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.

More of a take-out stand than a café, this “American-style” operation is the ideal spot for grabbing a quick bite or refreshment—pure beef hot dogs, beer, muffins, and coffee—on the go.

An intimate (22 seats only) tempura house in upscale Roppongi Hills, Tempura Mikawa is found behind an unmarked, sliding wooden door set into a full-wall mural of blue birds on a gold background.

The line of salarymen descending the stairs into this ramen haven is long, but take heart:  it moves quickly, as these guys slurp like there’s no tomorrow.

Teppei specializes in esoteric shochu spirits and 10 kinds of ume-shu (plum) liqueur. The narrow haunt also serves an Okinawan Spam sushi - perversely delicious. Best of all, Teppei employs the services of certified Vegetable and Fruit Meister, a.k.a.

Part avante-garde art gallery, part dance club, part bar, Super Deluxe occupies an open basement space with concrete floors and high ceilings, decorated with contemporary furniture and a bar on wheels that serves cocktails and coffee drinks into the wee hours.

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.

Located on the third floor of a Ginza office tower, Ginza Harutaka is a place known mostly to sushi lovers, especially Tokyo chefs.

One of two sushi restaurants inside the Tsukiji Fish Market, Daiwa is a traditional sushi counter with room for about a dozen sitting elbow-to-elbow in front of the busy chefs preparing the city's freshest catch for immediate consumption. Many say Daiwa is Tokyo's best sushi restaurant.

Surrounding the vast maze of refrigerated stalls in the centrally located Tsukiji fish market are simple spots that cater to off-duty fishmongers, still wearing their indigo overalls and insulated rubber boots. By 7 a.m.

Housed in a 19th-century sake brewery that was relocated from the countryside, Tofuya Ukai sits at the base of Tokyo Tower amidst zen gardens (complete with a stream and water wheel) visible from each of the restaurant's 55 private tatami dining rooms.

In 1834, a samurai made his claim to fame with his fruit and vegetables shop, introducing the then-isolated Japan to imported produce. More than 150 years later, the fruit parlor and its reputation are still intact.

Chef Kimio Nonaga gained acclaim as the winner of the 2002 Iron Chef competition and has catered meals for the Imperial household, but his traditional kaiseki (multi-course) restaurant, located just a few minutes from Tokyo Station, is affordable and friendly.