Japan has always been renown for its impressive gourmet cuisine. As the hub of the country, Tokyo is easily the center of Japan’s food culture and the place every foodie fanatic dreams of visiting. I would even say that in this cosmopolitan city, there is not one restaurant that dishes out bad food. As far as I am aware, every dish and beverage in Tokyo is comparably better than any other city in the world.
This does not only hold true for luxury gourmet dinners. Lunchtime in Japan is equally an opportune time of day to sample the best eats in the city, especially when taking into account the costs. For example, the average cost of a lunch for office workers is around 500-1500 yen. Although bringing your own “bento”, a lunch box prepared at home, is becoming a popular movement among office workers, many still enjoy heading outside the office to enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants in their area. With over 160,000 restaurants in the city, a close contender to Paris at 160,000 and New York at 30,000, you could easily visit a different bistro within the vicinity of your workplace every day of the week.
Within the center of Tokyo itself, you will find more than 31 restaurants within one area surrounding a train station. Since towns and walking areas in Japan are congregated around train stations, you could explore based on each train station on a monthly rotation in search of new finds. Even if you do not have any particular plan for your meals on a given day, if you visit any of the famous towns such as Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Asakusa, Ginza, Tsukiji, or Akihabara
, stop by any restaurant and the chances are that the place will provide you with more options and tastier food than you expected.
The sheer number of restaurants could keep you exploring for weeks on end, but you may begin to notice that the ethnic variety of restaurants are lacking. While the numbers of Italian, French, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants is bountiful, it is less common to find other ethnic food such such as Turkish, Mexican, Spanish or Indian. However, despite the lack of diversity among the types of cuisine available, there are many restaurants that offer meals for those with special diets, such as vegetarians and vegans.
As I mentioned before, it is impossible to have a bad meal in this city. Tokyo possesses 281 Michelin star awarded restaurants with 323 stars in total, including 14 three-star restaurants. Comparably, as of 2013, Paris has 10 three-star restaurants. A new addition to the triumphs in the world of food for Japan is the recent honoring of washoku
as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. This truly celebrates how special Japanese cuisine is and such a merit will hopefully lead to the revival and continuance of an appreciation for traditional Japanese foods by younger generations for many years to come.
Even though Tokyo has been labeled as a city where one can enjoy a top-notch gourmet meal at a classy restaurant, the city also remains as a great place to grab a bite in a casual restaurant environment. Since you are in Japan after all, we recommend that you squeeze your mealtimes with as many Japanese restaurants and cuisine as possible. In a mega-city like Tokyo, there are tons of options that go beyond just sushi and tempura: teishoku, gyudon, kaisendon, omuraisu, soba, udon, ramen and the list goes on. Any izakaya, ramenya or katsudonya that you walk into, you'll be greeted enthusiastically and served a delicious meal that will not disappoint.
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