Uniquely Different Tokyo Food Experiences
Our trip to Tokyo, Japan had quite a few unique experiences and many involved its food. We spent about 4 days in city and we were bowled over by its weirdly unique but tasty food. The widely popular ones like sushi and tempura are ubiquitous. Hence, we were looking for Tokyo food experiences which are truly novel. And Tokyo has plenty to offer in terms of food to eat, restaurant ambiance to even cooking experiences.
Here are 10 unique food trips to experience while in Tokyo:
Visit Tsukiji Fish Market
For many years, Tsukiji Fish market was the biggest wholesale market and major tourist attraction for Tokyo food travelers. However, the wholesale market (inner market) of Tsukiji where tuna auction takes place has been moved to Toyusu. But that doesn’t stop us from visiting outer market which is made up of about 300+ restaurants, grocery and kitchen utility shops. Hence, if you like sea food, then visit Tsukiji Fish Market to gorge on different sea food delicacies including sushi like us.
Eat Tokyo’s staple food – Ramen
Ramen is kind of an obsession in Tokyo and everyone you talk to will probably have their own take of what is “the best”. Tokyo has thousands of Ramen restaurants, but most notably Shinjuku area owns most with over 300. The area has earned the nickname of the most competitive Ramen district in Tokyo. So if you are a Ramen lover and hunting for best Ramen dishes, simply visiting Shinjuku would be the best option. From everyone’s favourite Ichiran to Tsukemen (dipping Noodles) and Halal Ramen, many kinds of ramen dishes can be found in Shinjuku area. Be prepared to queue up for 30 mins or more at some popular Ramen stores, especially during lunch time!
Get Tipsy at Izakaya Alleys
Tokyo has numbers of fancy restaurants and bars serving fine meals, but for more unique booze experience, Izakaya alleys (Yokocho) are better options.
Izakaya is Japanese style bar/gastropub serving drink and usually Japanese food or snacks. It’s popular among locals to hop in right after work for a couple of beers. Izakaya alleys are old fashioned, smokey narrow streets clammed by small Izakaya, and they can be found at several locations in town such as Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ueno area.
Sign up for Japanese Cooking class
Japanese food is popular for its uniqueness all over world. Its unique flavour emanates from its ingredients and preparation style. Travelers to Tokyo are fascinated with Japanese cooking and hence cooking class is a popular activity amongst foodies. Japanese cooking class are not limited to Sushi but also include some of the regional delicacies such as Ramen, Gyoza, Soba etc. The class instructions are in English and classes last for various durations starting from 1 hour to half a day. You can pick your favorite Japanese food cooking class, learn how to make, enjoy tasting and bring the recipe back home to cook for your family and friends!
It is an experience not just to indulge and learn cooking but also to spend time with locals. More so, it is an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture and philosophy which is gaining popularity worldwide these days.
Eat at animal café
Tokyo is filled with quirky things to do and going to an animal café ranks quite high on the list. There are various kinds of animal cages in Tokyo where you can play/watch with animals and also have food. A cat lover can visit cat cafes such as Calico Cat Cafe to play with different cat breeds while sipping coffee. But cafes can get quirkier with the choice of animals. There are owl cafes where one can touch owls, take selfies or simply watch them. Another quirky animal café is hedgehog café featuring these tiny little creatures.
Make your own Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki are fried savory pancakes. It is unique for its eclectic variety of ingredients – egg, pork, squid, veggies, sauces, noodles all put together in a pancake! Although it originated in Kansai region (Osaka) and Hiroshima, every region in Japan including Tokyo has its own take.
What makes the okonomiyaki experience so unique in Japan is that restaurants that specialize in it allow you to make it yourself.
We relished this unique dish while on our day trip to Hiroshima. But, if you cannot make it to Hiroshima, you can relish this experience in Tokyo itself at restaurants such as Sometaro Okonomiyaki.
Visit Piss Alley
There’s a narrow alleyway next to the bustling Shinjuku station where lots of izakaya and yakitori are had and also where men often relieve themselves after having too many pints. That is how the name Piss Alley was born. Luckily, times have changed and there’s not so much of the namesake happening anymore but it is still a regular place for after work celebrations to happen.
This long alley called Memory Lane is flanked by tiny stalls on both sides where everyone huddles around the bar on tiny stools while the owners grill up skewers. There are a ton of restaurants in six narrow alleys squeezing about 200 bars. You kind of just need to pick and see which ones have seats available. For more adventurous ones, there are restaurants serving most bizarre Tokyo food such as pig testicles, frog shashimi, snake liquor and grilled salamander!
Indulge in a Matcha Dessert
Desserts are equally unique as main meals in Tokyo. The most popular desserts in Japan are made from matcha, its native green tea. From smoothies, mousse, cream, jelly, iced tea to parfait, cakes, there are so many desserts made from matcha. While matcha desserts are available in many restaurants in Tokyo, there are some dedicated dessert cafes which make creative desserts. Here are few cafes specializing in matcha dessets in Tokyo – Saryo, Kyohayashiya, Kinozen, Cha Cha no Ma, Kyosabou Tsuru and Gion Tsujiri.
Visit Robot Restaurant
Shinjuku area of Tokyo is the district that never sleeps thanks to countless restaurants, bars/pubs which are open through wee hours. There are some unique experiences for foodies in Shinjuku but most enthralling experience is the Robot Restaurant. It is more about ambience than the food due to the robot show while dining. You can actually find robots as waiters here; moreover, it is the high tech extravaganza with flashy neon lights which is truly unique!
Visit Weird and Uniquely themed restaurants
Beyond robot and animal cafes, there are so many themed restaurants in Tokyo. Some are fun, some weird, some magical, some terrifying even disgusting, but all are one of their kind. From horror themed vampire restaurants to prison themed lockup, from surreal Kawaii monster cafes to ghost themed restaurants, from retro gadgets themed 8-bit cafes to Alice in Wonderland fantasy cafes, there are restaurants for everyone, you just need to pick one!
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Japan. Need some tips? We have planned it all for you here: