Traditional Japanese food culture, called [washoku] in Japanese, was designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2013. When you come to Japan, the first thing you should do is try genuine washoku. In Tokyo in particular, there are a host of fine restaurants lined up competing for your patronage. This article will introduce a selection of 10 of the best restaurants for you to visit in Tokyo, as well as the history and special characteristics of washoku. We at Savor Japan are confident that you will love these restaurants, so please check them out!
What Is Washoku?
Washoku is used to describe the Japanese food culture that makes use of Japan's abundant seasonal produce grown by the seas and rivers, and on the mountains and land. Meals primarily consist of a combination of dishes including rice, soup, side dishes, and pickles. Washoku was designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, noted for its unique developments that saw it adopt and incorporate foods from overseas while still respecting its own traditions. Integral to washoku is the dashi (broth). It is this soup, made by drawing out the umami (Japanese savory taste) from ingredients such as katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), kombu (kelp), and niboshi (dried baby anchovies or sardines), that provides the fundamental flavors of the cuisine. Another characteristic flavor comes from the use of fermented condiments such as soy sauce and miso. Well-known washoku dishes include sushi and tempura, while foods from foreign cultures that have been adapted to a Japanese style are also eaten. Examples of such dishes include curry, ramen, and sukiyaki (hot pot stew).
Recommended Restaurants in Tokyo
Here is an introduction to 10 restaurants in Tokyo where you can try delicious washoku! You can use this as a guide on your trip to Japan.
1. Japanese Restaurant SEIZAN (Shirokane-Takanawa / Japanese Cuisine / Kaiseki)
Situated in a quiet residential area, Japanese Restaurant SEIZAN is a starred restaurant run by a young chef. Particular care is taken in the making of the dashi here. Two types of dried fish flakes are used, katsuo (skipjack tuna) and maguro (bluefin tuna), and the amount of time the kombu is soaked in water is altered to suit the season. The Shogoin Daikon and Amadai Soup is a seasonal dish that fully showcases the flavor of this dashi. You can also try the set menu options with courses consisting of refined dishes made from ingredients such as organic vegetables that have been carefully chosen by the chef.
Japanese Restaurant SEIZAN
: [Tuesday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays]Dinner: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm )
[Tuesday, Thursday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays]Lunch: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm )Closed
: MondayAverage price
: [Dinner] 17,000 JPY / [Lunch] 6,000 JPYAccess
: 8 minutes walk from Shirokane-takanawa station on the Tokyo Metro subwayAddress
: B1F, Grande Mita, 2-17-29, Mita , Minato-ku, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
2. Makimura (Omorikaigan / Japanese Cuisine)
Makimura is a restaurant where you can try kaiseki (traditional Japanese course cuisine) made using carefully selected, seasonal ingredients. You should definitely try the Taichazuke which can be enjoyed in two ways: first, enjoy the sea bream, freshly prepared each morning, as sashimi, then change the taste by adding dashi to the rice to make it into ochazuke (green tea or broth poured on top of rice). The combination of the kombu dashi that has been slow cooked over 12 hours the previous day and the bite of the meaty sea bream creates a dish that gives you a mouthful of umami flavor with every bite.
: 5:00 pm-10:00 pm (L.O.9:00 pm) Last entry at 8:00 pmClosed
: Sundays,Holidays on MondayAverage price
: [Dinner] 15,000 JPYAccess
: 12 minutes by foot in the direction of Minamioi from the north exit of Omori station on the JR Keihin-Tohoku line. 6 minutes by foot from Omori-Kaigan station on the Keikyu Main Line.Address
: Makimura Bld. 1F, Minamioi 3-11-5, Shinagawa, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
Shibuya / Roppongi Area
3. Oryori Shunso (Komazawa-daigaku / Japanese Cuisine / Kaiseki)
Oryori Shunso] is run by an owner who spent 20 years building their knowledge of Japanese cuisine before opening their own restaurant. Sample the charms of washoku with their multi-course set menus. One of the dishes from the course menu is the [Appetizer Platter] which is made up of 7 small dishes cooked using seasonal ingredients such as mackerel stewed in fish sauce, oysters stewed in Kyoto red miso, and Pacific cod marinated in kombu. This dish alone is extravagant enough to make it feel like you have eaten a banquet. The numerous tasteful bowls and dishes are also a point of interest, and they enhance the food.
: [Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Sunday, National Holidays, Days before National Holidays] Dinner 6:00 pm - 11:30 pmClosed
: WednesdayAverage price
: [Dinner] 7,000 JPYAccess
: 12 minutes from Komazawa-Daigaku station on Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line/15 minutes from Gakugei-Daigaku station on Tokyu Toyoko LineAddress
: 1F, Dayawardy, 2-5-1 Nozawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
4. Shunsai Oguraya (Ikejiri-Ohashi / Japanese Cuisine / Kaiseki)
Situated next to Ikejiri-ohashi Station, not far from Shibuya station, Shunsai Oguraya is a small restaurant that frequently attracts food connoisseurs. Enjoy dishes full of seasonal flavors that make use of an abundance of ingredients such as beef and duck reared in Yamanashi Prefecture, as well as organic vegetables. Of these dishes, you must try the Seasonal Donabe Takikomi Gohan. This mild-flavored dish consists of rice cooked until fluffy in an earthenware pot along with ingredients that change with each season, including ikura (salmon roe), sea bream, pike, and sweetfish.
: [Opening hours] 6:00 pm - 2:00 am (L.O. 1:00 am)Closed
: SundayAverage price
: [Dinner] 6,000 JPYAccess
: A 1-minute walk from the east exit of Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line, Ikejiri-Ohashi station. Follow the road that intersects diagonally with Tamagawa-dori.Address
: 2F, 2-31-18 Ikejiri, Setagaya, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
5. Japanese Restaurant TAKEMOTO (Shibuya / Japanese Cuisine / Kaiseki)
Japanese Restaurant TAKEMOTO is one of the country's leading Japanese restaurants, boasting a highly trained chef. A wealth of wonderful dishes allows you to experience the true depth of Japanese cuisine made using simple preparation methods to bring out the best of the ingredients. In addition to the exquisitely smooth textured, rich-flavored Cod Milt and Lily Bulb Steamed With Egg and the Lightly-simmered Oysters and Shintorina (a type of vegetable related to rapeseed) which combines a flavorful Edo period vegetable with large oysters, you must try the decadent Sea Urchin Cooked With Rice containing rare sea urchins.
Japanese Restaurant TAKEMOTO
: Lunch: 12:00 pm -1:30 pm. A reservation made at least one day in advance is required / Dinner: 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm. Last admittance 10:00 pm. (A reservation is required.)Closed
: IrregularAverage price
: [Dinner] 12,000 JPY / [Lunch] 7,000 JPYAccess
: Alight at Daikan-yama station on the Tokyu Toyoko line, and we will be on the street right behind Hachiman Avenue, near Hachiyama Junior High School.Address
: Daikanyama Twelve II 1-A, Uguisudani-cho 8-10, Shibuya, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
6. Azabu-juban Kanazawa (Azabu-Juban / Japanese Cuisine)
Enjoy extravagant washoku at this restaurant that focuses on using ingredients produced in the Hokuriku region such as Noto beef, nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch), and Kaga vegetables. The restaurant's most renowned dish is the Rice Cooked in an Iron Pot With Nodoguro, Mullet Roe, and Ikura (5,000 JPY). Enjoy the rice along with the flavors of the oily sea perch and the salty golden mullet roe. Aside from the wonderful flavors, you will be amazed by its glorious appearance. You also can't help but admire the colorful Kutani ware (a type of ceramic produced in the Kaga region of Ishikawa Prefecture) used to showcase the dish.
: [Tuesday - Sunday Day before National Holidays] Dinner 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm) *Consumption tax and 10% service charge will be added. Closed
: Monday National holidaysAverage price
: [Dinner] 15,000 JPYAccess
: 1-minute walk after crossing the road from exit No.7 of Oedo Line [Azabu-juban station] / 3-minute walk to the right after exiting from the exit No.5B of Namboku Line [Azabu-juban station]Address
: B1F, Hasebeya Bldg., 1-7-7 Azabu-juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
7. Kappo Tonbo (Honjo-azumabashi / Japanese Cuisine / Kaiseki)
A traditional Japanese restaurant boasting 86 years of history, Kappo Tonbo is definitely the place to go while sightseeing in Asakusa. Enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine in peaceful, traditional Japanese-style surroundings. The restaurant’s specialty is the Maple Saikyoyaki (from 1,000 JPY per serving). One of the restaurant's original dishes, it contains fish such as gindara (Japanese bluefish) or kinmedai (red bream) marinated in Kyoto-produced Saikyo miso and Canadian maple syrup. It is also worth trying the set menu Artisan Full Kaiseki Course (4,800 JPY) which features many favorites of Japanese cuisine.
: 11:30 am - 10:00 pmClosed
: IrregularAverage price
: [Dinner] 5,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,500 JPYAccess
: 1 minute walk from Honjo-azumabashi Station Exit A4 on Toei Asakusa Line. 8 minuutes walk from Asakusa Station Exit 4 on Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.Address
: 3-7-17, Azumabashi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
Nihonbashi / Ginza Area
8. Ginza Ishizuka (Ginza-itchome / Japanese Cuisine / Kaiseki)
Ginza Ishizuka is a Japanese restaurant in Ginza. As you walk through the shop curtain and enter the shop, you can't help but be impressed by the large hinoki cypress counter. You can try seasonal cuisine made from specially selected ingredients such as fish caught in Setouchi and flown in fresh every morning, and Kagawa-produced Sanuki Wagyu olive-fed beef—a meat that is not too oily or heavy but has an intense, concentrated flavor. They offer a menu with highlights such as Lightly Simmered Tonguefish and Claypot Sea Bream Rice that is loved by customers of all ages.
: [Weekdays, Saturday, Days before holidays] Lunch 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm)
[Weekdays, Saturday] 5:30 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm)Closed
: SundaysAverage price
: [Dinner] 15,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,500 JPYAccess
: Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, Ginza Ichome Station, 1 minute walk from exit number 10. After exiting, turn left at the Family Mart. It's on your left.Address
: Habiuru Ginza 5F, Ginza 1-13-8, Chuo-ku, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
9. Nihonbashi Osaka (Mitsukoshimae / Japanese Cuisine)
Nihonbashi Osaka is a restaurant hidden away in one of Nihonbashi’s back alleys. The restaurant offers a range of delights particular to their style, from the Sea Bream Chazuke that has a creamy flavor coming from the nuts and sesame seeds in it, to a rather unique Sukiyaki made with top-quality, A5 rank, domestically-reared beef that you dip in egg that has been turned into a mousse. Try and get a special counter seat so that you can see the chef’s amazing skills up close.
: [Weekdays, Saturday] Dinner 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm *Currently closed for lunchClosed
: Sunday, National HolidaysAverage price
: [Dinner] 13,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,500 JPYAccess
: A six-minute walk from Mitsukoshimae Station. Head left from Exit A6, cross the Honmachi Ni Chome traffic signal (toward the east), and turn right. Turn left at the second corner, and the restaurant will be 100 meters ahead on the left.Address
: 4F Green Building, 6-16 Nihonbashi-kobuna-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
10. Kappo Aun (Fuchu / Japanese Cuisine / Kaiseki)
You will find this restaurant in a detached property in Fuchu away from the noise of the city center. Here you can try genuine Japanese cuisine made using old-fashioned techniques to bring out the best of the ingredients without having to rely on time-saving devices such as pressure cookers. You must try the Braised Pork and Colorful Vegetables (980 JPY (plus tax)) that is cooked over 9 hours to let the flavors permeate through the dish, or enjoy the Hoba-yaki (grilled on a magnolia leaf) (2,400 JPY (plus tax)) made with A5-rank Japanese beef and served with a special miso dressing. As the prices are quite reasonable, it is a good place to drop in when you're feeling hungry.
: [Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Lunch 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm *[Kaiseki Gozen (set meal)] is offered for 6 or more people. Reservation required / Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (Food L.O. 10:00 pm, Drink L.O. 10:30 pm) Closed
: WednesdayAverage price
: [Dinner] 8,000 JPY / [Lunch] 5,000 JPYAccess
: 6 minutes walk from [Fuchu Station] on Keio Line or [Fuchu Honmachi Station] on JR Nambu LineAddress
: 2-22-18 Miyamachi, Fuchu city, Tokyo MapMore Details Reservation
What do you think? From the traditional to the unique, there are all sorts of restaurants serving all kinds of Japanese foods. We hope you can use this article as a starting point to delve deeper into the world of Japanese cuisine.
Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.