Tokyo is indeed the place to be for foodies, pulsing with excitement and dripping with Michelin stars. Dishes are cooked with care and regard for seasonal ingredients, from simple yakitori shops serving skewered grilled chicken to multi-course renowned kaiseki feasts. But the city’s culinary brilliance isn’t restricted to Japanese cuisine: there’s fantastic Italian, sophisticated Chinese, and a genre-defying French style that deserves its own category.
This chilled out izakaya has no menu, so mention your interests and let patron-chef Kotaro Hayashi pick something for you. Hayashi’s hipster-like appreciation for the artisanal comes through in every dish, and the food honours tradition but isn’t restricted by it. Hand-cut udon noodles are served at the end of the meal, sometimes with daikon, crispy tempura crumbs, and a squeeze of lemon, and other times with raw egg, butter, and soy sauce.
2 Tapas Molecular Bar
Tapas Molecular Bar is a Michelin-starred molecular dining restaurant that serves creative multi-course dinners that combine Japanese and Western dishes. It is housed at the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, one of the finest and most luxurious five-star hotels in the city.
This sophisticated eatery delivers traditional French cuisine prepared with the finest Japanese ingredients. Sweet sea scallops with a buckwheat crust are served with a buckwheat risotto seasoned with Gironde salt as an example. The chef, who received his training at Astrance in Paris, now has his own three Michelin stars.
Chef de cuisine Zaiyu Hasegawa is known for greeting guests with hugs before dishing out delicacies like mushroom-stuffed ‘Dentucky Fried Chicken’ (served in a fast-food takeaway box bearing Hasegawa’s face), foie gras wafer sandwiches, and salads of deep fried, pickled, grilled, and raw veg, topped with the occasional edible ant and grinning emoji carrot slice. Hasegawa claims that his reimagining of kaiseki, which consists of a series of small, creative dishes made with seasonal ingredients, is intended to bring joy back to the Japanese culinary tradition. You’ll be as happy as a carrot when you leave.
This little eatery is run by a family, with Yoshiaki Takazawa in charge of the kitchen and his wife Akiko in the front of the house. A ratatouille of 15 vegetables served as a little terrine exemplifies the complex and imaginative cookery. In another dish, the diner harvests several vegetables from a “soil” of breadcrumbs. Takazawa’s interior is small, with only 10 chairs and enough space for the cooks to prepare all of the dishes from scratch.
6 Old Imperial Bar
The Old Imperial Bar, located within Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, is a monument to the hotel’s architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The hotel’s main drinking area is an attractive, refined space with sumptuous leather and wood, transporting you to another era. It contains stone and original artefacts from the authentic 1923 art deco building – which has since been modified – and is a luxurious, refined space complete with sumptuous leather and wood, transporting you to another era. The drink menu is a wonderful match for the surroundings: sophisticated and of world-class quality. The menu includes classics as well as specialty drinks developed by the talented bartenders. After that, there’s the large whisky selection at the bar to sample.
Jun Yukimura, the chef/owner, is a cheerful man who cracks jokes with his clients while preparing their dinner at the counter and exhibiting his remarkable knife abilities. Three Michelin stars have been awarded to the kaiseki cooking here, which uses ultra-seasonal delicacies such delicate sweet salmon and wonderfully scented yam.
Three-Michelin-starred Kanda is a kaiseki restaurant located in a Roppongi apartment building. You can see the chefs demonstrate their impressive knife skills while they create your dish, which could include young sea trout or a rice ball wrapped in eel skin and seasoned with lime.
INUA is a new fine-dining restaurant in Copenhagen that serves award-winning Nordic-inspired cuisine with a distinct Japanese touch created by chef Thomas Frebel, who previously worked at Noma, one of the world’s finest restaurants.
With refined wooden fixtures and shelves lined with patterned baskets, this cubby-sized café exudes home-away-from-home hearth vitality. Chef Katy Cole mans the stove and greets each guest like an old friend, while farm-fresh vegetables lie amid flower arrangements on the counter. The small but well-curated variety of natural wines includes wines from the Loire Valley in France and the Collio Valley in Italy, as well as craft beers acquired primarily from small Japanese breweries.
11 Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511
The finest quality Kobe beef is served in Kaiseki style at this Japanese style steakhouse in the Roppongi district (Kaiseki: traditional multi-course Japanese dinner). It’s a great spot to savour both quality beef and real Japanese food.
At Tokyo’s most famous ramen store, Fu-unji, you win your noodles by waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. To produce a gravy-like dipping sauce for your noodles, combine a creamy chicken soup with fish powder. Outside of Japan, it’s a flavour that’s hard to come by.
Seizan, one of Tokyo’s many two-Michelin-star restaurants, concentrates on the Japanese practise of using only the finest seasonal products, resulting in a constantly changing menu. Seizan offers visitors the chance to sample some of the finest sweets available in the city, including the restaurant’s well-known matcha mousse, in addition to a diverse selection of traditional Japanese meals.
14 Joel Robuchon
In the heart of Tokyo, legendary French chef Joel Robuchon’s flagship location is housed in a custom-built French chateau. The three-star Michelin cuisine, which includes lobster ravioli with Japanese radish, is based on French technique and top Japanese ingredients. The signature Robuchon dessert trolley is a decadent way to end your dinner.
15 Sushi Sawada
This petite six-seat sushi restaurant has two Michelin stars and provides some of Tokyo’s best sushi. Koji Sawada, an ex-truck driver and chef/owner, carefully cooks the long grain rice with white vinegar and serves an intricate menu of top-notch seafood, including particularly soft abalone and needle fish.
16 Yakiniku Han No Daidokoro
Han no Daidokoro, a Korean-style BBQ restaurant, serves the finest Japanese Wagyu Beef, such as Kobe Beef, Yamagata Beef, and Omi Beef, at a reasonable price. There are a number of unique foods on the menu in addition to the BBQ.
This lovely, old-school watering bar, with its worn wooden counter and a few small tables, attracts a crowd as diverse as the music, which ranges from ’90s hip-hop to J-pop and, on rare occasions, heavy metal. Chef Masato Takano’s savoury fish dishes and a vast, ever-changing sake variety attract diners. Come here to have a few too many drinks and giggle a little too loudly.
Ichiran is arguably the most well-known Ramen restaurant in the world, with over 80 locations in Japan and internationally. Ichiran’s Shinjuku store is one of the best branches, located approximately 3 minutes from the station and open 24 hours a day.
19 Tempura Kondo
Do you want to meet the Tempura Master? Then you’ve come to the correct place: Tempura Kondo! Chef Fumio Kondo has over 50 years of professional expertise and has been appreciated by a number of VIPs and celebrities throughout the world, runs the Michelin Star Tempura restaurant.
Tonki, a proudly old-school restaurant, still serves tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlets) the same way it did when it first opened in 1939. The brightly illuminated area was refurbished in the 1970s, with a blonde-wood interior and rows of half-dome pendulum lights, but little else has changed. A squad of assiduous cooks with white caps work in an assembly-line fashion in the restaurant’s wide-open kitchen, which is ringed on three sides by wooden counters. A simple weeknight meal The atmosphere Traditional and working-class The throng Families, college students, and salaried workers Beer is a popular beverage. The cuisine is delicious. Tonkatsu in the traditional sense.