Tokyo would probably be the foreign city if I had to eat one city’s food for the rest of my life, every day. I think the majority of chefs you ask that question would answer the same way. — Anthony Bourdain
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Visiting Tokyo for the first time? Check this.
This spot in Harajuku will forever change the way anyone thinks of gyoza. Outrageously delicious pan fried and steamed dumplings for the cost of a matcha latte in NYC. Order at least one of everything on the menu. There are only about eight items, all under 10 bucks.
Of the meals I stumbled upon, of which there were a profusion, Shin stands out as the shining star. There is always a wait, but it’s also a show as there’s a window into the udon master’s kitchen where you can watch him roll, cut, and cook the noodles at speeds that make you wonder if you’ve been drinking too much.
When you want to make it rain yen and ball out on omakase this is a worthy recipient. There are two servers to every one guest. You get the idea.
Chopsticks down, the BEST ramen I had in Tokyo. There’s always a line at this Tokyo Ramen Street gem (noticing the pattern here?) but it’s a well-oiled machine and things move quickly. I recommend the tsukemen (noodles you dip into broth) with the side of chili zest. Pro tip — insert your cash into the vending machine FIRST, then select what you want to slurp. Also, wear the paper bib they give you.
This 13 seat sushi bar in the outer market of the Tsukiji Fish Market is precisely what will ruin all future sushi experiences you’ll ever have the pleasure of fake enjoying. Without hesitation I would take this $34 omakase over any other omakase I’ve ever had, including Urasawa. It was that mind-blowingly spot-on and delectable in every conceivable way. This meal will be the one that haunts me for… ever.
One of the meals I looked forward to most in Tokyo was tonkatsu (it’s been a bit of thing for me for awhile now). It’s just really fun to eat and we don’t have good katsu in the US. Maisen is like if Wes Anderson birthed a Japanese diner, waitress uniforms and all.
This Shinjuku izakaya is a legitimate TAVERN with $1 beers and delicious and cheap eats like an array of sashimi, Japanese omelet, toro and avocado salad, and yakatori.
A popular ramen joint in Shinjuku. The tsukemen here was rich, which I’m all about. Sadly the broth itself was cold, putting a damper on my slurping. Proper ramen-ing requires a bit of masochism.
Conveyor belt sushi. Stay with me… Otoro, uni, salmon belly, all for a few dollars or less. Many of which were better than Kyubey.
The Venice/Brooklyn neighborhood of Tokyo, Daikanyama, is sadly somewhat predictably my favorite of the sprawling city (once you get there you’ll feel the same). This is literally a backyard with a few tables and a quaint hut serving their five menu options, which boil down to homemade beer and shaved ice. This would be contrived and overtly trying to appeal to hipsters had there been tourists amuck. NOT-A-ONE. 🙏
Curious about where to cocktail? Thought so.