|Live Like a Local
Spend and Splurge Tokyo: A Savvy, Food-Loving Visitor’s Guide to Japan
As the city with the most Michelin star-rated restaurants in the world, it’s no surprise that foodies from all over the globe are choosing Tokyo as a travel destination.
As with many cosmopolitan cities, a trip to Japan’s capital can get expensive. Travelers on a budget usually need to prioritize when deciding where to splurge. For those who love to sample the best cuisine, the choice is clear: save on lodging and splurge on some of the top-rated restaurants in the world.
Read here about some of Tokyo’s top restaurants, plus a few wallet-friendly hotels that can serve as your home base.
Dedicated sushi-lovers should try to get a reservation at the famed Sukiyabashi Jiro, the Michelin rated restaurant in Ginza (and the main event in the acclaimed 2011 film ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’.) Omakase, or chef’s choice, includes 20 pieces of sushi, prepared at a steady pace by sushi master Jiro Ono. The master chef sets the menu each day after buying fish fresh at the market each day and selecting the best of what is available. Dinner is generally swift, lasting about 30 minutes, and costly (about 30,000 yen or $275 per person), but as his international cult following will attest, it is an experience to remember.
Sushi Saito, in the Roppongi neighborhood, was actually the first sushi restaurant to earn a three-star Michelin rating. The restaurant seats eight people, and due to its overwhelming popularity, it books several months in advance, making it difficult to get a reservation. Sushi Saito is known for putting just as much care into the toppings as the rice, which is prepared to taste slightly saltier than other sushi bars. Expect the world’s best fatty tuna and fresh uni, along with a careful seasonal selection of fish, and for dinner to cost about 20,000 yen ($185) and up.
For travelers looking for a slightly less extravagant dining experience (or those who couldn’t get a reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro!), try Kyubey Ginza. The meal is luxurious, with renowned chef Yosuke Imada serving local fish in a warm atmosphere, for closer to 10,000 yen ($100). As with most sushi places, the menu changes based on what’s available, and as a larger restaurant it can accommodate more guests. Here, diners can expect to find favorites including world-class tuna, prawns and yellowtail.
Where to Stay
After an evening of culinary adventures, get a good night’s rest at OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka, a new casual-chic hotel minutes from Otsuka Station. Completed in 2018, OMO5 is one of the many recent hotel openings in the area in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Costing around $150 a night, the hotel’s 125 rooms are styled with the perfect symmetry of a bento-box, with gridded wood paneling, smooth metals and lofted beds. The vibe of OMO5 is more functional than luxurious, making it perfect for travelers who plan to be out all day on a quest for the perfect meal.
Another good quality, well-designed hotel option for budget-conscious travelers is the Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku. Costing about $150-$185 a night, this 30-story tower hotel boasts almost 1,000 stylishly compact rooms. With the exception of the women-only 14th floor, rooms are primarily white with light wood, grey and green accents. Urban and minimalist, the Hotel Gracery excels in efficiency, offering electronic check in machines and a capable front desk staff.
Saving on accommodations can give travelers more wiggle room in their budgets to splurge on incredible meals during their time in Tokyo. After a good night’s sleep in a clean and comfortable hotel, foodies can focus on what they really came to Japan for: the world-class restaurants.