Tokyo

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Tokyo has a reputation as one of the world’s most expensive cities for eating, but it certainly doesn’t need to be. Alongside some explosively expensive restaurants are other places with prices that are reasonable even by American standards. Don’t worry if you can’t make sense of the menu. Many restaurants have amazingly lifelike plastic models of their dishes in the front window, making it easy to point and eat. Good places for restaurant browsing include Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown and the Shibuya district, with dozens of options from food courts to celebrity-chef-helmed hotspots. For a quick grab ’n’ go, department store food floors, and even convenience stores, offer inexpensive and wholesomely prepared and packaged foods.

Top Restaurants in Tokyo

Department store food floors

Snack and ogle as you weave through the depachika (food stalls in the basement levels of most department stores). You’ll find spin-the-globe takeaway, fruits packaged like jewels, plus Japanese foods you might not recognize – try a sample. Odakyu Department Store’s depachika, called Halc, is particularly noteworthy.

1-1-3 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 011-81-3-3342-1111, www.odakyu-dept.co.jp
Tags: international | budget | department store

Din Tai Fung

Expect line-out-the-door crowds of serious foodies at the Tokyo branch of perhaps the world’s most famous dumpling house: Din Tai Fung of Taipei. Though there’s a huge variety to choose from, most every table gets the Xiao Long Bao (pork soup dumplings).

Caretta Shiodome B2F, 1-8-2 Higashi-Shimbashi, 011-81-3-5537-2081
Tags: budget | editor pick | chinese

Elio Locanda

High-end southern Italian cuisine near the Imperial Palace, in a setting of rustic elegance. Pastas are handmade, and seasonal ingredients are imported from Italy: cheeses, mushrooms, lamb, sausages, calamari and more, all paired with a selection of dozens of wines.

2-5-2 Kojimachi, 011-81-3-3239-6771, www.elio.co.jp  
Tags: expensive | italian

Gonpachi

Dining in this cavernous restaurant is a rite of passage for expats to Tokyo. Expect a wide-ranging menu with an emphasis on sushi and fresh-made noodles, and décor that looks like a movie set (in fact, Quentin Tarantino shot scenes from Kill Bill here).

2-9-2 Sakura-shimmachi Steagaya-ku, 011-81-3-5451-3300, www.gonpachi.jp
Tags: moderate | japanese

Joël Robuchon

Leave the kids at the hotel and dress in your finest for dinner at this palace boasting the full three Michelin stars. “Palace” is barely an exaggeration: décor is inspired by Versailles, the Hermitage, and the Petit Trianon, and pricey seasonal cuisine is tops in this nation of Francophiles.

1-13-1 Mita, Meguro-ku, 011-81-3-5424-1347, www.joel-robuchon.com
Tags: expensive | smart splurge | french

Koju

One of the nine - nine! - three-Michelin-star restaurants in Tokyo, this Ginza eatery serves an outstanding eight-course tasting menu even after midnight. Prime seats are at the counter, where one can watch chef Toru Okuda at work. Open until 1am weekdays and until 10pm on Saturday; closed Sunday.

The second Sanyu building 1F, 8-5-25 Ginza, Chuo-ku, 011-81-3-6215-9544, www.kojyu.jp
Tags: expensive | smart splurge | open late | japanese

Las Chicas

The name of this trendy café which is hidden down a side street in the fashionable Harajuku/Jingumae area, is Spanish, but the cuisine is international – salads, sandwiches, pastas, and other continental fare. So is the crowd, with the beautiful people looking posh in an indoor-outdoor garden.

5-47-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 011-81-3-3407-6865
Tags: international | moderate | great value

Maisen

Even if you know sushi, sukiyaki, soba, udon and ramen, you might not know tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork cutlet). It’s a Japanese delicacy served with mounds of shredded cabbage and hearty, tangy brown sauce. This reasonably priced shop in a one-time public bath is a classic of the genre.

4-8-5 Jingumae, 011-81-3-3470-0071
Tags: budget | japanese

Midori-zushi

Shibuya branch of a beloved suburban sushi bar, offering the same quality and reasonable prices. Sitting at the counter makes ordering a breeze, and watching the chefs is like live theater.

Mark City Bldg.; 4th Fl.; 1-12-3 Dogenzaka; Shibuya-ku, 011- 81-3-5458-0002
Tags: moderate | great value | sushi

Shunbou

Inside the Grand Hyatt Tokyo (at Roppongi Hills), Shunbou serves high-flying izakaya (Japanese pub-style) cooking: Kyoto-style chicken, Kobe steak, shabu-shabu, and veggies that look like sculptures – and you get to choose your own sake cup. Backdrop: ageless granite boulders meet traditional straw and mud.

6-1-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 011-81-3-4333-1234, tokyo.grand.hyatt.com
Tags: expensive | smart splurge | trendy | japanese

Takamura

Kaiseki is considered the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine: course after tiny course of exquisitely prepared, seasonal dishes served on small plates. This kaiseki specialty house serves it in individual tatami rooms with hori-kotatsu seating (with a well in the floor beneath the table for your legs).

3-4-27 Roppongi, 011-81-3-3585-6600
Tags: expensive | editor pick | smart splurge | japanese | small plates

Tenkaippin

Ramen (Chinese-style noodles in broth) is an obsession among the Japanese – particularly businesspeople and party people. Among Tokyo’s innumerable shops serving ramen noodles, this chain stands out for its murky-yet-delectable, almost gravylike kotteri-style broth. Convenient locations are scattered citywide, including this Roppongi location for extra late-night hankerings (it's open until 5am).

5-5-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 011-81-3-3403-8388, www.tenkaippin.co.jp (Japanese only)
Tags: budget | great value | open late | japanese

Yuian

You’ll be as dazzled by the views (from the 52nd floor of a Shinjuku skyscraper) as you are by the culinary artistry at this modernist spot with plates meant for sharing, like daikon sashimi salad and norimaki (seaweed rolls) with cheese and asparagus. Great list of sakes, too.

Sumitomo Sankaku Bldg. 52nd Floor, 2-6-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, 011-81-3-3342-5671
Tags: moderate | editor pick | great value | views | japanese

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