Your greatest challenge is that there are too many places to eat in Tokyo. These tips are to give you a general understanding of Tokyo’s culinary landscape and help you narrow down your choices.
Shibuya and Shinjuku are the most popular places for dining out. Ginza and Roppongi are known for fancy, high-end restaurants.
A great neighborhood for dining is Ebisu, one stop from Shibuya. It’s known for small bistros and other dining options. From the JR Ebisu station west gate, just walk in any direction. Ebisu is popular for the 30-something crowd. However, beyond eating and drinking, not as many entertainment choices as Shibuya or Shinjuku.
Other neighborhoods you might enjoy exploring for dinner are Nakameguro, Nakano (Fureai Road), Ueno (Ameyokocho) and Shimbashi.
The hidden gem for dining in Shinjuku can be found at Shinjuku San-chome. It’s several blocks of small restaurants and wine bars. From either Shinjuku or Shinjuku San-chome subway stations, go out exit B2 and then down the alley on your immediate right. (It’s behind the H&M Shinjuku store.)
If you need to find a place to eat in the Ginza area, go to a street called Ginza Corridor. It’s a long row of restaurants between the JR Yurakucho and Shimbashi stations, located under an elevated highway. Additionally on the Yurakucho end of Ginza Corridor under the train tracks is a narrow alley with restaurants called Sanchoku Inshokugai which is a recommended place to eat, but it’s hard to find.
Many fancy restaurants offer the same food for lunch at an affordable price. So plan ahead and eat your best meals for lunch.
If you are a ramen lover, go to Ramen Street in the mall under Tokyo station.
For not so expensive but high quality sushi, go to the basement food court of a department store. Usually there is a small sushi restaurant there. Department stores are known for getting the best selection of fish.
There are not many old style street dining places left in Tokyo. The ones that remain are quite lively after hours and worth a visit!
- Go to Ueno station, walk to Ameyokocho shopping street. Look for an area with stalls and outdoor seating under the train tracks. You’ll find mostly yakitori joints here, but there is also a cheap tempura and fish izakaya called Hama-chan.
- A famous place for tourists is in Shinjuku right next to the JR Shinjuku station. Go to the Uniqlo store by the JR Shinjuku west gate. Next to it is a block of stores only one story high. Here you will find an alleyway of tiny stalls serving street food and alcohol. The official name is Omoide Yokocho but all the tour guides refer to it as Piss Alley.
- Near Ginza is Yakitori Alley right under the train tracks. From JR Yurakucho station Ginza exit, just follow the train tracks south (in the direction of Shimbashi), once you cross the big street, follow your nose! It’s only a couple minutes away from the station.
In Japan, I recommend trying the fresh fruits and vegetables because although they are expensive, they are awesome! Near the JR Shinjuku east gate, there is a cafe called Takano Fruits Parlor. On the ground floor you can see the showroom for ridiculously expensive fruit gift sets. Another fruit shop is Sembikiya.
For the best salad bar in town, check out Nouka no Daidokoro in Shinjuku near the H&M Shinjuku store. Unfortunately, the signage and menu are not in English.