on time. If you can’t snag a seat at the original location, your concierge might be able to get you a seat at the Roppongi Hills branch run by Jiro’s younger son. Also - check the website, read the rules (these guidelines help to set expectations and inform you of proper sushi-eating etiquette, and enjoy every second. Sukiyabashi Jiro, 4 Chome-2-15 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan (in Ginza train station) | open for lunch and dinner by reservation only.
If Jiro isn’t in the cards this time, a yummy sushi + Asahi breakfast at Sushi Dai (formerly at Tsukiji Market and now at Toyosu Market) will help ease the pain. Cash only, more info on the new location here.
Best Shabu Shabu: Seryna
If you love shabu shabu or want to try real Kobe beef without eating a huge steak, try Seryna. It’s flavorful and amazing and their crab shabu shabu is also amazing. Locations in Shinjuku, Ginza, and Roppongi (we liked the Shinjuku location better than Roppongi but haven’t been to Ginza yet). Seryna | tel. 03-3344-6761 | address. Shinjuku Sumitomo Bldg, 52nd Floor | open for lunch and dinner (pro tip: Seryna has amazing lunch specials, if you have time to squeeze it in you can save a bit of money).
Best Tempura: Tempura Tsunahachi
Try Tempura Tsunahachi for the lightest, freshest, most delicious tempura you will ever have. Sit at the counter for a view of the chefs in action. Main location in Shinjuku; satellite location in the Matsuya department store in Ginza, check google maps. Tempura Tsunahachi | tel. 03-3352-1012 | address. 3-31-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 (nearest station: JR Shinjuku) | open for lunch and dinner (reservations reco mmended).
Best Beef: Gyukatsu Motomura
I’m part-Japanese and from Hawaii so I’ve eaten tonkatsu (pork katsu) and chicken katsu probably hundreds of times in my life, but I’ve never had anything that prepared me for the deliciousness of this beef katsu. It’s deep fried and then given to you to cook on a hot plate again. I’m obsessed. Gyukatsu Motomura | Locations in Shibuya and Roppongi (and lots of other places!)
Best Dry Ramen: Abura Soba
Although the restaurant has “soba” in its name, these noodles are not made of buckwheat and don’t taste like any traditional soba I’ve ever had. It’s more like tsukemen or ramen, but without a dipping sauce or without shiro. Instead of soup, there’s toppings and hot oil on the bottom of the bowl that you mix in. Sooooo good. Upon entering, use a vending machine to order & pick toppings, then hand them to the person behind the counter and wait for your meal. If you get confused, don’t be afraid to ask for help and an English (“eigo”) menu.
Best Ramen: Ichiran and Ippudo
Both of these restaurants serve tonkotsu ramen with pork bone broth and thin Hakata noodles. It’s delicious, trust me.
At Ichiran, use the red hot powder if you like your broth very spicy.
At Ippudo, use the garlic press to add fresh garlic to your bowl. Heaven!
Multiple locations around the city, check Google or Apple maps for the location nearest you.
Best Tsukemen: Tetsu
If you’ve never had tsukemen, prepare to become addicted. It’s sort of like ramen, except with chewy, fat noodles that you dip into broth and slurp up quickly. Mmm. The pork here was deliciously fatty and the tamago (partly cooked egg) was on point. Testu Tsukemen website here (27 locations!)
Best Tonkatsu: Butagumi
Pick from what seems like an endless variety of pork types which will be deep fried but taste deliciously light. Dishes are served with rice, shredded cabbage, and miso soup (all of which can be refilled for free). The original location is charming and cozy, with a more casual location for takeaway in Roppongi Hills. Main Address: 2 Chome-24-9 Nishiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0031, Japan | menu here in Japanese only.
Best Udon: TsuruTonTan
Huge, delicious bowls of inventive udon noodles: tempura, sukiyaki, and even carbonara are on the menu. The Roppongi Hills location has both tables and private rooms (private rooms are great for babies and kids!). Website here in Japanese. Multiple locations around the city.
Happy eating, friends! Let me know if you try any of these places and especially let me know if you find other gems that you need to share!