Top 8 food experiences in Tokyo

We’ve explored Tokyo’s best markets, back-streets and cooking schools to discover the definitive foodie experiences for your trip
A local Japanese BBQ at Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
We uncover the best food experiences in Tokyo

The Japanese capital is fast-becoming one of the world’s tastiest destinations, and there’s plenty more on offer than sushi rolls and katsu curry

1. Tsukiji Fish Market

No list of best foodie experiences in Tokyo would be complete, without the world-famous fish market included. Merchants arrive long before dawn each day to select the best of the fresh catch, where approximately 2,000 tonnes of marine products are bought and sold.

If you can get up early enough, the tuna auctions are almost theatrical, and certainly energetic. Registration for the auction starts at 5am and is limited to 120 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Sushi restaurants open from breakfast through to lunch outside the market though and have some of the best, freshest sushi going, and at reasonable prices.

2. Japanese green tea

After a hard morning’s sight-seeing, refresh yourself with matcha, or Japanese green tea, and wagashi sweets at Nakajima No Chay, a pretty island teahouse built in 1704. Slap, bang in the middle of Hama-rikyu Onshi-teien garden, it’s the ideal location to recharge before taking to the Sumida River to cruise the city’s waterways.

3. Tokyo’s best tempura

Once the capital city’s most popular entertainment district, Asakusa, in northern Tokyo, is home to the best tempura restaurants. A traditional Japanese dish, tempura takes a filling – usually seafood or vegetables – dipped in batter and then deep-fried, often at the table. Ensure you have a set course lunch at one of the local restaurants. Tempura Nakasei is a firm favourite, having refined their offering since opening in 1870.

Make time to stop by the area’s main attraction, the Sensoji Buddhist temple. The central compound, best approached through the Kaminari-mon, faces onto Kaminarimon-dori.

4. Cook up the classics

No doubt by now you’ll have developed a taste for Japanese cuisine. If you want to recreate your favourite dishes when you return home, don’t miss a cooking class. Learn the authentic art of Japanese cooking, from ingredient combinations to techniques and dish presentation.

A Japanese ramen noodle restaurant in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan. A Japanese ramen noodle restaurant in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Sean K / Shutterstock

5. Local markets

Next stop is the busy Ameyoko market street. Located alongside train tracks, between Okachimachi and Ueno Stations, the market originated after the Second World War operating as a black market. Today, you’ll find plenty on offer, from fresh fish to spices, dried food to hot snacks.

6. Soba-sensations

Soba noodles are a staple of Japanese cuisine, made form buckwheat flour and not to be confused with the super-thick udon noodles.  Choose from either a 3.5 hour ‘from scratch’ class or an advanced half-day course. Guided by a sobatician, you’ll learn step-by-step the cooking process.

And, of course, you can enjoy the fruits of your labour tachi-guy style (that’s eating standing up) at the end of your lesson.

7. Soak up the street food scene

Tokyo’s energetic markets should be visited in the early evening to appreciate their atmosphere. Tiny izakayas, traditional restaurants and bars, are dotted around Tokyo’s more traditional entertainment districts. It’s here you’ll find the city’s best budget food.

8. Slurp up a bowl of ramen

This noodle soup dish is renowned the world over. Only here, in Tokyo, will you find authentic bowls of the stuff. Tonkotsu ramen – a soup made from pork and chicken broth with soft-yolk eggs and pork belly – is the speciality at Musashino, a traditional restaurant just to the south of Ueno Park.


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