My third post in the EAT series is all about Tokyo – one of my favourite cities in the world. You are never going to go hungry in this city where there are more restaurants than people! Okay, maybe I am exaggerating here, but you get the idea. In a city where there is a eating joint every 10 meters, picking just a few is very very difficult.
Keeping in tune with my EAT series, this post is my version of the best places to grab some food and drinks while you explore the world (in this case Tokyo). It’s got the fancy restaurants, the cool bars and a tea house or two – all the places you need to try in a new city. If you are travelling to Tokyo, firstly congratulations! You have no idea how jealous I am! I would highly recommend trying these places out. Each one stands out in its own unique way and gives you a passing glimpse into the Japanese way of living.
Kozue, Park Hyatt
If you are going to go all out and splurge, spend all that hard earned Japanese Yens at Kozue. Perched far above the stunning Tokyo skyline on the 40th floor of the Park Hyatt, this Japanese fine dining restaurant is as good as it gets. Yes, you might not find Scarlett Johansson drowning her sorrows in a cocktail at Kozue (you need to hit the other Park Hyatt favourite – The New York Bar, the lounge made famous in the movie Lost in Translation) but one taste of the Grilled Wagyu Beef served with Natane Greens and Shiitake and you won’t remember what Scarlett looks like! Make sure you grab a seat by the window for a stunning view of Tokyo and Mt Fuji in the background and make sure you book in advance.
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku
There is a lot more to Japanese cuisine than those machine rolled packets of sushi you find everywhere. Soba noodles is definitely something you need to try when you are in Tokyo. Unlike udon, it is made from buckwheat and has a completely different flavour and texture to it. Soba Yamato is the perfect spot to your soba fix in Tokyo. It’s a beautiful little restaurant with open green spaces that makes it the perfect spot for some early evening dining. They also serve up some of the best tempura in town. This restaurant is extremely popular for brunch over the weekends so make sure you arrive early.
3-1-17 Uehara, Shibuya-ku
‘Errm is that chocolate covered crips?’, I hear you ask. Well yes, bear with me on this one. Calbee Plus is a very popular shop located on Takeshita Street in Harajuku which is run by the Japanese snack maker Calbee. This Harajuku outpost of Calbee sells their ever popular range of crisps from around the country along with a variety of branded paraphernalia but it’s the hot crips served straight from the fryer that causes hundreds (and I mean hundreds!) of teenage fans to queue outside this shop. Complete your crisps from a range of topping including cheese, sour cream and my personal favourite chocolate. It’s actually not as bad as it sounds incase you were wondering.
1-16-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
If you love your beer, you are going to love my next recommendation. Goodbeer Faucets is the place to be if you want to try out some of the best beer Japan has to offer. With over 40 craft beers on draught (predominantly Japanese with a few American microbrews thrown in for good measure), Goodbeer Faucets has one of the largest selections in the capital. The Japanese micros come from a variety of brewers, including Baird, Nide and Chateau Kamiya – all well worth a try. The big draw of GBF is their Happy Hour. From 17.00 – 20.00 Monday to Thursday, and from 16.00 – 19.00 on Sunday, all pints are ¥200 off. This can make drinking here very economical.
Shibuya Crossroad Building 2F, 1-29-1 Shoto, Shibuya-ku
Kosoan Tea House
Kosoan Tea House is one of Tokyo’s best kept secrets. There are tea houses and there is Kosoan. This traditional tea house, situated in the upmarket Jiyugaoka area of Tokyo is an absolute gem. You walk through immaculately landscaped gardens to the quaint house where the hostess seats you in one of the low tables where the traditional Japanese dolls and samurai swords try to compete with that stunning garden for your attention. Order yourself an iced matcha served with a red bean sweet and take it all in. This must be what heaven looks like.
1-24-23 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku
Ore-ryu Shio Ramen
Tokyo ramen chain “Ore-ryu Shio Ramen” is the perfect introduction to the world of ramen. No trip to Japan is complete without a bowl of this good stuff! Ore-ryu has 6 chains around the city and you can’t really miss it – the giant orange signs really stand out, even in a city like Tokyo. You order through a vending machine outside the restaurant and the host invites you in once your number comes up. Use the pots of condiments found on every table to change the taste and texture of your ramen eating experience. Ore-ryu Shio is easy, affordable and serves up a bloody good ramen!
17-13 Nanpeidaicho, Shibuya
One of my favourite finds during my trip to Tokyo has to be the humble Takoyaki. These ball shaped Japanese snacks are filled with diced octopus and brushed with Takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise – it’s absolutely incredible. Find yourself a good Takyoaki restaurant and you won’t regret it. My favourite was this rather simple bar called Tsukiji Gindako near the Akasaka-Mitsuke station. Perfect with some Suntory whisky.
10-19, Minato-ku, Akasaka-Mitsuke
Another Japanese favourite you need to try – Okonomiyaki which is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. Most okonomiyaki places you go to in Japan are counter based. The cooking is done by the chef on a huge long hotplate in front of you and then served to you when it’s done. At Sakura Tei, however, you get to cook it yourself which is a lot of fun and makes for a great experience. Sakura Tei is a Tokyo favourite and can be hard to find, tucked away down a narrow alley in the heart of Harajuku but the hassle is well worth it.
3 Chome-20-1 Jingumae Shibuya
There you have it! My top picks in Tokyo. Let me know if you end up in Tokyo and try any of these recommendations above. Trust me, you wont regret it. Follow me on Instagram if you fancy drooling at even more food as I discover hidden gems from around the world but in the meantime, EAT Tokyo, EAT!
Click on the links below to check out the other posts in this series.