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.

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.

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.

Diners at this kaiten sushi or "revolving sushi" restaurant select from a never-ending parade of sushi on conveyer belts.

The nine-floor ride in a claustrophobic, battered elevator is well worth it: The doors open to Kondo, a Zen-calm dining room of muted tans and blond cedar presided over by fry master Fumio Kondo, revered for his secret-recipe batter.

The devotion of affluent sophisticates has made owner Kazuhiko Kinoshita a star and kept the 32 seats booked far in advance.

Tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables) are the specialty at this branch of the Kyoto-based restaurant Kintame.

The polished shop puts a twist on traditional Japanese mochi (glutinous rice cakes) by injecting them with fluffy cream, along with the standard red bean paste. Try offbeat favors such as blueberry or caramel pudding.

A sleek and elegant izakaya (drinking place) on the fifth floor of a Marunouchi skyscraper, Daigomi features an upscale robata-yaki (charcoal grill) where expense-account diners choose the fresh ingredients for their meal from the gorgeous display in front of them.

Japan’s traditional meal-ending confections, collectively known as wagashi, still have a passionate fan base. Often made with red-bean paste, sugar, and mochi (glutinous rice cakes), the treats were once a favored gift exchanged by samurai.

Set in a zen garden in Atago, Daigo is a shojin ryori (vegetarian restaurant) in the Buddhist tradition, housed in a temple building that was moved to its current location from the grounds of the nearby Daigo-ji Temple.

Ask for a seat on the outdoor terrace at this Teruo Kurosaki-owned eatery.