Lonely Planet Writer

Tourists will finally be able to access some of Tokyo's most exclusive restaurants thanks to a new online booking system

If luxury dining is one of your priorities while you travel, you’ll know it can be difficult to get a table in the most famous restaurants. Foodie travellers to Tokyo now have a new solution: Tableall.

Kabuto, small eatery in Omoide Yokocho.
Kabuto, small eatery in Omoide Yokocho. Image by Matt Munro

Japan is home to some of the most exclusive dining experiences in the world but they can be difficult to get access to if you’re a visitor. The language barrier makes it difficult to get reservations but with tables booking up months in advance, it can even be impossible for a hotel concierge to get you a reservation.

Seeing this difficulty, businessman Takashi Yamada decided to set up online reservation system Tableall to give travellers an incredible, authentic dining experience. Tableall buys seating with the city’s top restaurants upfront and then gourmet aficionados can purchase the booking and pay the full course dining fee upfront when they know what dates they’ll be in Tokyo.

A photo posted by TABLEALL (@tableall) on Oct 31, 2016 at 7:16am PDT

Before your visit, the company will also provide all the information you need in English, including map locations, interviews with the chefs, photographs of the restaurant and the food you can expect. Instead of a review system, after your meal there’s also an option to write a private message to the chef offering feedback. Tableall explains this will  “enable restaurants to provide foreign guests the same level of service as Japanese guests, something that is not always easy due to language barriers.”

A photo posted by TABLEALL (@tableall) on Oct 17, 2016 at 8:00am PDT

Currently the service acts as a bridge between tourists and eleven top-rated Tokyo restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Tempura Motoyoshi. Yamada has plans to expand the service in 2018, with locations in Kyoto and Hokkaido and hopes to get other Tokyo restaurants to sign up as well. So far, some have declined, preferring to keep their long waiting lists clear for regular customers.

A photo posted by TABLEALL (@tableall) on Sep 23, 2016 at 5:22am PDT

The service is geared toward high-end business travellers as Yamada himself is a former Wall Street executive. Prices can start from 20,000 yen (US$175) per person but if that’s too much for you to stomach, Tokyo has plenty of cheaper options for delicious, affordable meals.