(Fine) Dining in Tokyo

Just recently I returned from my first trip to Tokyo, Japan. Having heard about Japanese culture, part of which often seems quirky to the average central European, I was curious of what we would encounter.

And I was not disappointed at all. We saw grown up men in business suits cheering for Japanese Idol groups – dancing, waving with banners and glow sticks. We saw gigantic pagodas, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and neat gardens. And we saw ASIMOPachinko parlors and Maid Cafés.

But what I liked most was the food. We had Michelin-starred Ramen at Tsuta, a small noodle restaurant hidden between residential buildings – a waiting queue of people was tucked away in an entrance around the corner. We ate Sushi at Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka, a fully automated Sushi restaurant – well, the food is still prepared by human cooks, but you order on a touchscreen and the food is delivered within minutes on two small rail systems which pass by your table in front of you.

One of the highlights was eating Sushi at Yasuda – a small restaurant and bit on the expensive end (we spent about 16’000 ¥ per person, that’s roughly 130 €). The restaurant can seat about 10 people at the counter surrounding the chef, Naomichi Yasuda. There, we ordered “Omakase” which basically means the chef is going to select the food for you. The chef would then prepare each individual piece of Sushi, while engaging in conversation with the guests. It was entertaining and the Sushi was great.

On the last evening of our stay, we visited Omoide Yokocho, also known as Piss Alley, a narrow alley in Nishi-Shinjuku crammed with bars and small restaurants. A very unique spot to enjoy a whole evening of eating and drinking.

At the open-air rooftop of one of the bars, we met two Lufthansa airplane crews – apparently this specific bar is a favorite hangout for them when they spend a night or two in Tokyo between flights. We chatted with 747 pilots and stewardesses.