When it comes to Japanese food in Tokyo, who else to trust but the Japanese themselves? Here’s a compiled list of the top 3 restaurants per Japanese food category as rated by the locals.

Sushi 

Mitani (三谷)

Mitani is a restaurant that goes beyond great sushi dining. It is actually a Kappo restaurant where a course menu of seasonal gourmet dishes is served. The highlight, of course, is sushi, but equally fantastic are some of the chef’s ingenious creations like sea urchin soup with caviar, seared abalone in seaweed sauce, and cream made of clam and cod milt. Booking a reservation can be troublesome because you need to be referred by a regular, but something this exquisite is definitely worth all the hassle.

Address: 1-22-1 Yotsuya Shinjuku Tokyo

Price: ¥ 20,000 ~ ¥ 29,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1309/A130902/13042204/ (Japanese only)

Sugita (すぎた)

Formerly known as Miyako Sushi, Sugita is a local legend in the city’s sushi dining scene. No doubt that the food is immaculate, but the vibe isn’t quite like other premium sushi restaurants. Instead of a hushed and fancy environment, dinners here are rather relaxed and welcoming. Chef Sugita is known to be less formal and tends to joke around with his regulars. However, do take note that it is rather exclusive in the sense that you’ll need a regular customer’s endorsement to reserve a seat.

Address: B1F 1 Chome-33-6 Nihonbashikakigaracho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 20,000 ~ ¥ 29,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1302/A130204/13018162/ (Japanese only)

Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう)

There is a universal love for Sushi Saito. It has earned the highest stamp of approval from both the local and international communities – 3 Michelin stars and a consistent top ranking at Japan’s Tabelog website. You will need a lot of luck to get a reservation though, because aside from the need to book months in advance, your chances are pretty slim if you’re not introduced by a regular.

Address: 1F Yorindo Building 1-4-5 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 20,000 ~ ¥ 29,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1308/A130802/13015251/ (Japanese only)

Tempura

Takiya (たきや)

Kobe Wagyu Tempura, anyone?

Takiya is the only place in Tokyo where you can have a piece of this. Opened in 2015, this tempura-specializing establishment is the brainchild of Mr. Kasamoto – the former head chef of the Hinokizaka Kaiseki restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. Here, your culinary journey is completely dictated by him because the day’s course menu is the only thing you can order. Judging by its glowing reviews, taking the plunge seems to be worth it.

Address: Azabu Maison 201 2-5-11 Azabujuban, Minato, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 30,000 ~

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1307/A130702/13185763/ (Japanese only)

Fukamachi (深町)

Fukamachi is the epitome of Edo-style tempura. Each piece is made from carefully selected ingredients, dipped in a light batter, and deep-fried to perfection. The outside is downright crunchy but gives way to a juicy center. It is likewise never too oily, preserving its inherent taste and texture. The owner and founder of Fukamachi has over 30 years experience in this style of Japanese cooking, and it’s definitely evident with every bite.

Address: 2-5-2 Kyobashi, Chuo, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 15,000 ~ ¥ 19,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1302/A130202/13004105/ (Japanese only)

Mikawa Zezankyo (みかわ是山居)

Mikawa Zezankyo is the third restaurant of famous Tokyo Tempura master Tetsuya Saotome. If you think Tempura is just another deep-fried food, then you’re completely wrong. It is a dish that requires extreme precision and skill, and those in the know would understand why Tokyoites would willingly go to this restaurant’s out-of-the-way and hard to find location just to be served by Chef Saotome himself. Come here for some enlightenment.

Address: 1-3-1 Fukuzumi, Koto, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 15,000 ~ ¥ 19,999

Website: http://mikawa-zezankyo.jimdo.com/english-information/

Ramen

Menya Ittou (麺屋 一燈)

Some things are worth waiting and lining up for, and this includes Tokyo’s top ramen. Depending on your luck, the waiting game can be a tolerable 30 minutes, or if the food gods are testing you, it could go on for hours. Everything is tasty in this ramen joint, but for first timers, it is recommended that you start with their signature dish, Seafood Tsukemen.

Address:1-4-17 Higashi Shin Koiwa, Katsushika, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: http://www.menya-itto.com (Japanese only)

Ibuki (伊吹)

Ibuki is famous for using Niboshi anchovy broth for their ramen. Prepare for a full assault on your taste buds as this ramen has a sharp and distinct taste owing to the amount of Niboshi used per serving. This version might be acquired taste to some, but it is definitely a must-try for any ramen fan.

Address: 4-58-10 Maenocho, Itabashi, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1322/A132205/13163874/ (Japanese only)

Niboshi Iwashi Ramen En (煮干鰮らーめん 圓)

Niboshi Iwashi Ramen En offers a more delicate rendition of the Niboshi ramen. Its soup stock is made from sardine, chicken, and kelp, which results in strong but not too overpowering flavors. This is a unique bowl that subtly combines two different ramen styles, and basing on its popularity, it is worth the side trip to Tokyo’s western suburbs.

Address: 21-21 Yokoyamacho, Hachioji, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1329/A132904/13091258/ (Japanese only)

Soba

Gimpachitei Yazawa (吟八亭 やざ和)

Before you hop on the train for a 30-minute commute to Gimpachitei Yazawa, make sure that you call in first for a reservation. Otherwise, it is highly likely that you’ll find a long queue and worse, the day’s supply of noodles has already run out. The most coveted dish is the Inaka Seiro – stone-grounded, hand-pulled, and hand-cut soba made from Hokkaido buckwheat. This gem is limited to only 20 servings per day.

Address: 1-27-8 Kameari, Katsushika, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 2,000 ~ ¥ 2,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1324/A132403/13003083/ (Japanese only)

Tsuchiya (土家)

Tsuchiya’s concept is to marry soba with kaiseki dining. Each appetizer course is a teaser to the main soba dish by incorporating soba-related ingredients like buckwheat and tsuyu sauce. This is one elegant meal where the succession of flavors is well-thought out and the food delicately plated in gorgeous earthenware.

Address: 4-18-1 Noguchicho, Higashimurayama, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 8,000 ~ ¥ 8,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1328/A132806/13061606/ (Japanese only)

Tamawarai (玉笑)

Tamawarai is so committed to serving only the best-quality soba that its chef-owner leases a field in Tochigi to grow his own buckwheat. The noodles are always served fresh; hand-kneaded, rolled, and cut in-store every single day. It’s so perfect that you can enjoy it simply with just a dipping sauce. However, this restaurant is also known for serving amazing side dishes like their Dashi-maki Tamago – Japanese-style omelet with dashi. So why not enjoy everything?

Address: 5-23-3 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 5,000 ~ ¥ 5,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1306/A130601/13129390/ Japanese only)

Udon

Udon Maruka (うどん 丸香)

Slurping chewy noodles in this downtown Kanda shop is one of the surefire ways to earn the cred of eating like a local. Udon is Japan’s every man dish, and if you choose to have a meal at Maruka during lunchtime, you’ll be literally rubbing elbows with salarymen, office ladies, and students while eating side by side on the shop’s long communal table. Like the dish, there’s nothing too fancy about this joint; but don’t let its humble appearances fool you. This one is hailed as Tokyo’s best Sanuki Udon restaurant. It’s so good, it even rivals noodles served in Kagawa.

Address: 3-16-1 Kanda, Ogawamachi, Chiyoda Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1310/A131003/13000629/ (Japanese only)

Udon Sumita (うどん すみた)

Another place to sample authentic Sanuki-style Udon is Sumita. Before putting up shop, its owner trained in Kagawa just to get the taste right, and as the popular saying goes, the rest is history. Sumita has been serving hearty bowls for over a decade, and if you do decide to drop by to enjoy their noodles, might as well have a serving of another type of Japanese comfort food sold at the store – Oden.

Address: 2-52-8 Shimo, Kita, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 1,000 ~ ¥ 1,999

Website: http://udonsumita.com (Japanese only)

Teuchi Udon Hasegawa (手打ちうどん長谷川)

There are other regional varieties of udon besides Sanuki. For instance, Tokyo’s neighbor, Saitama Prefecture, also has its own twist to the dish. More commonly referred to as Musashino Udon, this type is served cold accompanied by a hot dipping broth with pork back ribs and Japanese leeks. Luckily for Tokyoites, they need not commute all the way to Saitama for this. Teuchi Udon Hasegawa already took the responsibility of bringing this specialty to the capital.

Address: 102 4 Chome-3-18 Higashioizumi, Nerima-ku, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥ 999

Website: https://twitter.com/enzahasegawa (Japanese only)

Tonkatsu

Narikura (成蔵)

Narikura is where deep-fried pork gets premium treatment, but sold at reasonable prices. Your tonkatsu is sliced, breaded, and fried “low and slow” only upon order. Choose among three kinds of specialty breeds from Okinawa, Niigata, and Nagano; or just go for the 3 cm signature cut of the regular pork variety. Whatever you end up ordering, what you’ll feast on is an expertly crafted dish you’d never thought possible for something so seemingly ordinary as tonkatsu.

Address: 1-32-11 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 2,000 ~ ¥ 2,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1305/A130503/13114695/ (Japanese only)

Tonta (とん太)

Takadanobaba neighborhood should be on the radar of any tonkatsu fan simply because it is where Tokyo’s top 2 tonkatsu restaurants can be found. The first is Narikura, and the runner-up is Tonta. Whereas Narikura reigns supreme because of its juicy meat, Tonta wins the crowd with its batter. These perfect crumbs melt in your mouth to give way for the tender pork fillet or loin inside.

Address: 3-17-8 Takada, Toshima, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 2,000 ~ ¥ 2,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1305/A130503/13003984/ (Japanese only)

Maruichi (丸一)

Maruichi is a tonkatsu veteran. This shop has been in business for over 50 years, and its staying power relies so much on the great care the owners puts into sourcing and handling its ingredients. Pork is from Iwate, carrots are from Chiba, and the cabbages are from the Miura Peninsula. Typical of family-run restaurants, the food and service are more personal, and sometimes it’s all you need for an unforgettable dining experience.

Address: 5-28-12 Kamata, Ota, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 2,000 ~ ¥ 2,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1315/A131503/13017765/ (Japanese only)

Wagyu

Tres Bien (とれび庵)

Tres Bien or Torebian is a steakhouse at Ueno’s Centurion Hotel. The menu and ambiance are very Western but the beef is very Japanese. Enjoy steaks and hamburgers of Wagyu-grade quality matched with rice, potage soup, french fries, and mini salad. The good food is likewise complemented by an impressive bar list of wines, cocktails, champagne, whiskey, and other spirits.

Address: 2F Centurion Hotel 2-3-4 Ueno, Taito, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 5,000 ~ ¥ 5,999

Website: http://tresbien-tokyo.com (Japanese only)

Cha Cha Hana (茶茶花)

Cha Cha Hana is an upscale izakaya in Shinjuku’s Golden Gai. You’re in for one classy night out here with its gorgeous Showa-era interiors and Kyoto-style cuisine. Excellent Wagyu is just one of the many dishes to look forward to. Other noteworthy items include the sashimi platter, Camembert tempura, and an in-season vegetable course.

Address: 1-1-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 4,000 ~ ¥ 4,999

Website: http://commercial-art.net/wp/tokyo/chacha_hana/ (Japanese only)

Teppanyaki Miyachi (鉄板焼 宮地)

The “Hamburg Steak” at Teppanyaki Miyachi is heavenly. This extravagant meat patty is made from premium-grade Matsunaga Beef and Kita-Satsuma Beef, dry-matured for over sixty days. Tender, juicy, and savory, this plate is the fantasy meal of every meat-lover.

Address: 5 Chome-5-11 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 10,000 ~ ¥ 14,999

Website: http://ginza-miyachi.com (Japanese only)

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki Fukutake (お好み焼き 福竹)

You know something’s really good when a low-key neighborhood shop achieves mainstream popularity. There are quite a number of these restaurants in the city and in the case of the Okonomiyaki food genre, this success story belongs to Fukutake. Offered here is Okonomiyaki done Osaka-style and the store’s trademark is serving them extra fluffy.

Address: 1 Chome-17-11 Higashiyaguchi, Ota-ku, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 3,000 ~ ¥ 3,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1317/A131714/13003312/ (Japanese only)

Okonomiyaki Kiji (お好み焼きじ)

Kiji is a famous Okonomiyaki restaurant in Osaka, and through its three branches in Tokyo, it has made available the true taste of Kansai-style savory pancakes for everyone in the capital. The restaurant’s top pick is its Sujiyaki – a mixed batter of crispy pork meat, bean sprouts, and noodles topped with shredded leeks. Another favorite is the pork and cheese variant.

Address: B1F Tokia 2-7-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 1,000 ~ ¥ 1,999

Website: http://www.o-kizi.jp (Japanese only)

Hasshou (八昌)

Hasshou raises the banner for Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki in Tokyo. What characterizes this version is the incredible amount of cabbage used plus the final product’s layered and flattened appearance. This is achieved by hitting the batter with a turner multiple times while it’s being cooked on the teppan grill. It’s something interesting to watch so make sure that you go grab those counter seats.

Address: 2F Harada 1-21-18 Kyodo, Setagaya, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 2,000 ~ ¥ 2,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1318/A131813/13013135/ (Japanese only)

Kaiseki

Tengenji Ono (天現寺 小野)

Kaiseki is the standard of Japanese fine dining. It’s a culinary experience that puts emphasis on seasonal ingredients and the succession of flavors highlighted in each dish served. It is, by all means luxurious, but just when you think it can’t get any better, Tengenji Ono elevates the concept further with its more personal approach to this course-based meal. Unlike most, if not all, kaiseki restaurants where the chef solely dictates the flow of the meal, Chef Yoshikatsu Ono aims to “provide the customer with exactly what they wish for”. Meaning, guests are encouraged to tell the chef what works and what doesn’t work for them. The course-based menu serves as a mere starting point for a meal that truly reflects your desired taste.

Address: 1F The 2nd Saiwai Building 4-14-4 Minamiazabu, Minato, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 10,000 ~ ¥ 14,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1307/A130703/13080923/ (Japanese only)

Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511 (神戸牛懐石511)

Beef of the highest caliber equates to an A5 rank and an 11 Beef Marbling Score. This is what the 511 in its name stands for, and the feast to be enjoyed here is certified exquisite. Try the hearth-baked Kobe Beef Steak course to taste the best of what this place has to offer.

Address: B1F Dear Plaza Akasaka 4-3-28 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 10,000 ~ ¥ 14,999

Website: http://www.a511.jp/en/

Ginza Nihonryouri Suzaku (銀座 日本料理 朱雀)

What is a meal at Ginza’s Nihonryouri Suzaku like? Imagine a parade of dishes artfully prepared, bursting with colors and flavors, and presented in elegant antique tableware. It’s a full assault on the senses, the good kind. If you want your kaiseki the traditional way, this should be your pick.

Address: 5F Ozio Ginza Building 5-5-9 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 15,000 ~ ¥ 19,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1301/A130101/13098158/ (Japanese only)

Yakitori

Torishiki (鳥しき)

When you pair up quality ingredients with a maestro, something as simple as grilled chicken and vegetable skewers become a supreme delicacy. The man behind the counter is Yoshiteru Ikegawa, and he is responsible for the best yakitori sticks you’ll ever get to eat in Tokyo. Food is served Omakase-style after a brief discussion of your preferences. After that, order your drink from the bar list and just wait patiently for yummy sticks to magically appear on your plate each and every time it becomes empty. The meat is the different parts and cuts of free range chicken from Date in Fukushima, while the vegetables are whatever’s in the season. The items will keep on coming until you say stop, and once you have your fill, do as the regular customers would: wrap up your meal with a serving of hot chicken broth.

Address: 2-14-12 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 6,000 ~ ¥ 7,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1316/A131601/13041029/ (Japanese only)

Toriki (とり喜)

Toriki is a one-Michelin star restaurant located somewhere close by the Tokyo Skytree neighborhood. It is most famous for its giblets on sticks, but those who prefer the more conventional chicken meat will still find themselves equally delighted.

Address: 1-8-13 Kinshi, Sumida, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 6,000 ~ ¥ 7,999

Website: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/gaez800/ (Japanese only)

Toricho (鳥長)

It is better to describe Toricho as a chicken specialist. Whether served as Yakitori, in a hotpot, or as raw meatballs, chicken dishes are definitely superb. It goes without saying that they only get their poultry from the best farms in Japan. Otherwise, serving them raw wouldn’t be possible at all.

Address: 4-31-8 Toyotamakita, Nerima, Tokyo

Price: ¥ 5,000 ~ ¥ 5,999

Website: https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1321/A132102/13058892/ (Japanese only)

Price information in this articles is as of October 2016.

Thumbnail image is from Flickr.