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Saito sushi

The 38 Essential Tokyo Restaurants

Where to eat ramen, tempura, kaiseki, and the finest sushi in the world — period

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Saito sushi

Until you touch down in Tokyo, it is impossible to grasp the sheer size and density of the city — or the depth of its food culture. It is one of the largest conurbations on the planet, with well over 100,000 restaurants to feed its huge, hungry population. And there is so much more to eat than just sushi and ramen. From rarefied kaiseki (Japan's traditional and often highly formalized cuisine) and French haute cuisine to hearty izakaya taverns and mom-and-pop diners, the sheer variety is breathtaking.

There are two approaches to eating your way around Tokyo. Pick an area to explore — say, Ginza and the Imperial Palace one day, Asakusa's temples the next, and Harajuku with its kawaii culture next to the solemn Meiji Shrine after that — and then look for the best eating options close by. Alternatively, first choose your restaurant, making sure to book well in advance, and then find out what the surrounding neighborhood has to offer.

Either way, a number of things will be obvious: First, you will not even scratch the surface of Tokyo. Second, what they say is true: It is very hard to get a bad meal. And third, you will start planning your next visit before you even head to the airport for your flight home.

January 2019 Update
Change is the only constant in Tokyo’s ever-restless dining scene. Restaurants close, open, rebuild, relocate, morph into new identities… From one year to the next, it’s hard to keep current. RyuGin has relocated to new, grander digs, and so has Kagari. Otafuku is rebuilding its 100-year-old premises and is now operating out of temporary digs. And while Sushi Tokami has closed, chef Hiroyuki Sato’s metamorphosis in the new Hakkoku makes it one of the hottest entries in this year’s Heat Map.

Refreshing the list, we have traditional wagyu at Ningyocho Imahan; superb, contemporary skewers of chicken and more at Yakitori Imai; the best udon noodles in all of eastern Japan at Maruka; and a mixology bar that is truly one of a kind. Among the upheaval, one thing remains unchanged: Tokyo’s uncontested status as the world’s greatest city for dining out.

Price key:
$ = Less than ¥5000 (50 USD)
$$ = ¥5000 - 10000 (50 to 100 USD)
$$$ = ¥10000 - 20000 (100 to 200 USD)
$$$$ = ¥20,000 (200 USD) and up

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Bar Benfiddich

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Japan, 〒160-0023 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishishinjuku
1 Chome−13, 西新宿1ー13ー7
03-6279-4223

Hiroyasu Kayama’s atmospheric, candle-lit ninth-floor hideaway is one of Tokyo’s most compelling bars, with shelves crammed with rare spirits and jars of obscure aromatics, and drinks just as likely to involve a mortar and pestle as a cocktail shaker. Sink into one of the half-dozen armchairs at the ancient-wood counter and give Kayama carte blanche to work his mixologist magic. Best to get there early, though: Bar Benfiddich’s fame already extends far beyond the Shinjuku back streets. [$$$]

Bar Benfiddich
Bar Benfiddich/Facebook

2. Kotaro

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28-2 Sakuragaokachō, Shibuya-ku
Tōkyō-to 150-0031, Japan
+81 3-5428-5705
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Chef Kotaro Hayashi’s brilliant little hole in the wall is hard to find and even harder to get into. Regulars book weeks ahead for seats in front of the open kitchen where Hayashi puts together inventive, satisfying takes on classic izakaya dishes, pairing them with some of the best small-batch sake from around the country. Don’t miss his signature potato salad, which he tops with half a lightly smoked soft-boiled egg and mustard vinaigrette. [$$]

3. Tamawarai (玉笑)

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神宮前5-23-3, Tokyo
Tōkyō 150-0001, Japan
+81 3-5485-0025

There’s no shortage of soba specialists in Tokyo, but few manage to create noodles quite as flavorful and satisfying as those at Tamawarai. Each batch is made from scratch — the dough mixed, rolled, and cut by hand — and much of it with buckwheat the restaurant helps to grow. The side dishes, such as soba miso and the wonderfully creamy yuba (tofu skin) are prepared with equal care. It does not accept reservations, so despite the less-than-convenient location in a residential neighborhood between Shibuya and Harajuku, you will invariably find yourself standing in line for up to an hour to get in. [$]

4. Isetan Shinjuku (伊勢丹 新宿店)

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新宿3-14-1, Shinjuku
Tōkyō 160-0022, Japan
+81 3-3352-1111
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No visit to Tokyo is complete without exploring a depachiku — the food halls found on the basement levels of most department stores. Isetan in Shinjuku can’t be beat for gourmet glamor, with local wagashi (Japanese confections) arranged alongside the patisseries of Sadaharu Aoki, Jean-Paul Hévin, and Pierre Hermé, to name but three. Have a light meal at the in-house open kitchen or take a bento (boxed meal) up to the roof garden. [$-$$]

2 Chome-3-18 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku
Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
+81 3-6455-5433
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Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s decision to move Den from its iconic Jimbocho address has paid off in spades. Two years on and his star is still rising — both with Michelin (Den now has two of them again) and on the Asia’s 20 Best Restaurant list (up to second place). His cooking remains innovative and satisfying, overlaying the principles of kaiseki, Japan’s traditional and often highly formalized cuisine, with ideas and influences that are audacious and humorous. Expect foie gras in your appetizer and ants in your salad, along with his signature “Dentucky Fried Chicken.” [$$$]

6. Florilège

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神宮前2-5-4, Minato
Tōkyō, Japan
+81 3-6440-0878
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Melding flair, precision, and premium local ingredients, chef Hiroyasu Kawate’s intricate 11-course tasting menu (six courses at lunch) is as bold and theatrical as his dining room, a 16-seat counter around a huge open kitchen. The former Quintessence sous chef moved into new premises in early 2015 and is now delivering some of the most exciting, innovative modern French cuisine in the city. [$$$]

7. Yakitori Imai

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Japan, 〒150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku
Jingūmae, 3 Chome−42−11 ローザビアンカ 1階

Grillmaster Takashi Imai’s eponymous yakitoriya is large, sleek, and contemporary. All the seats look in on his spacious open kitchen, so you can watch him in action over the main charcoal pit. Besides his excellent chicken skewers, Imai usually has a list of premium meats, such as French pigeon or Basque pork. There’s also a serious selection of grilled vegetables from his second grill, plus a substantial list of natural wine if you’re splurging. [$$]

Yakitori Imai
Yakitori Imai/Facebook

8. Tonki (とんかつ とんき 目黒本店)

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下目黒1-1-2, Tokyo
Tōkyō 153-0064, Japan
+81 3-3491-9928

Tonki is spartan, spacious, and spotlessly clean, and has been serving tonkatsu the same way since 1939. There’s only one choice to make: rosu (fatty) or hire (lean). Either way, it takes 20 minutes to cook, and is served with shredded cabbage and mustard, with rice and soup on the side. There’s no dessert or coffee. You just wait, eat, and then leave. Classic. [$]

9. Torishiki (鳥しき)

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上大崎2-14-12, Tokyo
Tōkyō 141-0021, Japan
+81 3-3440-7656

Torishiki takes the basics of yakitori — morsels of chicken that are skewered, grilled, and basted — and elevates them to another level. Owner Yoshiteru Ikegawa uses virtually every part of his premium shamo gamecocks, tending the skewers over his glowing charcoal grill with artisan intensity. Among his specialties: chochin, the rich yolk of an unhatched egg; grilled tofu, rich with chicken fat; and the warming, nourishing chicken broth that closes every meal. [$$$]

10. GEM by Moto

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1 Chome-30-9 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku
Tōkyō-to 150-0013, Japan

There’s a renewed enthusiasm for sake in Japan, based around small-batch, limited-edition regional brews with intense flavors and unique characteristics. Gem by Moto is the place where many of the new generation of enthusiasts gather to enjoy these innovative styles. Manager Marie Chiba knows all the best young brewers — they are responsible for the graffiti covering her walls  — and she has her own cellar where she matures the sake they make especially for her. Another major draw is her extensive and creative food menu. Gem may be a bit off the beaten path, but reservations are essential. [$$]

Spring rolls at Gem by Moto
Gem by Moto/Facebook

11. L'Effervescence (レフェルヴェソンス)

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西麻布2-26-4, Tokyo
Tōkyō 106-0031, Japan
+81 3-5766-9500
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It’s no secret: Tokyo has some of the best French cuisine outside of France. One reason is because chefs here study with the world's best — Michel Bras and Heston Blumenthal, in the case of Shinobu Namae at L’Effervescence. Add to the equation premium produce, an innate seasonal sensibility, and a pride in good service that’s built into the DNA — not to mention its tranquil location — and you'll start to understand why L’Effervescence has built up such a strong following. Pro tip: Lunch is an especially good value. [$$$-$$$$]

12. Butagumi (西麻布 豚組)

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西麻布2-24-9, Tokyo
Tōkyō 106-0031, Japan
+81 3-5466-6775
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Nowhere in Tokyo serves tonkatsu (breaded deep-fried pork) with the quality and sophistication of Butagumi. In a 60-year-old, two-story, freestanding traditional house, you dine on premium cutlets — choose from a couple dozen regional heirloom breeds — cooked a beautiful golden brown and served with a pyramid of finely slivered cabbage and thick, homemade Worcestershire-style sauce. [$$]

13. NARISAWA

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南青山2-6-15, Tokyo
Tōkyō 107-0062, Japan
+81 3-5785-0799
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Yoshihiro Narisawa’s fusion of French haute cuisine — he worked under three greats: Bocuse, Giradet, and Robuchon — with a profound understanding of Japanese ingredients has resulted in a style uniquely his own. Serving brilliant left-field dishes such as Soil Soup (yes, really) and Okinawan sea snake broth alongside superb langoustine and wagyu beef, he more than merits his two Michelin stars and his status on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list as “Best in Asia.” [$$$$]

14. Muginae 麦苗

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6 Chome-11-10 Minamiōi, Shinagawa-ku
Tōkyō-to 140-0013, Japan

“Our passion for ramen makes the town a better place.” Muginae more than lives up to its English-language slogan. Everything about this modest counter on the southern edge of the city shouts quality: house-made noodles, free-range chicken broth, a blend of artisan soy sauces, and zero chemical flavor enhancements. It all adds up to a superb ramen that more than justifies the train ride out from the center of town and the inevitable lines of up to an hour. [$]

Ramen at Muginae
Homemade Ramen/Facebook

15. Quintessence (カンテサンス)

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北品川6-7-29, Tokyo
Tōkyō 141-0001, Japan
+81 3-6277-0090
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Some of the finest French cuisine in the world is in Tokyo. If you need proof of that, just book yourself — by hook, by crook, or by concierge — into Quintessence. Chef-owner Shuzo Kishida readily acknowledges the influences of his mentor, Pascal Barbot of L’Astrance in Paris, but he is very much forging his own path. His multi-course tasting menus are a tour de force of flavor, technique, and inventiveness — and fully deserving of the three Michelin stars he’s held since 2008. [$$$$]

16. Kikunoi Akasaka

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6 Chome-13-8 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tōkyō-to 107-0052, Japan

Kaiseki, Japan’s ineffable, hyper-seasonal traditional cuisine, always tastes best in its hometown, Kyoto. This can be attributed to the water, which is softer than in Tokyo. Chef Yoshihiro Murata gets around this by shipping water from the ancient capital to the Akasaka branch of his renowned Kikunoi, to ensure his dashi soup stock is always perfect. In this tranquil, secluded setting, it’s almost possible to imagine you have left the metropolis far behind. At lunchtime, Kikunoi also offers more accessible and affordable lunches served in elaborate obento lunch boxes. [$$$]

Kikunoi Akasaka
Kikunoi Akasaka official

17. Sumibiyakiniku Nakahara

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4-3 Rokubanchō, Chiyoda-ku
Tōkyō-to 102-0085, Japan
+81 3-6261-2987
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Owner Kentaro Nakahara sources the finest wagyu and knows all the best cuts to grill over the charcoal burners set into your table top. Besides his seven-item yakiniku (grilled meat) tasting menu, don’t miss the beef “prosciutto,” the tartare, or his self-styled “legendary” grilled tongue (which must be booked in advance). Yakiniku is always fun but it’s rarely as chic, clean, and smoke-free — both from cigarettes and the grills — as it is here. [$$$]

18. Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう)

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六本木1-4-5, Minato
Tōkyō 106-0032, Japan
+81 3-3589-4412
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Few sushi masters are held in higher esteem in Tokyo than Takashi Saito. His triple-Michelin-star status is testament to his skill and his nigiri sushi is second to none. But what sets his intimate nine-seat counter restaurant above the others is that it feels so comfortable and relaxed. Needless to say, reservations are at a premium, and he is booked solid for months ahead. [$$$$]

19. Ishikawa (神楽坂 石かわ)

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神楽坂5-37, Tokyo
Tōkyō 162-0825, Japan
+81 3-5225-0173
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The former geisha district of Kagurazaka is worth exploring at any time, but especially as evening falls on its atmospheric narrow alleys. And even more so if you’ve booked yourself into Ishikawa for an extended, multi-course kaiseki dinner. Hideki Ishikawa’s impeccable cuisine, superb quality ingredients, and gracious welcome have won him three well-deserved Michelin stars and a host of admirers around the world. [$$$]

20. Kyourakutei (石臼挽き手打 蕎楽亭)

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神楽坂3-6, Tokyo
Tōkyō 162-0825, Japan
+81 3-3269-3233
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Although Kyourakutei first made its name as a soba restaurant with noodles made in the time-honored te-uchi (hand-rolled and cut) tradition, it’s the excellent menu of drinking snacks and side dishes (and sake) that makes the restaurant special. The tempura is great and so are the grilled dishes, and the fish couldn’t be fresher. [$-$$]

21. Kohaku 虎白

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神楽坂3-4, Tokyo
Tōkyō 162-0825, Japan
+81 3-5225-0807
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Chef Koji Koizumi’s impeccable contemporary kaiseki cuisine ticks all the boxes. It is intensely seasonal, inventive, superbly cooked, and beautifully presented. Better yet, it is served with a refreshing lack of formality. Kohaku is an offshoot of nearby Ishikawa, but it has a own distinct identity that make it every bit as worth your time. Koizumi’s six-seat counter is the place to be if you want to watch him at work. [$$$$]

22. Tofuya Ukai (東京芝 とうふ屋うかい)

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芝公園4-4-13, Tokyo
Tōkyō 105-0011, Japan
+81 3-3436-1028
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Built around a beautiful traditional garden, Tofuya Ukai’s low-rise complex of private rooms offers a glimpse of how Tokyo used to look and dine before the modern high-rise city developed. Multi-course meals include elaborate appetizers — like the specialty artisan bean curd served in hot pots in winter or chilled in summer — and culminate in servings of fish or meat grilled at the table. [$$$]

23. Udon Maruka

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3 Chome-16−1 Kanda Ogawamachi, Chiyoda-ku
Tōkyō-to 101-0052, Japan
03-3294-1320

There are three constants at Maruka: the line outside (often an hour long); the rock music (invariably Jimi Hendrix) playing quietly on the sound system; and the chunky, satisfying udon noodles. Eat them hot in a light, fish-based broth or chilled with a dipping sauce. Either way, order some tempura on the side, maybe the chewy squid tentacles, or the whole batter-fried eggs, and see why these are considered the best Sanuki-style udon east of Kagawa. [$]

Udon at Maruka
George K./Yelp

24. Otako

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8 Chome-6-19 Ginza, Chūō-ku
Tōkyō-to 104-0061, Japan

Oden is Japan’s favorite wintertime comfort food, an aromatic hotpot of slow-simmered seafood, meat, and vegetables, usually washed down with plenty of sake or beer. Otako has been serving it this way for almost a century and attracts an eclectic clientele, from humble salarymen to Ginza hostesses dolled up in kimonos. Slide open the door, wait for a seat, then take your place at the long counter, watching the chefs at work over the steaming oden pans. At any time of year, Otako is a Tokyo classic. [$$]

Otako
Robbie Swinnerton

25. Ginza Kazami

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Japan, 〒104-0061 Tōkyō-to, Chūō-ku
Ginza, 6 Chome−4−13 浅黄ビル

High-end ramen is no longer a contradiction in terms, least of all in swish Ginza. Kazami looks as gleaming and spotless as a sushiya, and the noodles are put together with just as much attention to detail. The clear, fragrant broth for the shio and shoyu styles is made with kombu seaweed and five types of dried fish. But the stand-out bowl is the original: sake-kasu “soba” (it’s actually ramen), thickened with rich, warming sake lees. [$$]

Ramen at Ginza Kazami
Max C./Yelp

26. Esquisse Cinq

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5 Chome-2-1 Ginza, Chūō-ku
Tōkyō-to 104-0061, Japan

Award-winning patissier Kazutoshi Narita made his name working around the world with Pierre Hermé, Tateru Yoshino, and the late, great Joel Robuchon. Now back in Japan, he’s the man in charge of the gorgeous confections at Restaurant Esquisse in Ginza. At this spin-off counter, you can skip straight to dessert and sample many of the elaborate flights of sugary fancy he has developed over his career. Within a year of opening here, Narita was named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef for 2017. [$$]

A modernist dessert at Esquisse Cinq
Roger W./Yelp

27. Cafe de l'Ambre (カフェ・ド・ランブル)

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銀座8-10-15, Tokyo
Tōkyō 104-0061, Japan
+81 3-3571-1551
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Long before third-wave coffee arrived in Tokyo, there was a thriving culture of kissaten, old-school coffee shops, usually cozy and smoke-filled. Most have disappeared, but L’Ambre (founded 1948) shows no sign of fading away. Even though centenarian owner Ichiro Sekiguchi died in 2018, his heirs intend to maintain his devotion to premium coffee beans, some of them aged for decades. A venerable Tokyo treasure. [$]

28. Kuriya Kashi Kurogi 廚 菓子 くろぎ

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本郷7-3-1, Bunkyō
Tōkyō, Japan
+81 3-5802-5577
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Tradition meets the 21st century at this striking contemporary cafe designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma inside the University of Tokyo campus. Sit outside and gaze at the greenery while nibbling on warabimochi jelly, kuzukiri noodles, or other artisan wagashi (Japanese confections), prepared to order and served with coffee from the excellent Sarutahiko roasters. [$]

29. Akomeya Tokyo(アコメヤ トウキョウ)

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2 Chome-2-6 Ginza, Chūō-ku
Tōkyō-to 104-6601, Japan

Akomeya is the place in central Tokyo if you’re looking to buy premium rice, foodstuffs from around Japan, kitchen essentials, and designer tableware. But an even better reason for visiting is the casual in-store canteen, Akomeya Chubo. At lunch it serves simple rice-based set meals before morphing into genteel izakaya mode in the evening with an a la carte menu and a reliable sake selection. [$$]

A trio of bites at Akomeya Tokyo
Akomeya Tokyo/Facebook

30. Kamachiku

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2 Chome-14-18 Nezu, Bunkyō-ku
Tōkyō-to 113-0031, Japan
+81 3-5815-4675
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As you explore the tranquil, traditional backstreets of the low-rise Nezu district, Kamachiku makes an ideal stopping point. The restaurant serves premium udon (wheat) noodles, kneaded and cut by hand Osaka-style, in a classic setting: a converted century-old red-brick storehouse overlooking a small garden. If you want to settle in, you’ll find a good selection of sake and side dishes. [$]

31. Higashiya Ginza

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Japan, 〒104-0061 Tōkyō-to, Chūō-ku
Ginza, 1 Chome−7−7 ポーラ銀座ビル2階

No one has done as much to give Japan’s green tea culture a boost of relevance as interior designer Shinichi Ogata and his Higashiya wagashi (confectionery) shops. At his flagship store, a tranquil, capacious oasis above the madding crowds of central Ginza, the traditional wabi-sabi tea ceremony aesthetic has been given a contemporary makeover. Settle in for contemplation over premium teas, seasonal desserts (including kakigori ice in summer), and even light multicourse meals. You will emerge fully recharged. [$$]

The confectdions at Higashiya Ginza
Higashiya/Facebook

32. Kanda Matsuya (神田まつや)

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神田須田町1-13, Chiyoda
Tōkyō 101-0041, Japan
+81 3-3251-1556
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Soba is the traditional noodle in Tokyo, and nowhere is that heritage preserved better than at Kanda Matsuya. Founded 130 years ago and housed in superb wooden premises, it’s a living legend. There’s a small menu of side dishes to go with sake, but here it’s all about the noodles, which are rolled and cut by hand in-house by the master’s son. [$]

33. Tsukiji Outer Market (築地場外市場)

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築地4, Tokyo
Tōkyō 104-0045, Japan
+81 3-3541-9466
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Tsukiji’s famous wholesale market finally made its long-delayed move to the new location in Toyosu. But the Outer Market — the compact warren of narrow, crowded streets known as Jogai — has not gone anywhere. Alongside the sushi counters and ramen shops you will find retail stores selling anything from fresh seafood and katsuobushi (bonito flakes) to traditional knives and ceramics. An essential pilgrimage for anyone with an interest in eating! [$-$$]

34. Fukamachi (てんぷら 深町)

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京橋2-5-2, Tokyo
Tōkyō 104-0031, Japan
+81 3-5250-8777

Inside and out, Fukamachi looks the typical old-school Tokyo restaurant, with its modest facade and simple dining room with one counter plus two small tables. But for its many fans, there is no better tempura in the city. Order the omakase ("leave it up to the chef”) menu for batter-fried morsels of seasonal seafood, vegetables including sansai (wild herbs) in the spring and mushrooms. If you still have room, order the awabi (abalone) or uni (urchin) from the a la carte menu — both are outrageously good. Open for lunch and dinner. [$$-$$$]

35. Ningyocho imahan

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2 Chome-9-12 Nihonbashiningyōchō, Chūō-ku
Tōkyō-to 103-0013, Japan

Housed in a classic low-rise building in a traditional neighborhood, Imahan is one of Tokyo’s oldest and best loved purveyors of beef cuisine. Shabushabu, sukiyaki, teppanyaki or steak: all are prepared and served with old-school refinement and expertise. Book yourself into one of the private rooms for an extended omakase feast. Just choose what provenance and grade of wagyu you want, then relax and let the kimono-clad waitstaff pamper you. [$$$]

Ningyocho Imahan
Official

36. Sushi Sugita (日本橋 蛎殻町 すぎた)

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日本橋蛎殻町1-33-6, Tokyo
Tōkyō 103-0014, Japan
+81 3-3669-3855

Tokyo’s cognoscenti have long championed Takaaki Sugita as one of the city’s top sushi chefs. Now at work in a sparkling new premises in Nihonbashi, he is at the top of his game and finally starting to get the mainstream attention and respect he deserves. Needless to say, Sushi Sugita has become one of the hardest places to book, so out-of-towners should get their concierges working on it well ahead of time. [$$$]

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  • 37. Mikawa Zezankyo (みかわ是山居)

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    福住1-3-1, Tokyo
    Tōkyō 135-0032, Japan
    +81 3-3643-8383
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    From your place at the nine-seat wooden counter, watch as veteran tempura master Tetsuya Saotome prepares perfect pieces. Every bite of seafood, vegetables, or mushroom is served direct from the deep-frying wok to your plate — the matsutake pine mushrooms in autumn are especially memorable. The location is obscure but well worth the taxi fare. [$$$]

    38. Obana

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    5丁目-33-1 Minamisenju, Arakawa-ku
    Tōkyō-to 116-0003, Japan
    03-3801-4670

    Nowhere serves unagi (freshwater eel) like Obana. The recipe for its kabayaki — fillets of eel that are steamed, charcoal grilled, and basted with a thick, rich, sweet-savory glaze — dates back to the times of the shoguns. Expect hour-long lines (especially on weekends) for the pleasure of sitting on a hard floor (thin cushions provided) at low communal tables, with a further wait while they dispatch the eel and slowly cook it to order. The anticipation is worth it, though: Obana’s unagi is widely agreed to be the best in the city. [$$]

    The famed unagi at Obana
    Brittany C./Yelp

    1. Bar Benfiddich

    Japan, 〒160-0023 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishishinjuku, 1 Chome−13, 西新宿1ー13ー7
    Bar Benfiddich
    Bar Benfiddich/Facebook

    Hiroyasu Kayama’s atmospheric, candle-lit ninth-floor hideaway is one of Tokyo’s most compelling bars, with shelves crammed with rare spirits and jars of obscure aromatics, and drinks just as likely to involve a mortar and pestle as a cocktail shaker. Sink into one of the half-dozen armchairs at the ancient-wood counter and give Kayama carte blanche to work his mixologist magic. Best to get there early, though: Bar Benfiddich’s fame already extends far beyond the Shinjuku back streets. [$$$]

    Japan, 〒160-0023 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Nishishinjuku
    1 Chome−13, 西新宿1ー13ー7

    2. Kotaro

    28-2 Sakuragaokachō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0031, Japan

    Chef Kotaro Hayashi’s brilliant little hole in the wall is hard to find and even harder to get into. Regulars book weeks ahead for seats in front of the open kitchen where Hayashi puts together inventive, satisfying takes on classic izakaya dishes, pairing them with some of the best small-batch sake from around the country. Don’t miss his signature potato salad, which he tops with half a lightly smoked soft-boiled egg and mustard vinaigrette. [$$]

    28-2 Sakuragaokachō, Shibuya-ku
    Tōkyō-to 150-0031, Japan

    3. Tamawarai (玉笑)

    神宮前5-23-3, Tokyo, Tōkyō 150-0001, Japan

    There’s no shortage of soba specialists in Tokyo, but few manage to create noodles quite as flavorful and satisfying as those at Tamawarai. Each batch is made from scratch — the dough mixed, rolled, and cut by hand — and much of it with buckwheat the restaurant helps to grow. The side dishes, such as soba miso and the wonderfully creamy yuba (tofu skin) are prepared with equal care. It does not accept reservations, so despite the less-than-convenient location in a residential neighborhood between Shibuya and Harajuku, you will invariably find yourself standing in line for up to an hour to get in. [$]

    神宮前5-23-3, Tokyo
    Tōkyō 150-0001, Japan

    4. Isetan Shinjuku (伊勢丹 新宿店)

    新宿3-14-1, Shinjuku, Tōkyō 160-0022, Japan

    No visit to Tokyo is complete without exploring a depachiku — the food halls found on the basement levels of most department stores. Isetan in Shinjuku can’t be beat for gourmet glamor, with local wagashi (Japanese confections) arranged alongside the patisseries of Sadaharu Aoki, Jean-Paul Hévin, and Pierre Hermé, to name but three. Have a light meal at the in-house open kitchen or take a bento (boxed meal) up to the roof garden. [$-$$]

    新宿3-14-1, Shinjuku
    Tōkyō 160-0022, Japan

    5. DEN

    2 Chome-3-18 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan

    Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa’s decision to move Den from its iconic Jimbocho address has paid off in spades. Two years on and his star is still rising — both with Michelin (Den now has two of them again) and on the Asia’s 20 Best Restaurant list (up to second place). His cooking remains innovative and satisfying, overlaying the principles of kaiseki, Japan’s traditional and often highly formalized cuisine, with ideas and influences that are audacious and humorous. Expect foie gras in your appetizer and ants in your salad, along with his signature “Dentucky Fried Chicken.” [$$$]

    2 Chome-3-18 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku
    Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan

    6. Florilège

    神宮前2-5-4, Minato, Tōkyō, Japan