Orles Top 5 Japanese Restaurants in Tokyo that are Not Sushi
Orlagh is back again and the last few weeks have been nothing short of amazing. I keep having to pinch myself to really believe that we are living in Japan for the Rugby World Cup. We were sorry to see Ireland finish their journey this weekend in the quarter-finals against the incredible New Zealand team but equally proud to be Irish and support our team! Our focus and support moved to Japan on Sunday night but unfortunately, they were knocked out too. They must be so proud of their epic performance throughout the tournament and the unbelievable hospitality that the Japanese people have afforded to everyone who has traveled to Japan.
So this week I am sharing some of our favourite restaurants to visit in Tokyo. When we told people we were moving to Tokyo everyone kept saying to us…. I hope you like sushi which I hate to admit that we are not big sushi fans. However, Japan has so much more to offer on the food scene than just sushi and narrowing down some of our favourite Japanese places to eat was really difficult. But here goes….
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First on our list is a top family favourite. Nikugen is a yakiniku restaurant. Yakiniku is a Japanese description for grilled or barbequed meat. There is always a great buzz in the restaurant whether you choose to go for lunch or in the evening and we think it has the best atmosphere of any yakiniku restaurant we have visited. Staff are very friendly and the service is fast. There is a great wine list and the mixed selection of wagyu beef is excellent! And most importantly it meets our 4-year-old Jacks seal of approval. He loves the experience of cooking the meat ourselves at the table. Yes, you have to cook your own food, but don’t worry they won’t ask you to do the dishes after!
Address: 〒106-0032 Tokyo, Minato City, Roppongi, 7 Chome−15−17
2. Memory Lane/Yakitori Lane
So this isn’t one restaurant on its own but a whole area of little small restaurants on one long street in Shinjuku. The main food served is yakitori which is a Japanese type of skewered chicken or pork that is cooked over charcoal and seasoned. The area is full of charm and dates back to the 1940s. It was burnt down in 1999 and rebuilt and at this time it was given the name Memory Lane. The best time to visit this area is after dark as there is a better chance that everywhere will be open and has a great energetic vibe. Each of the restaurants will have seating for 6-10 people and some of the restaurants have menus in English so just grab a seat and enjoy the fun!
Afterwards I would recommend that you head to Golden Gai which is the pub equivalent of Memory Lane. Golden Gai is a great area to explore at night and should be on your must-visit list. It is about 200 bars packed into the smallest space imaginable. An Irish person’s dream location! Some of the bars have a cover charge but there are plenty that don’t and the best fun is to explore a few of them as they are all individual and prove for a fun night out. Most of them only fit 8-10 people inside.
Address: 1 Chome-2-8 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023 Japan
3. Gyoza no Ohsho
Under the bridge, just past Shibuya crossing, this is a great little gyoza fast-food chain type restaurant. It is a Japanese chain that also serves Chinese food but the highlight on their menu is their gyozas. Gyoza are pork dumplings that are pan-fried and are absolutely delicious! It is good to pop by for a takeaway snack or to sit down with a plate of gyoza and a beer. Service is quick, the price is cheap and the food is of good quality.
Gyoza No Osho
Address: 2 Chome-10-3 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0043
Ramen is another Japanese favourite of ours. In Tokyo, there are literally ramen restaurants on every street that you visit. One of my favourite places to go is Ippudo which is a chain and I am a huge fan of their spicy pork ramen. You can choose the level of spice from 1-5. I really like spicy food and I generally go for a spice level 3 which is very enjoyable. I have witnessed an Irish man surrender defeated to the level 5 spice ramen! You will pay 600-700 yen for a bowl of ramen which is about €6.
Address: 9-11 Roppongi 4 Chrome, Minato Ku, Tokyo
5. Gonpachi or The Kill Bill Restaurant
This restaurant has made it into the top 5 as it ticks the box of being a tourist attraction having featured in the Kill Bill movie as well as offering a Japanese dining experience with a great atmosphere. Once you arrive at the restaurant you will see pictures on the walls of all of the famous people that have visited. The décor is fantastic and the atmosphere is worth the visit on its own. The food is good with a selection of yakitori, fish & beef dishes available. Price is a premium in the evening but they do offer a lunch menu which is very reasonable & their drinks menu is good. Service can be a little slow but the overall experience is worth it. I would recommend booking in advance.
Address: 1-13-11 Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-00311F & 2F
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