15 Must-Visit Restaurants in Tokyo, Japan | Solo Female Travel
Japan is a land of mystery, a land with beautiful sights, a land where modernity and the past coexist happily. But that’s not all. Japan is also the destination with the most-liked cuisine in the world. From sushi to sashimi, ramen, and so much more, Japan caters to everyone’s food palette.
But I have felt that from afar, our idea about Japanese cuisine is pretty warped and limited. We taste a few Japanese dishes, and we either love them or detest them. But when you travel to Japan and explore it, you realise that there is so much more to Japanese cuisine than what meets the eye.
And all the delicious food that has originated from every nook and corner of Japan comes together in Tokyo. The vibrant city pulsating with life is a melting pot of every delicacy in Japan. From plentiful Michelin star restaurants to affordable street-side wonders, food in Tokyo is a scene you must absolutely not miss on your first solo trip to Japan. Apparently, there are over 1,60,000 restaurants in Tokyo! This means that you can spend years of your life eating out in Tokyo and not visiting the same restaurant twice. It blows my mind for sure!
But as a female solo traveller, you cannot travel to all the restaurants and see for yourself what tastes best, so I am here to help you. While the Michelin star restaurants are easy to know about, it is the hidden gems that our eyes miss. So, I have curated 15 must-visit restaurants in Tokyo that you must visit during your time in Tokyo. So, I hope you brought your appetite, so let’s start.
1. Nisshin Tasuke
Ok, so let’s dive right in the deep end now, shall we? Before my first female solo trip to Japan, I was a little apprehensive about trying out Unagi or eels. Yes, my love for the sitcom Friends made me curious, but I couldn’t muster enough courage.
But one day, I decided to give it a try, and I am glad that I did. At Nisshin Tasuke, in Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji market, you should try out their barbequed freshwater eel, which is served with a sauce on top. It is soft, delicious, and has the perfect amount of smokiness to it. The sweet sauce compliments all the flavours pretty well. You can also try out their unagi donburi bowls, which come in various sizes. It’s equally delicious.
If you get grossed out by thinking about eating eel (I would advise you not to), then you can also try out their skewered scallops, squids, and clams. If you are a seafood lover, this will really excite you. Remember that this place is closed on Sundays.
Address: 104-0045 Tokyo, Chuo City, Tsukiji.
This restaurant serves one of Japan’s soul food, which is Tonkatsu. This is basically a Japanese style pork cutlet with a crispy outer crust and juicy pork and sometimes vegetables inside.
Maisen is housed at a converted bathhouse in the back alleys of the Omotesando boulevard. Though they have many outlets all over Japan and even in the neighbouring countries, it is at this location that they serve the most delicious cutlets. A typical tonkatsu dish comes with a bowl of rice, a cabbage salad, and the pork cutlet. You will find two bottles of sauces that you need to pour on top of your Tonkatsu on your table. You can either opt for a milder sauce or drizzle some of that spicy sauce on top if you are like me. Also, you can buy a bottle of their heavenly sauce and take it home with you.
They use two types of pork for their Tonkatsu, ‘Amai Yuwaku’ and ‘Kurobuta.’ While both are delicious, I would advise you to ask them for Tonkatsu, which uses Amai Yuwaku, which is a type of pork only offered in this restaurant.
Address: 4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya 150-0001 Tokyo.
3. Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku
As a female solo traveller on your first trip to Japan, you will find that onigiris are among the best snacks to carry around.
It is simple, nutritious, and delicious at the same time. It is a mound of rice, usually in a triangle with some sort of stuffing inside. Their stuffing ranges from salmon, tuna, roe to red bean paste and plums. They also have different versions of onigiri to commemorate seasons or festivals. The best example is the sakura onigiri you get during the cherry blossom time in Japan.
So, while in Tokyo, it only fits that you will pay a visit to the country’s oldest onigiri restaurant: Asakusa Yadoroku. A small yet quaint place that gives you really warm and fuzzy vibes. After you take your seat at the counter, you can spot owner Yosuke Miura whipping up his magic, and it is a treat to watch.
I tried their shrimp and raw salmon onigiri, and it was delicious. I cannot recommend this place enough! Also, their tofu miso soup that is served with the onigiri is delectable. Just keep in mind that you pay by cash here, and it remains closed on Sundays.
4. Harajuku Gyoza Lou
Gyoza is a dish that is not originally Japanese, but rather it came from China, but Japan gave it their twist and made it their own. It is basically Japanese dumplings, but the outer coating is super thin compared to its Chinese cousins. The filling is mostly pork, but they’re a variety of vegetarian options too. Read my blog about 10 must-try foods in Japan.
At Gyoza Lou in the upscale area of Harajuku, you are served gyoza either steamed or pan-fried. The 6 gyozas that come in a single plate are delicious and extremely cheap. While I had just a plate of gyoza, I saw people pairing it with rice and making a meal out of it. But because of its popularity, you might have to wait outside, so be prepared for that. It also stays open till 4.30 in the morning, so it’s a great snack after an evening of drinking.
Address: 6 Chome-2-4 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo.
5. Asakusa Imahan
Sukiyaki is a Japanese dish made up of sliced meat, especially beef fried with vegetables and drizzled with sauce. In Tokyo, while many places do sukiyaki, none come close to Asakusa Imahan. Their wagyu sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are exquisite and worth the hype around the place.
I was especially excited to try out shabu-shabu simply because it sounded cute, duh. And it lived up to the expectation. It is succulent wagyu meat and vegetables cooked in a delicious broth and then dipped in sauces. The secret to the amazing food is, I believe, the quality of the wagyu they use. While wagyu is undoubtedly the best meat in the world, using a high quality only elevates the experience here.
Address: 3-1-12 Nishi Asakusa, Taito 111-0035 Tokyo.
6. Kondo Honten
Though every corner of the country has produced delicacies galore for Japan, Tokyo has hardly had any contributions as such but for monjayaki. The dish is a basic one with wheat, dashi, fermented tuna, and cabbage and is Tokyo’s answer to Osaka’s classic okonomiyaki. But unlike the savoury pancake that is okonomiyaki, monjayaki is a little runnier and looks like melted cheese when cooked.
The best part about Kondo Honten, Tokyo’s oldest monjayaki restaurant, is that not only do you get to taste the amazing and comforting food, but you get it to do it yourself on the iron griddle on the table. But if you are not confident, there’s nothing to be afraid of as there’s plenty around who will come up and help you whip up the amazing dish.
If you are cooking your own monjayaki, it is quite simple. You first stir fry whatever ingredients you want. I had chosen some meat and cheese, but you go ahead with your pick. Once it is almost cooked, form a circle and make a well in the middle, a lot like a doughnut. Now pour the batter and wait till it crisps up a bit. Now mix everything, and voila, you have created magic. They will hand you small spatulas to cut and put them on to your plate. The best part about monjayaki is that it never solidifies to resemble a pancake.
Address: 3-12-10, Tsukishima, Tokyo.
7. Kawaii monster cafe
Sometimes you go to a restaurant for the experience. The food lay forgotten while you try and absorb everything that is happening around you. If that is an experience you wish to try, then Kawaii monster cafe should be high on your list.
Kawaii is well anything adorable and rainbow, and it is a culture in Japan. The cafe, which is located in upscale Harajuku, is cute and flashy and, for want of a better word, well, bizarre. It’s like a burst of colours, almost to the point of making you a little trippy.
The food at this restaurant follows the theme and is colourful too. Everything on the menu is Instagram worthy. I ordered a rainbow pasta and a colorful popcorn, but you can go for the massive Colourful poison parfait if you have a sweet tooth. Read more about the cafe in my blog on 20 non-touristy things to do in Tokyo.
Address: 4-31-10 Jingumae 4F YM Square Bldg, Shibuya.
8. Karaage-ya Oshu Iwai
There is no one I have met who eats meat and hates fried chicken. So, if you are in love with this crunchy outside and chewy inside wonder, then you have a surprise waiting for you on your first solo trip to Japan. Japanese fried chicken is unlike anything I have ever tasted! Every region in Japan has put its own spin on it.
Karaage-ya Oshu Iwai is less of a restaurant and more of a takeaway joint. You don’t need decorations and seating arrangements to draw your customers when you have garlicky goodness and frying of chicken wafting through the air. What makes this joint is a must-visit is the perfect ratio of the crispy bready and the soft meat inside. You can also add whatever glaze you need, but I would recommend the spicy garlic fried.
Address: 4-16-5, Someya Bldg. 1F, Asakusabashi, Tokyo.
As a female solo traveller, I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. A ramen place where you are encouraged to dine alone is a dream come true. You enter the restaurant, and you are led to a booth car, as they like to call it, with dividers drawn on both sides. You fill out a form where you can customise your meal. A server delivers your ramen through a screen, and you are left in the best company to enjoy your meal: yours.
It is not just the privacy that is why you should go to Ichiran, the pork-based tonkatsu broth in the ramen is an added plus. You can add various toppings, from seaweed, vegetables, half-boiled egg, extra scallions. My advice to you would be to order your noodles ‘bari katai’ or extra firm.
Address: 1-22-7 Jinnan Iwamoto Bldg. B1F, Shibuya, Tokyo
Among the bustling city of Tokyo, Gonpachi is like a slice of history. When you enter the restaurant, you feel like you are transported to Japan of the past in the blink of an eye.
But that is not all Gonpachi is famous for. Remember the classic fight scene in Kill Bill? Yep, that was shot exactly here, and since then, many Tarantino fans have come here to pay tribute, and Gonpachi is now known as the Kill Bill restaurant. Yes, that’s how the hotel concierge explained the restaurant to me when I asked for recommendations.
Coming to food, this restaurant serves an authentic Japanese set menu at a very affordable cost. It is more of an izakaya kind of restaurant, and you can order small plates of food throughout the evening as this place doesn’t close till dawn. My advice would be to choose a table upstairs where you get an even better view of the entire restaurant and order their assorted tempura.
Address: 3-6 Maruyamacho E Space Tower, Shibuya, Tokyo.
11. Aoyama Flower Market Tea House
Greenery has always proven to have a calming effect on me, and I think it is the same for everyone out there too. If you are one of them, the Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is just the spot for you. With plants and flowers everywhere around you, it makes you feel as if you are taking tea in the greenhouse.
I had been to this place more than once during my solo trip to Tokyo, and I realised that they change the complete decor of this cafe every week, basing it on a single flower! And not just decor, even the menu changes every week and during each season.
The best part, however, is the use of flowers in their teas and desserts. I particularly enjoyed their black and jasmine teas. Also, do try out their many desserts, which, when served, look like a potted plant.
Address: 5-1-2 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
12. Shin Udon
While like anyone who has walked the face of Earth, I love ramen. I like udon even better. I don’t know if it is because of its taste or texture or chewiness, but I just happen to love udon. If you agree with my view, Shin Udon is one of Tokyo’s best restaurants for you. Udon is thicker than ramen and made out of wheat flour instead of just flour.
Shin Udon is just a short walk from the Shinjuku station, but it is one hole in the wall shops you will easily miss. (I spent walking around the area for almost 20 mins before I found the spot). So, ask, please ask for directions when you are visiting this place.
Though the basic variant of Udon is Kake Udon, which is hot, I would recommend you try the cold Zaru Udon, which is cold noodles served with a chilled dipping sauce. It will be a different experience for you for sure.
Address: 2-20-16, 1F Soma Bldg., Yoyogi.
Tempuras are nothing but deep-fried golden goodness that one cannot absolutely miss on their first solo trip to Japan. I was aware of what tempuras were on account of me watching food videos all the time. But I got to know that tempura was not just seafood only after I came to Japan. In fact, in the Kansai region of Japan, where Osaka is, you will find tempuras with vegetables inside. Read my blog on 15 must-visit restaurants in Osaka.
However, in Tokyo, tempura is mainly seafood with vegetarian options available too. I was very tempted to try this dish at Tempura Kondo, which had received two Michelin stars a few years ago. But it was almost by chance that I went to this family-run treasure instead.
As a female solo traveller, it was such a breath of fresh air to talk to the owner, a woman who has taken over the reins from her father. She asked me to try out their Shrimp tempura, which is their most-ordered dish.
If you happen to love seafood, then this is an absolute must-visit spot for you. The tempura that features Japanese tiger prawn is dipped into the oil in stages, resulting in soft meat but a crunchy head. The meal is complete with the delicious sauces dripping from the tempura. Also, try Ten Chazuke there, which is tempura with rice and green tea poured over it.
Address: 3-6-10 No. 3 Seiko Bldg Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo
If you want to eat seafood and catch your dinner too, I have got just the place for you. Zauo in Tokyo is a restaurant that allows you to fish, and then they cook your catch according to your preference. When you enter the restaurant, you see a giant boat on a moat, and I immediately began singing Moana songs in my head, lol.
Here you have to rent a fishing rod and bait to catch the fish, and don’t worry if you have no clue how to fish. There will be plenty of servers to help you out. Once you catch your fish, always remember to pose and click plenty of pictures with your prize. For the cook, I would always recommend going for sashimi to bring out the flavour in the fish.
Address: 3-2-9, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo
It only fits that we end the list on a sweet note, and that is where Naniwaya comes in. A Taiyaki is a dessert that resembles a fish, but when you bite into the crust, you usually find red bean paste, a popular choice, or even sweet potatoes.
Naniwaya is an establishment that has been making taiyaki for over a hundred years. So no doubt, they have perfected the art. They fill the hot taiyaki pan with batter and then add the filling before covering it in the batter again. And voila, a fish-shaped snack appears before your eyes. You can enjoy hot ones at the shop. Or you can take one and keep nibbling at it while taking a casual stroll. I would advise on the latter.
Address: 1-8-14 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
So, there you have it. A collection of the best of the best places to eat in Tokyo. What are you waiting for? Dig in right away. Itadakimasu.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.