The city of Tokyo has long been recognized as the unofficial culinary capital of the world, with roughly 230 Michelin-starred restaurants within the city limits. That’s more than any other city on the planet. While you can certainly spend months or even years exploring the city’s Michelin scene, many of the top places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo aren’t Michelin-starred restaurants at all.
One of the things that makes Tokyo’s food scene so special is how diverse it is. Here, you can find food from and inspired by places all over the world. And while I love a good Michelin-starred meal, I’m more about tasty and inexpensive food that’s accessible to everyone.
In this guide to Tokyo’s food scene, you’ll find fare that ranges from fabulous buffet breakfasts to creative gourmet meals to unique street foods that are so fantastic that I couldn’t stop thinking about them hours and even days later. Come along with me as we explore the deep and diverse world of Tokyo’s culinary scene. These are the 15 places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo, Japan.
Not only is the Hyatt Regency Tokyo a beautiful, five-star hotel with luxurious accommodations that ooze comfort and sophistication, it’s also one of the best places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo.
Their breakfast buffet, a sensational spread that is available daily from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Kakou Restaurant on the third floor, consists of over 25 delicious, traditional options, which you can enjoy in their communal dining area or in one of their six private dining rooms.
I recommend their warming and traditional oden, which was exactly what I needed on a frigid January morning. There was a divine buttery beef that practically fell apart in my mouth, fresh edamame, tasty tofu balls, and some of the best fish cakes I’ve ever had in my life.
The soba noodles, which I mixed with creamy pounded yam, was a highlight, and the daikon and dried shrimp were also intensely flavorful foods I won’t forget. If you’re staying at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo, don’t miss out on Kakou’s breakfast buffet!
One of the best ways to find the top places to eat while traveling is to go where the locals go. My friend (and local ramen expert) Frank took me to Takeichi, a ramen restaurant off the beaten path.
I went with a spicy ramen with chicken, egg, chicken meatballs, lettuce, seaweed, and onions in a creamy broth. The flavors were like nothing I’d ever had before.
The spice in it snuck up on me a bit, and the soft-boiled egg in the thick, flavorful broth was outstanding. The texture was similar to that of a creamy pasta, and the addition of the seaweed made it feel like a cross between ramen and sushi.
I can’t recommend Takeichi enough. If you love good, high-quality ramen and want to enjoy it in a quiet, out-of-the-way spot that’s practically devoid of tourists, this is the ramen spot for you. It’s easily one of the best places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo!
During my four days in Tokyo, I learned that there are over 21,000 ramen restaurants in the Greater Tokyo Area. One of the city’s best is gotsubo, an amazing eatery in Shinjuku that is famous for its fusion ramens.
Dining at gotsubo can be a bit of a tight squeeze; there are only five seats inside, so you might have to wait. The food is so heavenly that the wait is worth it, though!
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I went with an enormous bowl of soy sauce-based ramen that came with eggs with a nice, runny yolk; Iberian pork; seaweed; and onions in a thin broth made from oysters and soybeans. The oyster aroma wafting up from the broth was divine, and its pungent flavor paired really nicely with the soy.
The Iberian pork was meaty and fatty, and each bite of it was an explosion of rich flavors in my mouth. I’ve eaten pork all over the world and this is some of the best I’ve ever had!
There is no doubt in my mind that gotsubo is one of the top places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo. This ramen will change your life!
I’m a sucker for good Indian food, so when I learned about Spice Ramen Shaka, a shop in Ikebukuro that specializes in Indian fusion ramen, I knew I had to try it!
I ordered a ramen that contained pork and stir-fried bean sprouts in a dense, spicy broth containing garlic, mustard seeds, and Kashmiri chilies. Not only was the dish beautiful, it was also obvious that the cooks had taken a lot of time and effort to properly research Indian cuisine and use authentic Indian spices.
Somehow, they succeeded at creating a fiery, curry-like broth that didn’t overshadow the fact that this was still a variation of Japanese ramen. It was a proper blend of Indian and Japanese flavors, and I couldn’t get enough of it!
Even though the dish completely filled me up, I couldn’t help but try some of my buddy Frank’s butter chicken-inspired ramen, which contained cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. It was fantastic and made me wish I had a second stomach so I could eat more of it!
The beautiful fusion of Japanese and Indian cuisine that I had at Spice Ramen Shaka is unlike any food I’ve ever had before and I can’t recommend it enough.
One thing you must do if you want to have an authentic Japanese experience in Tokyo is visit an izakaya for some mouthwatering yakitori. An izakaya is an informal Japanese pub that also sells food, sort of like an Irish pub or a tapas bar.
Yakitori is the Japanese name for skewered meat that has been grilled over a charcoal fire. Yakitori originally only referred to skewered chicken, but now has come to also include beef, pork, fish, tofu, eggs, and even vegetables.
There are countless isakayas in Tokyo where you can dine with friends and enjoy a wide array of yakitoris while sipping drinks like sake, shochu, beer, and more. The most traditional kind, chicken with green onions, is always a winner, and is tender, fatty, and bursting with delicious charcoal flavor.
Other varieties you can find in and around Tokyo include cheese wrapped in pork belly, bacon-wrapped quail eggs, asparagus wrapped with pork belly, chicken balls with cheese, and one of my favorites, chicken hearts, which are so dense and tender!
They may not be to everyone’s liking, but I challenge you to try them at least once!
If you often find yourself in a time crunch when you travel like I do, Tokyo has the perfect restaurant for you: Yoshinoya. This Japanese fast food chain’s motto is “tasty, low-priced, and quick,” and the restaurant is designed to get you in and out as quickly as possible so you can go about your day!
Yoshinoya has a massive menu, and its star is their large beef bowl with onions, sticky sushi rice, a raw egg, and scallions. The beef is juicy and fatty, and once you mix it with the rice, egg, scallions, and a bit of soy sauce, it takes the flavor to the next level!
The egg creates a thick, rich, and creamy sauce that I found irresistible! The bowl only cost me 650 Yen, or roughly $5.86 U.S. It’s very filling and is the perfect dish for a cold, winter morning.
Don’t skip Yoshinoya just because it’s part of a larger chain. I guarantee you, it is one of the best places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo!
In America, the term “convenience store food” doesn’t have the best reputation. But across the Pacific in Japan, “convenience store food” is much different and is practically a way of life.
Believe it or not, Japanese convenience stores, known as konbini, offer tasty, freshly made fare that sometimes can even rival the quality of their counterparts in fancier, sit-down restaurants.
Many Japanese residents visit konbini early in the morning to enjoy items like fresh sushi, oden, and onigiri on their way to work.
With roughly 10,000 konbini in Tokyo alone and 50,000 in total across the country, convenience stores are extremely popular. There are many chains of konbini around Japan, but the three most prominent are 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, and Lawson.
Between multiple visits to all three, I bought a terrific sushi platter; several tasty onigiris that contained fresh salmon, crunchy seaweed, spicy wasabi, and briny pollack roe; a delightful Chinese pork bun; a mouthwatering green tea mochi; and much more.
I was blown away by how fantastic they were. They definitely blow American convenience store food out the water!
The next time you’re in Tokyo, don’t hesitate to get a bite to eat at a local convenience store. They’re one of the top places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo for a reason!
If you want to fully immerse yourself in Japan’s unique culture, you have to take a trip to Harajuku. This area of Tokyo is a showcase of Kawaii, or Japan’s “cute culture.”
As you explore Harajuku, you might just find a gem of a restaurant that is hidden down a back alley that has been decorated with funky artwork. This is Sukura Tei.
The funky murals don’t end at Sakura Tei’s doors; instead, they continue into the restaurant and create a wonderfully bizarre atmosphere for a sit-down eatery. Here, you and your party are seated at tables that have grills set into them.
Your party will be provided with various ingredients including flour, cabbage, mochi, scallions, cat roe, and more; the ingredients to a dish called monjayaki.
From there, you follow the instructions provided at the table to create the dish, which has the consistency of an omelet. It has a briny, fishy taste and is quite different from anything else I tried in Japan!
But the star dish at Sakura Tei is a type of cabbage pancake known as okonomiyaki.
The ingredients—cabbage, scallions, egg, noodles, cheese, and shrimp—are provided, which you grill up until they form a savory and fatty pancake whose unique flavors and textures had my taste buds dancing for joy!
For the okonomiyaki alone, Sakura Tei is one of the top places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo. Pay them a visit and see for yourself!
As you continue exploring Harajuku, you’ll come across Takeshita Street, where you will again be inundated with the cutesy sights, sounds, and aromas of Japan’s Kawaii culture, which is popular among young Japanese girls.
There are lots of interesting foods here, but the most notable is the rainbow cotton candy (1,000 Yen/roughly $9.00 U.S.), a massive, cone-shaped cloud of spun sugar that contains rainbow coloring and six different flavors.
It’s so big, one person couldn’t possibly finish it! Grab a few friends and share it with them!
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Dessert crepes, which you can get with a variety of rich and decadent fillings, can be found almost everywhere in Harajuku. I visited Santa Monica Crepes for one that contained whipped cream and chocolate fudge.
The crepe itself was thin and fluffy, but the amount of whipped cream and fudge inside makes it so fatty and delicious. It’s a next-level dessert that you have to try, and helps make Takeshita Street one of the best places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo.
If the shopping district known as Sunamachi Ginza is not on your itinerary, you’re doing Tokyo all wrong.
This 670-meter-long shopping district is so special and interesting because most tourists skip it entirely. A trip here is an authentic look at local Japanese life. The area was established between sixty and seventy years ago and many of its shops are family-run.
I recommend the fried tempura fritter, which contains shrimp, onion, and other vegetables. It’s crunchy and juicy, and the sauce that comes with it adds a delicious sweetness.
You must also try the inarizushi, which is a ball of sushi rice and soy sauce that is stuffed into a sweet and honeyed deep-fried tofu pocket. There is a famous shop that makes over 400 inarizushis every day, so be sure to grab one!
Don’t miss deep-fried tuna minced cutlet, which contains onions and comes with a sweet sauce; the yakitori; and the oden, which is a Japanese hot pot dish that contains a fantastic spicy cod fish cake and daikon radish.
Also have a taiyaki, which is a crunchy, fish-shaped cake that’s stuffed with red bean paste, and the fresh green tea you can make yourself will blow your mind!
Don’t be another tourist who misses out on Sunamachi Ginza because it’s not a glamorous hotspot. It’s a hidden gem for foodies and is easily one of the best places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo!
There is a reason why Ameya-Yokochō Market, often shortened to just Ameyoko Market, is a mecca for travel-foodies from all over the world and one of the best places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo.
It served as a black market after World War II, but has since evolved into a street food market where you can try a wide variety of sensational Japanese, Chinese, and Korean treats.
One of my favorite dishes at Ameyoko Market was a spectacular seafood bowl that contained squid, tuna, salmon, salmon roe, minced tuna, and some sushi rice with soy sauce and wasabi on the side.
The salmon was fresh and buttery, while the briny roe and chewy squid were also fantastic, and at just 300 Yen/roughly $2.80 U.S., it’s practically a steal!
Also try the Potatorella, which has a crunchy, crispy potato exterior and is filled with lots of melted mozzarella inside. I had it with a sweet chili sauce and garlic. It’s heavy and gooey, and a little sweet and spicy!
If you love spicy food, grab some tteok-bokki, a popular South Korean street food that’s made up of stir-fried mochis in a spicy, sweet gochujang sauce along with fish cakes, sausage, and green onion.
I also highly recommend the oysters and a fish known as shishamo with Japanese mayo. Wash it all down with some sake to cap off your Ameyoko Market experience!
If you love Asian sweets like I do, then Nakamise Dori in Asakusa is the spot for you! Nakamise Dori is the longest and oldest shopping street in Tokyo and is a highlight of Asakusa.
There is tons of history here, and lots of food shops and stalls to check out as you walk toward Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in the city.
Be sure to try the kibi dango, which is a traditional Japanese sweet that consists of skewered mochi balls covered in a nutty millet flour that reminded me of peanut butter. If you visit Tokyo in the winter, you’ll also be able to try a fantastic, hot, fermented rice drink called amazake.
You can also find large mochis called ichigo daifuku, including a variety that’s stuffed with red bean paste and another that contains custard. Both are fantastic and blew me away!
One of my personal favorites was the Japanese pancakes called ningyoyaki, which date back to the Edo period. They come in shapes like pagodas and birds and contain tasty red bean paste inside a savory, crispy exterior.
Don’t miss the menchi katsu, which is a juicy, deep-fried patty made of beef, pork, and onion, or the deep-fried curry monja, which is a type of fritter or pancake with lots of curry flavor.
Last, but not least, is the melon pan, a Japanese sweet bread that you can get stuffed with matcha ice cream. It is insanely good, even on a cold January afternoon, and serves as a great dessert to end your Asakusa food tour!
If you’ve never had high-speed sushi, you must head over to Uobei, a chain of restaurants that offers a faster, more efficient, and more personalized spin on conveyor belt sushi.
After you place your order on the multilingual tablet at your table, your sushi will race down the track and stop right in front of you, usually within thirty seconds!
The tuna and salmon with onions are so fresh and succulent. You also must try the flounder, smelt roe, salmon roe, flounder fin, and the tuna with mayonnaise and black pepper. And you can’t go wrong with the divine minced tuna with onions. It’s my favorite thing I tried there!
In addition to being tasty, the sushi at Uobei is very affordable. I ate over 20 pieces of sushi and my bill came to only 1,209 Yen/$10.94. You can’t beat the price or the quality at Uobei and I can’t recommend it more highly!
If you’re looking for a fun and laid-back restaurant with gourmet food and free-flowing drinks where you and a group of friends can have a great night out, look no further than Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu Restaurant. It looks like a traditional castle on the outside and like a traditional Japanese home on the inside!
This izakaya-style tourist haven is famed for being the inspiration for the infamous restaurant fight scene in Kill Bill, Vol. 1. If you’re familiar with the movie, you can see the resemblance as soon as you walk in. It feels like you’ve stepped onto the Kill Bill set!
The gourmet fare here is outstanding, as is the extensive selection of alcohol on their all-you-can-drink menu, which costs 2,678 Yen/$24.20 for 2 hours.
Their fresh salmon sashimi is gorgeous and incredibly tasty, and I can’t recommend their succulent charbroiled oyster enough.
The tender beef, chicken, and tomato yakitori is wonderful and the fantastic flavors and textures of the fried tofu, beef, and spinach had me in Japanese food heaven!
My personal favorite was the crispy shrimp fritter with fried rice noodles and chilies. It was out of this world!
As you dine and drink, be sure to scan the restaurant for any famous faces. Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu is celebrity hotspot that has hosted stars such as Kobe Bryant, Sylvester Stallone, the Kardashians, and Kanye West. FloRida was there the night I visited!
Between the incredible food, amazing drinks, gorgeous surroundings, and potential celebrity encounters, Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu is most definitely one of the top places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo!
If you want to explore Japan properly, you’ll have to take a ride on one of the country’s Shinkansen bullet trains, many of which can be caught in the capital city of Tokyo.
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While the bullet train is known as a high-speed way to travel between far-away cities, many people don’t realize it’s also the perfect place to enjoy a good meal!
During my time in Japan, I learned that one of the most popular things to do while traveling on bullet trains is to buy a bento box at the station and then eat it on the ride.
A bento box is a portable, single-portion meal that is usually packed with rice or noodles, fish or meat, and pickled and cooked vegetables. I had fantastic bento boxes on both of my bullet train rides and was blown away by their quality.
The fish and roe in them was fresh and tasty, the rice was flavorful and perfectly-textured, and the vegetables were nice and crisp. Enjoying such amazing food while taking in the Japanese countryside was an experience that will stay with me forever!
Don’t miss out on having a bento box on a Shinkansen bullet train. It’s a uniquely Japanese experience you can’t have anywhere else and makes the bullet train one of the best places to eat Japanese food in Tokyo!
There are countless places in Tokyo to enjoy a high-quality meal. From street food markets to unique ramen joints to gourmet eateries, Tokyo is rife with culinary opportunities that will leave your inner foodie craving more. Book a trip to Tokyo today to begin your next big gastronomical adventure!
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