For most first-time visitors to Japan interested in food, kaiseki is a must-try genre. This style of Japanese fine dining is what inspired nouvelle cuisine and degustation menus. Consisting of multiple small dishes served one by one, kaiseki cooking is highly seasonal and rarefied.
Kagurazaka Ishikawa - image © Florentyna Leow
While Kyoto is associated with kaiseki, Tokyo has no shortage of excellent kaiseki restaurants. Additionally, it’s home to an astonishing number of fine dining restaurants. We take Michelin stars with a pinch of salt, but the fact that Tokyo has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world is nothing to sniff at!
Whether it’s traditional kaiseki, modern degustation courses, multi-course fine dining, or fancy French food, we recommend at least one blow out during your visit to Tokyo. Be prepared to dig deeper into your pockets; these are the restaurants you plan ahead for and splash out on.
- Den (Harajuku; expensive)
Named one of ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,’ Reservations at Den in Harajuku are correspondingly difficult to secure. We thoroughly recommend this homey, creative kaiseki restaurant for a special occasion, though – it’ll be one of the best meals of your life.
- Ginza Uchiyama (Ginza; budget to expensive)
With its nondescript entrance and zero signage, top kaiseki restaurant Uchiyama is tricky to find, but well worth the effort. Go for the signature sea bream chazuke, and bargain lunches that won’t require you to sell a kidney.
- Ishikawa (Shinjuku; expensive)
With impeccable seasonal kaiseki cooking that both tastes and looks like works of art, it’s small wonder that Ishikawa in Kagurazaka is the go-to for many of the upper set in Tokyo.
- Takazawa (Roppongi; expensive)
Takazawa, an exclusive 10-seater restaurant in Akasaka, serves artistic, impeccably-cooked Japanese-French cuisine with a price tag to match. Worth going at least once if you have deep pockets.
- Narisawa (Roppongi; expensive)
With two Michelin stars under its belt, Yoshihiro Narisawa’s eponymous restaurant in Aoyama is a favorite with gourmands all over the world. If you like several-hour intellectual exercises in gastronomy, this may be the right place for you.
- Akasaka Kikunoi (Roppongi; expensive)
At Akasaka Kikunoi, you won’t need to head out west for a taste of Kyoto. Enjoy the ancient capital’s finest kaiseki right in the heart of Tokyo.
- Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai (tofu kaiseki)
This superb and elegant tofu specialist on the west side of Shiba-koen Park is a great place to delve into the wonders of Japanese tofu cuisine. It's a great spot for vegetarians in search of a special meal.
Best Tokyo Restaurant Recommendations
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Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals. Check my guides to arriving at Narita Airport and at Haneda Airport.
- If you're visiting more than one city, you might save money with a Japan Rail Pass – see if it's worth it for you
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world