8 Tokyo Restaurants This Frequent Traveller Tells Everyone About

Many visitors to Japan profess themselves to be ‘Japanophiles’ after their trips, returning to the country regularly. Australian chef and restauranteur Joel Best, owner of Besuto Omakase and Bar Besuto, a Japanese restaurant and whisky bar in Sydney, is one of those people.

“The Japanese are about perfection, they will do one dish in their restaurant that is passed down through generations and not deviate from it for years,” says Best. “If they take on another cuisine — let’s say Italian — they will go about it in the most methodical way possible. They will aim to perfect it.”

There are more than 140,000 restaurants in Tokyo alone, including top omakase restaurants where you can expect to pay $750AUD per person, but also venues serving international cuisines, like Sezanne, a ‘top-ranked in Asia’ French restaurant.

“This is the sort of place where you need to know someone who knows someone to book it for you,” says Best. “It’s booked out months in advance. If not there, try to into a ‘top-ranked in Asia’ restaurant, if you can get a booking. It will change your life.”

Aside from restaurants, Tokyo is also known for its street stalls. Best suggests you visit the stalls under rail tracks, of which there are multiple sites around the city, though tricky to find. If you’re lucky enough to stumble across one, he advises you to take advantage and order plenty, with the help of Google Translate.

best tokyo restaurants
Image: Getty Images

“Everyone wants to eat at Instagram-famous restaurants,” he says. “But you’ll waste time searching, booking, lining up and you’ll miss what Tokyo is about. The best places are either basement or off-ground level. They can be hard to find. Follow the locals.”

Ahead is Best’s edit of the best Tokyo restaurants — most of them places you won’t find all over Instagram. From a locals’ favourite restaurant that’s hard to find with no English menus, to one of the only venues he thinks is worth lining up for, this is where he recommends you drink and dine in Tokyo.

Bar Kage

“First up, a whisky bar to visit: Bar Kage in Ginza, This is my favourite bar in Japan. Kage-san is a master of whisky the most humble and knowledgeable host, found down the back streets of Ginza in a beautiful basement. It has an extensive collection of hard-to-find single-cask Japanese bottles from the likes of Chichibu and Kanosuke that are limited to 200 or fewer bottles produced per single cask. A must-visit for all whisky lovers, and the cocktails will be made to your taste.”

Pizza Borsa

“Just around the corner from another famous whisky bar Aloha Whisky Bar is Pizza Borsa in Nishiikebukuro. So once you have finished with some incredible Japanese whisky and cocktails, head on a 2-minute walk to have pizza in Japan, you think well I eat this everywhere in the world. Don’t miss this gem of a pizza place, the dough is fluffy and light, the flavours are better than those you can find in Italy. It’s tiny with only 16 seats but if you can’t get a table, take it away and walk 25m to the park and have a picnic in the park. Pizza is a must-try in Japan you will not regret it.”

tokyo best restaurants
Image: Pizza Borsa

Chuka Soba

“Ramen is life in Japan, and Chuka Soba is an amazing 1-star Michelin ramen in Ginza. This is light Hokkaido style, almost French consomme-like, clear aromatic with ramen egg, the noddles are made on site. No photos of the chefs are allowed, but you can ask to take photos of the food. They now accept reservations if you are quick enough otherwise you go early in the morning to get a ticket to come back for lunch. I don’t like lining up for things, but this is a ramen place that is worth it.”


“There is a reason Sezanne, on the seventh floor of the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi is a top restaurant in Japan. It serves French food made with Japanese ingredients. It’s a match made in heaven. If you can get a table, you will talk about the restaurant’s flavours for years. You should book through your hotel concierge months in advance.”

best restaurants Tokyo
Image: Instagram @sezannetokyo

Yakitori Toriyoshi Nishiazabu

“This restaurant is hard to find, but when you do, take out your phone and use Google Translate. There are no English menus. You might want to order omakase here, leaving it up to the chefs to provide you with some of the best yakitori in Japan. It’s a locals’ favourite and gets busy, but wait for a table and you will forever remember your meal.”

Rokubei Sushi

“I may be a little biased because I worked with the chef of Rokubei Sushi in Nihonbashiningyocho, in Sydney 20 years ago. He now runs his family sushi and omakase, which has been around for 80 years. It’s Edostyle, very traditional focusing on the core ingredient of every dish that makes it shine. The chef starts every day at 5pm at the markets sourcing the best ingredients from suppliers the family has worked with for 80 years. Very little English is spoken, and you should book through a concierge at the hotel. This is true Japanese omakase.”


“The chef of Kotaro in Shibuya will make you smile with every dish he puts in front of you. Rated as one of the best in Japan they will welcome you like you are family. It’s a local restaurant where the regulars get looked after and will have a booking once a month. If you get a table here while visiting Tokyo, you have done well.”

Sushi Zanmai Yurakucho

Sushi Zanmai Yurakucho is under the train tracks in Chiyoda City near Ginza. Go here for a quick fix of sushi, but I recommend starting here with entrees and then hopping between the other 15 or so restaurants you will find here. You’ll find sushi, yakitori and ramen, and many drinks. You don’t need to book, you can just turn up and have fun.”

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