Tokyos essential restaurants

Get to the heart of the Tokyo dining experience

Tokyo’s essential restaurants

Dazzle at Mikimoto Ginza

Welcome to the dining capital of the world. With around 160,000 restaurants and more Michelin stars than anywhere else on the planet, Tokyo offers an astounding panoply of choice - from the exquisite haute cuisine of a kaiseki meal to the smoke-in-the eye sizzle of a yakitori joint. At either end of the spectrum, the quality is extraordinary, with fresh, seasonal ingredients the norm. For the international visitor, the food won’t always be familiar, [but it’s likely to be first-rate] perhaps say something more along the lines of: but part of the fun when travelling is trying new and unusual dishes that you won’t find as easily at home. Here are ten restaurants to start your gastronomic voyage.

Best new…

This casual-chic Shibuya eatery serves excellent contemporary cuisine with international flair. Head chef Masayo Funakoshi earned her stripes in some of the world’s best kitchens - Union Pacific and WD-50 in New York, Astrance in Paris - and utilizes seasonal Japanese ingredients to create dishes of elegant simplicity. The food is a clever fusion of the modern and traditional. The wine list features hard-to-find bottles from some of Italy’s top organic producers.

Address: 22-8 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya-ku
Telephone: (03) 5784-5818

Best avante-garde…

Hailed as Japan’s leading molecular gastronomist, Seiji Yamamoto applies cutting-edge technology to the tradition of kaiseki-ryori, which involves a theatrical series of small courses. Among his signature dishes are perfectly grilled ayu (sweetfish) and the Minus-196 Degrees Candy Apple, a glossy red toffee confection filled with powdered ice cream. His creations are dazzling and inventive but never gimmicky.

Address: 7-17-24 Roppongi
Telephone: (03) 3423-8006

Best interior…

Dazzle’s remarkable interior lives up to its immodest name. This eaterie in the Mikimoto 2 building is a glittering, cavernous space dominated by a massive, glass-fronted wine cellar. So what if it’s expensive? WHAT SORT OF FOOD?

Address: Dazzle, Mikimoto Ginza 2 8/9F, 2-4-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Telephone: (03) 5159 0991

Best sushi…

Tokyo has more exclusive (and even pricier) sushi shops than Fukuzushi, but few are as welcoming or accessible. Superlative seafood in an elegant yet casual setting that feels miles away from the gritty hubbub of Roppongi.

Address: Fukuzushi, 5-7-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Telephone: (03) 3402 4116

Best tempura…

You won’t find better tempura than at Ten-Ichi. The atmosphere is tranquil and pampering, the tempura light and aromatic. A full-course meal also includes sashimi, salad, rice and dessert. This Ginza flagship is the most refined member of the restaurant chain (it regularly hosts visiting dignitaries and film stars), but other branches all guarantee similar quality.

Address: 6-6-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Telephone: (03) 3571 1949

Best vegetarian

If Zen dining sounds like an ascetic affair, a visit to Itosho will cure that misconception. Up to 13 dishes of seasonal fine dining arrive one-by-one as guests enjoy immaculate private dining rooms. The cuisine, known as shojin ryori, was originally the fare of Zen monks, but it has developed into a sumptuous dining experience. One of the highlights is a delicate rice-grain tempura.

Address: 3-4-7 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku
Telephone: (03) 3454 6538

Best location…

Tofuya Ukai Shiba
With its wooden architecture, miniature gardens and koi-filled ponds, Ukai Tofuya evokes the spirit of traditional Japan. The illusion is broken when you look up and see Tokyo Tower looming above you, but for seasonal delicacies in a central location it takes some beating. If you never thought of tofu as a gourmet food, this Michelin-starred eatery will change your mind.

Address: 4-4-13 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku
Telephone: (03) 3436 1028

Best noodles…

This supremely stylish Japanese restaurant is a dark, softly lit refuge from the crowds coursing through Midtown. Sit at the black ceramic counter for a four-course soba lunch of fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from across Japan. A glass of champagne is a surprisingly natural companion for this top-quality soba. Dinner is a progression of kaiseki-style dishes.

Address: Tokyo Midtown 3F, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Telephone: (03) 5413 7700

Best for families…

Waiters dressed as ninjas usher you through a series of winding wooden corridors designed to evoke the interior of an ancient Japanese castle. Others sneak up with menus and food, and there’s also an itinerant magician. It’s good, harmless fun and very popular. Food is Japanese with plenty of Western tweaks.

Address: 2-14-3 Nagata-cho Chiyoda-ku
Telephone: (03) 5157 3936

Best culinary adventures…

Omoide Yokocho
Adventurous eaters won’t find a better venue than the ramshackle alley of Omoide Yokocho (which translates as ‘Memory Lane’). From grilled offal to boiled porcine testicles, there are countless culinary challenges stuffed into the dozens of miniscule eateries that line this tiny, timeworn tract. There are also ramen shops, yakitori joints and a bar for more timid palates. To reach the street, take the west exit from Shinjuku Station, turn right and take a right again at the Shinjuku Palette building. Omoide Yokocho is the first alley on the left.

Address: Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku

Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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