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Tokyo’s best food & drink

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Last updated: 07 July, 2024

One of the world’s great culinary capitals, Tokyo is often heralded for having more Michelin stars than any other city. But what really makes it special, is that from high-end sushi down to a humble bowl of ramen, there’s so much to try and so much of it is superb.

Sushi epitomizes that best – you could spend several hundred pounds at the most exclusive restaurants or have a quality feed for under £10 at a budget chain.

Across Tokyo’s dining scene, certain traits shine through – the frequent focus on seasonality and culinary technique, and the deep respect for chefs.

Specialisation too – you’ll find no end of shops that have perfected just a single dish, whether that’s ramen, soba noodles, or sumo-sized hotpots.

The dining scene

Make time for a lively night at an izakaya, where you can order small portions of all sorts of classic Japanese flavours (for a reasonable price). These casual pub-slash-restaurants are found all over, from chains to family-run joints – all great for a broad menu of dishes, washed down with sake, beer and hi-balls.

Sushi has become a global phenomenon, but Tokyo does it best – the finest fish, served up anywhere from budget chains to Michelin-starred wallet-busters.

Kaitenzushi restaurants are where the sushi comes on conveyor belts – look out for value chains like Sushiro and Uobei.

Teppanyaki, where seafood and Kobe Beef are cooked on iron griddles in front of diners, is popular across the city. Prices range from super-expensive places such as Ukai-Tei in Ginza to the less exorbitant Ten near Tokyo Station.

Also, for at least one meal, sign up for a kaiseki-ryori lunch or dinner. This Japanese tradition features a succession of dishes that are artfully presented and culinarily sublime. Splurge on a traditional version at Kikunoi in Akasaka or try it with contemporary twists at Tenoshima in Aoyama.

What to try

Char-grilled chicken skewers (yakitori) washed down with beer and sake is a classic combination. You’ll find plenty of izakaya for this under the rail tracks in the Yurakucho district.

Ramen is another popular dish – and though every neighbourhood has its ramen joints, head to Ramen Street in Tokyo station for a collection of shops selling different ramen styles.

Head to the Ryogoku district, the centre of the sumo world, for restaurants that serve chanko nabe – the hotpot that sumo wrestlers eat to get big.

Finally, make sure to participate in a traditional tea ceremony – if you’re lucky, you’ll be presented with delicious Japanese sweets.

Recommendations

8
  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Breakfast table at a ryokan

Bucket List Experience

Kaiseki-ryori dinners in Tokyo

The succession of artistically presented dishes that comprise a kaiseki-ryori dinner has come to represent the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine.

Featuring anywhere up to 12 fixed courses that focus on in-season produce, kaiseki will include some familiar elements, with sashimi early in the dinner, delicate tempura later, and maybe a few mouthfuls of wagyu as a centrepiece. The rest, however, can be wonderfully indecipherable.

Being such an exalted cuisine, kaiseki dinners don’t come cheap – expect to pay at least £100 a head. Or, go for lunch, when many restaurants offer taster sets at a fraction of the price.

Just reserve well ahead – even though Japan has plenty of kaiseki restaurants, they always book up quickly.

They are often served at ryokans (traditional Japanese inns). For a real flavour of traditional Japan, book in for a night at one, and tick off both bucket list experiences at once.

Adult price: £100

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 3-4 hours

Kappo Yoshida

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Close up of a hot pot containing chicken in broth

Experience

One of Ryogoku’s chanko nabe specialists, this restaurant was once a sumo training stable and still has a practice ring at its centre.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2-3 hours

When: March, May and Sept

Freq: annually

Kyubey Ginza

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Kyubey Ginza

Experience

The restaurant that invented gunkan maki (seaweed wrapped) sushi in the 1940s – has courses from 75 pounds.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2-3 hours

When: March, May and Sept

Freq: annually

Ramen Street

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

traditional tokyo style ramen with dumpling

Experience

Every neighbourhood has its ramen joints – some that people will queue hours for. Ramen Street in Tokyo station, however, has a collection of shops selling different ramen styles.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2-3 hours

When: March, May and Sept

Freq: annually

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

Bucket List Experience

The Michelin-3-star restaurant, featured in the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, only has one thing on the menu – a 200-pound omakase course.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2-3 hours

When: March, May and Sept

Freq: annually

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

A classical expression of Japanese hospitality that can last for hours in its most elaborate form, the tea ceremony has been practised for centuries. Every aspect, from where the most important guest is seated to how the host wipes the utensils, has significance. Every movement is choreographed, and for kimono-dressed practitioners, the nuances take years to perfect.

Full versions (around 4 hours) are only for die-hards; shorter versions are available down to a mere 30 minutes, but the shorter it is, the less traditional. There are usually special options for children, and some will include sweet-making.

Even the shortest versions, though, are a great way to experience traditional Japanese culture and formality.

Adult price: £20

Good for age: 13+

Duration: Up to 4 hours

When: On request

Freq: Selected dates

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Most of the ‘inner’ part of this famous wholesale fish market – where massive tunas are lined up for sale – has moved to Toyosu island, but much of it still gets delivered back to Tsukiji and the ‘outdoor’ part remains a bustling and vibrant food market.

With its narrow lanes filled with stalls and shops, the market offers a wide variety of fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, and traditional Japanese delicacies. Sample sushi, sashimi, street food, and local snacks as you browse – perhaps even take a sushi breakfast.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2-3 hours

When: March, May and Sept

Freq: annually

Yurakucho district

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Office workers in Yurakucho alley, The alley is famous for its small Japanese eateries under elevated Japan Railway rail tracks and its laid back, charming atmosphere.

Experience

Under the rail tracks in the Yurakucho district is the place to go for a bite at a traditional izakaya. Try char-grilled chicken skewers (yakitori) washed down with beer and sake – a classic combination.

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2-3 hours

When: March, May and Sept

Freq: annually

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
Frequency: annually
When: March, May and Sept
Duration: -

Who to go with: organised tours

23

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Tokyo

Our cooking class was opened in 2023 at Tokyo. The theme is “Japanese Food” and “Experience”. More than 7,000 people have joined our cooking class. There are many various type of sushi in Japan. In this class, you can learn how to make Nigiri Sushi and Gunkan Sushi. Nigiri Sushi is the most popular sushi in Japan and it's origin of sushi. It's a standard sushi style in Japan! You can make up to 20 pieces with 10 types of ingredients. If you practice a lot, you can become a Nigiri Sushi master! Our cooking class is located in Asakusa. Asakusa is a famous and popular tourist city in Tokyo! Because Asakusa has a lot of history and culture even in Tokyo, so everyone want to visit it at least once. Let’s enjoy sushi making together in Asakusa, Tokyo!!!!

Price ¥13,000

Min age 4

Rating 4.94 / 5 [706 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Tokyo

Our cooking class was opened in 2023 at Tokyo. The theme is “Japanese Food” and “Experience”. More than 7,000 people have joined our cooking class. There are many various type of sushi in Japan. There are many various type of sushi in Japan. In this class, you can learn how to make Temari-Sushi. Temari-Sushi is Kawaii Sushi Balls. Because it's a bite-sized sushi and very cute! So we often eat Temari-Sushi on special occasions. Our cooking class is located in Asakusa. Asakusa is a famous and popular tourist city in Tokyo! Because Asakusa has a lot of history and culture even in Tokyo, so everyone want to visit it at least once. Let’s enjoy sushi making together in Asakusa, Tokyo!!

Price ¥7,500

Min age 4

Rating 4.93 / 5 [472 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Website >
  • Tokyo

~~ Best of the Best 2023 Award Winner! ~~~ Ramen and Gyoza are becoming even more famous than Sushi and Tempura in the world. Ramen is a noodle dish with delicious soup and many different toppings. In this class, we will make home-style Ramen. Gyoza is a dumpling with minced pork and vegetable stuffing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to make Ramen and gyoza at your home? (*We will make the soup from the scratch. We don’t use instant package.) YJC Summary: ● Learn from Chef / YouTuber ● Local Supermarket Tour ● Visit Tokyo modern style home/spacious Kitchen studio ● Perfect activity for foodies and cooking lovers ● Perfect for single, family and group travelers ● Fun and Informative Hands-on 7 classes ● Easy Access! Located in the center of Tokyo. Check the access page! ● Sending email newsletter for more updates and tips! *After taking the class

Price ¥16,500

Min age 0

Rating 4.98 / 5 [420 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Tokyo

Sushi is one of the most popular Japanese food for foreigners. It's easy to eat, but it can be difficult to make. During this tour, you can learn how to make sushi from a professional Sushi master. To be a Sushi master, you have to practice for more than 10 years, but in this workshop, you will learn the simple ins and outs of making Sushi so you can make delicious Sushi yourself. Before the workshop, you will explore the world's biggest and most famous fish market and learn about Japanese food. Sushi topping cannot be changed on the day of the event.

Price $135

Min age 0

Rating 4.86 / 5 [276 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Tokyo

Take a fascinating 'deep dive' into Japanese seafood cuisine during this 3-hour combination walking tour of Tsukiji Outer Fish Market and cooking class. During your time with us, wander through what locals call "Tokyo's stomach", as you experience the sights, sounds, and of course TASTES of native culinary traditions. There, you will learn how to cook authentic Japanese meals at the largest cooking school in Japan. Top off the tour by enjoying your own creation for lunch. *Due to a policy amendment of Tokyo metropolitan government, NO tour of inner wholesale fish market.  It's just 5mins walk to amazing sightseeing spots from ABC Cooking Studio such as Tokyo Station, Ginza, and Imperial Palace! Explore the heart of Tokyo after the tour! LIMITED TIME HOKKAIDO COLLAB-COOKING CLASS! Do you know HOKKAIDO 's seafood? Participant 2024/2/1 to 3/31 chance of unique SUSHI experience using HOKKAIDO 's sea food sponsored by Hokkaido Gyoren Hokkaido Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Association

Price ¥22,000

Min age 9

Rating 4.86 / 5 [272 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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