7 Memorable Meals in Tokyo / by Midori Ng

Walking the streets of Tokyo, I realized you can go just about anywhere and the food would be delicious. This past summer was my first trip to Japan and I was extremely impressed by the cleanliness, efficiency, and most of all - the food. Alongside the variety of food in Japan, every meal seemed to be treated as a unique experience. Enjoy below my seven most memorable meals in Tokyo. (P.S. Kyoto post coming soon!!)

BAKE // PASTRIES

I can only count a handful of baked goods that I can classify as “life-changing” but BAKE was hands-down one of them. There are a variety of locations around Asia but I stumbled upon the small window stall in the Shinjuku station. They only serve one pastry - a warm, golden cheese tart. The cheese mousse is the filling for the mini pie crust and is AMAZING. My only regret from the trip was not buying an entire box of these to freeze.

KIYOMURA @ TSUKIJI FISH MARKET // SUSHI

The Tsukiji Fish Market is fun to sample different dried fish and seaweed, but it’s also worth trying some sashimi while you’re there! Tsukiji is said to have the freshest and best tuna in the world. I stopped by a restaurant outside of the fish market called Kiyomura which had Chirashi bowls for under $20. It was some of the best tuna, salmon, and sweet egg I’ve ever had. 

TONKI // TONKATSU

At Tonki they serve three variations of pork cutlet which is then deep-fried in panko breading. The seating overlooks the open kitchen where all your food is being prepared (see above!). It may take 30 minutes or so get your meal but it’s entertaining to watch the chefs prepare all the meals with such great attention to detail. The experience begins with hot towel before eating and served hot tea. With your meal, you're given unlimited cabbage, rice, miso soup, mustard, and tonkatsu sauce. This was for sure my favorite meal in Tokyo, and probably one of my favorite meals ever.

EKIBEN @ TRAIN STATIONS // BENTO

Surprisingly train stations in Tokyo have some of the yummiest foods in all of the city (i.e. the famous Jiro Ono’s sushi is located in a train station). If you want to opt for a different experience than a typical sit-down restaurant, grab an ekiben which is essentially a bento box filled with different Japanese food staples. The packaging on the boxes are beautiful and the intricacy of how the box is laid out is a piece of art.

STARBUCKS @ SHIBUYA CROSSING // COFFEE

This is less about the food because you can get Starbucks anywhere (although if you want a milk tea or green tea inspired drink/food try it out here!), but this is one of the most iconic Starbucks in the world. The view of Shibuya Crossing is pretty prime to watch over a cup of coffee.

TORIKI // YAKITORI

Toriki is located in an unsuspecting alley, but don’t be fooled. It’s a michelin-star restaurant and has been frequented by Anthony Bourdain! They serve yakitori which is all different parts of the chicken, all at a very reasonable price. I think our total for 2 people was $50. Also, a must-try menu item is the friend chicken skin! Yumm. 

HOKOKUJI TEMPLE // MATCHA TEA

A little more obscure, but I loved going to the Hokokuji temple and drinking fresh matcha tea. Before you walk into the bamboo garden, there is a sitting area where you are given a small wooden cup filled with matcha tea and two sweet dissolvable candies. Spin the cup of tea twice to shake up the matcha before you drink it, take a sip, then eat one candy. The bittersweet contrast is what makes the matcha super tasty!

BONUSES // 2 MORE!

I forgot to take photos at these two places near Shibuya station but Genki Sushi and Ichiran are unlike any restaurant I’ve been to in the United States. Genki looks like an ordinary conveyer belt sushi restaurant. The difference is your seat has a corresponding tablet where you order food and it comes wizzing down the conveyor belt without stopping in front of any other customers. At Ichiran, you order ramen from a vending machine. Food is considered "fast food", but the experience is worth it.