Japanese food is well loved by almost everybody. Most people associate Japanese food with sushi or seafood but that is just too limiting. They have so much more to offer! Many people tell me that you don’t have to plan your meals in Japan because everything is delicious. Sadly, that was not the case for me and I did encounter food that was not delicious in Japan. With that, I hope that this list – 15 Must-Eat Food in Tokyo, will help you better identify “Oishi” (delicious) food!
Yakitori is Japanese skewered chicken grilled over charcoal. Almost all parts of the chicken can be grilled. Of course, the not so adventurous ones will go for popular items such as chicken skin, thighs and winglets. Yakitori is best paired with beer and the company of friends. A good place to experience true Yakitori is Omoide Yokocho.
Yakiniku is Japanese grilled / barbecued meat. The meat is usually beef since Japan is famous for Kobe and Wagyu. There are of course some restaurants that cater to those who do not take beef, offering pork and chicken options. Here’s a tip: Lightly roast the meat to keep the meat succulent! You should only leave your meat to grill for 15-30 seconds before turning it to the other side. Otherwise, the meat will be overcooked and will be tough.
Sushi needs no introduction and if it’s your first time to Tokyo, head over to Tsukiji Fish Market for the freshest raw seafood you can get in Tokyo. You can choose to join long queues at popular restaurant Sushi Daiwa or one which is not as popular but still offers good and quality sushi as its counterparts at Iwasa Sushi. If you are still not full, head over to Tsukiji Outer Market where you can find even more street food!
Ever tried crab sashimi? For fresh seafood, the best place to try is definitely in Japan. Kani Doraku originates from Osaka but has since spread all over Japan and you can find it even in Kyoto and Tokyo. You can’t miss the signboard of the restaurant as it has a huge crab on it. You need to experience a full crab feast for yourself, at least once in your life!
Shabu-shabu is a Japanese style of steamboat / hotpot. Usually served with a light soup stock, you put thinly sliced meat (beef or pork), vegetables and noodles into it. Before eating, you dip it into the dipping sauce provided. Proper shabu-shabu is a slow dining affair unlike when you are eating at restaurants offering shabu buffet. You need to have the real shabu-shabu dining experience in Japan.
Fried chicken might not be as mainstream as in Korea but the Japanese also love their chicken, usually in karaage or yakitori form. You know that you have found a good karaage in Japan when you see a shop specialising in it!
Ramen is probably the cheapest meal you can get in Japan. The soup stock is boiled for many hours and it makes a very hearty meal. It is popular with those dining alone as it can be finished within minutes. There are many variations of ramen but the most popular and my favourite turns out to be the ones from Ichiran Ramen. Diners here finish the whole bowl including the soup! For those who are looking for muslim-friendly ramen, do check out Menya Kaijin situated at Shinjuku.
Tempura is dish not to be missed in Japan. They usually consists of prawns or vegetables, lightly battered and fried. Good tempura are those that is not oily when served. For a complete and filling meal, people usually order tendon, which is tempura served on top of the rice. A good place for tendon has at be at Asakusa area.
Soba is simply buckwheat noodles and this is served in both hot and cold options. For a different and unique experience, I recommend you to go for cold soba since you can easily find hot and warm noodles anywhere around the world. You usually dip the noodles into the light soy sauce provided.
You can find gyoza at many Japanese restaurants but I go for the best and this place specialises in gyoza! You have a choice of grilled and steam options. The grilled option offers a different texture which is unique!
Tonkatsu may seem like a simple dish but in Japan, they make it such as prestigious dish because of the high price tag which comes along with it. Despite the high price tag, you would be glad to know that you will be enjoying one of the best pork you have ever eaten. Many would advise you to try Maisen but I recommend you try Katsukura! If you are tonkatsu-lover, I say, try both!
#12 Takoyaki & Oknomiyaki
Do you know that takoyaki sold in Tokyo and Osaka are different? In Tokyo, the easiest place to get a good takoyaki is at Gindaco! I like its crisp exterior and soft filling. It is just so satisfying eating this in the cold.
Osaka’s version is different because it does not have a crisp exterior and the whole ball is just mushy.
Taiyaki can be found in the basement of departmental stalls. Taiyaki in Japan has very generous fillings of Azuki red beans and in some shops, they also sell the sweet potato version which is just as delicious. Of course, when I say delicious, it means you have to eat it straight after buying. If you have enough stomach space and if you happen to like croissants, you must try out Croissant Taiyaki!
The Japanese are known for their delicious cheese cakes but in recent years, the one which many people go for is the one from Pablo. Pablo cheese cakes has a melting core which flows out beautifully when cut open. A video of the cheese flowing out of the cake went viral and it literally became a “must-eat” cheese cake in Japan. Originally from Osaka, it can now be found in Tokyo and also Bangkok!
#15 Matcha Ice Cream
When you talk about matcha, you will probably relate it to Japan. And yes, you have to try Matcha Ice Cream in Japan and not just from any shop. It has to be from Suzukien Matcha because they serve 7 intensity levels of matcha ice cream! They are also known to sell the world’s richest matcha ice cream!
The list which you just saw are the best we tried during our several trips to Tokyo and Japan. If you have better recommendations, feel free to drop us a comment! :)