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This basement establishment in Daikanyama gives the traditional izakaya – a Japanese pub – a sexy, grungy revamp. Opened by a punk rocker, the walls are plastered with posters of musical icons such as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. If you’re lucky the artist Yoshimoto Nara will make an appearance and you can drink with him while he paints the walls.
Step through the door and you’ve been teleported to a whitetiled restaurant in the East Village in New York. Great if you want a casual dining option before heading to the famous club Air across the street, which featured in the movie Lost in Translation. Order the deep-dish pizzas by the slice or whole to share.
Dinner here does come at a cost, with prices ranging between £70 and £130. A lunch will set you back somewhere between £40 and £70 per person. But you will walk out having tasted the best steak of your life. Experience real teppanyaki here, and you will never so much as utter the name Benihana again.
A noodle-lover’s dream, this very reasonably priced eatery is a great crowd-pleaser. Order the hand-cut noodles with tempura or the thinly sliced duck. Reservations are recommended and make sure you check opening times on the website in advance – it is closed on Mondays and on various other days every month.
You may have trouble navigating the Japanese-only menu – which changes daily depending on the produce – but have no fear, the enthusiastic staf are always keen to help and everything is very good anyway. Make a reservation if you want to sit in the back, otherwise cosy up at the bar.
Eclectic, stylish and cheap make for a winning combination. Order a forest-green matcha cocktail infused with vodka, and lots of tapas-style food to share. The menu will surprise you with its combinations, like the tofu paired with toasted baguette and honey, but don’t be afraid, it all tastes incredible.
A killer Japanese/Korean spot that serves up great beef at great prices. Not for vegetarians or anyone anti hip hop, as this is the only musical genre played to accompany your munching
Los Barbados is a tiny, eight-seat bar on the outskirts of Shibuya run by a Japanese couple. Open from noon until 11.30pm, they serve up a diverse and vegetarian-friendly menu of African and Middle Eastern food, including falafel, couscous, meze and brik (a Tunisian deep-fried pastry). You will often find that you are the only English speakers there, but the atmosphere is so welcoming that you won’t even notice. Set back from the side streets of Shibuya, this place is very hard to find, so keep their number handy to call when you get lost!
After walking through Roppongi or visiting the Mori Art Museum, the perfect place to eat is Parlour. This is a new, delicious Singaporean-fusion restaurant, which you will find in the back streets. It has a minimalist but warm feel and you can either sit by the bar or around a high table if you come in a bigger group. There is an emphasis on the wine that accompanies the meal, but if you aren’t interested then the food speaks for itself. You simply cannot go without eating the sweet Singaporean pork dish.
This restaurant serves only fish, all of which is exquisitely fresh, and is known for is its carpaccio and sashimi. It has a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere; when you enter the door you are greeted with a chorus of shouts from the kitchen. Kaikaya is a hidden gem in Shibuya and like many restaurants in Tokyo is easily overlooked, so pay close attention to the address.
The Oak Door, the award-winning restaurant in the Grand Hyatt, has a vast and delicious menu, amazing service but high prices to match. Visiting DJs play in the bar and dining area almost every night of the week. It is definitely worth visiting if you enjoy people-watching, as the bar is almost always littered with Japanese celebrities.
This chic little cafeteria is at the very southernmost tip of Roppongi Hills in the shadow of the Mori Tower. The lunchtime choices are limited to chicken and rice with three different sauces and one other dish, perfect for those who are starving and indecisive. The understated menu is simple but the dinner menu includes a number of curries and spicy stews from various parts of Southeast Asia.
Warayakiya is a restaurant specialising in a method of cooking from the Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku, and its distinctive smell hits you as you as soon as you walk through the door. Rather than grilling meat and fish over charcoal, the cooks use straw – which burns at temperatures of 900C. The cooking technique gives the food a rich and unique taste, something you can rarely find imitated outside Japan.
Not to be mistaken for a typical French restaurant, Harmonie is run by a Japanese couple – the husband in the kitchen and his wife working out front. You will be invited to pick your meal from a set menu of three courses which changes daily. The dishes do have traditional French elements, but they are served in a delicate Japanese fashion. If you judge the place based on its somewhat old-fashioned décor then the food may come as something of a surprise.
As far as pubs go in Japan, this is undoubtedly the best. Teyandei serves unfussy, tapas-style food in a converted two-storey house. The counter seating allows you to chat with your neighbours as you dine. But if you prefer to keep yourself to yourself, then the view of the chefs preparing the food would be enough to engross anyone.
Izakaya bars can be found anywhere in Tokyo and also feature outside of Japan. Buchi Bar, however, is still one of the best. Their fried courgette is second to none and for meat lovers, the duck salad and lamp chops are a must. It can get very smoky in the restaurant but this does not dampen the fantastic atmosphere at all.
Sushi Ichi serves beautiful and very traditional sushi in the bustling area of Ginza. Unlike many sushi restaurants in Tokyo, the chef here speaks English, so it is nice to have the opportunity to talk to him while he prepares your food. This place is perfect for lunch when it ofvers good value for money, but dining there in the evening can be extremely expensive.
This illustrious restaurant is set at the heart of the Tokyo fish market and is one of the best in Japan. Sushidai is famous for its super-fresh sushi as well as its long queue. The only way to avoid the crowd is to go at 5am when the fish market opens and snatch one of the highly coveted 13 seats, although if that doesn’t seem realistic then it is still worth a wait. This place is renowned for having a menu made up of the freshest fish available at the world-famous market.
They mainly serve sushi here, but their delicious boiled fish shabu-shabu is more than enough reason to visit. The chef will give you a constant flow of food, although there is no English menu and no English spoken by anyone in the restaurant. The chef Inoue-san is a real master, which is the reason behind the high prices. If you are looking for a Japanese treat then this is the place to go.
This seafood restaurant is just outside the Roppongi midtown area, and is always packed and buzzing. The rooftop lined with lanterns is perfect for drinks and dining out on fresh fish dishes. The speciality on the menu is the noke sushi, which consists of seaweed rolls with generous toppings of fresh sweet sea urchin, minced chutoro fatty tuna, ikura salmon roe eggs and fresh crab. Don’t be scared of by the fish, which is often presented whole, as everything here is exquisite.
Zauo is a delicious Japanese seafood and sushi restaurant. The restaurant itself is fairly unconventional, the tables are set in a large wooden boat surrounded by water. You are strongly encouraged to opt to fish for your own supper with the rods and nets provided. It is really a fun way to spend the evening, but for those less enthused by the prospect of earning your own meal, you can also order directly from the menu.
The yakitori at Kushiwaka in Nakameguro is better than anything you will get from the street vendors scattered around Tokyo. It is very popular with the locals, and because of this you can only book for the early sitting (the latest booking is 7pm) otherwise you have to queue. It is worth visiting just for the tsukune, a type of chicken meatball, which really is delicious.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? Yeah, that’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best parts and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local. Eat your heart out, shop ‘til you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
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