Ultimate Tokyo Food Guide: Top Best Foods to Eat in Tokyo

Discussion
  • In this Tokyo Food Guide, you’ll find our recommendations on 20 top best foods to eat in the city! From the best sushi to the latest food craze to iconic street foods, these are the unmissable foods you must try when visiting Tokyo.

    It is no exaggeration when we say food alone is a strong reason to visit Tokyo. The decades-long devotion and perfectionism to the artistry have earned this food heaven of Japan more Michelin awards than any other places in the world besides France. Are you ready to experience an epic gastronomic adventure? 

    First, what should you eat? With so many incredible food choices and so little time, how do you make the best of your trip? Luckily, there is really no bad food in Tokyo. Whether it’s cheap eats or fancy dining, there is an option that meets every traveler’s budget.

    Here, we’ve put together a list of the top best foods to eat in Tokyo. There are 20 of them, which we believe are truly special and iconic to Tokyo.  You’ll also find our recommended restaurants and places for each food, so you know where to find them. This is by no means an exhaustive list – but enough to get you started. Yes, you want to go hungry!

    line 1024x29

    Top best foods to eat when you visit Tokyo: 

    Sushi at Midori, Shibuya Tokyo | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    1. Sushi 寿司

    Tokyo, the world capital of sushi, is where you get next-level sushi that sets them apart from sushi in the rest of the world. Two major winning factors: the abundance of fresh seafood and the time-honored skills that go into making the vinegared rice aka sushi rice.  After all, sushi is the food that is best synonymous with Japanese cuisine.

    The very best news is good sushi is everywhere in Tokyo, and at every budget. Want to enjoy sushi on a tight budget? Head over to the cheap and casual kaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurants where you can get a great selection of seafood without breaking the bank. It’s our favorite place to indulge as much sushi as possible! For one-of-the-kind theatrical sushi experience, there are the reveled Michelin-starred establishments you can pay homage to (if your budget allows). 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Also, you won’t go wrong with any sushi joints nestled within the famous Toyosu Fish Market. Go early and treat yourself with multiple sushi breakfasts. Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi are the best, but any shop with lines of locals will not disappoint.

    Afuri Ramen | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    2. Ramen ラーメン

    Perfectly chewy noodles, jammy ramen egg, juicy char siu pork, bamboo shoots, and nori sheets in a hot piping bowl of soup broth. Ramen needs no introduction. Having taken the world by storm in recent years, this soul food of Japan dominates the food scene in Tokyo and it’s just getting better and better.

    You can find ramen shops hidden behind train stations and department buildings, tucked in inconspicuous streets, or sandwiched among rows of food stalls, serving up bowls of ramen in great varieties. There is tonkatsu ramen, shio ramen, miso ramen, spicy shoyu ramen, tsukemen, and cold ramen. By all means, explore all the options you want because this is the place to get your ramen fixing. Slurp away! 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Tempura at Tsunahachi in Shinjuku, Tokyo | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    3. Tempura ぷら

    We may be biased, but dare we say no other world cuisine does deep-fried food as excellent as the Japanese! Tempura is the obvious evidence of the claim. What is not to love about deep-fried shrimp or sweet potato encrusted in the lightest, crispiest batter? And only in Japan, you can find specialized restaurants that serve the best of the best tempura. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Yakitori | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    4. Yakitori 焼き鳥

    Yakitori are tasty skewered chicken meat brushed with a sweet soy glaze, and grilled over charcoal. While chicken meat is most common, you can also find other meats and vegetables on skewers on the Yakitori menus. It is also where you’ll learn the advanced level of Japanese chicken butchery, where opal, liver, gizzards, and skins make regular appearances. 

    The best places to enjoy yakitori in Tokyo are at izakaya restaurants (Japanese gastropubs) and specialty yakitori restaurants. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Japanese Curry at Hinoya | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    5. Japanese Curry カレー

    Brought to Japan in late 1800 by the British, Japanese curry is considered one of the nation’s most popular convenience and comfort foods. Unlike Thai or Indian-style curries, Japanese curry dishes have a more stew-like texture and are generally sweeter and milder in heat. They make a perfect introduction to people who are trying curry for the first time. Which means they are kids-friendly too. Some of the must-try curry dishes: curry rice, curry udon and Katsu-kare (curry with breaded pork cutlet).

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Soba | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    6. Soba そば

    As humble as it can be, the sweet-earthy buckwheat noodle represents the elegant simplicity of the food that is so characteristic of Japan. 

    The best soba is usually hand made in house from scratch, and are served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in a hot dashi broth as a noodle soup. When you want something light, healthy yet soul-satisfying, go for a bowl of soba. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Tonkatsu | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    7. Tonkatsuとんかつ

    Breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet, Tonkatsu is the Japanese version of a schnitzel. It is a working-class dish and a Japanese comfort-food staple for centuries. Much like everything in Japan, tonkatsu can be both casual and very high end, but the very best tonkatsu is mind-blowingly crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and almost grease-free. It’s typically served with a sweet-savory sauce, along with fluffy steamed rice, cool pile of shredded cabbage, pickles, and miso soup. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Gyukatsu | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    8. Gyukatsu (Beef Katsu) 牛カツ

    Meet the trendiest star in Japanese food culture: Gyukatsu (beef katsu).  You guess it right, gyukatsu is the beef equivalent of tonkatsu. Breaded, deep fried, the beef cutlets have been receiving an explosion of popularity since 2015. With a crispy exterior and rare to medium-rare interior, gyukatsu is served similarly as tonkatsu, with the accompaniments of dipping sauces, rice, cabbage, pickles, and miso soup. You get to grill the meat to your preference on the small burner at your table.

    Juicy, melt-in-your-tender and the perfect amount of crunch, the dish is the dream of any meat lover. Does it live up to the hype? Well, all of our friends who have tasted gyukatsu attested that it could easily be one of their most unforgettable dishes! You have to give it a try yourself.

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Sukiyaki | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    9. Sukiyaki すき焼き

    Sukiyaki is one of Japanese favorites’ cold-weather food, where an assortment of fresh veggies and thinly sliced meat cooked in a sweet and salty soy sauce-based broth in a simmering hot pot. If you’re visiting Tokyo in the fall or winter, mark this hot pot dish on your must-eat list. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    • Imahan (Ningyocho, Ginza, Ueno, etc)
    • Shabu Zen (Shibuya, Ginza, Yotsuya, etc)

    Sudachi Udon at Tsurutontan in Tokyo | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    10. Udon うどん

    Another Japanese noodle that deserves your attention is udon. Chewy, slippery, smooth, and supple, udon is the kind of noodles that can melt all your troubles away. You can get udon in hot dashi soup broth topped with flash-fried tempura, or cold in the umami mentsuyu sauce, or creative fusion dish like udon carborana. We also recommend beef udon, kitsune udon and yaki udon. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Yakiniku | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    11. Yakiniku 焼肉

    Yakiniku is basically Japanese style BBQ, where a fine selection of tender meat, vegetables, and savory dipping sauce laid out in front of the table. Everyone sits around the grill and cooks and eats the foods. It’s the most delicious and jovial way of experiencing Japanese communal meals. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Shabu Shabu | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    12. Shabu Shabuしゃぶしゃぶ

    When the weather cools, the Tokyolites keep themselves warm and cozy by partaking in hot pot dishes like shabu-shabu. The name “shabu shabu” came from the sound when you stir the vegetables and meat with your chopsticks and ‘swish swish’ in the hot pot. As everyone sits around the hot pot at the table, cooks together, and eats while you chat, it’s a meal that makes delicious memories.

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Monjayaki | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    By OcdpOwn work, CC0, Link

    13. Monjayaki もんじゃ焼き

    You may hear of Okonomiyaki, but that’s more famous in the Kansai region like Osaka. Monjayaki (often called Monja) is pretty much the sibling of okonomiyaki and that’s what you’d need to try in Tokyo.  Both monjayaki and okonomiyaki are very similar, where ingredients are finely chopped and mixed into the flour batter before frying on the hot grill. The main difference is that monja includes additional dashi in the batter, resulting in a runnier texture.

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    There are too many, but you can find some best monjayaki restaurants in the Tsukishima district of Tokyo where the dish is said to have originated.

    Teppanyaki | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    14. Teppanyaki 鉄板焼き

    It is true that you can easily find teppanyaki restaurants outside of Japan, but only in Japan, you get to sample the finest marbled wagyu beef and freshest catch from the ocean. A feast for the five senses, teppanyaki fuses the concept of cooking Western-influenced food on a teppan (iron griddle).

    As a diner, you sit around a large, open grill and watch the skilled chef performs culinary tricks akin to dinner theater as they cook the meat, seafood, and vegetables with impressive flair. While teppanyaki restaurants outside of Japan can be casual and affordable, teppanyaki dining in the Kanto regions (including Tokyo) is usually upscale (on the other hand, it’s more casual in Kansai regions). You do have to save up for the unmatched teppanyaki experience, but it’s worth it!

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Japanese Sandwiches | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.comJapanese Sandwiches | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    15. Japanese Sandwiches サンドイッチ

    While rice and noodles are the longtime staples, Japanese sandwiches are the latest craze that making their limelight in the culinary scene even outside of Japan. They are more than just a grab-and-go food, but a serious craft that showcases the boundless creativity and Japanese precision.

    Some of the must-try sandwiches: tamago egg sando (egg salad sandwich), katsu sando (pork cutlet sandwich), and fruit sando (fruit sandwich).

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    • Convenience stores
    • Bakeries
    • Gourmet food falls at B1 floor of the department stores

    Japanese Pastries | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    16. Japanese Pastries ケーキ・お菓子

    The French may get all the glory when comes to pastry-making, but those who have been to Tokyo would agree that Japanese pastries are equally on par, if not even better when comes to the selection. We think that’s because the Japanese are at the advantage of incorporating influences from different cultures and unique, seasonal ingredients that make the offerings remarkably attractive.

    For sweet pastries, go for Japanese flavors such as matcha green tea, cherry blossom, chestnuts, black sesame, yuzu, red bean, or Japanese sweet potato. For the savory department, you’ll find fresh hot buns like curry pan (crispy fried bread with curry filling), melon pan (sweet bread with crispy biscuit crust), yakisoba pan (savory noodles in stuffed in hot dog bun), and anpan (sweet red bean bun) on the horizon.

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Unagi | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    17. Unagi 鰻

    One of the summer traditions in Japan is to eat unagi or freshwater eel to keep cool during the hot season. There is even a custom of eating Unagi on the Day of the Ox in the midsummer as it is believed to provide stamina and energy in the hot days. 

    Some popular unagi dishes include unadon (grilled sliced eel served over a bed of rice), unagi nigiri (rice ball topped with a small slice of grilled eel), shirayaki (roasted eel and seasoned only with salt), eel hone senbei (deep fried eel bones enjoyed as snack with alcoholic drinks) and kimosui (a clear soup flavored with boiled eel livers).

    You can enjoy unagi sushi at most sushi restaurants or head over to specialty restaurants devoted to serving only unagi dishes. 

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Beef Stew | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    18. Yoshoku 洋食

    Put it simply, Yoshoku is Japanese-style western foods that are as central as traditional Japanese foods. It is not merely a fusion of French or Italian cuisine,  but an innovation that proves to be distinctly Japanese. Mainstream yoshoku dishes include omurice (omelet rice), Hayashi rice, beef stew, hambagu (hamburger patties), and wafu pasta – each one gone through thoughtful Japanese twists through the ingredients and preparation. Tonkatsu and Japanese curry, listed above, also belong to the yoshoku category.

    You can find yoshoku dishes being served at Famiresu (casual chain diners), cafes, Kissaten 喫茶店 (old school Japanese coffee houses), hotel restaurants, and even at convenience stores. Many restaurant establishments still proudly serve their signature dishes that have been loved by artists, celebrities, and politicians for decades.

    Visiting Tokyo with kids or picky eaters? Don’t even think about McDonald’s when you have so many yoshoku dishes to choose from!

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Wagashi Set | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    19. Wagashi (Japanese Sweets) 和菓子

    Japanese sweets, known as wagashi, are delightful tea treats that carry a rich history entwined with Japanese culture. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but here are some of the must-try wagashi: dorayaki (mini pancake sandwich with a sweet red-bean filling), dango (skewered dumpling balls made with rice flour), manju (steamed buns with red bean paste), senbei (savory rice crackers) and mochi.

    If you’re visiting in the summer, treat yourself with kakigori (shaved ice with syrups and toppings) and anmitsu (agar-agar jelly with sweet toppings).

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    You can also find shops serving up wagashi at the airport, major tourist areas and big department stores. 

    Fruit Parfait | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    20. Fruit Parfait フルーツパフェ

    Walking around the busy streets of Tokyo, you will often see tall decorative glasses of plastic fruit parfaits in the window displays of coffee shops (kissaten 喫茶店) and family restaurants. The colorful layered dessert is a classic sweet treat for the Japanese, and available year-round. Japanese parfaits are made mainly of ice cream, fruits, and whipped cream along with other sweet toppings.

    Strawberry, chocolate, and matcha (green tea) are popular year-round parfait menu items but you might see some seasonal parfaits such as peach and melon.

    JOC recommendations in Tokyo:

    Additional Tips on How to Find The Best Foods to Eat in Tokyo

    1. Use Tabelog Japan Restaurant and Food Guide – this website provides the most comprehensive reviews on restaurants in Japan. You can easily find different categories of foods, a list of restaurants and ranking scores. We have this article that shows you how to use Tabelog in detail.
    2. If you are in a hurry and prefer to sample a little bit of everything at an affordable price, head to a depachika, the basement floor of a Japanese department store. You’ll find an astonishing amount of food that is delicious and affordable. Check out the Shinjuku ISETAN food floor guide.
    3.  On a tight bag packer’s budget? Konbini (Japanese convenience stores) like 7-Eleven and the vending machines are your best friends when you visit Tokyo. You can literally feed yourself some decent ramen, sandwiches or even yakitori there!
    4.  Surprise yourself by hopping onto hole-in-the-wall eateries. If there’s a line in front of you, it is usually a good sign.

    Pro Tips for Japanese Food Lovers

    Related Posts

  • Just One Cookbook: Essential Japanese Recipes

    Love Our Recipes?

    Leave A Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    What type of comment do you have?

    Discussion

  • Bkhuna wrote:
    • Jenn wrote:
  • Rachel wrote:
  • Manya wrote:
  • deneen wrote:
  • Janice Wong wrote:
    • Mr. JOC wrote: