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Ramen at Mensho
Photo: Mensho/Facebook

The 15 Hottest New Restaurants in Tokyo

Where to find “farm-to-bowl” ramen, Michelin-caliber yakitori, and that much-talked-about wagyu sandwich

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Ramen at Mensho
| Photo: Mensho/Facebook

Here now, Eater returns to Tokyo, Japan, to focus on 15 newish restaurants that have been getting some serious buzz. Once again, Japan Times food writer and prolific Instagrammer Robbie Swinnerton has kindly offered up his picks for the hottest openings of the past year or so.

Highlights include a small ramen shop featuring noodles made from wheat stone-ground on-site (Mensho), pizza starring Okinawan ingredients (Pizza Studio Tamaki), the made-for-Instagram waygu sandwich shop (Wagyu Mafia: The Cutlet Sandwich), and a buzzy Japanese-French mashup (Kabi).

Looking for the essentials? Head to the 38. But for the buzziest openings right this minute, dive into the Eater Heatmap to Tokyo.

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Tokyo Saryo

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Japan’s national drink, sencha (green tea), is making its long-awaited comeback. Tokyo Saryo has the look of a minimal, miniature third-wave coffee shop and a similar approach to preparing your beverage. Choose a couple of types to taste and compare, and then watch as each brew is prepared — pour-over style, of course — with the same intensity and precision as any mocha or java.

Inside of Tokyo Sayro
Tokyo Sayyo/Official

Deli fu cious

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Fish burgers, crab croquettes, and anago (conger) hot dogs are the name of the game at this laid-back, popular diner. Main man Shinya Kudo was initially a sushi chef, so he has the training and connections to ensure everything is excellent quality. His attitude permeates the restaurant (note the “F U” in the name), but in a mellow way that fits easily in the ever-hip Naka-Meguro neighborhood.

Mikkeller Tokyo

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After a false start and a forced change of address, Mikkeller Tokyo is back. The location is perfect: a refurbished, deco-looking, two-story spot among the pink shops on Dogenzaka, Shibuya’s infamous Love Hotel Hill. The taps are split between local craft beers and Mikkeller’s own idiosyncratic, high-octane gypsy brews. There are good Scandinavian-inspired bar bites ranging from frikadeller meatballs to smorrebrod open-faced sandwiches — and most evenings, the party continues till the wee hours.

Spread at Mikkeller
Mikkeller/Facebook

Wagyu Mafia: The Cutlet Sandwich

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Wagyu Mafia started as a private, invitation-only supper club, then grabbed headlines when it spun off this gyu-katsu (breaded beef cutlet) outlet, featuring wagyu versions up to 20,000 yen ($200) for a chateaubriand steak sandwich. There are plenty of cheaper cuts too, down to the 1,000-yen menchi (minced beef) option. But for those splurging, it also offers Opus One by the glass.

Wagyu sandwich
Wagyu Mafia/Facebook

Fermentation is the name of the game at Kabi — it’s the Japanese word for “mold” — the eagerly awaited first restaurant from Shohei Yasuda (ex-La Cime, Kadeau in Copenhagen, and Tirpse) and his patissier wife, Kiriko Nakamura. Yasuda’s tasting menus are an eclectic cocktail of Japanese ingredients, Nordic influences, and French technique — cured fish wrapped in wasabi leaf; koji-infused pork; pickles and ferments aplenty — all underscored by a wide-ranging list of natural wines and sake.

Pickled wild onions with scallop, fermented pea juice.

A post shared by Kabi (@restaurantkabi) on

Torikado

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Yakitori master Yoshiteru Ikegawa has opened a second restaurant. Torikado feels more formal than his Michelin-starred flagship, the acclaimed (and impossible to book) Torishiki. The menu has also been tweaked, with a greater number of side dishes served in between the skewers of premium Date Shamo fowl. As expected, though, the quality is impeccable.

Yakitori dish
TableLog/kotaro0314

Another8

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With eight taps of craft beer, the same number of sake brews, a kitchen serving reliable bar snacks and heartier meat dishes, and talented DJs on the turntables, there is a lot to like about Another8. Not so much a pub as a buzzy, minimally furnished lounge, it’s an offshoot of popular Kyoto bar Before9, and brings a similar sense of style and easygoing fun.

Meat from Another8
Another8/Facebook

Yusuke Namai’s modern French cuisine won him praise and a Michelin star during his time in the kitchen at Chic Peut-etre. Now, with his own place, he has raised his game even higher. Inventive, intricate, and beautifully plated, his tasting menus reflect the warmth of his personality, more than mitigating the minimal gray-on-gray decor.

Green Green at Ode
Photo: Ode / Facebook

Eneko Tokyo

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Mega-chef Eneko Atxa has landed in Tokyo, giving Japanese diners a chance to discover the modernist cuisine that won him three Michelin stars at Azurmendi, his headquarters in the heart of Spain’s Basque country. Besides the main dining room, which serves dishes such as his signature truffled egg, there is also a separate ground-floor bar. At last Tokyo can enjoy decent pintxos with good txakoli and rioja wines to back them up.

Tomato Sauce and cheese, eggs, basil, mushroom chips
Eneko/Facebook

Noodle maverick Tomoharu Shono’s latest venture in Tokyo is his most adventurous yet. Part lab, part production facility, it’s also an eight-seat counter restaurant where Shono showcases his new-wave “farm-to-bowl” noodles, made from wheat stone-ground on the premises. His signature shio ramen features scallop, bottarga, and tuna-stuffed wontons. As the sign on the street outside proclaims, this is a “bowl for tomorrow.”

Ramen at Mensho
Photo: Mensho/Facebook

Pizza Studio Tamaki

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Tokyo’s pizzaiolos approach their work with the same intensity and precision as one would expect from a sushi master — none more so than Tsubasa Tamaki. He trained at the much-lauded Savoy but has developed his own distinctive style and oven technique that make his pies among the best in town. PST also has a substantial menu of appetizers and pastas, often incorporating spices and other subtropical ingredients from his native Okinawa.

Exterior of Pizza Studio Tamaki
PST/Facebook

Kyo-Aji alumnus and one-time Iron Chef Jun Kurogi has made his move uptown. Regulars will miss the old premises— a wonderful, atmospheric former geisha house — but not the location in the seedy alleys of Yushima. His sleek new digs in Daimon are far more worthy of his intricate hyperseasonal multicourse Japanese cuisine.

Hakkoku

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Hiroyuki Sato is back in action, 10 months after leaving Tokami, the sushiya where he won a Michelin star and numerous fans both in and outside of Japan. Hakkoku, his beautiful new space, boasts three small separate counters, each with just six seats, and a new menu featuring no tsumami (sashimi or other starters), but more than 30 pieces of his outstanding nigiri and maki.

The Blind Donkey

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Finally, Shin Harakawa has returned to action, more than a year after he walked away from his much-loved restaurant, Beard, in Meguro. For his new project, the Blind Donkey, he’s teamed up with Jerome Waag, formerly head chef at Chez Panisse. The inspiration of Alice Waters is evident in everything from the bistro-meets-California cuisine, the support for sustainable farming, the natural wines, and the mellow vibes that serve as a refreshing break from the rowdy drinking dives around Kanda Station.

Chef Satoshi Furuta was an unknown quantity to many before he moved to Tokyo from his native Gifu. But it didn’t take long for word to spread about his superbly assured French-meets-Chinese cuisine. His multicourse tasting menus are based around premium Japanese produce — rich abalone, charcoal-grilled French lamb, consommes of Gifu ham — and invariably finish with his signature shaoxingjiu gelato. This plush but understated six-seat Ginza counter is now one of the hardest spots in the city to book.

Tokyo Saryo

Japan’s national drink, sencha (green tea), is making its long-awaited comeback. Tokyo Saryo has the look of a minimal, miniature third-wave coffee shop and a similar approach to preparing your beverage. Choose a couple of types to taste and compare, and then watch as each brew is prepared — pour-over style, of course — with the same intensity and precision as any mocha or java.

Inside of Tokyo Sayro
Tokyo Sayyo/Official

Deli fu cious

Fish burgers, crab croquettes, and anago (conger) hot dogs are the name of the game at this laid-back, popular diner. Main man Shinya Kudo was initially a sushi chef, so he has the training and connections to ensure everything is excellent quality. His attitude permeates the restaurant (note the “F U” in the name), but in a mellow way that fits easily in the ever-hip Naka-Meguro neighborhood.

Mikkeller Tokyo

After a false start and a forced change of address, Mikkeller Tokyo is back. The location is perfect: a refurbished, deco-looking, two-story spot among the pink shops on Dogenzaka, Shibuya’s infamous Love Hotel Hill. The taps are split between local craft beers and Mikkeller’s own idiosyncratic, high-octane gypsy brews. There are good Scandinavian-inspired bar bites ranging from frikadeller meatballs to smorrebrod open-faced sandwiches — and most evenings, the party continues till the wee hours.

Spread at Mikkeller
Mikkeller/Facebook

Wagyu Mafia: The Cutlet Sandwich

Wagyu Mafia started as a private, invitation-only supper club, then grabbed headlines when it spun off this gyu-katsu (breaded beef cutlet) outlet, featuring wagyu versions up to 20,000 yen ($200) for a chateaubriand steak sandwich. There are plenty of cheaper cuts too, down to the 1,000-yen menchi (minced beef) option. But for those splurging, it also offers Opus One by the glass.

Wagyu sandwich
Wagyu Mafia/Facebook

Kabi

Fermentation is the name of the game at Kabi — it’s the Japanese word for “mold” — the eagerly awaited first restaurant from Shohei Yasuda (ex-La Cime, Kadeau in Copenhagen, and Tirpse) and his patissier wife, Kiriko Nakamura. Yasuda’s tasting menus are an eclectic cocktail of Japanese ingredients, Nordic influences, and French technique — cured fish wrapped in wasabi leaf; koji-infused pork; pickles and ferments aplenty — all underscored by a wide-ranging list of natural wines and sake.

Pickled wild onions with scallop, fermented pea juice.

A post shared by Kabi (@restaurantkabi) on

Torikado

Yakitori master Yoshiteru Ikegawa has opened a second restaurant. Torikado feels more formal than his Michelin-starred flagship, the acclaimed (and impossible to book) Torishiki. The menu has also been tweaked, with a greater number of side dishes served in between the skewers of premium Date Shamo fowl. As expected, though, the quality is impeccable.

Yakitori dish
TableLog/kotaro0314

Another8

With eight taps of craft beer, the same number of sake brews, a kitchen serving reliable bar snacks and heartier meat dishes, and talented DJs on the turntables, there is a lot to like about Another8. Not so much a pub as a buzzy, minimally furnished lounge, it’s an offshoot of popular Kyoto bar Before9, and brings a similar sense of style and easygoing fun.

Meat from Another8
Another8/Facebook

Ode

Yusuke Namai’s modern French cuisine won him praise and a Michelin star during his time in the kitchen at Chic Peut-etre. Now, with his own place, he has raised his game even higher. Inventive, intricate, and beautifully plated, his tasting menus reflect the warmth of his personality, more than mitigating the minimal gray-on-gray decor.

Green Green at Ode
Photo: Ode / Facebook

Eneko Tokyo

Mega-chef Eneko Atxa has landed in Tokyo, giving Japanese diners a chance to discover the modernist cuisine that won him three Michelin stars at Azurmendi, his headquarters in the heart of Spain’s Basque country. Besides the main dining room, which serves dishes such as his signature truffled egg, there is also a separate ground-floor bar. At last Tokyo can enjoy decent pintxos with good txakoli and rioja wines to back them up.

Tomato Sauce and cheese, eggs, basil, mushroom chips
Eneko/Facebook

Mensho

Noodle maverick Tomoharu Shono’s latest venture in Tokyo is his most adventurous yet. Part lab, part production facility, it’s also an eight-seat counter restaurant where Shono showcases his new-wave “farm-to-bowl” noodles, made from wheat stone-ground on the premises. His signature shio ramen features scallop, bottarga, and tuna-stuffed wontons. As the sign on the street outside proclaims, this is a “bowl for tomorrow.”

Ramen at Mensho
Photo: Mensho/Facebook

Pizza Studio Tamaki

Tokyo’s pizzaiolos approach their work with the same intensity and precision as one would expect from a sushi master — none more so than Tsubasa Tamaki. He trained at the much-lauded Savoy but has developed his own distinctive style and oven technique that make his pies among the best in town. PST also has a substantial menu of appetizers and pastas, often incorporating spices and other subtropical ingredients from his native Okinawa.

Exterior of Pizza Studio Tamaki
PST/Facebook

Kurogi

Kyo-Aji alumnus and one-time Iron Chef Jun Kurogi has made his move uptown. Regulars will miss the old premises— a wonderful, atmospheric former geisha house — but not the location in the seedy alleys of Yushima. His sleek new digs in Daimon are far more worthy of his intricate hyperseasonal multicourse Japanese cuisine.

Hakkoku

Hiroyuki Sato is back in action, 10 months after leaving Tokami, the sushiya where he won a Michelin star and numerous fans both in and outside of Japan. Hakkoku, his beautiful new space, boasts three small separate counters, each with just six seats, and a new menu featuring no tsumami (sashimi or other starters), but more than 30 pieces of his outstanding nigiri and maki.

The Blind Donkey

Finally, Shin Harakawa has returned to action, more than a year after he walked away from his much-loved restaurant, Beard, in Meguro. For his new project, the Blind Donkey, he’s teamed up with Jerome Waag, formerly head chef at Chez Panisse. The inspiration of Alice Waters is evident in everything from the bistro-meets-California cuisine, the support for sustainable farming, the natural wines, and the mellow vibes that serve as a refreshing break from the rowdy drinking dives around Kanda Station.

Chiune

Chef Satoshi Furuta was an unknown quantity to many before he moved to Tokyo from his native Gifu. But it didn’t take long for word to spread about his superbly assured French-meets-Chinese cuisine. His multicourse tasting menus are based around premium Japanese produce — rich abalone, charcoal-grilled French lamb, consommes of Gifu ham — and invariably finish with his signature shaoxingjiu gelato. This plush but understated six-seat Ginza counter is now one of the hardest spots in the city to book.

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