Best 5 Food In Tokyo
Japan’s…wait no…the world’s largest and most populated metropolis, Tokyo has a lot to offer but hands the main attractions are the restaurants and the main activity is eating.
It’s no surprise that the city is renowned as an eating capital especially with the 230 restaurants that have one Michelin star or greater (contrast that to NYC’s 71). Then when you factor in the 160,000 restaurants that are registered in Tokyo, you then have a staggering number of places to eat that would take you years to go through.
Now if you only have a few days to work as we did on a recent trip to Tokyo, trying to figure out how to best use your time and figuring out what’s “best” is a daunting task. The city is massive, the transportation is a crisscrossing maze, there are so many types of food to try, and what feels like everywhere is good, what do you do?
The below Tokyo guide for food lovers is meant to be an all-in-one guide to help you plan your trip if you only have a week or less. I’m not even going to bother to tell you where to go sightseeing because that’s covered thoroughly in so many other places.
You simply cannot ignore sushi when you visit Tokyo. The fish market (Tsukiji fish market) brings tons of fresh seafood from other parts of Japan and around the world. It is the biggest fish market in the world!
There are also about 30 Michelin-starred sushi restaurants in Toyko alone, such as Sukiyabashi Jiro and Saito.
But do you really want to spend $$$$ just for one meal?
Don’t worry, this Tokyo food guide gives you some ideas about where to go and how to enjoy sushi in Tokyo.
2. Yakitori (Grilled chicken skewers)
This is one of the traditional Japanese dishes. You might have already tried it back home or seen it on another Japan food guide. Yakitori is typically cooked over charcoal grills to make the meat crispy outside and tender inside. Seasoning is either (1) salt only or (2) savoury tare sauce made from soy sauce, dashi broth, and vinegar.
You probably want to try both (1) salt only and (2) the tare sauce at first. I recommend (1) salt only to taste the natural flavour of ingredients if you are dining at a good yakitori restaurant in Tokyo.
Tsukemen means ‘dipping noodles’ in Japanese. The noodles and broth of this ramen are served in separate bowls and you simply dip the former into the latter and happily slurp away. It was invented in Tokyo back in the early ’60s by chef Kazuo Yamagishi; other tsukemen restaurants soon sprung up and the variety grew. Today, you can also find dipping udon and soba. Tsukemen noodles tend to be on the thicker side while the broth is a lot more concentrated in flavour and not as diluted as the typical ramen broth.
Have you tried hot soba noodles, but not cold? You should try cold soba noodles while you are in Japan. Soba is made from buckwheat flour, and smooth and refreshing.
Soba is typically served with side dishes or toppings. It goes well especially with tempura (deep-fried shrimp and vegetables) as soba is pretty light by itself. It will be a good mixture of light cold soba and warm juicy tempura!
By the way, it is totally okay to slurp the noodles in Japan. My mom actually used to tell me to slurp!
Literally meaning ‘oil noodles’ (don’t worry – they’re less greasy than you might expect), this dish was born around Musashino in western Tokyo. Both noodle joints Chinchintei and Sankou claim to be the originator of this mix of soupless noodles, toppings and vinegar – they both started selling it over half a century ago. Since the dish contains little to no oil, it seems strange that the name has stuck. Some say it’s to differentiate it from tsukemen, some say it’s because there’s some oil in the sauce, but we like the explanation that you’re ‘coating’ the noodles with sauce as you eat.