If I could revisit any country a thousand times over, Japan would be it. Every-single-time. The city of Tokyo, in particular, has my stomach heart. Besides being home to the most Michelin starred restaurants after France, any gastro-lover can attest that Tokyo is the place to dine-and-be-seen-dining. During my short 4 nights in Tokyo, I tried my best to accommodate everything Tokyo had to offer, food wise.
If tight-schedule travel is your arena I’ve got you covered with my roundup of top eateries and foods to try, all reasonably priced. You’ll be well on your way to becoming a Tokyoite after reading!
✉️ 1F Toranomon Tower Office, 4-1-28 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0001 | ☎️ +81 3-5733-0070
Nobu Tokyo is a fantastic date-night spot for those with a generous spending allowance. The trendy Nobu chain serves Japanese-Peruvian cuisine. What impressed me most was the impeccable service and laid back atmosphere. Nobu signatures include the Rock Shrimp Tempura (S$27) and Black Cod Miso (S$47). The tempura comes with a choice of sauce: creamy spicy, ponzu butter or jalapeño. The Tuna & Scallop Crisp Lotus Miso Chips (S$19) and Baby Leaf Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing (S$18) appetisers were a good start. NOBU’s Fish-n-Chips (S$31) were lightly battered and heavily tasty. I ordered several uni and o-toro sushi so I could compare them with those of Okame Sushi in Tsukiji Fish Market. As I suspected, my love for the latter was solidified. Nevertheless, for those wanting to dine at a more up-market restaurant, Nobu Tokyo is a great option.
Yakiniku Bar No Meat No Life
✉️ 1 Chome-11-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0021 | ☎️ +81 3-6233-7714
For those in pursuit of a meaty night out, Yakiniku Bar No Meat No Life, conveniently located in the heart of Shinjuku (directly opposite the well-known Robot café) is a tiny Yakiniku joint (Japanese BBQ) for carnivores. Although tables are limited, diners can opt to devour their meal at the bar with a side of tipple. Walking around in the cold makes you crave a good hearty meal, and Japanese barbecue does a good job of sating that craving. I was greeted by friendly staff and, most importantly, an English menu; complete with explanations of the different grades and cuts of meat. Meat platters are reasonably priced at about S$36, and portions are large enough for two people to share. It’s all about the marbling — the correct way of enjoying a Japanese BBQ is to work your way up from the leanest to the fattiest meat. I recommend barbecuing each cut for no longer than 3 seconds (I used an iPhone self timer). I also ordered thinly sliced Wagyu with the restaurant’s special sauce, mixed with yolk. For future reference, Yakiniku Bar No Meat No Life has a Facebook page where regular updates are posted for promotions and seasonal specialties.
✉️ Iwamoto Building B1F, 1-22-7 Jinnan Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-00441 | ☎️ +81 03-3463-3667
The expression “faces in the crowd” was probably coined in Tokyo. Just as people are anonymous in the crowd-that-is-Tokyo, so are ramen restaurants. So when I say most locals know Ichiran Ramen, you know it’s noteworthy. Ichiran Ramen was founded in Fukuoka in the 1960s and specialises in Tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen. Their tonkotsu-based broth have just the right amount of tang and spice — you can thank Ichiran’s original red pepper sauce for the latter. Ichiran Ramen outlets are dotted all around Tokyo so they’re relatively easy to stumble upon. Let it be known, this is no conventional ramen shop. You have to place your order through a vending machine first and then scrounge for a seat amid the restaurant’s tiny cubicles. Ramen aficionados know how ramen-texture is super personal and a make-or-break for a good ramen. That’s why Ichiran Ramen is the ramen shop for all types of ramen-lover as you can customise your ramen’s texture (my preference is extra firm), level of hotness, and include extra ingredients such as spring onions, seaweed, fungus and, my personal favourite, onsen egg. Couple your bowl with a glass of Asahi and watch as your worries dissolve with every sip. Remember my mission to try out different types of Japanese food everyday? I loved the ramen here so much I made it a point to space out my meals just so I could dine here three times during the five days of my stay. If you love the ramen as much as I do, find solace in the fact that they sell take-home packs of ramen starting at S$18.
✉️ 5 Chome 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001 | ☎️ +81 3-6450-5800
I was strolling along Omotesando avenue during Halloween-week when I chanced upon a Magnolia Bakery mascot, a tray of the prettiest cupcakes in-hand. Unlike in Singapore, this “Hallmark holiday” is a pretty big deal in Japan. Though I’ve never been to New York, where the bakery was founded in 1996, I got a taste of the Big Apple in their Tokyo store. If you think that the only treats found here are for your sweet tooth, wait till you cast your eyes on the shop’s interior. Imagine stepping into the realm of Hansel and Gretel, with marbled tables and mosaic floors. I tried their moist, Halloween-themed, chocolate and red velvet cupcake. The batter was extremely rich and fulfilling, but their buttercream frosting was a tad too sweet for my liking. The pièce de résistance was the Oreo Whoopie Pie — a lighter alternative and for any Oreo cookie fan.
About the Author
An occasional homebody, you can find Nicole taking long walks around Singapore with her French Bulldog. But you can bet your last morsel she’s always ready to hop on a plane for her next misadventure. Bring some tonic, she’ll provide the gin.
Follow Nicole on Instragram @neecolly.