Good food is abundant in Japan and especially in Tokyo. However, if you do not do your homework and do some research you might not find: a) the top spots, and b) you will likely end up paying a little fortune… We want to spare you the trouble and share a few places that we found and that we can highly recommend in Tokyo! Even though this might seem like a random selection of places (which it is in a way), this post might still provide some useful tips for your stay in Tokyo… 🙂
For Ramen we went to Mutekiya in Ikebukuro. Literally “house without a foe“, the place is very popular among locals so make sure to be there early in order to avoid long waiting times. Interestingly enough we saw the longest queues after about 10.00 pm.
The ramen itself was absolutely amazing, you really get the thick broth of Tonkotsu Ramen!
For Udon we got a special tip from our friends Tina and Michi. Kamachiku is a truly special place close to the Metro station Nezu. Again you have to show up early, ideally before 11.00, to avoid a very long line of people. We ordered the hot Udon we are used to but you can also get cold noodles. What is special here though is that there is nothing else in the bowl besides the noodles and you add everything extra. The texture of the Udon was simply amazing and these probably were the best Udon we have ever had…
However, the Udon were not even the highlight here. What was even more unforgettable was the “sesame tofu”. It looked like actual soy bean tofu but was made of sesame. It was cold, had the texture of very thick pudding and tasted subtly like sesame – a dish unlike anything we have eaten before!
Lastly, it was great to sit on a long table with the other guests. We could chat with them and watch them start drinking sake at 11.30 on a Saturday… 🙂
Izakaya Sake Bars
Funnily enough by accident we ended up in two Sake Bars that are actual part of a group of connected bars. One was in Shibuya and the other in Ikebukuro. Both had an amazing atmosphere and felt very very authentic. Speaking Japanese here is definitely an advantage but you also get by with sign language and some English 🙂 A big thanks goes to our friend Felli who introduced us to the bar in Shibuya and ordered a delicious sake selection for us! 🙂
Outstanding food and great Sake compared with the vibe of these two bars was definitely something we will not forget anytime soon…
Kaiseki is the “haute-cuisine” of Japan. Given that nearly all of the food you get in Japan is of amazing quality and taste – this is quite a statement. The only problem is that a typical kaiseki meal can easily set you back by about 100 USD/EUR. You therefore have to do some research to find affordable Kaiseki, especially in Tokyo. Luckily, we found an amazing Micheline Star place called Kien that serves a lunch-kaiseki for just 1.700 Yen.
For the lunch special there are no reservations so be sure to show up early, ideally before 11.00. This means that when the place opens at 11.30 you will get a seat immediately. The restaurant is very small so a long queue will mean long waiting times.
Finally we want to share a tip regarding accommodation. We stayed in a super cheap AirBnB in a great location which nearly felt too good to be true. It was about 20€ for a double room in walking distance to Ikebukuro on the Yamanote Sen. Given a shady dorm room bed is usually 25€ minimum per person this is just unbeatable in Tokyo! Plus you get to experience public baths since there is no bathroom in the room… 🙂
So when you are in Tokyo on a budget make sure to check out cheap Japanese style rooms on AirBnB!