From Kobe beef A5 to premium sushi to street food hole in the walls and generations old noodle shops, Tokyo is one of the world’s greatest cities for food.
On my latest trip to Tokyo, David from The Hungry Tourist invited me to come on his high-end deep foodie Best of Tokyo Food Tour.
For a week, our group ate through a carefully researched selection of restaurants, most of them on the higher end side, with a few ramen and gyoza shops along the way.
In this blog post I’m going to share with you my personal highlights of the tour.
Kobe Beef at Wagyu Mafia
Wagyu Mafia is a group of Kobe and premium Wagyu beef specialists. They buy and source the beef themselves, do Kobe beef popups sometimes, and now have a flagship restaurant in Tokyo.
For our opening night of the tour, we had an insane Kobe beef meal, that included steak, sukiyaki, Chateaubriand steak sandwich, and not forgetting Kobe beef gyoza. It was an unforgettable meal.
Yakiniku at Nakahara
Nakahara was probably my favorite meal of the entire tour, a restaurant that’s rated as one of the top Japanese yakiniku restaurants in Tokyo.
The Hungry Tourist had arranged for us to eat at the chef’s counter and the owner / chef cooked each bite of beef in front of us. One of his specialties are all parts of the wagyu tongue which was excellent, but the skirt steak and perfect wagyu cutlet sandwich were the courses that really blew me away.
We went a little overboard on Japanese wagyu beef, and I’m very ok with that.
One more beef meal I just have to share with you is Shima Steak. At this unassuming family run basement restaurant in Tokyo, you’ll find premium Japanese beef, served western style, and it’s amazing.
You can either order the fillet or the sirloin, I got the sirloin, and the chef trims your steak and grills it in his personally designed one of a kind steak oven grill.
The steak is unbelievable!
Tempura at Motoyoshi
One of the best things about high-end Japanese food is that you really do get the best of the best – in terms of quality of ingredients, skill of the chef, and perfection of the product.
At Tempura Motoyoshi, the chef pursues perfection, and his tempura is literally flawless, using the best vegetables and seafood, and frying each item perfectly. He’s even so meticulous about the oil for deep frying, and changed it a number of times throughout our meal.
The best bite for me was a fried shiso leaf, topped with uni.
On my previous trip to Tokyo, I tried a lot of amazing Japanese street food at Tsukiji fish market, but I didn’t have a chance to visit the inner market fish auction.
But on this tour with The Hungry Tourist, one of the highlights was having the amazing opportunity to go to the Tsukiji fish market tuna auction.
The next evening we ate sushi at Sushi Arai, a highly rated sushi omakase restaurant in Tokyo. It’s one of those sushi restaurants that only has 8 seats, and reservations are extremely hard. Chef Arai was an amazing chef, and his hands literally danced as he assembled perfect balls of rice and attached them to fish with the right balanced amount of wasabi.
Piece by piece, made right in front of you, it was one of the most memorable sushi meals I’ve ever had.
Another premium sushi restaurant we ate at was Sushi Namba, another extraordinary restaurant. The self taught sushi chef is not only very friendly, but he really demonstrated skill and creativity in the sushi and courses we ate.
All his nigiri were spectacular, and I also enjoyed a course of rice mixed with sea urchin and topped with caviar.
Sake Ramen at Kazami
One day we went on a ramen tour, going to three back to back ramen shops in Ginza. Along with chicken ramen and hand-made noodle ramen, one of my favorites was sake ramen.
While some Japanese food doesn’t have much room for experimentation or change, ramen being a modern, relatively recently added Japanese food, it is culturally appropriate to create new styles and flavors. For this bowl at Kazami, sake is used in the broth, which was more like a thick gravy. It almost had the same effect as a wine sauce, but with that wonderful undertone of sake.
Yes, named after Antoni Gaudí, there’s a small izakaya gyoza shop in Tokyo’s Shimbashi nightlife district that serves incredible gyoza. On this night during the best of Tokyo food tour, we walked around eating with the Tokyo Fixer, who knows some seriously hidden gems of Tokyo.
This gyoza spot was exactly my style – friendly environment, and crazy good home-made gyoza. You can choose from about 15 different flavors or so, and we thought it would be a great idea to try them all. It was!
There’s no other country that takes such care in the quality and perfection of food like Japan.
I’m really a spicy food, curry, full on flavor, kind of guy. But Japanese food is one cuisine that is so fresh, and so balanced, that little seasoning is needed.
Being on the best of Tokyo food tour with The Hungry Tourist was a once in a life opportunity and the meals were extraordinary.