With around 90,000 restaurants to choose from, it's little wonder Tokyo is one of the best cities in the world to eat and drink. From early-morning sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market to late-night cocktails in the heart of Ginza, every palate is catered for in this tastebud-tantalising town.
Home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the world – not to mention the thousands of casual eateries that line virtually every street – Tokyo is the perfect place to combine fine dining with street food for the ultimate gastronomic experience.
There's also ample opportunity to enjoy a tipple or two. Not only does Tokyo harbour some of the best backstreet bars in the world, many of its izakayas are hundreds of years old. Drink in the history, as well as the shochu, in a neon-lit wonderland.
Our Top Picks
New York Grill
Park Hyatt, 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, 163-1055
Yes, it's that restaurant. Featured so dramatically in the Hollywood smash-hit 'Lost In Translation,' the famous New York Grill towers some 52 storeys above the city's streets. The views are spectacular, but then so too is the food, featuring a medley of Japanese and western dishes cooked to perfection while you admire the twinkling neon lights below.
3F Gaia Building 4, 7-10-14 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, 160-0023
Scotland the best place in the world to drink whisky? Not according to Japanese whisky aficionados, of whom you'll meet plenty at Zoetrope. This tiny whisky emporium has been around for what seems like an eternity. Owner Atsushi Horigami is a noted cinephile, so don't be surprised to find yourself enjoying silent films whilst sipping on an incredibly rare dram.
Eat Like A Local
3F Suzuryu Building, 8-7-19 Ginza, Chuo, 104-0061
One of Tokyo's best-kept secrets, the food at this three-Michelin-starred restaurant belies its nondescript location on a side street in Ginza. Seating just seven diners, chef Masahiro Yoshitake's refreshingly modern take on sushi has earned him rave reviews and a dedicated following. Bookings are essential and the restaurant happily caters to foreign visitors.
B1 Yamamasu House, 5-7 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, 162-0825
There's a reason Toritama enforces a two-hour time limit; it's one of Tokyo's most popular yakitori restaurants. A compact – albeit casual – 25-seat establishment, it is reputed to skewer some of the best yakitori in the city, standing apart for its willingness to use every part of the chicken in a range of delectable dishes.
4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, 150-0001
When it comes to tonkatsu, there's no shortage of choice in Tokyo. Yet Maisen, tucked away behind the Omotesando Hills shopping complex, consistently rates as one of the best. Revered for its succulent slices of panko-crumbed pork, this traditional outlet was once a public bathhouse but is now better known for its superb tonkatsu.
Tableaux may lay on more glitz than is necessary—the mural in the bar depicts the fall of Pompeii, the banquettes are upholstered in red leather, and the walls are papered in antique gold—but the service is cordial and professional and the food is superb. Try Zuwai-crab-and-red-shrimp spring rolls; filet mignon with creamed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and merlot sauce; or, for dessert, the chocolate soufflé cake. The bar is open until 1:30 am. Jacket and tie. No lunch. Subway: Tokyu Toyoko private rail line, Daikanyama Station (Kita-guchi/North Exit).
Old, funky, and more than a little cramped, Robata is a bit daunting at first. But fourth-generation chef-owner Takao Inoue holds forth here with an inspired version of Japanese home cooking. He's also a connoisseur of pottery; he serves his food on pieces acquired at famous kilns all over the country. There's no menu; just tell Inoue-san (who speaks some English) how much you want to spend, and leave the rest to him. A meal at Robata—like the pottery—is simple to the eye but subtle and fulfilling. Typical dishes include steamed fish with vegetables, stews of beef or pork, and seafood salads. No credit cards. Closed some Sun. each month. No lunch. Subway: JR Yuraku-cho Station (Hibiya Exit); Hibiya, Chiyoda, and Mita subway lines, Hibiya Station (Exit A4).
The style here is robatayaki, a dining experience that segues into pure theatre. Inside a large U-shape counter, two cooks in traditional garb sit on cushions behind a grill, with a cornucopia of food spread out in front of them: fresh vegetables, seafood, skewers of beef and chicken. You point to what you want, and your server shouts out the order. The cook it back, plucks your selection up out of the pit, prepares it, and hands it across on an 8-foot wooden paddle. Inakaya is open from 5 pm and fills up fast after 7. If you can't get a seat here, there is now another branch on the other side of Roppongi Crossing. Reservations not accepted. No lunch. Subway: Hibiya subway line, Roppongi Station (Exit 3).
Smoky, noisy, and cluttered, Ganchan is exactly what the Japanese expect of their yakitori joints—restaurants that specialize in bits of charcoal-broiled chicken and vegetables. The counter here seats barely 15, and you have to squeeze to get to the chairs in back. Festival masks, paper kites, lanterns, and greeting cards from celebrity patrons adorn the walls. The cooks yell at each other, fan the grill, and serve up enormous schooners of beer. Try the tsukune (balls of minced chicken) and the fresh asparagus wrapped in bacon. The place stays open until 1:30 am (midnight on Sunday). No lunch. Subway: Hibiya subway line, Roppongi Station (Exit 1A).