Eating Tokyo

It’s packed to the rafters with restaurants and cafes - it’s a foodie’s heaven but on a visit to Tokyo where do you start?

Japanese novice spent a week, on her own dime, indulging in the finest food Tokyo could throw at her with Wellington based company Eating Tokyo Tours. Noodles, rice, fish, more fish - it was memorable, challenging and surprising - one bite at a time.
Photographs: Bernadette Courtney

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Tempura at Tsunahachi in Shinjuku. It’s been around since 1923 and serves up some of the crispiest tempura you’ll find. Sit at the counter, marvel at the lightness of the batter being made - why can’t I do that at home - and down with a crisp Asahi beer.

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First night dinner, a small izakaya in Yoyogi-Uehara. This is essentially a neighbourhood pub offering a stream of shared dishes. Sake drinking is the go here with a well chosen list.


The Tsukiji market closes its doors in October after more than 80 years and moves to a new, spot. Tourists who can now wander around the market won’t have the same freedom with the new move to Toyosu. The health and safety bosses had a say in that, it is after all a working market

Chirashi sushi for breakfast is the real deal - shrimps, octopus, mackerel - piled up in a bowl.

It could be a challenge for some.

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Tongue, diaphragm, wagyu beef? Cook your own at Toraji which specialises in Yakiniku, grilled meat cuisine. Try it you might just like it.


Lunch at Kamachiku in Nezu, a famous udon restaurant. Shark gristle, silky tofu, duck and DIY udon. A beautiful setting in the rain.

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A casual affair. A stand-up yakiton bar in Akasaka, skewer sampling including  pig’s anus - it was fatty.

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Then on to dinner at Uoshin, a specialist seafood isakaya with links to Tsukiji Market. Sake glasses to the brim. Karaoke a sure fire thing.

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Tea. It’s a national obsession. The flavours, the smell, its origin, what’s not to like. You’ll find green tea, usually sencha and matcha, everywhere and often iced.

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Tea drinking dates back to the 9th century in Japan and taking time out to spend a few hours experiencing a tea ceremony is worth it. It’s a tranquil experience and painstakingly detailed. Who knew you could eat the tea leaves.


Getting to know the real Tokyo is venturing into the neighbourhoods and backstreets. Nishi Azabu is a stroll from Omote-Sando where the big named shopping is. Tucked away is a well-known tonkatsu restaurant where the owner and chef can trace every piece of the pig they cook. Tonkatsu, breaded, deep fried pork cutlet, is often served with shredded cabbage. Butagumi is the real deal.

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A metro ride away for dinner in funky neighbourhood Yoyogi-Uehara. Yakitori - grilled chicken on skewers. Can it be that simple? No - every piece of the chicken gets exploited and it is a taste sensation. One of my favourites.

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Last day a mix of tastes at Roppongi - pre lunch takoyaki (steaming octopus balls covered in egg) and then a sit down affair at Suju Dining, an upmarket restaurant specialising in miso and vinegar.

The view over a park is lovely and its a popular hangout with the locals doing lunch. Try the blackened miso cod, it is superb.

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They always say save the best till last and Eating Tokyo Tours know how to pace a food tour with the finale a visit to top sushi restaurant Sushi Aoki. If you think you’ve tried the best sushi let me tell you you haven’t. Every morsel made up in front of you is a taste explosion. The rice is minimal, the wasabi hidden and the fish, need I say more. Japan is the biggest eater of uni - sea urchin - it’s got a sweet taste that is moorish but it is also expensive - try it. I’m still dreaming about this restaurant.

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Eating Tokyo Tours http://www.eatingtokyotours.co.nz.
Places are still available for its October tours but also booking for 2019.

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