Tokyo, which was recently awarded the honors of hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, is a city that takes immense pride and pleasure in the presentation of its food. And the food isn't just pretty—it's delicious and usually very healthy, with plates artfully filled with fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables. Book your flights to Tokyo and enjoy one of the world's most innovative cities when it comes to the culinary arts. From traditional sushi bars to inexpensive noodle houses to posh restaurants, Tokyo's dining scene merges East with West, old with new, and always with style.
Yes, it's touristy, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, also known as Tsukiji Market, has some of the best, cheapest options for breakfast in town. If you show up before sunrise, you won't be the only one there; the market starts hopping early. During our spring visit to Tokyo, we got to Tsukiji Market on the late side, around 9 a.m., and the place was quite crowded and winding down from a busy morning. We didn't stand a chance getting breakfast at Daiwa Sushi, one of the best sushi restaurants in town where the line begins before dawn and the waits can be up to two hours. Instead, we slid into one of the many small stalls with about four tables and enjoyed some fantastically fresh chutoro tuna over rice. It was a delicious, filling, simple breakfast that cost less than $20 USD for two people.
If you're ready for a relaxing, midday Japanese meal, then Daigo is the place. It's a vegetarian restaurant in a temple surrounded by zen gardens. Unwind in one of the private tatami rooms overlooking the gardens. Servers dressed in traditional kimono bring multiple courses to try, like green tea somen noodles or deep-fried tofu and mushrooms. This is definitely not the place to power lunch or to rush.
Set lunch menus are on the pricey side, ranging from $90 USD to more than $130 USD, but the cultural experience makes it worth it.
New York Grill doesn't sound Japanese or even look traditionally Japanese, but it's an amazing place to have dinner and it's quite popular among Tokyo residents and traveling Westerners. Located high up at the Tokyo Park Hyatt's 52nd floor, the restaurant offers amazing views of the city, and, if you're lucky, a glimpse of the magnificent Mount Fuji. Film lovers may remember this is where the main characters of the hit film "Lost in Translation" first met. The a la carte dinner menu offers a range of surf and turf, from crab cakes with mango salsa to Kobe beef. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.
Sweets Forest will overload your senses with its funky decor and extensive dessert menu, including cakes, crepes, ice cream, fruits and various treats decorated with colorful, creative designs. Sweets Forest is a chain restaurant, a kind of theme park for sugar lovers, and while it may at first feel goofy, the food is the reason folks keep coming back.
For more information about visiting Tokyo, visit http://www.gotokyo.org/en/.
Photo credit: complexify