Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a huge metropolis home to a charming blend of the historical and the innovative. The cleanliness and safety of the city as well as the multitude of things to do make it a desirable location to visit. Japan had over 28 million visitors in 2017 and that number is expected to keep growing.
Food is a huge part of visiting a new place, especially somewhere like Japan where a lot of food culture is completely different to the West. Want to dine like a local in Japan’s capital city? Here’s the perfect day itinerary to explore many of Tokyo’s unique flavors and where to do it!
If you don’t mind waking up early, head down to Tsukiji Fish Market and wait for the local sushi shops to open.
Daiwa Sushi opens at 5:30 AM and is one of the area’s favorite places to try the freshest fish in Tokyo. Taste sashimi, the pristinely prepared raw dish. You won’t find it this fresh anywhere else!
During weekends, there are many places in Tokyo to get street food. This can be anything from yakisoba (fried noodles) to grilled crab.
Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa is a great place to get yummy food, including Kansai’s savory pancake – okonomiyaki, or a chocolate banana if you’re craving something sweet.
In Ueno, on the road leading to Bentendo, there are more food stalls where you can have some delicious meat on a stick or a fried squid.
If you’re still hungry, it’s time to try some of the world-famous ramen noodles! Tokyo’s specialty ramen is shoyu (soy sauce), but you can get all kinds of delicious varieties in this city. Tonkotsu (pork) is very popular among locals and visitors alike.
Shinjuku has a great selection of fantastic ramen restaurants, such as Menya Musashi, at which chefs turn ramen preparation into a work of art, and Ramen Tatsunoya, which serves mouthwatering tonkotsu ramen ideal for a cold winter’s day.
Ramen is hearty, good for cold days, and very filling. The enormous variety of toppings and broth flavors means you’re bound to find something you’ll completely fall in love with.
Or, if you feel like eating something a little lighter for lunch, a conveyer belt sushi place is the way to go. They can be found all over Tokyo and are quick and easy places to get lunch. Sit down at an open table and order off of a touchscreen and your sushi will be out to you in minutes! Most plates only come with two rolls so you can eat as little or as much until you are satisfied.
After a day of exploring and sightseeing, the perfect way to end a day in Tokyo is to hit a local pub called an “izakaya.” For the liveliest areas, I recommend a “yokocho,” or alleyway, in which are many great places packed together filled with cheerful locals.
One good yokocho is Ebisu Yokocho near Ebisu Station, where you’ll find Chinese eateries, meat sushi, bistros, as well as bars to fulfill your beer and sake needs. This is a good choice if it’s a cold or rainy day as the street is all indoors.
Another fantastic choice is the popular Nonbei Yokocho in Shibuya, which dates back to the 1950s and is crammed with yakitori (skewered chicken) shops and, of course, places to get alcohol.
If you’re in Sangenjaya, try Sankaku Chitai, a triangular, maze-like alley with shops and eateries ranging from old-fashioned to new.
Classic izakaya pub food includes the aforementioned yakitori chicken, as well as salted soybeans called “edamame” (very tasty and more-ish), soba noodles, and sometimes unique snacks that are the specialty of the owner. These can range from oden (fish cake) stew to fried stuff to soups.
Izakayas are, of course, also excellent places to get alcohol! You can get draft beer and a selection of sake, umeshu (plum wine), and highballs (soda with whisky). Sample local rice wine and discover your new favorite brand while you snack on shareable pub food.
With this guide, you can explore some great tastes of Tokyo just like the locals do! There are many great dishes you can try here that you can’t find anywhere else, so make the most of your visit and chow down on excellent sushi, noodles, and skewered chicken you can lay your hands on!