I had such an amazeballs time in Tokyo that I had to split the posts up into all the fun you can have (which you can read here) and this one: FOOD!!!! Tokyo is arguably one of the biggest foodie capitals in the world. Since 2009, it has had the most 3 Michelin starred restaurants in the world. Side note: If you don’t know what a Michelin star restaurant is (I had no clue for ages), my eating at a fancy restaurant guide is here. Anyway, in the land of sushi and teppanyaki, I was bound to eat myself into a coma. Below is a detailed guide to a gluttonous trip. Enjoy my Basic Girl’s Guide to: Tokyo Food!
First and foremost, I would recommend downloading Waygo. It’s a translation app for Japanese, Korean and Chinese characters to English and this really helped when pictures weren’t available. Although not always accurate, it was sometimes overly descriptive. Case in point, uni, which is essentially sea guts, comes up as blow ones nose. When our dish arrived, it looked exactly like someone had blown their nose into some rice.
Sushi – Tsukiji Fish Market
We went here straight off the plane while we waited for our hotel room. You can’t actually get into the market anymore as a tourist, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of gross fish heads for you to see in the surrounding area. There are hundreds of little sushi restaurants/stands around the market, all with fantastic fresh fish.
Our friend knew of a place just around the corner from the main entrance and I’d like to tell you exactly where it was, but it was literally a maze. We went up some stairs and through a back door somewhere… then, surprise, amazing sushi!
But you really can’t go wrong. These are the experts and once you eat sushi at this market, everything else will taste sub-par.
There are also lots of little stands with ‘try me’ baskets. I have no idea what was in them, but it tasted like fish jerky. http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm
The Kill Bill Restaurant (Gonpachi)
This place was really yummy. They have a set menu for lunch as well as a la carte. I really liked the shrimp tempura dish, especially if you are as hung-over as I was from Karaoke the night before. It’s a pretty lively atmosphere and we went during Sakura, so I’m not sure if the cherry blossoms are always there, but they were a lovely touch. http://www.gonpachi.jp/nishiazabu/?lang=en
Korean BBQ – Yoroniku Yakiniku
Oddly enough, if you ask locals, they will say some of the best restaurants in Japan are Korean BBQ. Basically, you get a whole bunch of meat and cook it on a little grill in the middle of your table. Try not to be deterred by the meat selection. I was persuaded to try beef tongue and it was actually pretty tender.
I didn’t actually eat at one of these because we had so little time, nobody was willing to risk a bad meal out of a 7/11. But I WISH I had. They have everything in weird colourful packaging and I imagine the ramen is out of this world. If you are strapped for cash and a little peckish, definitely give this a shot. They also have little cans of sake which I did try and it was very very tasty.
It wouldn’t be a basic girl’s guide without a sampling of the Japanese Starbucks. I’m as basic as it gets, so I just had a skinny vanilla latte. However, I was really impressed with their special offerings. Apricot honey soy frappuccino? If it wasn’t 20 million calories, yes please!
Near Harajuku, Commune 246 is this cute little outdoor market/food truck place where you can get different kinds of food from all over. We had the most delicious schnitzel burgers, my favourite being the avocado. They also have fantastic coffee and events throughout the year. http://commune246.com
Brunch/Breakfast at the Intercontinental
Most days we were so jet lagged that we woke up and went straight to lunch, but, it was my birthday so I insisted we have breakfast somewhere and that somewhere turned out to be the lobby cafe/restaurant at the hotel. They had absolutely everything, from friend rice, to dim sum to hash browns and hummus. But the best was the bacon. Oh my word. It was crispy and PERFECTLY straight! I had so many pieces, I was waiting for the wait staff to come over and tell me I’d exceeded my personal quota. The cost was ¥3400, or around $30 USD. http://www.anaintercontinental-tokyo.jp
So, this is my brother’s favourite kind of food. Like, we were in Portugal for his birthday and he found a Teppanyaki restaurant to celebrate in. So I was insanely excited to try one in Tokyo. Apparently one of the best ones you can go to is in the ANA intercontinental, but I insisted on going to the rabbit café when the reservation was available. Instead, we went to Teppan Bambina. It was ok, but there wasn’t really a show which is what I was most excited about. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to beef in Japan. They care about the quality of their beef almost as much as their fish, so always order the wagyu when you can.
The one you should go to: http://www.anaintercontinental-tokyo.jp/e/rest/akasaka.html
The ok one: http://teppan-bambina.com/en/
My advice? Come to Japan hungry! You might just have to trust the process though, because this is the real deal and the Japanese don’t bend to appease western cultures. Use that as an opportunity to expand your palette! Do you have any Tokyo food suggestions? Comment below!