Tokyo Food Guide
Japan is a food lover’s destination. No matter where you go, using Yelp or no Yelp, planned or unplanned, any restaurant in Japan is as delicious as the next. I may have had only two bad meals in Tokyo out of the five times I’ve been there but overall, you can not go wrong in Japan, or Tokyo for that matter.
For this post, I separated each and every restaurant I’ve been to in Tokyo by the different neighborhoods to make it easier. I also attached a link to Yelp for their restaurant if you’re into Yelp. At the end, I’ll include a list of the restaurants I want to go the next time I’m in Tokyo (less than 6 months from now)! Also, I don’t have recommendations for seafood as Charles is allergic. Given the language barrier, I was afraid that although I can ask in Japanese, I feel like it can get lost in translation at times since I’m not fluent.
If you’ve never been to Japan before, head over to Asakusa to check out the Senso-ji temple as well as peruse the souvenirs and vendors beforehand. This is where I like to buy Curry and Lilikoi their souvenirs (haha, I know) as well as cute shiba inu tote bags!
Ippudo // Yelp
Before ever visiting Japan, I was a huge fan of Ippudo in New York. When my family and I came across Ipuddo in Asakusa after checking out Senso-ji, I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t a fan of this one as the selection is completely different than the New York one. But for comparison, Ippudo would still be my favorite in New York but Ichiran would be my favorite overall (I’ll get to that later).
Daikanyama is a hip neighborhood near Shibuya. Daikanyama T-Site is here which is a pretty cool bookstore. I bought a Japanese magazine about Iceland here. The goal was to translate it but I just don’t have the time.
Monkey Cafe D.K.Y // Yelp
One morning, Charles and I walked to Daikanyama from our hotel in Shibuya. A very hip neighborhood in Tokyo, Charles and I spotted an interesting wooden building on our walk. I took a photo of it unaware that inside was an impressive cafe! It was closed when we saw it but while walking back to Shibuya, we saw that it was open! A very hipster-ish cafe with the craziest interior (architecture-wise), Monkey Cafe D.K.Y served a delicious white chocolate crunch mocha! I’m not sure if it’s on their menu permanently but stopping by Monkey Cafe D.K.Y is highly recommended on the interior and exterior alone.
Spring Valley Brewery // Yelp
Since we haven’t gone to a brewery while in Tokyo, Spring Valley Brewery was our choice for the trip. Although I’m not a beer drinker (at all) and can not vouch for how good it was, Charles liked it! While he had the beer, I had a cafe latte. Charles ordered iberico ham. If you’re not familiar with iberico ham, it’s one of the priciest ham anywhere (it can run up to $120/pound). It was fun trying it. The open face sandwich wasn’t memorable and I honestly don’t remember what it tasted like.
Disneyland // Yelp
Growing up in Southern California allowed me to have the opportunity to go to Disneyland at my disposal when I used to have an annual pass. Charles and I did everything we can to make sure we went enough times to make up for the cost of the pass. Food at Disneyland in California wasn’t amazing as we didn’t necessarily go for the food but in Tokyo, I love going to Disneyland for the food alone!
Hungry Bear // Yelp
If you’ve never had Japanese curry before, getting curry in Japan is going to blow your mind. Perfectly crispy pork cutlet with delicious curry is what I order at Hungry Bear in Disneyland. Curry is definitely something you don’t get at Disneyland in California so this is something I recommend when you go here.
Little Green Dumplings – Tomorrowland
Cute and Instagram-worthy, these Green Dumplings can be found in Tomorrowland. You get three of these little green dumplings in the following flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. It’s pretty much like mochi but with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cream filling. They’re small but that’s okay as you can make room for more food!
Melon Soda Sugar Churro – Tomorrowland
Also found in Tomorrowland are melon soda sugar churros. If you love melon flavor, this churro hits that flavor spot on! I’m not much of a melon flavor lover but I definitely appreciated how well it mimic the flavor. These are serve from a cart I believe near Autopia.
Famed for it’s Takeshita Street and street style, Harajuku does not disappoint in the food category. You can walk down Takeshita Street and stop often to try the various food it has to offer. Here’s the places we stopped at, both at Takeshita Street as well as around the area:
bills Tokyu Plaza Omotesando // Yelp
I know this says it’s in Omotesando but I’m going to file it under Harajuku. This restaurant has a long wait. I remember waiting on the stairs in the hot, hot heat. When we were finally seated, I knew exactly what I wanted: ricotta hotcakes with fresh bananas and honeycomb butter. Worth it! Although I wish my pancakes were a bit fluffier as everyone else’s. Mine were a little flat. I also recommend their passion fruit soda. So good.
Calbee // Yelp
Growing up in an Asian household, Calbee chips has made it’s way in our kitchen often and in Harajuku, you can find a Calbee shop for chips that they make in house. Charles ordered spicy potato chips and they were pretty good. If you can stop by, do so but if you can’t, no worries.
CROQUANTCHOU ZAKUZAKU // Yelp
You’ll know if you you’re nearby from the long line and sweet smell. They’re similar to a churro with a cream filling inside. It was pretty good but not necessarily my favorite thing to eat while in Japan.
Kebab Box // Yelp
Don’t let these photos fool you, the food here is delicious! Definitely doesn’t fall under Japanese food but it’s cheap and yummy! The spicy and garlic combination would be my favorite! Charles and I ate here twice in one trip! My mother loves it as well.
Reissue // Yelp
Probably my favorite coffee shop in Tokyo, Reissue wins for the best latte art. Walking through the alleys in Harajuku, you will find Reissue on the second floor. There, you can pick several coffees and add either a 2D or 3D latte art. Show them a photo of your favorite pet, your favorite animal, or they’ll take a photo of your significant other (or yourself) for reference. The wait is a bit long which is understandable considering the amount of love they put in creating the art. Personally, the 2D art is my favorite and seeing an anime version of myself was pretty awesome.
Totti Candy Factory Shop // Yelp
Walk down Takeshita Street and you will see a group of people huddled near a shop with cotton candy galore. Head upstair to pick up one of the most photogenic cotton candy you will ever see. I highly recommend sharing as it can be a serious sugar overload.
Koenji is definitely a lot older-looking than the other neighborhoods. It seems as if you’re back in time! I saw a lot of vintage and consignment stores while I was there.
Floresta Nature Doughnuts // Yelp
Charles and I busted a mission to get these Instagram-worthy doughnuts. Overall, the train stations and subways in Japan offer both Japanese and English so it can make commuting in Japan easier for travelers. But this usually occurs in the more touristy parts of Japan. Koenji is a part of Tokyo that I’ve never been to and for some reason, we had such a hard time getting here. Not only that, some stations there (we took more than one train to get here) were in Japanese only so it made using the trains difficult. My level of Japanese is toddler-level at best so it was hard to get around at that point.
We finally made it to the shop (and it started to snow!) and we were able to get these super cute doughnuts. They were vegan doughnuts so they were pretty dry. Would I go back again? Probably not. Definitely wouldn’t go out of my way for these BUT they are the cutest doughnuts I’ve ever seen.
Omotesando is an area in Tokyo near Harajuku. You can find some high-end stores here (Céline and Prada to name a few) as well as a Zara Home. Interestingly, Zara Home didn’t fit my style which was odd to say the least.
I have a love/hate with this one. Cafe Kitsune is super chic coffee shop but a little pretentious. Charles hates pretentiousness so he wasn’t a fan of this coffee shop.
The best place to stay in Tokyo! Shibuya may be insanely crowded (also, one of the busiest crosswalk is here) but so, SO convenient. I’ve tried to stay in other neighborhoods but I absolutely love how close it is to the station (especially Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel).
Alright, there are ton, and I mean a ton of 7-Elevens in Japan but for the sake of organization I’m going to put this under Shibuya since that’s where we stay (and we’re usually at the 7-Elevens in Shibuya). Check out 7-Elevens while you’re out in Japan; the selection is far superior than the United States in my opinion. From meticulously arranged onigiris to the cutest cakes, 7-Eleven is a great place to stop by for some essentials and snacks.
About Life Coffee Brewers // Yelp
Right along an alley, you can find About Life Coffee Brewers. Quaint and minimal, this little coffee corner is good for a simple and good cup of coffee. If you want something fancy like a frappucino, you will not find it here; look elsewhere. The coffee is pretty strong from what I remembered. This is about a 5-10 minutes walk from Shibuya Station near Shibuya Mark City.
Cremia at Excelsior Cafe – Also at Various Locations
Ahh Cremia. I love it. There are some places where I am okay with eating at every single day whenever I visit and eating Cremia in Japan is one of them. They’re almost everywhere; you just got to look for them. I found them at Excelsior Cafe in Shibuya. They’re also at Ito-en inside Haneda Airport.
The soft serve is reminiscent of condensed milk in the most amazing cone that reminds me of lengua de chat cookies.
Joto Curry // Yelp
Another one of those “we ate here twice” restaurant; Joto Curry near Shibuya station is another place for curry that Charles and I love to go to. We typically share an order of the beef curry with pork cutlet with extra pork cutlet. Legit, one of the best curries I have ever had. The place is small (as with everything in Japan) but Charles and I always managed to get a seat. We also were able to get a table when it was me, Charles, my mother, and my brother! We did go right when it opened at 5:30 so we were the first to grab the table.
Ichiran // Yelp
Ichiran Ramen, oh how I crave you so! Ramen anywhere is just not as good as it is in Japan! Ichiran, although a chain in Japan, has one of the best ramen I’ve ever tasted. So good, in fact, my mother who isn’t a ramen lover at all kills her bowl every single time (and suggests to us that we make another stop before we leave – and we did haha).
New York now has Ichiran in Brooklyn but my understanding is that it’s way pricier than the Ichirans in Tokyo! For less than $10, you can get this bowl in Tokyo! I like to add vinegar to mine. The one in Shibuya is located on the basement level.
Nabezo // Yelp
All-you-can-eat shabu shabu? Sign me up! The wait here can be long but I think it’s worth it. So you can’t spend all day here; the limit is 90 minutes for all-you-can-eat but trust me, it’s enough time. I did notice that the first few trays of meats you get were good but the quality goes down when you ask for more. I did get the cheapest meat there. There is a more expensive meat and I have yet to try it but possibly next time!
Starbucks? Why would an American visit an American corporation for coffee while said American is in Japan? Well, because they happen to have drinks exclusive to Japan! Of the times I’ve been there, my favorites would have to be the chocolate banana mocha which tasted like a banana bread in coffee form and a fruit and yogurt drink that was surprisingly delicious!
There are several Starbucks all over Japan but I like the Shibuya crossing one for the view. Head upstairs to see a view of Shibuya Crossing. You may have to fight for seats but it’s worth it if you get that perfect shot!
Tonkatsu Maisen // Yelp
Katsu sando, I love you! Katsu sando is one of those types of food that I rarely find anywhere. The first time I have ever had katsu sando was in Hawaii at Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin. Since then, I’ll always grab a katsu sando if I find it (7-Eleven in Japan included!). I always make a stop at Tonkatsu Maisen for their delicious katsu sando: the fluffiest white bread, crispy pork cutlet, and complete with a delicious katsu sauce. Be careful as it can be so addicting!
Tonkatsu Maisen is located near the Shibuya Station on the 9th floor of some building I can’t recall the name.
Toriyoshi // Tripadvisor
I’ve only gone to Toriyoshi once but I’ve been wanting to go back! If you know me at all, I LOVE tebasaki wings and I don’t find them too often anywhere (in Hawaii and in California) to enjoy them. Back home in California, Charles and I went to Furaibo quite often, so often in fact, the waitress knew our exact order each and every time! So when we found a place in Shibuya that sold these delicious chicken wings, we knew we had to try it! Toriyoshi had a “cover charge” for dining here. Also, smoking in restaurants happens quite often in Japan so be prepared for that if you don’t smoke.
They don’t offer just chicken wings but you can also order other types of bar food such as karaage. For drinks, we opted for Japanese whiskey and ginger ale!
Shinjuku is a crazy neighborhood full of lights, a giant Godzilla head, and the red light district. Also, Robot Restaurant is located here. I’ll say that it was the most interesting experience in Japan. I probably wouldn’t do it again though. Disneyland over Robot Restaurant for sure!
Ladurée // Yelp
If you’re a Laduree fan, head over to Shinjuku to try their soft serve. Last time I checked, this Laduree is the only one in the world to serve soft serve so it’s worth a trip! The most recent trip, I discovered they had salted caramel (they didn’t the first time I went). Must try it next time since salted caramel is my favorite!
Walk down Piss Alley in Shinjuku and you’ll see tons of restaurants that serve yakitori. Pick any of them as I think they’re all good. Well honestly, I don’t remember exactly which one we went to but it sure was delicious! The spaces are small (reallllly small and I can not stress that enough) so definitely ideal for solo travelers or couples.
Vending Machines – Various Locations
Just like 7-Eleven, there are a lot of vending machines in Tokyo. Probably even more than there are 7-Elevens! This photo was taken in Shinjuku so I’ll file it under Shinjuku. Always have coins in hand! After all the walking you’ll do in Japan, it’s so convenient to have coins to get some refreshing drink from the vending machine! No need to make a stop anywhere for drinks.
Restaurants I want to try in Tokyo:
Afuri Ebisu // Yelp – A few of my Instagram friends recommended to this me and I really want to try it out!
Shin // Yelp – Wasn’t a big udon fan until this week so I’ll be on a mission next Japan trip for udon!
World’s Second Best Freshly Baked Melon-Pan Ice Cream // Yelp – I want to go on the name alone! So funny!
Shirohige’s Cream Puff Factory // Yelp – I’ve always wanted to try the Totoro cream puffs but it seems so out of the way.
Nakiryu // Yelp – Michelin star ramen? Enough said.