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.
Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.
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