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Japan is famous for sushi. Photo: Shutterstock
Japan is famous for sushi. Photo: Shutterstock

Food & Drink

Eat Tokyo, from three Michelin stars to conveyor belt sushi

During Japan’s asset bubble in the 1980s, foreign travelers to Japan told stories of €15 glasses of breakfast orange juice and €75 melons in supermarkets, and while it’s still possible to get a very expensive glass of orange juice in a hotel restaurant in Tokyo (as in New York and London), and to buy an expensive melon (which are intended to be given as luxury gifts), Tokyo is no more expensive than any other large city in the developed world.

The 2015 Michelin guide awarded three stars to 12 Tokyo restaurants (Paris has nine), including Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten, made famous in the documentary film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but Tokyo offers visitors – and locals – a lot more choices. By some estimates, Tokyo is home to 160,000 restaurants, naturally this includes hundreds of McDonald’s and Starbucks, but also including Komagata Dojo, a fish restaurant that opened in its current location in 1801 and is now run by the seventh generation chef.   

Japan is famous for sushi, of course, and although Jiro can offer you a terrific meal, another option (favored by Japanese university students) is kaitenzushi, literally “rotation sushi”. The sushi moves around the restaurant on a conveyor belt, you take what you want (though you can also order from a waiter/waitress), and at the end of the meal, the staff count up the number of plates on your table. There are a number of chains, including Genki Sushi and Sushi-Ro

Meat eaters will want to try a Japanese yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant. A good sense of smell can help you locate a yakiniku restaurant in any neighborhood, or you can try Toukai-tei in Nishi-Azabu or Manten in Yoyogi. Another Japanese staple is tempura, and if you’ve never had tempura in Japan, you’ve never had tempura. Try Tsujimura in Nihonbashi or the Michelin two-star Uchitsu (dinner only).

But the best dining bargain in Tokyo (and throughout Japan) is lunch. Most restaurants offer set lunches at or below ¥1,000 (€7.60), and even high-end restaurants will stick within several hundred yen of this sensitive-for-Japanese-consumers price point. Travelers on a budget can turn their eating schedule on its head, dining fabulously at lunch and more frugally in the evening.

1-13-16 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku

Manten Yoyogiten
RES building 1F, 1-18-16, Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku

27-5 Nihonbashihakozakicho, Chuo-ku

Tentenpura Uchitsu
‪5-25-4 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku

By: Roberto De Vido

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