Japan

Restaurants in Japan

Most restaurants in Japan serve local dishes, which consists mainly of rice, miso, fish, noodles, and seasonal vegetables. The local diet is relatively healthy, which is why Japan has a much lower obesity rate than other developed nations. However, in recent years international cuisine has become incredibly popular; it’s now possible to find Japanese restaurants that serve anything from American food to Italian to French cuisine.

However, when in Japan, eat as the Japanese do. Tokyo in particular – which boasts some of the best restaurants in Japan -- is a food lover’s paradise. It contains more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world. Don’t leave without stopping at Daiwa Sushi. Wait times can easily exceed one hour, but it’s worth it: the sashimi melts in your mouth. Japanese restaurants are also known for their noodle dishes, and it would be a crime to leave the country without sampling at least one bowl of ramen and udon.

For fans of soba noodles, texture is key, and noodle shop Matsugen is reputed to have perfected it. Located on the third floor of a Ginza office tower, Matsugen attracts a business lunch crowd with its quiet ambience and low-key decor: dark wood furniture with strong lines.

The noodle shop has been dishing up handmade soba, udon, and tempura since 1465.

Soba is a staple of many Japanese dishes, from soups to mori soba (a cold-noodle dish), but it's rare to find them made by hand.

Set behind a leafy, courtyard-like entryway, Yabu Soba has an Old Tokyo feel, with its dark wooden beams, paper lanterns, and seating at the counter or at low-wooden tables with cushions for seats atop tatami-mat floors.

The house specialty is a refined version of oden (Japanese hot pot). Sit at the counter, select your oden ingredients from a large brass pot, and sip an atsu-kan (hot sake) such as the seasonal Kikuhime Junmai.

Japan's love affair with the ramen noodle is celebrated at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, an interactive exhibit space that includes a ramen 'theme park' with recreated mid-20th-century ramen shops from around Japan.

Black laquer, red accents, and floor-to-ceiling windows set the tone for French celebrity chef Joel Robuchon's Roppongi Hills venue, where diners at the the 44-seat counter watch black-clad chefs prepare creative dishes inspired by Mediterranean flavors and the simplicty of Japanese culinary trad

The fare at this international café with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the runway ranges from American-style hamburgers to a bowl of udon (or Japanese wheat) noodles with fried shrimp. Not hungry? Try a 12-year-old Suntory Yamazaki, an excellent Japanese single malt whiskey.

Open, airy, and contemporary (floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick, wooden floors, and ulphostered banquettes), Union Square brings the success of New York chef Danny Meyer's cafe of the same name to Tokyo, where it's reinterpreted by chefs Michael Romano and Yoshichika Matsuda.

Tuck into a succulent Kurobuta-pork tonkatsu (cutlet) in a shaggy crisp panko crust.

At this envelope-pushing restaurant the sashimi comes with a side of pesto.

Dazzle gets its name from the star-like, LED-light-enhanced Swarovski Crystal lamps that seem to float above the cavernous dining room of this upscale restaurant in the Mikimoto Ginza 2 building.

After serving as executive chef in some of Tokyo’s top hotels, Yuki Wakiya opened this namesake Chinese restaurant in 2001.

This minimalist Ginza gem got a Michelin star for its divine kushiage (deep-fried skewers). While the wine list is excellent, happo sake (cold sparkling sake) also pairs well with kushiage.

Cantonese-food fans come to this uncanny simulacrum of downtown Kowloon.