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    Food in Tokyo: A Guide to the City’s Iconic Dishes and Restaurants

    Tokyo view

    Speak of Japan, the mind of any traveler immediately turns to Tokyo. This bustling metropolis is often the first stop on many travelers’ itineraries, and for good reason. But beyond its iconic landmarks and vibrant nightlife, Tokyo’s culinary scene is a world unto itself, offering a unique blend of traditional and modern flavors that will satisfy even the most discerning palate. Today, we’ll delve into the characteristics of Tokyo’s food, explore its iconic dishes, and highlight the city’s most interesting restaurants, giving you a taste of what makes Tokyo’s food scene so unforgettable.

    History of Tokyo’s Food Culture

    Tokyo, the capital of Japan, has continued to develop and is now home to approximately 13 million people. Although it is the third smallest prefecture in Japan, Tokyo is characterized by its diverse geography, ranging from the Kanto mountain range to the east and west, the Tama Hills, the Musashino Plateau, the low-lying areas at sea level, and the Izu and Ogasawara islands.

    The Edo Shogunate, established by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603, lasted for about 260 years. During this time, people from various regions of Japan visited Edo (the former name of Tokyo), and due to the country’s policy of isolation, Edo culture, including ukiyo-e, literature, and science, developed significantly. Within the flourishing bourgeois culture of Edo, food culture also made dramatic progress. In addition, the introduction of Western cuisine with the modernization of Japan further expanded Tokyo’s culinary repertoire.

    Tokyo can be broadly divided into four areas: the Edo-mae/Shitamachi (downtown) area, which retains the atmosphere of old Edo; the Tama River basin and Okutama area, with its abundant nature; and the Izu Island area, which has its own unique culture.

    出典: 農林水産省 (

    Must-try dishes when visiting Tokyo

    Tokyo offers a wide variety of delicious food that you should not miss. Here are some must-try dishes that will give you a taste of the city’s rich culinary culture.


    sushi arranged in wooden plate

    Sushi is a popular dish enjoyed by many people around the world. In Tokyo, you can find different styles of sushi, from nigiri sushi (slices of fish on vinegared rice) to chirashi sushi (scattered sushi). Originally, people made sushi by fermenting seafood with salt and rice, but did not eat the rice. Later, with the development of rice vinegar, sushi evolved into its current form. If you have a chance, try Edomae sushi, which uses fresh fish from Edo Bay.

    All about the origin of Japanese Sushi here!


    nihachi soba and tsuyu

    Soba is a type of noodle made from buckwheat flour. It became popular in the mid-Edo period as a form of fast food. Today, soba is one of Tokyo’s signature dishes. Enjoy the flavorful and aromatic noodles by slurping them, which enhances the taste and experience.


    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)

    Monjayaki is a savory pancake made by mixing ingredients into a loose wheat flour batter and grilling it on a hot plate. The fun part of eating monjayaki is cooking it yourself. In Tsukishima, you can visit Monja Street, where about 60 specialty shops offer unique versions of this dish. The origins of monjayaki date back to the late Edo period, when children used it to practice writing characters on an iron plate.

    Click here to find best places to buy Monjayaki!

    Fukugawa meshi

    Fukagawa Meshi (深川めし)

    Fukagawa-meshi is a hearty dish made by simmering clams, scallions, tofu, and other ingredients in a miso or soy sauce broth, then serving it over rice. This dish originated in the Fukagawa area during the Edo period to feed busy fishermen. Some shops also offer a version called Fukagawa-meshi, which is made with clam rice.

    How to make Fukugawa meshi? Click here!

    Dojo-nabe and Yanagawa-nabe

    yanagawa nabe 柳川鍋

    Dojo-nabe is a hot pot dish in which loaches are cooked in broth with chopped green onions. Another variation, Yanagawa-nabe, features loaches cooked with burdock and topped with beaten eggs. Both dishes have been part of Japanese cuisine since the Edo period and offer a unique taste of traditional cooking.

    Best places for Yanagawa nabe in Tokyo!


    Chanko nabe

    Chanko-nabe is a nutritious hot pot essential for sumo wrestlers. It is filled with meat, fish, and vegetables. Many former sumo wrestlers run chanko specialty shops in Tokyo, so you can enjoy an authentic experience. This dish is perfect for anyone looking for a hearty and wholesome meal.

    If you want to find out more about Chanko nabe, click here!

    Recommended Restaurants in Tokyo

    Edomae Shibahama (江戸前芝浜)

    Dish at Edomae Shibahama

    Edomae Bahama, located in Shibakoen, is a restaurant that has been serving traditional Edomae-style cuisine since 2016. In 2021, the restaurant changed its name to Edomae Shibahama and relocated. The restaurant’s owner, Haru, was inspired by his childhood experiences eating delicious shrimp from Shibakoen and incorporated it into his menu. The interior of the restaurant is designed to evoke the atmosphere of the Edo period, with a focus on traditional Edomae cuisine.

    Address: Japan, Tokyo, Minato City, Shiba, 2-22-23, Tomi Building 1F
    Phone number: +81334536888
    Business hours: [Monday – Sunday] 17:00–23:30 (except Thursday)
    [Thursday] 17:00–00:00

    Tokyo view

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