Tokyo holds the title of the city with the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world, so to say it’s the best place to try the world’s best cuisine would be an understatement. In 2020, there are 226 Michelin-starred restaurants and 11 restaurants with the coveted three Michelin star title. That’s an overwhelming number of choices for even the most passionate foodie with the biggest appetite! To make it easier for you, here’s an overview of some of the most iconic, unique, and affordable options out there.

 

Tsuta: Affordable ramen

Tsuta

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Although ramen is considered a ‘fast food’ for most Japanese, this Michelin-starred ramen shop has elevated a bowl of noodles to a whole new level. This outlet was the first of a wave of Michelin-awarded ramen joints, and for a very friendly US$13 per bowl, it’s well worth trying. While the soup is filled to the brim with perfectly balanced umami flavor, it’s the noodles that are particularly special; they use buckwheat, which is usually reserved for in soba to give the dish a unique little twist. You’ll also find this ramen to be a lot lighter and topped with ingredients you wouldn’t expect from your traditional ramen joint; including truffle sauce and mint.

With a time-based ticketing system, you also don’t have to spend hours waiting in line to get a bowl. If you keep an eye out, you might also find the store’s signature instant ramen on the shelves of your local convenience store, and have a little bit of Michelin in the comfort of your own home. It will be your best experience in TokyoExperiences in Tokyo"}" data-sheets-userformat="{"2":12419,"3":{"1":0},"4":[null,2,16750848],"10":2,"15":"-apple-system-font","16":9}">. 

Address:  Shibuya City, Nishihara, 3 Chome−2, 2-4 B1, Japan, Tokyo (map)

Website:  tsuta79.tokyo

Hours:  Monday – Saturday 11AM – 8PM, Sunday closed

Telephone number: 03-6416-8666

 

Soba Sasuga: Next level noodles

Sure, Tokyo’s streets (and even the train platforms) are practically lined with cheap soba shops, each offering a satisfying fill for just the cost of some pocket change, but Soba Sasuga is something special. Located in Ginza, this high-end soba restaurant crafts upmarket dishes using Juwari soba, 100 percent buckwheat soba, and water, ensuring that the quality of the noodles and water that’s used to create them is as pure as it comes. There are several menu options, but we suggest you keep it simple and opt for the kakesoba (simply soba in a bowl of hot soup with few toppings), or the zaru soba (chilled noodles with a dipping soup), both of which cost around a tidy US$10. Keeping the dish simple means the flavor of the buckwheat can shine through. If you’re looking for something a little fancier, there’s also the kamonegi soba, a serving of cold soba with a hot dipping sauce of duck and green onion.
Soba Sasuga also offers a lunch option for US$18, which includes your choice of soba, two side dishes, and dessert.

Address: 104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City, Ginza, 2 Chome−13−6 東二ビル2F (map)

Website: ginza-sasuga.jp

Hours:  Monday – Friday 11:30AM – 10PM, Saturday 11:30AM – 9PM, Sunday closed

Telephone number: +81 3-3543-0404

 

Kanda: Kaiseki for today

Kanda

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The stylishly minimalist Kanda’s is a kaiseki restaurant (multi-course dinner) designed for the modern age. Kanda is the creation of Osaka-trained chef Hiroyuki Kanda, who spent time working as a chef in Paris. The interiors of the restaurant remain simplistic with light wood finishes and decorated only by a collection of earthenware jars. However, it’s the culinary masterpieces Kanda serves that will have you enthralled. When it comes to the menu, no two nights are ever the same. There is no written menu, and each course is tweaked to suit the individual dinner (both in flavor and budget). Kanda is very welcoming to its international guests, with thorough explanations of the dishes in English. Contemporary and seasonal but steeped in rich omotenashi tradition, Kanda is the perfect balance of all the elements.

Address: 3 Chome-6-34 Motoazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0046 (map)

Website:  nihonryori-kanda.com

Hours: Monday – Friday 18:00PM – 12 AM, Sundays and public holidays closed

Telephone number: +81-3-5786-0150

 

Nakajima: Star sardines

Hidden in an unassuming Shinjuku building sits one very special establishment that will make you look at sardines in a whole new light. Nakajima specializes in iwashi (sardines), sourced fresh from the market, and owan (soup dish) is its star dish. Unfortunately, owan is served only during its dinner service, which can run over US$100. Do not fret as Nakajima’s lunch meals cost around US$8. Their lunch offering includes sardines cooked in one of four ways of your choosing (ranging from raw sardines to hot-pot style) plus seasonal sides and rice. It’s touted as the cheapest Michelin meal in Tokyo.

Address: 160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Shinjuku, 3 Chome−32−5 地下1階 日原ビル (map)

Website: shinjyuku-nakajima.com

Hours: Monday – Saturday 11:30AM – 9:30PM, Sunday closed

Telephone number: +81333564534

 

Nakiryu: Tantan noodles with a twist

This much-loved ramen hangout has been serving up world-class noodles for a long time now, using only high-grade kelp, dried scallops, and the best ago (fish) in their broth to make some of the most umami-laden bowls you can order. It’s their tantan noodles – their signature dish- that got the store the global attention. The Szechuan-style dish is offered in both regular and extra spicy, with a number of toppings, including dumplings and spiced pork. The noodles are also made in house and are thinner than regular tantan noodles. Bowls are cheap, less than US$10, but often the lines are long, so if you can, get in early! Nakiryu offers both lunch and dinner menus, which vary slightly.

Address: 170-0005 Tokyo, Toshima City, Minamiotsuka, 2 Chome−34−4 SKY南大塚 (map)

Website: 12.plala.or.jp/nakiryu/

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 11:30AM – 9PM, Monday and Tuesday closed

Telephone number: 03-6304-1811

 

Kyourakutei: Soba and tempura a world-class combo

Kyourakutei

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Known as a soba restaurant, Kyourakutei has a lot more to offer than world-class noodles. This slightly hidden restaurant uses soba found in the Fukushima area of Aizu, the home of excellent juwari soba (100% buckwheat noodles). While the zaru soba (plain noodle) options are the cheapest, you’d be missing out if you didn’t order a side of tempura vegetables or seafood, to add to the mix. Kyourakutei is famous for its unbelievably light tempura, and for its stunning service. Kyourakutei serves its soba noodles perfectly al-dente every time. Both the Ten Zaru set (tempura and plain soba noodles) and the Kisetsu Ten Zaru set (seasonal tempura and plain noodles) are the safest bet for those feeling overwhelmed by the choices on offer. Either will only set you back about US$22.

Address: 162-0825 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kagurazaka, 3 Chome−6 神楽坂館1階 (map)

Website: kyourakutei.com

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11:30AM – 9PM, Sunday and Monday closed

Telephone number: 03-3269-3233

 

Saito: Some of the world’s best sushi

Saito

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Tokyo is iconically a sushi city, so it’d be a crime to visit without trying at least one meticulously curated sushi meal. Roppongi restaurant Saito was the first sushi restaurant to be awarded the three-star Michelin rating, which isn’t surprising given that chef Takashi Saito is one of the ultimate sushi masters of the world. Saito serves a combination of fresh market fish and aged fish, to create a wide palette of flavors and experiences. The rice is also vinegared in a way special to Saito. Surprisingly, though, their lunches won’t break the bank compared to many other renowned sushi restaurants. Their set meals range from about US$54 up to US$162. Whilst it may be one of the more expensive lunches you’ve ever experienced, it may end up being one of the best! The restaurant only seats 8, so be sure to book in advance.

Address: 106-0032 Tokyo, Minato City, Roppongi, 1 Chome−4−5, ARK Hills South Tower, 1F (map)

Website: ichigun.com

Hours: Monday – Saturday 12PM – 10PM, Sunday closed

Telephone number: +81 50-5263-6863

 

Imafuku: Sukiyaki superstar

Imafuku

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Run by a meat wholesaler, Imafuku prides itself on its dishes using A5 ranked wagyu beef. Both sukiyaki (shallow hot pot with soy sauce broth) and shabu shabu (hot pot with dipping sauces) courses are on offer, cooked on a tabletop element in front of you. Whilst enjoying the flavor of a dish is a given at any restaurant, Imafuku gives you the chance to see their dedicated cooking staff transform the top-quality cuts of Japanese beef into a delicious serving of umami. If you want to have a more laid back Michelin experience, Imafuku may be the place for you. A course dinner will set you back about US$110 per person.

Address: 108-00721 Tokyo, Minato City, Shirokane, 1 Chome−12−19 (map)

Website: kuroge-wagyu.com

Hours: Monday – Sunday 5PM – 11PM

Telephone number: +81354202914

 

Yamadaya: Fugu at its finest

Run by head chef Yoshio Kusakabe, a master chef with years of training and experience in Tokyo’s higher-end establishments, Yamadaya is a fugu (Japanese pufferfish) restaurant that’s garnered attention crafting delicious dishes with this potentially poisonous fish. Yamadaya is one of the few 3-Michelin starred restaurants in Tokyo. The Tokyo location opened in 2006, but the history of Yamadaya goes back almost 100 years. If you manage to score a table here, you’ll enjoy a tiger puffer from Bungo Suidō, which is said to be the best of its kind in Japan. Go for a course meal and marvel at the almost translucent its fugu sashimi, sliced with expert precision, and presented in a number of different ways. You can experience raw, grilled, and simmered pufferfish and the variety of textures and flavors it provides. However, Yamadaya is not the most budget-friendly restaurants you can visit in Tokyo; the price ranges from US$310 to US$420 for a full course (drinks extra, of course).

Address: 106-0031 Tokyo, Minato City, Nishiazabu, 4 Chome−11−14 地階A FLEG西麻布 (map)

Website: usukifugu-yamadaya.jp

Hours: Monday – Saturday 6PM – 10PM, Sunday closed

Telephone number: +81334995501

 

If you’re a fan of tea, then you should check our guide for tea ceremonies in Tokyo. 

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