Where to eat in Tokyo?
This is a hard question. We prefer to just “find a place” that looks good and sit down and see what happens. Tokyo is of course known for good food, especially sushi. So, you will find plenty of places with decent food, if you want the gourmet Michelin star experience, you need to book years in advance, or be prepared to stand in line for hours. To find suitable restaurants we used Yelp! and Tripadvisor to double check reviews at places in our vicinity at the time when hunger struck. And always follow the rule of full restaurant with locals equals great food! If its empty or full of what looks like tourists, avoid! We ate at local hole in the wall like the Sugoi Niboshi Ramen Nagi in Goldengai Bekkan. Small place with just a bar counter with chefs behind it. Remember to look for the vending machine at the door in most small eateries in Tokyo, it’s where you make your order and pay, and then present your receipt to the chef behind the counter, and he will make up your order.
Do NOT sit down and expect service at the counter, we did, and was told to head out the door (we thought) but they just (we think) said that we needed to order on the machine by the door. Delish ramen noodles in heavenly broth followed. We also found a good tempura (deep fried in batter stuff) place, since Shinjuku is known for good tempura places. This place was recommended in several places, and we had a blast at tempura Tsunahachi Shinjuku So Honten, it’s worth the wait. Again, we were placed on a bar counter with a stern looking chef behind it, watching over a large cauldron of hot oil. We ordered a tasting of all they had, and we got everything from fresh eel to lotus root. Dining with locals on the chair next to you is always cool, Ørjan ended up befriending a slightly drunk local, both spoke in their native tongues, and had a great time. “Vikingu” was the only thing we understood of the flow of Japanese from the man, lots of “kanpai” and “oishii” made the conversation flow back and forth. Those moments are what we live for, great food, drinks and speaking across language barriers over the love of life. We also tried Korean bbq, there was a street just behind our hotel packed with small bbq joints. You sit at a small table, get the grill between you on the table, and basically grill whatever you order. Everything from small intestine and uterus to kobe beef and wagyu. You come out of the bbq joint filled up and happy and your clothes will smell like a bbq party has happened in your inner pocket.
The Golden Gais of Tokyo
The Golden Gais are old districts of food and drink, tight streets and even tighter bars and small hole in the wall restaurants. That these places still exist, not having been bulldozed a long time ago, is a stroke of luck. There are still a few very good Golden Gais left in Shinjuku. The bars/restaurants have places ranging from 5 to maybe 30 guests, tight squeeze for all, be sure that you will get to know thy neighbour. Most bars accept visitors, but also expect to be denied, even though the bar is empty. Most of them have a cover charge, some are free. Just try and sit down, you may get yelled at, just try the next place. It’s epic, like being in Blade Runner if it rains. It’s a must visit when in Tokyo.