Friends are often asking for food recs while in Tokyo. I can’t believe I’ve never made a decent list before. I should preface we only scratched the surface of the food scene in Tokyo. This is not a best-of list, nor is it comprehensive. I honestly had to go through my Facebook posts and photos to recall all the good ones. My feeble brain may have left out some really great contenders!
Don’t dismiss chains in Japan. Each restaurant takes pride in being consistent and living up to its parent-company name. You’ll always get good food and impeccable service. Here are just a few we frequented over the years.
Nabezo – 鍋ぞう
Great hot pot chain. Opt for the kimchi broth, you won’t regret it. For about $30/person, you get all the good shabu shabu meat, veggies and noodles you can handle.
Yamachan’s – 世界の山ちゃん
Peppery wings and a fresh-squeeze citrus Chūhai are the perfect bar complements. But if you’re like us, you’ll order 50 wings and make it a meal.
Isomaru Suisan (磯丸水産 渋谷道玄坂店)
This seafood izakaya has a lot of great grillable seafood options, but the miso crab (green paste in crab shell in photo below) is a very distinctive experience you can’t leave Japan without trying. Super buttery and flavorful.
While I’m not a huge fan of Japanese curry, everyone else adores this place. It’s a quick meal that’ll get you through your afternoon trek across all the districts.
Steak on a piping hot skillet that you cook your way. That garlic sauce you pour over the dish really brings this over the top. So good for a cheap meal.
Kushi Jin (権八すみやき家串陣)
Hands down, the best habanero wings in the Eastern hemisphere. And Clint is obsessed with the mentaiko potatoes. They have tons of great izakaya (pub food/tapas) offerings. Thankfully, the main dinner menu has photos. As for the yakitori, you’ll just have to do your best to Google-image translate. And no, you didn’t do it wrong, it says, “chicken butt,” and it’s darn delicious!
〒106-0032 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi, 6 Chome−1−３ 六門
Below the Outback Steakhouse, tucked in corner.
If you’re like me and can’t bring yourself to eat raw fish, well, expect to be judged in Japan, but also check out this sushi place. There are rolls! And nigiri for the intrepid diners.
Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu (権八 西麻布) – Kill Bill Restaurant
Japan, 〒106-0031 Tokyo, 港区西麻布１ 丁目13−11
Everyone knows Kill Bill, and if you’re going here, you’re probably looking for that epic experience. While you won’t get any legendary fights, you will get fantastic food and a festive atmosphere. The tables are arranged in a way where you’re very close with your neighbors in all directions, but you still have your “space.” Try the wagyu and foie gras skewers – melts in your mouth.
XEX ATAGO GREEN HILLS (ゼックス愛宕グリーンヒルズ )
Japan, 〒105-6290 Tokyo, 港区Atago, 2 Chome−５−1 MORIタワー
XEX epitomizes fine dining on multiple levels: the food, of course, but also the service and the view. This one has it all.
Roti Roppongi (ロティ 六本木) – Brunch
Japan, 〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato, 六本木６−６−９ ピラミデビル1F
Got a hankering for some western breakfast? More specifically, eggs benedict? Roti Roppongi is a great brunch (or lunch) spot. Look at that perfectly poached egg.
Tori King Ramen
Japan 〒101-0021 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Sotokanda, 1 Chome−3−4
While there are millions of ramen options in Tokyo, this one specializes in chicken ramen. It’s so hard to find, but patience will pay off.
1 Chome-8-8 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Cheap and good! And there are many kebab options around Tokyo, but this one has a sauce that knocks it out of the park.
Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, １−１７−１ 義富ビル
If you’re in the mood for more Western food, this is a great stop on your way around Harajuku’s Takeshita Dori. I swear that chicken gravy is made of unicorn tears and children’s souls.
Sushi-Zanmai (すしざんまい 東新宿店)
Address: Japan, 〒169-0072 Tokyo, 新宿区Okubo, 1 Chome−1−13, ベルバウム
This is where everyone goes for real sushi. Otoro and sea urchin’s your jam? This is the place.
ピースフル福生１ 3-, 2 Chome Kamidaira, Fussa, Tokyo 197-0012, Japan
Must have items: jerk shrimp and nasigoreng (Indonesian fried rice). It could easily be a contender for my last meal.
Amiyakitei あみやき亭 福生店
Yakiniku so perfect, it makes kids cry. Took my nieces here and they can’t stop dreaming about it. You can get A4 level wagyu at a decent cost.
You go for the brewery experience, but you keep coming back for the misplaced and delicious Italian food. Our favorites were the prosciutto and arugula pizza and seafood pasta. As for the beverages, try the cherry blossom sake, if it’s available, the pale ale and Munich dark beers.
The brewery has two restaurants, you’ll want to keep walking til you get to Fussa no Birugoya.
This bakery chain has a great staple of pastries, but every season brings a new, delightful taste. My favorites include: strawberry shortcake and tiramisu layered crepes. You can find these at pretty much every train station and shopping center.
You thought pancakes were just for breakfast. In Japan, they’re for elaborate dessert feasts.
For you bonafide nerds out there, you have to go here only to say that you’ve been to a Square Enix Cafe.
Filipino food in Japan? Unheard of. But very delicious.
This place is not for the frugal. You’ll spend a pretty penny, but the sensory memories are forever. Your dining area is actually a private thatched teahouse. The whole thing is a formal, Japanese affair. You’ll get service commensurate to the check.
Per Kobi-san, the ayu is a must-try!