If you are heading to Japan and are curious about what to eat in Tokyo, then check out this list of must-eat recommended dishes to try in Tokyo!
Did you know if you download the OodyMate app you can meet up for free with locals in Japan who know where to eat in Tokyo and can take you to all the hidden gems you won’t find on sites like TripAdvisor! Download it here now and join the meetup group here to find out about future events.
1. Yakitori (Chicken Skewers)
It’s hard to believe that a simple izakaya favorite like chicken skewers can be so tasty but yakitori must be on the list of best foods in Tokyo to try. A popular snack among Japanese businessmen after work over a beer, you can find yakitori on the menu of most izakayas, (Japanese style pubs) but there are also dedicated high-end yakitori restaurants in Tokyo which specialize in different varieties of the dish. The skewers can include different parts of the chicken such as thigh, innards or skin, and be served with different seasonings or salt and vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms.
2. Tempura (Deep Fried Batter)
Japanese tempura is usually seafood such as shrimp or squid, and vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato, deep fried in a light crispy batter. There are plenty of restaurants in Tokyo dedicated to the art of tempura with specialized chefs, or if you are on more of a budget, you can try tempura with noodles as it’s a common topping served with ramen or soba dishes.
Whether you’re a fan of the fat and chewy udon or the thinner soba noodles made from buckwheat, Japan has a noodle for everyone! Other popular types of noodle in Japan include ramen, somen, yakisoba, and shirataki. You’ll find many cheap and cozy noodle bars throughout Japan where you purchase your meal at the ticket machine outside, before handing it over to the staff and collecting your steaming hot bowl of noodles!
4. Yakiniku (Grilled Meat)
Yakiniku is Japan’s take on the Korean barbeque and is a must-try experience for any meat-lovers visiting Japan for the first time. It’s a great social dining experience as everyone sits around the table and cooks their meat and vegetables at the built-in grill. Many chain yakiniku restaurants offer all-you-can-eat courses where you can order as much meat as you like for a set price. These kinds of menus often work out to be great value if you’re feeling particularly hungry or in a bigger group.
5. Nabe (Japanese Hot Pot)
Nabe is mostly enjoyed during the winter season in Japan and is very easy to make yourself at home or enjoy with a group of friends in a restaurant. Nabe is another Japanese social dining experience usually cooked on a portable gas stove whilst people sit around the table. The base consists of a broth or stock that can be different flavors, then you simply add vegetables and meat, pop the lid on the nabe pot, and leave to cook.
6. Gyoza (Japanese Style Dumplings)
These juicy dumplings are filled with ground meat or vegetables and are commonly pan-fried, resulting in a crispy, golden colored exterior. Gyoza can be enjoyed as a side dish served with a soy-based dipping sauce and are also a popular topping for dishes such as ramen.
Probably the most famous of all Japanese cuisine, sushi needs no introduction. Good sashimi is not difficult to find in Tokyo, which is home to thousands of sushi restaurants, including 39 Michelin-starred establishments. Whether you prefer to try a wallet-friendly conveyer belt sushi chain (known as kaiten-zushi) or a high-end sushi counter restaurant where you can order the ‘omakase’ course (chef’s recommendation), there are options for every budget.
8. Wagashi (Japanese Sweets)
Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets often made from mochi (pounded sweet rice), red bean paste, and fruits. There are many variations of wagashi throughout Japan, a popular way to try them is by taking part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Wagashi are often served with matcha (powdered green tea).
9. Kakigori (Shaved Ice Dessert)
A perfect dessert for Tokyo’s hot and humid summers, kakigori consists of shaved ice doused in a sweet flavored syrup. There are many flavors to choose from including strawberry, cherry, and green tea, and you’ll find it available to purchase everywhere from specialist cafes to summer festivals.
9. Japanese Curry
Japanese curry, like nabe, is another popular winter dish that you can try in Tokyo. You’ll find curry on the menu at many Japanese restaurants, in addition to affordable chains such as Coco Ichibanya. Popular ways to serve Japanese curry are with rice or udon noodles and tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet). Unlike curries from other countries, Japanese curry tends to be sweeter in flavor rather than spicy, making it a good option if you have a low tolerance for spicy foods!
10. Karaage (Deep Fried Chicken)
Karaage or as it’s often called, JFC, (Japanese fried chicken) is another staple item you’ll find on the izakaya menu or at Japanese summer festivals. It’s also commonly sold behind the counter at convenience stores such as Family Mart or Lawson.
12. Gyudon (Rice Bowl Topped with Beef)
Gyudon is a popular Japanese dish eaten throughout the country. It’s served in a deep rice bowl and topped with thinly sliced beef and onions cooked in a sweet sauce, often covered by a raw egg which is then mixed into the dish. It’s a very affordable meal that you can find at chain restaurants such as Yoshinoya and Sukiya.
Now that you have an idea of what to eat in Japan why not download the OodyMate app here and meet up with locals in Tokyo who can share their expert knowledge on the best places to try the above dishes!