Disclaimer: Everyone has their favorite things to eat in Tokyo — here are some of mine! They’re all pretty friendly towards foreigners, and I’d definitely revisit any of them the next time I’m in town. The bad news: no ramen or other noodles because there’s pretty great ramen in Taipei. Also, no hipster cafes.
Of course, there are endless options when it comes to finding a place to eat near Tsukiji market. But since it’s my general rule not to enter restaurants where someone is standing outside yelling and waving a menu, we turned into a quiet alley where we saw a lone, Jiro-ish chef was working behind the sushi counter.
Sushi Itadori Bekkan has lots of locations in Tokyo. This is the one we went to in Tsukiji. Delicious. Price: $$
Near the Tsukiji market is Tsukiji Sandai, or Tsukiji Oyster Bar. They serve oysters from all around Japan priced between 300JPY to 1,400JPY. Yep, that’s $14USD for a single oyster!
It’s a super casual place in the basement floor of an office building, but it’s perfect for an after-dinner glass of wine and oysters to share. Above were the two types of oysters we tried, both 700JPY each and shucked to order. Price: $$
I heard good things about the tonkatsu at Butagumi, so we stopped in before noon at the Roppongi shop before the line formed for lunch. The food was amazing, the price was right and they had a menu in English. That’s my version of a three-star restaurant. Price: $
Hoshino Coffee is a chain with a handful of locations in Tokyo serving hand-drip coffee and delicious, fluffy souffle pancakes. If you’re in Ginza, there’s one on the second floor of the Bally building (map link). They have smoking and non-smoking sections.
The pancakes are seriously so dreamy, you guys. A two-stack costs 680JPY and takes 20 minutes, but it’s worth the wait. Coffee is 600JPY, which is a little pricey but you get that microscopic jug of cream on the side. It kills me.
One night wandering around Shimbashi Station, we ended up at this tiny standing-room only sushi chain called Uogashi Nihon-Ichi (map link). Other than us, it was packed with locals grabbing a bite between drinks. This place had an English menu, luckily, and served super tasty, fresh and reasonably priced nigiri. Unfortunately, I dropped into the Kanda location another day but it turned out to be terrible.
In Akihabara is Niko no Mansei (map link), a 10-storey building dedicated to wagyu (or Japanese beef). They take it so seriously they run their own cattle ranch.
Each floor has one or more restaurants. There’s shabu-shabu and sukiyaki, teppanyaki, hambuger steak (what we had above), a steakhouse, yakiniku and Korean style BBQ. The higher the floor, the more expensive your meal.
The hamburger steak restaurant was charmingly retro. I love how Japanese interpret Western food for their own tastes. For instance, you can order bread or rice as part of your lunch set. It also comes with miso or potato soup.
Another great, affordable meat find was Ikinari Steak (above). I was torn about whether or not to have a steak dinner in Tokyo (soooo expensive) but then we walked by this standing-room only steakhouse and shrugged, “why not?”
It’s actually a chain and there are already 50 throughout Tokyo. The first one only opened in October 2014 but they all look like they’ve been around for decades. I guess Japan was really dying for a stand-up steak restaurant.
As a general rule, we don’t like lining up for meals, so we stay away from super popular or “famous” places (like those stalls at Tsukiji Market) and just wing it.
Not surprisingly, we dropped into countless yakitori places for random beers and snacks. The food was uniformly great. Above is Jomon Roppongi (map link), an izakaya we passed by randomly one afternoon and made a reservation later for 8pm (under the name, “Ka-chi-san”). When we came back, it was completely packed.
I’m a big fan of Western style food in Tokyo. One night we wandered the alleys of the Shiodome area to find dinner and came across so many Italian places it was hard to pick just one.
In the end, we had some appetizers at Bistro Uokin (map link) with the to-the-rim wine pours. The fried oysters are amazing and well-priced.
One of my favorite things to do in Japan is eat at Freshness Burger. My last trip there was an Avocado Fair happening which meant I enjoyed an avocado burger with my coffee for breakfast. Tokyo and avocados. It doesn’t get better than that. Price: $