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Taking Pleasure Seriously

Tokyo – My Favorite Food Spots in the City

Tokyo is by far the craziest city I have ever visited. There is so much to do, see, and most importantly, eat.

 

When it comes to food, Tokyo has it all – from cheap street food to high-end Michelin Star restaurants {believe it or not, it hosts more Michelin Stars than Paris and New York put together!} and anything in between. After 21 days โ€œeatingโ€ our way through Tokyo, I decided to list my favorite places for a bite in the cityโ€ฆ

Warning: It is not recommended to read this post on an empty stomach ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kizuna Sushi Shinjuku Kabukichล – Homey Sushi

It is definitely not difficult to find amazing Sushi in Tokyo. No matter where you decide to eat Sushi in Japanโ€™s capital, the fish will most likely be fresh and of good quality, the rice made to perfection, and the seaweed good. Yes, this applies even for pre-packed Sushi you might buy at a train station or a grocery store. So, I am really not going to make as if I can suggest one Sushi place as the best in Tokyo. Especially due to the fact that even when I had eaten what was supposedly the lowest tuna on the menu, I was amazed to find that it was much better than the best tuna served as Sushi in Israel. Still, there was something about Kizuna Sushi Shinjuku Kabukichล, just a short walking distance from the Shinjuku station, that really got me.

Although we ate Sushi many times, in all kinds of places throughout Tokyo, it was the only place we returned to four times during our stay in the city. I canโ€™t say that there is something amazingly unique about this restaurant, but the menu was varied, the fish were great, their business meal worth it, and they also serve two types of great, Western styled rolls. Sushi rolls, as we know them in the West, are very different than traditional Japanese Sushi. In Japan, a Sushi roll is composed of seaweed, rice, fish, and Wasabi, and so I ย was happy to find this place had an excellent California roll ๐Ÿ™‚

Besides the great food, there was a wonderful atmosphere, the place was always packed with locals, and the service was excellent. I definitely recommend to try it out, when in Shinjuku ๐Ÿ™‚

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!! Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

 

Yakiniku Black Hole – Fine Japanese Grill ย 

 

Yakiniku restaurants are the kind of restaurants that spring up in Tokyo like mushrooms after rain. The term Yakiniku refers to a Japanese grill {a concept originating in Korea} placed in the center of the table, on which fine meats and vegetables are roasted.

While very common in Japan, the first time Iโ€™d actually encountered this type of restaurant was in Osaka, and at first, I must say, I was quite hesitant about the whole thing. Restaurants in Japan are accustomed to presenting their dishes in pictures or plastic models, and since these are fine meat restaurant weโ€™re talking about, they choose to present the meat as is, pre-preparation. It might do it for some, but I prefer to see my meat in full form {at least not when it comes to Carpaccio or Steak Tartare…}. Still, due to the fact that this trip was also about trying out different kinds of foods, I had already tasted my first Yakinuku in Osaka and acquired an understanding of why this type of grill is so appreciated in Japan. Unlike a regular Steak dinner, a Yakinuku dinner is composed of a platter of extremely thin slices which the diner himself roasts on the grill during the meal, this way, the meal becomes way more experiential and a lot less heavy {eating is done slowly, you become fuller, faster, and know when to stopโ€ฆ} Another aspect that distinguishes the Yakinuku, is that the smoke goes unnoticed even though youโ€™re using fire for grilling, so you get to enjoy the best of both worlds – grilled meat on a real fire without the (somewhat) bothersome smell.

As a matter of fact, we didnโ€™t encounter any bad Yakinuku experiences in Japan, but the Yakinuku Black Hole {3 of them in town} was extremely successful. The meats are fresh and of good quality, the vegetable platter is great, and the fluffy rice and cabbage salad served at the beginning of the meal with the house sauce is light and refreshing, and blends perfectly with the meat. Different than many other restaurants, the Black Hole offers English menus as well. ย 

 

 

Sanuki Udon Hanamaru – Extremely Surprising Udon

 

Japanese soups, I admit, are not my first choice when it comes to Japanese food. After having tasted many variations of the famous Ramen noodle soup in Osaka, Kyoto and at the cool Ramen Museum {Which Iโ€™ve written up about here}, I most enjoyed a steamy bowl of Udon soup where I least expected to – a restaurant in which a small dish costs less than a Dollar and a half! Shocking, I know. The Sanuki Udon Hanamaru restaurant, in the Shibuya quarter, is best known for its special noodles made from a certain type of wheat, and of course, for its low prices. On the menu is a selection of dishes ranging in price from $1.5 – $6. Besides the soup itself, the restaurant has a Tempura bar with assorted vegetables, seafood, and fried meats. Same case with the Tempura – best I ever had!

The restaurant is of self-service style. You place an order of either a self-composed dish or one from the menu, and served within a minute or so, just add your Tempura and pay!

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!! Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria – Dreamy Pizza

 

One of the things not easily found in Tokyo, or in japan in general, is a good slice of Pizza. After stumbling upon an especially bad pizzeria, surprisingly rated as top choice for a Pizza in the prestigious Ginza neighborhood, Daniel and I decided that our pizza craving will have to patiently await our return home. And then, by chance, we encountered an amazing pizzeria right near Shinjuku station. It turns out that this was the first Japanese branch of a Los Angeles-based chain of restaurants. This place, too, decided to go for the self service concept – you can choose pre-assembled pizzas or create your own, order a salad {another rarity in Japan}, Antipasti, and a relatively limited variety of cooked dishes. And the flavor? Well, the photos speak for themselvesโ€ฆ. ๐Ÿ™‚

NEWoMan Mall Food Court

 

We discovered this food court, right by Shinjuku station, three days before the end of our trip, and managed to go back twice! It may be a mall food court, but as it turns out – mall food courts in Japan are the farthest thing from concentrated, junk food type restaurants. The NEWoMan complex has five particularly chic restaurants: an oyster bar, sushi joint, grill, coffee shop and bakery, and an excellent bistro called โ€œTavern on Sโ€ where we dined twice and enjoyed wonderful cocktails and excellent food.

 

Crista – Fine Restaurant

 

We had celebrated my birthday on our first night in Tokyo, but after ten days of basically eating only Asian food, we decided to celebrate by going to a fine, Western restaurant. Daniel dug through the internet and finally found the one – Crista. Located on a quiet street in the Shibuya district, the restaurant is elegant and intimate, and offers an excellent American fusion cuisine. Not often do you find a restaurant in which anything you order, from cocktails to dessert, is done in a fantastic way, and lucky for us, our choosing Crista proved especially successful. We ordered cocktails, two first courses comprised of fresh fish, fine steak, two great side dishes, and for dessert, an apple crumble in caramel sauce with vanilla ice-cream. The restaurantโ€™s vibe is very fitting for the celebration of a special event, and the service was perfect.

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

Serendipity 3 – Over-the-top American Food

 

Inside the Tokyuย Plaza shopping center in Harajuku is the Japanese branch of New Yorkโ€™s Serendipity 3. Founded in New York over 50 years ago, the restaurant specializes in American style, over-the-top desserts. One can also find a wide variety of other dishes, no less exaggerated. The place is overly decorated just like the food it serves, lots of pink, glass windows and embellishments, and the mood is exceptionally fun. Perfect, of course, for anyone who loves this kind of food and isnโ€™t held back by counting calories ๐Ÿ™‚

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

The complete guide to Harajuku - the cute, cool and crazy fashion district of Tokyo

Dominique Ansel Bakery – Amazing Bakery and Coffee Shop

 

Ever since the genius Dominique Ansel invented the legendary โ€œCronutโ€, it hasnโ€™t stopped showing up on our Facebook feed with amazing, strange flavors, like watermelon ice-cream served inside a watermelon, corn flavored ice-cream and frozen smores. The famous bakery originated in New Yorkโ€™s Soho neighborhood, and its Japanese branch specializes in sweet French pastries with a Japanese twist mixed into the special desserts, ever new and ever changing in the bakery. The result is innovative and creative dishes and desserts that create a buzz time after time. Each month, Cronut comes out with a surprising new flavor and we were lucky enough to taste two different types of the crazy pastry because we happened to be in Tokyo right in between September and October. #WIN!

The Dominique Ansel bakery has two stores in Japan. The large one, sprawled over 2 floors in Harajuku, and the smaller one in the elegant Ginza neighborhood. We payed visit to the bakery four times throughout our trip, twice in each location. The more successful of the two is in Harajuku, as the ground floor hosts a magnificent display of desserts and many seating areas, and the upper level is a sweet well-lit restaurant which serves dishes fit for morning and noon. I ordered the Avocado-Tarragon toast, served with a side of salad and a huge iced coffee, which were wonderful, though a little pricey.

 

 

Ringo Ikebukuro – Perfect Apple Pastry

 

It was the sweet smell that flooded the air as we left the Ikebukuro station that made us eat Ringoโ€™s apple pastry. The tiny shop, selling this pastry alone, is on the street corner near the train station, and not once was there a time that we passed by and there wasnโ€™t a long line of people waiting to get their hands on the pastry responsible for the perfect scent. There must be a high demand for it, because although it isnโ€™t at all cheap {400 Yen per one} the store limits its buyers to purchase 4 little pastries at a time. This apple pastry is a like a pocket of joy – so warm, crispy on the outside and creamy and fruity on the inside.

Simply perfect. Donโ€™t miss it if youโ€™re in the area! ๐Ÿ™‚

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!! Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

Boul'ange Shinjukuย – Perfect for Breakfast

 

Fresh pastries, cakes and cookies, delicious sandwiches and good quality coffee – what more do you need to start your morning?

This great boulangerie is also located near the Shinjuku station, right by the NEWoMAn mall. ย 

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

 

CROQUANTCHOU ZAKUZAKU – The Best Dessert in Harajuku

 

This little shop, found right in the center of Takeshita street, in my opinion, wins first place for a dessert you can find on the sugar-coated street {and the competition ainโ€™t easy!}. Although they offer only two products – A crispy crusted cream-filled pastry, and rich vanilla ice-cream with a crunchy topping – there is always a queue. And for good reason – the two are just insanely good!

 

Hoshino Coffee Shibuya – Pancakes with a View

 

We arrived at Hoshino Coffee in the Shibuya quarter to see the view from above of the most famous and crowded pedestrian crossing in Japan, the Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Because we had just eaten {the aforementioned Udon soup}, we were completely full and planned only to order a coffee. The problem was that as soon as we opened the menu we saw a picture of an especially fluffy pancake, begging to be ordered ๐Ÿ™‚ Because both Daniel and I have a hard time refusing food, specifically while weโ€™re traveling, we decided to order the small dish of only one pancake.

Take my word – itโ€™s even tastier than what it looks like on the menu. This is a must-have pancake, even if itโ€™ll cost you pooping open a button!

Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!! Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!! Tokyo food guide - my recommendations for restaurants and street food in the capital of Japan. The best ramen place, sushi, Japanese BBQ, westeren food and sweets!!

 

 

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4 Responses

  1. This is amazing… I fell in love with healthy asian street food and this post is my go to guide for my upcoming trip to japan Thank you!

  2. Iโ€™m so happy to find someone else praising Hanamaru. This is where itโ€™s at everyone.
    Best bang for your buck in the city. Period. Also delicious.

    All of those other places also look amazing. Goes to show that Tokyo truly never fails to dissapoint.

    Iโ€™m slightly sad you donโ€™t have any traditional Japanese sweets on this list, but you’ve already won my heart- so I still love you anyway (in a cute udon fangirl way). Thanks for the post and making me hungry..er!

    1. Best sushi place hands down!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Wish I could go back just to eat their top notch sushi dishes again.

      Tokyo really has it all when it comes to good food places.. or really – everything! lol

      You should check out my Harajuku guide – tons of Japanese sweets in there ๐Ÿ˜‰

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