Best restaurants in Japan

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    Tofuya-Ukai

    One of Tokyo’s most gracious restaurants is located in a former sake brewery (moved from northern Japan), with an exquisite traditional garden in the shadow of Tokyo Tower. Seasonal preparations of tofu and accompanying dishes are served in the refined kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) style. Make reservations well in advance. Vegetarians should advise staff when they book, and last orders for weekday lunch is 3pm, for dinner 7.30pm.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Odaiba & Tokyo Bay

    Sushi Dai

    There is no better-value sushi in Tokyo than the omakase (chef's choice) course here. The menu changes daily (and sometimes hourly), but you're guaranteed to get 10 pieces of nigiri (hand-pressed) sushi made from seafood picked up from the fish market downstairs, prepared one at a time, pre-seasoned to perfection (and with zero boring fillers). Expect to queue.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Inua

    German-born chef and Noma alumnus Thomas Frebel leads an international team of young chefs here at Inua, one of Tokyo's most talked about openings in recent years. With its focus on sourcing the best local produce – be it prized enoki mushrooms from Hokkaidō, wild pepper from Okinawa or bee larva from Nagano – the 15-course set menu is one hell of a trip.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Karatsu

    Kawashima Tōfu

    On Kyōmachi covered arcade near the station, this renowned tofu shop has been in business since the Edo period and serves refined kaiseki, starring tofu plus other seasonal specialities, around a 10-seat counter in its jewel box of a back room. Soft, warm, fresh – this is tofu as good as it gets.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    Kikunoi

    Kikunoi is one of Japan's storied ryōtei, the high-class restaurants that serves kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine). Its Akasaka branch is (relatively speaking) more casual and approachable. English-speaking staff are on hand to explain all the incredible seasonal delicacies served one at a time, each plated as works of art, over the two- to 2½-hour course.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Sapporo

    Menya Saimi

    Sapporo takes its ramen very seriously and Saimi is oft-voted the best ramen shop in the city (and sometimes the country) – and it's not overrated. You will have to queue, which is annoying, but you will be rewarded with a mind-blowing meal for the same price as a convenience store bentō. Get the miso ramen.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Asakusa & Sumida River

    Kappō Yoshiba

    The former Miyagino sumo stable is the location for this one-of-a-kind restaurant that has preserved the dōyō (practice ring) as its centrepiece. Playing up to its sumo roots, you can order the protein-packed stew chanko-nabe (for two people from ¥5200), but Yoshiba's real strength is its sushi, freshly prepared in jumbo portions.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Fukuoka

    Ichiran

    This Fukuoka-born chain (since 1993) has a nationwide following. That's as much for its serving style as for its fresh noodles and 15-second kitchen-to-table rule. Customers fill out forms (available in English) requesting precisely how they want their noodles prepared: flavour strength, fat content, noodle tenderness, amount of special sauce and garlic, and eat at individual cubicles for zero distractions.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Asakusa & Sumida River

    Asakusa Imahan

    Among the oldest and most famous of Tokyo's wagyū (Japanese beef) restaurants, Imahan (in business since 1895), specialises in courses of sukiyaki and shabu-shabu, thin slices of marbled beef are cooked in hot broth at your table (followed up with vegetables and noodles). For sukiyaki, the broth has a deeper soy sauce flavour and the cooked meat is dipped in raw egg yolk.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Northern Higashiyama

    Omen

    This elegant noodle shop, a five-minute walk from Ginkaku-ji, is named after the signature dish – thick white noodles that are served in broth with a selection of seven fresh vegetables. Choose from hot or cold noodles, and you'll be given a bowl of soup to dip them in and a plate of vegetables (put these into the soup along with the sesame seeds).

  • Restaurants in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Taimeiken

    This classic restaurant, open since 1931, specialises in yōshoku – Western cuisine adapted to the Japanese palate. Its signature dish is omuraisu (an omelette stuffed with ketchup-flavoured fried rice), to which you can add a side of borscht and coleslaw for the very retro price of ¥50 each. The tampopo omuraisu was created for Itami Jūzō's cult movie.

  • Restaurants in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Kado

    Set in an old wooden house with a white lantern out the front, Kado specialises in katei-ryōri (home-cooking). Dinner is a set course of seasonal dishes (such as grilled quail or fresh tofu). Bookings are required for the full selection of courses, but you can try turning up on the night and if there's space, you'll be able to eat.

  • Restaurants in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Tamahide

    For generations, people have been lining up outside this restaurant – in business since 1760 – to try its signature dish oyakodon, a sweet-savoury mix of chicken, soy broth and lightly cooked egg, served over a bowl of rice. It also has dishes using minced chicken or duck that are all delicious and filling. Pay before you sit down at lunch.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Harajuku & Aoyama

    sushi m

    There are sushi shops that pride themselves on hewing to tradition and then there is sushi m (and blessedly Tokyo has room for both). Here there are two counters: the front one where chefs, led by Nakamura Michimasa (formerly of Sushi Shin), serve classic nigiri (hand-formed sushi) but also dishes like hibachi-seared buri (amberjack) seasoned with shiokōji (a condiment made from kōji, the yeast used in sake brewing, and salt).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Harajuku & Aoyama

    Eatrip

    Eatrip is one of the big players in Tokyo's farm-to-table organic movement. Chef Shiraishi Takayuki works closely with domestic producers and his cooking is more about coaxing out the natural flavours than embelishment. The food is ostesibly Japanese but with some international inspiration. Sample dish: mahata (grouper; from Mie Prefecture) sautéed with harissa (made in-house), squid ink and daikon (radish).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Kozue

    It's hard to beat Kozue's combination of exquisite seasonal Japanese cuisine, artisan crockery and distractingly good views over Shinjuku. As the kimono-clad staff speak English and the restaurant caters well to dietary restrictions and personal preferences, this is a good splurge spot for diners who don't want to give up complete control. Reservations essential for dinner and recommended for lunch; 15% service charge.

  • Restaurants in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Mensho

    The Mensho chain is known for its innovative ramen recipes and the clean, contemporary design of its shops. At this branch the concept is farm to bowl. The shio (salt) ramen is beautifully presented in a seafood broth, with a dusting of golden roe and seaweed-flake-covered scallop on the side of the bowl.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Imperial Palace & Around

    Kanei

    A small traditional place not far from Funaoka Onsen, Kanei is for soba connoisseurs – the noodles are made by hand and are delicious. The owners don’t speak much English, so here’s what to order: zaru soba (cold soba; ¥950) or kake soba (soba in a broth; ¥1000). Prepare to queue and note that noodles often sell out early.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Harajuku & Aoyama

    Sahsya Kanetanaka

    Sahsya Kanetanaka is the entry level offshoot of exclusive kaiseki (haute cuisine) restaurant Kanetanaka. At lunch (served until 2pm) choose two mains (maybe thin sliced Japanese beef or sea bream) to go with small plates of seasonal vegetables (mushrooms topped with chrysanthemum petals, for example). Dinner (reservations required) is six courses with a little bit of everything.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Hakodate

    Kikuyo Shokudo

    Inside Hakodate Morning Market, Kikuyo Shokudo got its start in the 1950s as a counter joint to feed market workers and is now one of the top reasons to come to Hakodate. The speciality here is the Hakodate tomoe-don (函館巴丼; ¥1780), rice topped with raw uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe) and hotate (scallops). There's a picture menu.