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What to eat in Tokyo: 10 unmissable and amazing gastronomic experiences

Discovering what to eat in Tokyo is an essential quest for anyone visiting this city famous for its rich and delicious culinary offerings. Tokyo is renowned for its unique and delightful culinary experiences. Before diving into the 10 unmissable culinary experiences, let’s explore a bit of the history and tradition behind Japanese cuisine, based on our personal experience.

We traveled to Japan in 2015 and 2023, immersing ourselves in the local gastronomy, discovering unique flavors and trends that contribute to the authenticity of this cuisine. Our experiences were enriched by immersing ourselves in Japanese culinary culture, from street markets to traditional restaurants.

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History and Tradition of Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine, also known as Japanese food, has a rich history and tradition dating back centuries. When it comes to what to eat in Tokyo, Ramen and Sushi immediately come to mind.

Ramen, a comforting and popular dish, consists of noodles served in hot broth, often based on pork or chicken bones. This dish is highly customizable, with a variety of toppings such as pork, green onions, boiled eggs, and pickled bamboo.

On the other hand, sushi, one of Japan’s most iconic dishes, has its roots in the ancient technique of preserving fish with vinegared rice. Over the centuries, sushi has evolved into a culinary art form, with different styles, techniques, and regional ingredients. From sushi nigiri, where fresh fish pieces are delicately placed on rice, to sushi rolls (maki) wrapped in nori seaweed, each piece is carefully prepared to balance flavors and textures.

In addition to these iconic dishes, desserts in Japanese cuisine also deserve mention. A distinctive characteristic is the subtlety in the use of sugar, with desserts typically being less sweet than in other culinary cultures. Among the most well-known Japanese desserts are mochi, a glutinous rice cake filled with bean paste or fruits, and warabi mochi, a gelatinous dessert made from sweet potato starch, usually served with kinako powder and sugar syrup. These desserts, like ramen and sushi, are true expressions of Japan’s rich culinary culture, offering a unique and balanced gastronomic experience.

What to Eat in Tokyo

When we visited Tokyo, we tried many delicacies that left a lasting impression and that we recommend to all travelers:

Matcha Tiramisus

What to eat in Tokyo - Matcha Tiramisu

When thinking about what to eat in Tokyo, matcha tiramisus cannot be excluded as they are a delicious dessert, and one of the best places to try them is in the Azakuza neighborhood, at a place called Yanagi Chaya.

Tamagoyaki

What to eat in Tokyo - Tamagoyaki at Tsukiji Market

This sweet, layered Japanese omelet, known as tamagoyaki, is an essential delicacy when it comes to discovering what to eat in Tokyo. Found in local markets, such as the famous Tsukiji, this delight is prepared in smooth, sweet layers, often served on a stick, reminiscent of an ice cream cone, providing a unique and delicious gastronomic experience.

Mochis

What to eat in Tokyo - Strawberry-filled mochis, typical of Tsukiji Market

At Tsukiji Market, known for its gastronomy, we discovered irresistible mochis, filled with fresh strawberries and offering an explosion of flavors. These glutinous rice balls, a true Japanese delicacy, are found at various spots throughout Tokyo, featuring a variety of fillings, from classic red bean to the sophistication of matcha, inviting visitors to explore the culinary delights the city has to offer, being an essential item on the list of what to eat in Tokyo.

Omakase

What to eat in Tokyo - Omakase at Manten Sushi

Omakase is a Japanese expression that roughly translates to “trust the chef.” It is a culinary experience where customers entrust the chef with the choice of dishes to be served. The chef carefully selects each dish based on the freshness of the ingredients, seasonality, and customer preferences, creating a unique and personalized meal. This experience is common in high-quality sushi restaurants, where customers rely on the chef’s knowledge and skill to create a memorable meal.

We recommend Manten Sushi for excellent quality and value. We have tried two of their restaurants and both were excellent.

Ramen

What to eat in Tokyo - Ramen in Ginza

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup, and it’s special in Japan due to its variety of flavors, fresh ingredients, and artisanal preparation techniques, resulting in a comforting and flavorful dish. We’ve never had a bad ramen in Japan, so we’ll refrain from suggesting a place. They are all different, all special.

TimeOut has a list of the best ramen to eat in Tokyo that can be an inspiration.

Tempuras

What to eat in Tokyo - Tempuras in Ginza

Tempuras are pieces of food fried in a light and crispy batter, but Japanese tempuras stand out for their precise frying technique, resulting in a delicate and crispy coating that preserves the texture and flavor of the ingredients. We tried Tempura Abe Ginza and it was a truly Japanese and delicious experience.

Japanese Pancakes

What to eat in Tokyo - Japanese Pancakes at Happy Pancake

Japanese pancakes are known for their light and fluffy texture, impressive height, and subtle flavor, being cooked slowly and presented with care. We recommend Happy Pancakes. We went to the Ginza store which is on the seventh floor of a building.

Onigiris

Onigiris are stuffed rice balls wrapped in seaweed that can be found in most convenience stores. Our favorites are the ones filled with tuna mayo or salmon with soy sauce.

According to Japan Web Magazine, the list of the best convenience store Onigiris includes our favorites.

Egg Salad Sandwich

While exploring Tokyo’s culinary options, we came across a simple yet tasty delight: Japanese egg salad sandwiches. Made with soft sandwich bread and filled with a generous layer of creamy egg salad, these sandwiches are a common find in the city’s convenience stores. They’re a popular choice among locals seeking a quick and satisfying snack, and for travelers, they offer a delicious opportunity to savor a classic Japanese treat while exploring what to eat in Tokyo.

Cake in a Can

This cake served inside a can resembling a soda can delights everyone for being different. We found this delicacy in a vending machine next to the Tokyo Skytree, called Okashi Gaku. We tried one with strawberries and whipped cream, and there were other options available.

Tips for Exploring Tokyo Cuisine

In addition to trying iconic dishes, here are some tips to make the most of your Tokyo culinary experience:

  • Try street food: Sample delicious dishes sold at street stalls and markets.
  • Visit convenience stores: Japanese convenience stores offer a surprising variety of ready-to-eat food, including onigiri and egg sandwiches.
  • Line up: Queuing is a national sport in Japan. Where there’s a line, the food is good! Take the opportunity to try popular and authentic places.
  • Explore local ramen-ya and sushi-ya: Small ramen and sushi restaurants often offer the best gastronomic experiences, with fresh and authentic dishes.

Food Safety Tips

In Tokyo, food safety is a priority, and hygiene standards are rigorously maintained throughout the food chain. Gastronomic establishments, from small street restaurants to high-end restaurants, undergo regular inspections to ensure compliance with food safety requirements established by local authorities.

In addition, the Japanese are known for their attention to detail and precision, which is reflected in the careful preparation and handling of food. Fish markets, such as the famous Tsukiji Market, are examples of how fresh products are handled with care and respect, ensuring the quality and safety of the food offered to consumers. Travelers can enjoy Tokyo cuisine with confidence, knowing that food safety is a priority in the city.

Even with the strict food safety standards in Tokyo, it’s always wise to be prepared for any eventuality during a trip. We always recommend travelers to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy, which can provide assistance in case of medical emergencies, food-related health issues, or other unforeseen situations. Travel insurance offers additional peace of mind and security, allowing travelers to enjoy their culinary experience in Tokyo with full confidence.

FAQs

How to taste authentic Japanese cuisine in Tokyo?

Authentic Japanese cuisine can be experienced by visiting local restaurants, street food stalls, and traditional markets, where dishes are prepared with authentic techniques and ingredients.

Where to find the best matcha tiramisu in Tokyo?

The best matcha tiramisus can be found in the Azabu district at a place called Yanagi Chaya.

What are some popular Japanese desserts to try in Tokyo?

Popular Japanese desserts include mochi, warabi mochi, and matcha tiramisus, available at various locations in Tokyo.

What is omakase and where to try it in Tokyo?

Omakase is a chef’s choice dining style where they select the dishes for you. Manten Sushi is recommended for an excellent omakase experience.

Where to find the best Japanese pancakes in Tokyo?

The best Japanese pancakes can be enjoyed at Happy Pancakes, located in Ginza, on the seventh floor of a building.

É seguro comer em Tóquio?

While Tokyo maintains strict food safety standards, it’s always wise to be prepared for any eventuality during a trip. It’s recommended to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance for assistance with medical emergencies or food-related health issues.


Exploring the 10 must-have gastronomic experiences in Tokyo is to delve into the rich culinary culture of this cosmopolitan city. Each dish offers a unique opportunity to taste the authentic flavors of Japan. Make the most of your gastronomic journey and discover why Tokyo is a paradise for food lovers.

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