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Sunil
Mountain View

Sunil from Mountain View asked

Must-try restaurants in Tokyo

Going to Tokyo for the first time with my fiance for our honeymoon in fall of 2014 and we love to eat.  What must we try there?  We're open to anything, but if it helps narrow it down, I love sushi and my fiance has a thing for noodles.

Tokyo

8 Answers
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answered first by
Tim from San Francisco

Try to get reservations at Sukiyabashi Jiro.  Definitely see the documentary about this place "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" if you haven't seen it.  Magical and beautiful film.


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Sunil
I love that documentary. Didn't realize that that was in Tokyo. Thanks for the suggestion!
 
 
 

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  1. Sukiyabashi Jiro (restaurant)
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answered by
Mindi from Philadelphia

We were recently in Tokyo, and the food was amazing.  There is great food everywhere, even in department stores.  Here are some of our favorites spots:

  • Sushi at the  Tsukiji Fish Market.  Walking around the world-class market is an adventure in itself.  We had breakfast at Sushi Bun twice.
  • Modern French food at Florilege in the Aoyama neighborhood.  You have to make a reservation in advance for this tiny restaurant, but it's worth it for a special meal.
  • Yakitori at  Bird Land in the Ginza neighborhod.  The prix fixe meal at this Michelin rated restaurant is a fun experience.
  • Soba at Matsugen in the Ebisu neighborhood.  We just had the soba.  Next time we will have a full meal.
  • Ramen anywhere on Ramen Street in the Tokyo Station.  If you love ramen, then this is a must.  Several top ramen shops have opened shops here.  Cheap and delicious.
  • Coffee at Omotesando Koffee.  This tiny, zen coffe shop serves wonderful hand-crafted coffee drinks.

If you're interested, we have more information and photos for all of the above at www.2foodtrippers.com.


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Sunil
All of this sounds right up my alley. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to fit all of this into my trip. Thanks Mindi! By the way, cool blog! Noticed that you had some Kyoto posts -- I'm actually planning on stopping there during this trip too :)
 
 
 

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  1. Tsukiji Fish Market (neighborhood)
  2. Florilege (restaurant)
  3. Bird Land (restaurant)
  4. Matsugen (restaurant)
  5. Tokyo Station (attraction)
  6. Omotesando Koffee (restaurant)
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answered by
Kevin from San Francisco

I've spent time in Tokyo in persuit of the best sushi on earth. I've had Juro (mentioned above) and it was great -- but I prefer the tiny 6 seat, 2 michelin star, "Sawada". 

Reservations are tricky, booked about a month out. Ask you hotel concierage and be willing to shift you schedule around any openings.

Expect to spend around $400 per person. You'll leave full of the best fish on earth.


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Sunil
Thanks for the head's up on this one! I love tiny Japanese restaurants anywhere. Will look into Sawada.
 
 
 

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  1. Sawada (restaurant)
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answered by
Veronica from San Francisco

This isn't a restaurant, but if you love sushi, Tsukiji Fish Market is the place to go. Downside is you have to get there before sunrise, basically. WORTH IT!


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Sunil
Thanks for the tip Veronica!
 
 
 

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answered by
Randi from Palo Alto

Go to Sukiyabashi Jiro if you can. Meal of a lifetime. worth a trip to Japan just to eat there. Honestly.


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Sunil
That's what everyone keeps saying, so I will definitely try. Thanks Randi!
 
 
 

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top answer by
Andrew from Minneapolis

I've got quite a few recommendations...

For sushi:

  • Sushi Mizutani is hidden in the basement of an office building. It's hard to find and even harder to get a table. Take it from me though, the search is worth it.
  • Nobu Tokyo is where world-renowned sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa serves up incrediable sushi at this lively sushi bar. The ingredients are bought daily at the local Tsukiji Market.
  • Sushi Dai, located in the Tsukiji Market, is one of the top sushi restaurants in the world. The wait is long, but it is worth it.
  • By the way, Tsukiji Fish Market is a must. I could people watch all morning at Tsukiji, world's largest fish market. The diversity of offerings can delight any seafood lover's cravings. Go early to watch the auctions. You won't believe the prices some of these fish garner.

For noodles:

  • Namiki Yabusoba is one of most well-known noodle shops in Tokyo. The dishes are so good, there is almost always a line.
  • Ivan Ramen serves ramen that is handcrafted with local ingredients. Dorm food doesn't even come close.
  • Nagatacho Kurosawa Restaurant.
  • Nagi is not a typical noodle shop. Nagi has a wait staff waiting to take your order. Tell them how you would like your noodles and enjoy.

Here are some other places in the city for really good traditional Japanese food:

  • Don’t let the appearance of Robata of Tokyo scare you. It might be a little small, but it makes up for it in a big way with the food. And no need to order. Just say how much you want to spend and they'll take care of the rest.
  • Isehiro: When the ingredients of a dish are each hand selected by the chef, you know it's going to be good.
  • The chefs at Raku-tei take their food seriously, which leads to some pretty serious tempura.
  • Ganchan is so fun. The wait staff are always in a good mood and you can't help but enjoy the restaurant's sound track.
  • Bird Land: Named after Weather Report's jazz-fusion song "Birdland," the restaurant plays plenty of jazzy tunes. Sit down, grab a perfectly grilled skewer and enjoy the dulcet tones.
  • Onyasai: Personalize your shabu-shabu by choosing your soups and ingredients. I like mine spicy with the "hinabe dashi" soup.
  • Ten-ichi: Grab a seat at the counter and watch the chef prepare your meal. Dinner and a show all in one.
  • Inakaya is such a fun place for a dinner. Sit around the U-shaped counter and watch as a team of chefs put together your meal robatayaki style.
  • Hayashi, you order a Japanese set meal and grill it over one of five hibachi grills. If you are concerned you won't do it right, no worries, there is always someone ready to help.
  • Kuroba-tei is a seafood lover's paradise. Try the 20 lb. oven-roasted tuna head cooked and served whole.
  • Arashio Sumo Table: I loved the chankonabe, a traditional stew made with fried fried tofu, mushrooms, cabbage, and spring onions. It is rich in fiber and protein and a favorite dish of sumo wrestlers.

Comments (2)

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Trevor
This is an incredible list! Thanks Andrew for posting. I've always been a little apprehensive to plan a trip to Tokyo because I was never sure where to eat (and food is one of the main reasons I want to go to Tokyo), but now I feel 100% ready to visit and eat my way though that city.
 

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Sunil
Holy cow, it sounds like I'll need to fast for a month before embarking on my honeymoon! These sound amazing. Thanks so much Andrew!
 
 
 

Mentioned in this answer:

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VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Sushi Mizutani (restaurant)
  2. Nobu Tokyo (restaurant)
  3. Sushi Dai (restaurant)
  4. Tsukiji Fish Market (neighborhood)
  5. Namiki Yabusoba (restaurant)
  6. Ivan Ramen (restaurant)
  7. Nagatacho Kurosawa Restaurant (restaurant)
  8. Nagi (restaurant)
  9. Robata of Tokyo (restaurant)
  10. Isehiro (restaurant)
  11. Raku-tei (restaurant)
  12. Ganchan (restaurant)
  13. Bird Land (restaurant)
  14. Onyasai (attraction)
  15. Ten-ichi (restaurant)
  16. Inakaya (restaurant)
  17. Hayashi (attraction)
  18. Kuroba-tei (restaurant)
  19. Arashio Sumo Table (restaurant)
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answered by
Shauna from Santa Monica, California

Check out Blue Sky Coffee! Only in Tokyo can you take home a souvenir toaster to remind you of your Panda bear toast. Oh, there's coffee too.

Also, Cafe Obscura is very interesting. If you're one of those people who held onto their record players because you liked the sound and then it became cool again, you probably still have some sort of siphon coffee maker, also known as vacuum style. Considered a full sensory experience it is said to be making a comeback. Cafe Obscura takes it seriously.


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Sunil
I think I've seen that panda toast before! Café Obscura sounds super hipster. I like the sound of these. Thanks Shauna!
 
 
 

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  1. Blue Sky Coffee (restaurant)
  2. Cafe Obscura (attraction)
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answered by
Zach from Los Angeles

Here are my favorites from a recent trip:

Sawada - One of a handful of truly outstanding Tokyo sushi restaurants. We had a flight of Tuna belly—at least four different kinds if memory serves—among many other delicacies during our three hour lunch. 

Bear Pond Espresso - The owner of this shop famously closes around 2:00 pm every day, after which time he feels the demands on the Tokyo power grid don't allow his equipment to reach its potential. It has a cult following, and deservedly so. 

Tempra Kondo - Father and son duo serving a tempura tasting menu on the top floor of a Ginza high rise. 

Pannya Cafe Curry - A sleepy establishment that feels more like eating at a friend's kitchen counter than a restaurant. The standout on the tiny menu is their delicious curry, which is served with fried pork brought in from Kyoto's most prestigious meat ager. 

TAMA - An Okinawan-Chinese restaurant with a fun crowd and a great wine list. 

Trattoria Pizzeria Il Lupone - An Italian restaurant as good as any in Italy, serving truly perfect Neapolitan pizza (and handmade-pasta dishes too).  

Star Bar Ginza - Tiny, basement, speakeasy vibe serving perfect cocktails. 

Fukuyoshi- Comically delicious fried pork in various arrangements, including a dish unique to Tokyo that somehow manages to fry an egg and a pork cutlet at the same time in an unholy marriage of tasty proteins. They've been doing this in the same spot since the ’70s, and they are really really good at it. 

Maruichi Bagel - A genuine New York style bagel in an unsuspecting little shop. They open early but don't start serving bagel sandwiches (i.e. egg salad, smoked salmon—anything other than cream cheese) until lunch.  

Chukasoba Suzuran - We averaged a bowl of ramen every other day during our two week stay, and this was our favorite. 

AFURI - Speaking of ramen, this place warrants a mention for its yuzu variant. 

My best dining advice overall is to buy this book from Amazon Japan. 


Comments (4)

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JR
this gets my vote for the best answer on Trippy so far. Well done Zach!! I need to plan a trip to Tokyo just because of your description of Fukuyoshi!
 

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Zach
It would absolutely be worth it for Fukuyoshi alone.
 

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Courtney
Bagels? Who knew? Awesome answer!
 

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Sunil
Dang, thanks again man! I was curious about what Japanese bagels were like so I looked up Maruichi and wow -- that is a bagel. These all sound great. I just hope I have time to hit up everything!
 
 
 

Mentioned in this answer:

map
VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Sawada (restaurant)
  2. Bear Pond Espresso (restaurant)
  3. Tempra Kondo (restaurant)
  4. Pannya Cafe Curry (restaurant)
  5. TAMA (restaurant)
  6. Trattoria Pizzeria Il Lupone (restaurant)
  7. Star Bar Ginza (restaurant)
  8. Fukuyoshi (restaurant)
  9. Maruichi Bagel (restaurant)
  10. Chukasoba Suzuran (restaurant)
  11. AFURI (restaurant)
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