Tokyo Food Guide : What to Eat in Tokyo & Where
Wondering what to eat in Tokyo? Read below for a comprehensive Tokyo Food Guide to inspire your next trip to Japan. Find out what dishes to try and where.
Before going to Japan, I had a pretty good idea about what to eat in Tokyo. I would often tell people that Japanese food was on the top of my list for favorite cuisines. After visiting Japan, I can honestly say that I didn’t know what real Japanese food was before stepping into the country. Dishes with the same name abroad simply can’t compare to the freshness and refinement that you’ll find in Japan.
Things to Keep in Mind while Eating in Tokyo
Budget – We were also surprised by how many affordable dishes we were able to try in Tokyo. We often heard stories about budget travelers eating out of 7-Elevens and convenient stores to save money. While these shops do have plenty of budget options, there is no reason that you have to resort to solely convenient store eating! There are plenty of affordable options around Tokyo.
One-dish Restaurants – Unlike their international counterparts, many Japanese restaurants in Japan specialize in one-dish. Some travelers might mistake this for a lack of options. On the contrary, you should take this as a good sign.
Machine Service – You’ll find that many eat and go restaurants have machines setup outside or in the front of the restaurant. Don’t wait for a server to come up and take your order. Look at the pictures or get a local to help you choose and pay directly at the machine!
Unassuming Locations – We dined in many restaurants that were located in the most unassuming locations. Often times, windows were completely covered so that we couldn’t see inside. After walking in, the restaurants were lively filled with hungry dinners eating their hearts out. In Tokyo, you’ll often find restaurants located in multi-leveled buildings. Our tip – if you don’t have a Japanese friend, find a local who can make a recommendation.
NOW ON TO THE FOOD GUIDE!
Let’s start with the obvious, Ramen. If there was only one dish that people associated to Tokyo and Japan, it would be ramen. Who could resist a delicious bowl of savory, umami packed ramen noodles? We sure can’t. You won’t have to go far to find a good ramen dish in Tokyo but we recommend starting at Tokyo Ramen Street in Tokyo Station. The train station is very easy to get to and has tons of options all under one roof. You’re sure to find something to satisfy all tastes!
We dined at a place called Soranoiro Nippon which specialized in Edo Style Ramen. Wait in line, select your favorite dish at the machine, pay and wait to be seated. Bonus, there are also 3 vegan/vegetarian options for those who don’t eat meat. We also loved the small touches that aide you during your ramen adventure such as bibs and hair ties; you’ll find this common in many restaurants in Japan. So thoughtful!
Budget: Y1080 ($10 USD)
Where: Tokyo Ramen Street in the basement level of Tokyo Station.
Udon & Soba
Moving on to another staple in Tokyo, we’re dishing out on Udon & Soba. If you’re on a budget and wondering what to eat in Tokyo, Soba and Udon are some great options! We found some great quality and budget eats while wondering the streets of the Ningyocho area in Tokyo.
We tried an unassuming Udon shop located a little past the Coco Curry Restaurant. You won’t find many tourist here, just locals and office workers who take up a small space at the counter and eat standing upright. This is a great place to grab a quick meal if you’re really hungry (no waiting time) and on a tight budget.
For Soba, we tried Komoro Soba Ningyocho next to the Ningyocho station. Don’t worry if you can’t read the non-english machine. The staff and/or locals will be happy to help you. Just remember to learn a few common phrases in exchange (hello, thank you, sorry I don’t speak Japanese). Our suggestion would be to try the cold soba noodles. Step one: dip the cold noodles into the sauce provided. Step two: eat & enjoy. For extra tasty noodles, feel free to put some wasabi & green onions into the dipping sauce. *Hint – Don’t forget to ask for some of the hot soba water to slurp with your remaining sauce before finishing your meal.
Budget: Y380-500 ($3.80 – $5 USD)
Where: Ningyocho Neighborhood
Optional: Day Trip for Yoshida Udon near Mount Fuji
If you really want to taste some of the finest udon noodles, you must head on over to a town called Fujiyoshida, easily accessible by 1h15m bus ride from Tokoyo. Click here to find out how to get there.
While Udon in Tokyo might satisfy your budget craving, a bowl of Udon made with Fuji spring water served in a piping hot stone bowl is more of a culinary delight! Order the Nabeyaki which comes complete with a homemade dipping spice. This was honestly one of the best udon bowls we have had in our lives!
Budget: Y700 ($7 USD)
Where: Udon Restaurant べんけい. Click here for google map.
If you’re wondering what to eat in Tokyo then sushi should be on the top of your list, but not just any sushi. If you’re going to try sushi anywhere in Japan then it must be at Tsukiji Market. Start with a dish at the world’s most famous fish market. The Outer Market has plenty of stalls and restaurants who are waiting to serve you a plate of the freshest sushi that you will ever taste in your life. Honestly – go here.
Budget: For ¥1800 yen I had a dose of fresh fatty tuna and sea urchin.
Where: Tsukiji Outer Market
Optional: Day Trip for Sushi near Mount Fuji
If you’re thinking about taking a day trip to Mount Fuji, don’t miss out on this 103 year old sushi restaurant located next to the Fujiyoshida Youth Hostel. The owner is a 3rd generation sushi master and will be proud to serve you a dish of his craft.
Budget: Y1080 ($10.80 USD)
Where: Sushi Restaurant located next door to Fujiyoshida Youth Hostel.
Next up on the list is Okonomiyaki – a first time try for both Pierre and I! If you’re wondering what to eat in Tokyo that you haven’t tried elsewhere, Okonomiyaki is the dish to get. It’s basically a savory Japanese pancake which is made with egg, shredded cabbage and your toppings of choice. We loved the octopus Okonomiyaki. We have to thank our Japanese friend Tiger for introducing us to this delicious and social dish.
Okonomiyaki is a great dish to be shared with friends as you’ll have fun cooking the Okohomiyaki together. If you are in a hurry, this might not be the best place to eat as it takes a little time to make but it’s completely worth it if you have some time to spare.
Budget: Y800+ ($8 USD) per dish – the more ingredients you choose, the pricer it gets.
Where: もんじゃや 新宿本店 – Click for Map
Tokyo has a ton of desserts to try! Many of these sweet snacks can be found at street stalls but another great location to these Japanese delicacies is in the basement of Tokyo’s many department stores. You’ll find vendors who are eager to give you samples of these sweet treats. Many individually wrapped sweets sell for around Y100 ($1 USD). It would be impossible to list all the sweet treats we tried so here are some of our favorites!
Age-Manju is a deep-fried manju bean pastry that comes in many different flavors. This is a must try if you’re in the Asukasa area. The pastry is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside filled with a delicious flavor of your choice. We opted for one of our favorite fillings: sesame.
Budget: Y130-200 ($1.30 – $2.00 USD) depending on the flavor.
Where: Kokonoe stall on Nakamise in Asakusa.
Taiyaki is a fish-shaped pastry filled traditionally stuffed sweet azuki beans. We went to a place called Naruto Taiyaki which also had taiyaki stuffed with apples. Pierre couldn’t get enough of that one!
Budget: Y160 ($1.60 USD)
Where: Naruto Taiyaki (multiple locations in Tokyo). Click here to see a map of the location we went to.
Matcha Green Tea (Ice Cream!)
We’re saving one of our favorite sweets for last. While you must try a good cup of matcha green tea while in Japan, especially if you are in Kyoto, nothing beats a good matcha ice cream.
We went to a place which claims to have the strongest match ice cream in the world. That certainly was a bold claim which we were happy to put to the test. The shop has 7 levels of matcha ice cream. Though 7 is the strongest, we opted for level 6 reasoning that this should be plenty intense. Indeed it was, I loved it but Pierre found it too be a bit too bitter for his taste.
Budget: Y490 ($4.90 USD) for two scoops.
Where: Suzukien Asakusa. Click here for map.
What about you? If you’ve been to Tokyo, we would love to know what your favorite dish was. If you haven’t, what is the ONE DISH that you can’t wait to try. Let us know in the comments and, as always, happy travels!
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO JAPAN
- Tokyo in 24 Hours – First Timer’s Guide
- Top 10 Things To Do in Ningyocho (Tokyo, Japan)
- Kyoto Travel Guide: 5 Tips To Know Before You Go
- Top 3 Must Eat Foods in Nagoya, Japan
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