When we think of Japanese food, the first thing that may come into your mind is seafood, specifically sushi or sashimi. But that’s too limiting. There are a lot of delicious dishes in Japan and the city of Tokyo has a lot to offer to hungry locals and tourists. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or visiting again, Tokyo is the city that won’t disappoint and great food can be found at every range, from cheap thrills in the streets and hole-in-the-wall food joints up to high-end restaurants, there’s always a budget for everything in between. Of course, no trip to Tokyo is ever complete without spending a night in an izakaya, drinking to great victories and new beginnings with good company and good food. It’s a city that you’ll find comfort, a haven not just for travelers but for foodies as well.
Listed down are five edible gems you should try when you visit Tokyo and alongside that, check out restaurants and food joints that serve this delectable dishes. Soon, you’ll find yourself munching on these treats and we’re pretty sure, you won’t get enough of them.
Here we start Tokyo Food Guide for 2018.
Tokyo Food Guide 2018: Sushi
Perhaps one of the greatest gastronomical gifts in the world is the discovery of sushi. Whether you like it rolled in nori, pressed into a rectangular shape, or have the raw fish on top the vinegared rice, sushi will always be that iconic dish you’ll always think about when visiting Tokyo. With its colorful layers of white rice, pink salmon, and the solid color of nori (dried seaweed), you’d think you’re looking at a festivity. From the moment the fish had been caught up to the moment it’s been served, you can almost say that there’s something about sushi that you find poetic. Sushi is the art of making and serving vinegared rice topped with ingredients such as raw or cooked seafood, vegetables, and if you’re feeling adventurous, fruits. After that, it is wrapped delicately in nori and served with soy sauce and wasabi. To get yourself the finest seafood in town, one must visit Tsukiji Fish Market which gathers tons of different seafood exported in different parts of the country and abroad.
Where to Eat Sushi in Tokyo
There are a lot of restaurants which offer great servings of sushi. Because of its authenticity, most of these restaurants charge expensively but of course, you can always roam around and score these delicious fellows for a cheaper price without scrimping on flavor and taste.
- Hanamaru (5F Kitte Tower, 2-7-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) is a loved conveyor belt sushi restaurant that originated in Hokkaido. They serve excellent sushi dishes at very reasonable prices.
- Hashiguchi (1-5-20 Motoakasaka, Minato, Tokyo) is a restaurant not to be missed. People line up for this not just for the delectable dishes they serve but for the dining experience, for who else can make your sushi dance but only the chefs in Hashiguchi?
- Genki Sushi (1F 150-0042 Tokyo Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku 24-8 Leisure Plaza Building) serves cheap but authentic sushi dishes where you can have them customized and put any ingredients that you want which most guests go back to.
- Sushi Dai (104-0045 Tokyo, Chuo) is known for its sushi breakfast selection where they serve set meals that come with rolled egg, perfectly cooked.
Tokyo Food Guide 2018: Ramen
For many, ramen isn’t just a bowl of noodles with broth and meat. For them, it’s almost as if it’s the only dish that exists. It goes without saying that ramen is the greatest invention in the history of Japan and you can almost find it anywhere. A trip to the corner of the street and you’d find stalls that serve cheap but delicious bowl of ramen. It’s a quick but satisfying meal, easily devoured in perhaps minute if you’re brave enough to slurp down some chewy noodles and hot broth. For die-hard fans, ramen is worth lining up for. It’s your call whether you have a different broth every time you order but the popular ones are shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt), and tonkatsu (pork-based). You may opt to choosing seafood, beef, or pork for your protein and sometimes, you can even choose your noodles from egg noodles to wheat noodles. Varieties such as tsukemen (dripping noodles), tantanmen, and ebi ramen can also be found in several ramen restaurants, all of which are bursting with different flavors and texture.
Where to Eat Ramen in Tokyo
- Enji (Kichijoji Minami-cho 1-1-1, Musashino-shi) serves up tsukemen, where ramen noodles are dipped in delicious, concentrated fish and pork ramen base.
- Afuri (1F UF Bld. 4,4-9-4 Roppongi, Minato-ku) is a vending machine like system where bowls of ramen are selected and ordered. One must order their signature dish called yuzu shoyu ramen.
- Tonchin (2-26-2 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku) is where you find cheap but authentic ramen dishes that won’t burn your pockets. It is the pioneer of Tokyo tonkotsu shoyu ramen.
- Tsuta (1 Chome-14-1 Sugamo Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 170-0002) is actually the first ramen shop to be awarded a Michelin star because of its popular signature dish called shoyusoba.
For a more detailed guide on where to eat ramen in Tokyo, check our Best Ramen in Tokyo article.
Tokyo Food Guide 2018: Tempura
Tempura was first introduced by the Portuguese people in the 16th century and since then became a crowd favorite among people. If you think that tempura is just another deep fried dish on the menu, well think again. This deep fried goodness found its way to our hearts by being simple but packed with flavor. Contrary to the popular belief, tempura doesn’t use panko (breadcrumbs) for its breading but a simple mixture of flour, eggs, water and sometimes seasonings like salt and pepper. This deep fried goodness is enjoyed on its own or with rice. It’s also best paired with a soba dish. One of the great things about making tempura is that you can use any ingredient to fry. It may be protein, vegetables, and even fruits! It’s also great with a sweet sauce. Savory or sweet, tempura is one delicious dish you’ll want your hands to get into.
Where to Eat Tempura in Tokyo
- Kondo (Sakaguchi Bldg. 9F, Ginza 5-5-13, Chuo-ku) where you’ll find greaseless tempura dishes like asparagus, scallops, fish, and fruits.
- Miyagawa (Palace Aoyama 1F, 6-1-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku Tokyo) is also a gem where they serve milder and lighter tempura dishes cooked in sunflower oil instead.
- Fukamachi (2-5-2 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku Tokyo) is a Michelin star tempura restaurant where their tempuras are fried in freshly pressed and unroasted sesame oil which gives of some of the best flavors in town.
- Kaneko Hannosuke (1-11-15 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku Tokyo) is an affordable restaurant which serves one tempura dish that is packed and delectable. If you don’t mind waiting and long to taste an authentic tempura dish, then this one’s for you.
Tokyo Food Guide 2018: Gyoza
Gyoza may have been originated in China but it craze remained in Japan and has been a favorite ever since. This little fellow is normally filled with minced pork, chives, and cabbage and then wrapped in dough wrapper. It is then shaped like an ear. You can have it fried, deep-fried, or boiled and then dipped in a sauce which is a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar. You can always add chili oil if you like it spicy or maybe some garlic and sesame oil. It’s one of the most convenient dishes in Japan for you can have access on it everywhere. Though ready-made gyozas are available in supermarkets, nothings beats a freshly made one and we’re pretty sure you’ll be picking up more gyozas off the plate and be amazed on how a simple, little dumpling can make you go crazy.
Where to Eat Gyoza in Tokyo
- Sweet Baozi (1-13 Jimbocho Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) is a popular restaurant that serves a handmade gyoza dish which uses the same recipe for many years. The waiting game may be long but the promise of gyoza is worth it.
- Okei (2-12-16 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) serves traditional and authentic gyoza dishes that, among its patrons, best paired with beer.
- Ichimireirei (3-19-2 Shinbashi Minato-ku Tokyo) is a gyoza specialty restaurant that serves a variety of flavors ranging from tomato, seafood, lemon, and other different ingredients which may sound strange but actually works!
- Though mostly packed, a trip to Kameido Gyoza (5-3-3 Kameido, Koto-ku, Tokyo) won’t disappoint. They have affordable gyoza dishes that are so juicy and crispy, it goes well with beer.
Tokyo Food Guide 2018: Okonomiyaki
If you think pancakes are just for maple syrup and butter, then let these delectable pancakes change the way you think this fluffy dish. Packed with ingredients such as shrimp, cabbage, thin slices of pork or beef, and even cheese, okonomiyaki is probably one of the easiest Japanese dishes you’ll ever cook and make. You can almost throw in any ingredient you find in your kitchen and every creation is just as satisfying. There are actually two styles of making okonomiyaki which are Kansai-style and Hiroshima-style, wherein Kansai-style basically just mixes everything in a batter while Hiroshima-style layers everything ingredient. Another type is negiyaki, which uses green onions instead of shredded cabbage. You can always add mayonnaise on top if you fancy. For most people, okonomiyaki is their go-to dish.
Where to Eat Okonomiyaki in Tokyo
- In some restaurants, you can cook your own okonomiyaki and it’s a fun way to bond with your family and friends. Some of the best okonomiyaki dishes are served in Kiji Marunouchi (TOKIA Building B1F, 2-7-3 Marunouchi Chiyoda Tokyo).
- If you’re looking for a guilt-free serving of okonomiyaki full of fresh vegetables and don’t use oil, try Ushio (Kajikawa Seishido Building 2F, 3-10-9 Roppongi Minato Tokyo).
- Hiroki (2-14-14 Kitazawa Setagaya Tokyo) is popular among the crowd for serving cheap but delectable okonomiyaki dishes which a lot of their patrons go back to.
- Osaka Kitchen (Great Building 2F, 4-14-19 Ginza Chuo Tokyo) lets you enjoy the time of making and cooking your own okonomiyaki and they are at very reasonable prices, too.
Serkan is the founder of Tokyo by Food. He came to Japan to study and he could not go back because of the delicious Japanese cuisine. His passion for Japanese food and Tokyo led him to create this sweet platform. His aim in his life to helping people in need through his business. Therefore, he created Food for Happiness Project.