A cross-section of the vast restaurant scene in the world’s culinary capital, our nominees range from family-run izakayas and classic cheap eats to Michelin-starred establishments with starched linen napkins – all essential destinations for every Tokyoite in 2016.
At this Shintomicho gem, you're in for delicate and colourful meals prepared by an itamae with 15 years of experience in New York City. Easy on the eye, uncompromisingly seasonal and ambitiously out-there in terms of flavours, chef Suzuki's cuisine feels almost underpriced...
From the moment you remove your shoes to walk on the tatami mats to the moment you eat your final morsel of supple crabmeat, Kitafuku is an exhilarating experience. A meal lasts at least two hours, which is the minimum time necessary for a live king crab to be deshelled, systematically dismantled – leg by leg, claw by claw – and feasted upon having been prepared in various ways...
A cluster of food safety certificates on the walls should assuage the fears of even the most ardent fuguphobes – the blowfish at this Taito-ku restaurant, right in between Asakusa and Ueno, won’t kill you. Quite the contrary, in fact. After eating a mustard-flecked cube of wobbly nikogori, boiled fugu in its own jelly, you’ll have a spring in your step, and not only because you successfully ate the hardest food in the world to negotiate with chopsticks...
Chanko nabe is the protein-rich hotpot dish eaten by sumo wrestlers to build up their massive bodies, and there’s no better way to enjoy this traditional favourite than by having it cooked by a former wrestler. Koto Kuroshio is still a larger-than-life character, despite having shed plenty of weight since his active years, and welcomes all comers to his Kagurazaka restaurant...
Upon entering this 92-year-old establishment, you’re immediately smacked with the intense smell of beef stew, simmered for who knows how many hours. The recognisable ‘Yamariki aroma’ makes its presence felt on each of the three levels (and stairwell) of this shitamachi classic, where the speciality is, of course, nikomi. Cooked in a huge cauldron-like cask iron pot...
Enter through the butcher shop – what a brilliant concept for a steakhouse. Nakasei is, above all, a purveyor of the finest quality aged Tajima beef: they welcome a new cow every couple of weeks, butcher the poor thing and hang its meat to dry anywhere from six weeks to six months, depending on the part. At the butcher’s quarters – pristine, like a surgeon’s operating room – you can buy around 20 cuts...
There are only three food items on Henry’s Burger’s menu: hamburger, double hamburger, and fries. This is a good thing. Too many restaurants make the error of over-complicating this most satisfyingly simple of fast foods. Henry’s Burger, named after the owner, who spent some of his childhood in California, benefits from a less-is-more approach to burgerology...
Yusuke Nakada sure loves mushrooms. They inspired the name of the chef’s Yoyogi-Hachiman restaurant, appear in most of the dishes, and there are ’shroom playing cards framed on the walls. Nakada used to work in a rural French restaurant famed for its creative use of fungi and the experience clearly left its mark...
Poke your head through the door of this popular Ginza restaurant and you’ll surely swoon. A mingling of Indian spices fills the air, colourful carpets hang from dark blue walls, the floors are tiled and turquoise, and south Indian music at a low volume helps create a tranquil, almost meditative vibe. It’s an alluringly romantic environment – but it doesn’t come close to upstaging the food...
With the authentically tiny plastic stools and national flag T-shirts strung up across the courtyard like bunting, you could almost be in Vietnam. This Ekoda restaurant’s superb bánh mì add to the sense of being somewhere else; it helps that owner-chef Yumiko Adachi is a renowned expert (and cookbook author) on these baguettes stuffed with meat or fish, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs and chilli...