Tokyo is one of the world's most exciting dining destinations. The city features a wide range of both local and regional Japanese cuisine in addition to all types of international fare. Its top restaurants have accrued more Michelin stars than both Paris and New York combined. But good food can be found at every price range from cheap hole-in-the-wall joints to expensive high-class restaurants with every budget in between.
As Japan's political center for over four centuries, Tokyo has naturally exerted great influence on Japanese cuisine. Consequently, some Tokyo specialties have become so popular that they are now known as the standard version of the dish rather than a local specialty. Local creations from Tokyo (formerly called Edo) are often referred to as "Edo-mae", literally meaning "in front of Edo", in reference to Edo Bay (now Tokyo Bay) which provided the city with its local seafood. The following are some popular Tokyo specialties:
Regional Specialties from across Japan
Tokyo is also a good place to enjoy regional Japanese foods from across the country, which have been available in Tokyo since the Edo Period when the regional lords (daimyo) from across Japan were forced to maintain large villas in the capital and spend alternate years there. A by-product of this policy to keep the regional lords under the shogun's control was the influx of various regional cooking styles into the capital.
These days, foods from across the country can be found at many restaurants specialized in regional cuisines. Some of the most popular regional foods that can be sampled around Tokyo come from Okinawa, Kagoshima, Fukuoka, Kyoto and Hokkaido. In addition, successful restaurants from across Japan often open outlets in Tokyo in an effort to branch out and make a name for themselves.
International food is enjoying great popularity in Tokyo, and many Japanese chefs have achieved recognition for their skills in foreign cooking, often acquired by practical training overseas. Furthermore, Tokyo is home to various international communities, which have brought a variety of different cuisines with them. While popular foods such as Chinese, Indian, Italian, French and Korean can be found virtually anywhere in the city, there are also a few districts serving less prominent international cuisines especially around the embassies located in the Azabu, Hiroo and Roppongi districts. Below are a few of the more concentrated international districts:
There are lots and lots of casual dining restaurants of all types found across Tokyo. While restaurants are easy to find just about anywhere in the city, good places to go for a large variety of them are around train stations, entertainment districts and the restaurant floors of most department stores, where there is usually a good selection of restaurants ranging from Japanese cuisine to international dining.
Izakaya are the most common type of casual dining establishments and are good places to try a variety of Japanese foods. They can be found in droves around train stations and entertainment districts, and serve popular food items such as yakitori, sashimi and of course beer. The following are a few casual dining areas around Tokyo that are well known for their atmosphere:
Tokyo is well known for its fine dining, and has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants of any city in the world. Fine dining restaurants are often found on the top floors of skyscrapers and major hotels, and the cuisine served at these restaurants ranges from traditional Japanese to international and fusion fare. Of course, they tend to be priced accordingly, and some restaurants may require advance reservations. The following are a few districts that are known for their fine dining establishments.
Themed cafes such as maid and butler cafes, as well as pet cafes are popular attractions where you can converse or play games with a maid or butler, or spend time with animals such as cats, rabbits or birds while eating light meals or enjoying a coffee or tea. Maid cafes can easily be found in Akihabara whereas butler cafes are more concentrated around Ikebukuro. Pet cafes can be found in small numbers around the city. All these types of cafes usually charge a small cover charge in addition to food and drinks.
There are also other types of themed cafes such as the Moomin, Gundam and AKB48 cafes where fans can enjoy various themed dishes and drinks. The menu at the AKB48 cafe is a little bit different and is based on the AKB48 members' favorite foods. The cafes also usually sell character goods in the store. Be warned that the lines at these popular cafes may be long during the weekends.
Another type of themed dining are food theme parks (also known as food museums) which typically feature different variations of a specific food such as ramen or gyoza. Despite the name, food theme parks are usually indoors and work similarly to a food court except that all the vendors are selling variations and regional types of the same dish. Some food theme parks around Tokyo include the Namja Gyoza Stadium in Ikebukuro and a ramen theme park in Aquacity on Odaiba.
Finally, for those looking for a quirky and entertaining meal, themed restaurants like the Ninja Restaurant, the Robot Restaurant and The Lock Up in Tokyo can be a fun and appealing attraction. Themed restaurants are decorated similarly to an amusement park, have themed menus and staff who dress in costume. The food usually follows the overall theme of the restaurant, and there may be some type of show during the meal. The Robot Restaurant is one of the few that is an actual dinner show, where the live dancing and entertainment are the main attraction rather than the food.
The easiest place to try a Japanese-style breakfast are hotels, many of which offer Japanese breakfast set meals or buffets with both Japanese and Western dishes. Otherwise a Japanese-style breakfast is difficult to find as most restaurants and coffee shops tend to serve Western-style breakfasts or coffee and toast sets only. One option may be gyudon restaurants which often offer basic Japanese breakfast sets at cheap prices.
For the more adventurous, the sushi restaurants in the Tsukiji Outer Market and at Toyosu Market are open from early morning, offering fresh sushi for breakfast. While there are a handful of 24-hour sushi restaurants around Tsukiji, a large majority of the restaurants close by mid-afternoon.
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MokkoanFeaturing free WiFi and a hot tub, Mokkoan offers accommodation in Kita Ward, Tokyo. Private parking is available on site. Every room comes with a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Certain units have a seating area where you can relax. For your comfort, you will find slippers and free toiletries. You will find a shared kitchen at the property. The guest house also offers free use of bicycles. Yokohama is 37 km from Mokkoan, while Chiba is 41 km away. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 24 km from Mokkoan.View on Booking.com
HISAYO'S INNSet in the Ota Ward district in Tokyo, 5 km from Tokyo International Airport Terminal No2 Observation Deck, HISAYO'S INN features air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi throughout the property. Each room has air conditioning and a safety deposit box. A shared kitchen comes with a refrigerator, stovetop, microwave, toaster and electric kettle. Bathrooms are shared and include free toiletries, towels, hairdryer, mouthwash and toothpaste. You will find a washing machine, tumble dryer and electrical adapter. Guests can try Japanese traditional haori jacket and have their photos taken free of charge. Rental bikes are available, and the staff can assist guests try on a yukata robe for female at a fee. Free luggage storage service is offered. Bike hire is available at this guest house and the area is popular for cycling. Oedo Onsen Monogatari is 8 km from HISAYO'S INN, while Fuji TV Odaiba is 9 km from the property. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 3 km from HISAYO'S INN.View on Booking.com
SOLA HOTELLocated in Tokyo, near Kamejimashogakko Memorial Park, Kameido Tenjin Shrine and Umeyashiki Monument, SOLA HOTEL features free WiFi, and guests can enjoy a shared lounge and a terrace. Accommodation is fitted with air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with bidet, slippers and a hairdryer. There is also a fridge, minibar and a kettle. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Olinas Kinshicho Shopping Mall, Tobacco & Salt Museum and Gokinimono Museum. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 17 km from SOLA HOTEL.View on Booking.com
The Barn TokyoWell situated in the Taito district of Tokyo, The Barn Tokyo is set 300 metres from Shikian, 300 metres from Calligraphy Museum and 400 metres from Tokugawa Tsunayoshi Mausoleum Imperial Scroll Gate. With a garden, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The property is close to popular attractions like Kanei-ji Temple, Chosho-ji Temple and Kemmyo-in Temple. The units in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. At The Barn Tokyo all rooms are equipped with bed linen and towels. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Nippori South Park, Tokugawa Ietsuna's Mausoleum Gate Plaque and Kuroda Memorial Hall. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 19 km from The Barn Tokyo.View on Booking.com
The Hideout TokyoThe Hideout Tokyo is set in Tokyo. In a prime location in the Taito district, this cosy hotel is located 1.5 km from Sensoji Temple. JR Yamanote Uguisudani Station is just a 4-minute walk away. The compact rooms at The Hideout Tokyo are equipped with a seating area and a flat-screen TV. Rooms come with a private bathroom. Complimentary breads, banana and coffee are served every morning. Tokyo Skytree is 2.9 km from The Hideout Tokyo, while Edo Tokyo Museum is 2.9 km from the property. Tokyo Haneda International Airport is 18 km away.View on Booking.com
The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection HotelSituated a minutesüf walk away from Akasaka-Mitsuke Station of the Tokyo Metro Ginza and Marunouchi Line, The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho boasts free WiFi throughout the entire property. There is a sake bar, a sushi restaurant and a teppanyaki restaurant on site, as well as a fitness centre and a 24-hour front desk. The hotel is directly linked to Nagatacho Station of the Nanboku Line. It is a 10-minute drive from Tokyo Station, and a 30-minute drive from Haneda Airport. Narita International Airport is a 100-minute drive away. The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho features a spa and wellness centre and a sauna facility, and the front desk offers currency exchange. Laundry services are offered at an extra cost. All rooms are air-conditioned/heated and feature a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Rooms come with a desk, minibar, electric kettle, a coffee machine, personal locker and a refrigerator. The en suite bathroom comes equipped with a bathtub and shower. Hairdryers, free toiletries, slippers and bathrobes provided. Guests can enjoy a variety of Japanese cuisine on site, and there are several restaurants within a 3-minute walk from Akasaka Mitsuke Station.View on Booking.com
Hostel Chapter Two TokyoConveniently situated in the Taito district of Tokyo, Hostel Chapter Two Tokyo is located 60 metres from Komagatado, 500 metres from Kaminarimon Gate Senso-ji and 500 metres from Ekimise Asakusa. With a shared lounge, the 1-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, and luggage storage for guests. Guest rooms include bed linen. The hostel offers a terrace. Popular points of interest near Hostel Chapter Two Tokyo include Hozomon Gate, Chiisanagarasunohonno Museum and World Bags and Luggage Museum. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 17 km from the accommodation.View on Booking.com
Sakura Cross Hotel Tokyo KayabachoLocated in Tokyo, 300 metres from Zuiken Kawamura Former Residence Place Monument, Sakura Cross Hotel Tokyo Kayabacho provides air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The property is around 500 metres from Oiwa Inari Shrine, 600 metres from Bank of Japan Origin Place Monument and 700 metres from Takao Inari Shrine. Each room is equipped with a balcony. At the hotel, each room includes a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen and towels. All units will provide guests with a fridge. Popular points of interest near Sakura Cross Hotel Tokyo Kayabacho include Shinkawa Historic Place Monument, Sailor Education Origin Place Monument and War Disaster Memorial Service Monument. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 13 km from the accommodation.View on Booking.com
Palace Hotel TokyoSituated right in the heart of Marunouchi business district, Palace Hotel Tokyo is 5-star luxury accommodation boasting 7 restaurants, a spa and a free-access fitness centre and indoor swimming pool. It is directly connected to Otemachi Subway Station and an 8-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station. Free WiFi is provided in the entire area. Offering elegant and chic ambience, each spacious room comes with a large LCD TV, a blu-ray/DVD player and a safety box. A fridge and an electric kettle are also provided. The en suite bathroom includes a small TV, a bath tub and toiletries. While staying at Tokyo Palace Hotel, guests can enjoy a workout at the fitness gym, or receive rejuvenating treatments at the on-site Evian Spa Tokyo. The concierge desk can arrange various services for guests including mobile phone rentals. Tablet rentals, copy and fax services are available for an extra charge upon request at the front desk or club lounge. Guests can enjoy authentic Japanese culinary experiences in Wadakura restaurant, Tatsumi tempura restaurant and Kanesaka sushi restaurant. Crown offers exquisite French cuisine and the city views, while Grand Kitchen serves international dishes throughout the day. Located right next to the Imperial Palace, the hotel is a 10-minute walk from Ginza shopping area, and a 5-minute train ride from Akihabara electric town. Popular Tsukiji Fish Market can be reached within a 10-minute taxi ride. Airport limousine buses are available to/from Narita and Haneda airports at an extra charge.View on Booking.com
cyashitsu ryokan asakusaAttractively located in the centre of Tokyo, cyashitsu ryokan asakusa features air-conditioned rooms, a bar, free WiFi and a shared lounge. Boasting a terrace, this property is situated a short distance from Asakusa Fujiasama Shrine, Nitenmon Gate and Edo Taito Traditional Crafts Center. The accommodation offers a concierge service and luggage storage space for guests. At the ryokan, rooms are equipped with a wardrobe. The rooms have a safety deposit box. Guests at cyashitsu ryokan asakusa can enjoy an Asian breakfast. At the accommodation guests are welcome to take advantage of a hot tub. Popular points of interest near cyashitsu ryokan asakusa include Honryuin Matsuchiyama Shoden, Hozomon Gate and Great Tokyo Air Raid Memorial Monument. The nearest airport is Tokyo Haneda International Airport, 18 km from the ryokan.View on Booking.com