Visit Now: Tokyo

WHAT NOT TO MISS IN THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFULLY CURATED CITY.

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If there’s one thing Tokyo has in spades, it’s quality. From the beautifully assembled, fresh bites of sushi to the meticulously folded wrapping that affixes even the most mundane of packages (and we do mean mundane: on a recent visit, we watched as a chef cut, cleaned and flattened a banana leaf to encase a nearby diner’s leftovers in), the city personifies the noble Japanese mantra that no detail is too small or unimportant. That said, not only are the highly-lauded restaurants positively sublime, but most of the city’s fair-priced, nondescript cafés are too— it’s no wonder Momofuku Chef David Chang refers to Tokyo as “The Unknowable Feast,” a landscape so dense and rich, it’d be impossible to know all of its greatest treasures. And then there’s the fashion— a sea of mom-and-pop boutiques with special pieces at a fraction of the typical cost, plus street style reminiscent of Copenhagen in the early 2000’s (read fresh, chic and idiosyncratic). We won’t blame you if you don’t want to leave— we didn’t. Here’s what not to miss on your visit. Until next time, Tokyo.


CITIPHILE’s Guide to Tokyo


COFFEE BREAK
Chatei Hatou | Excellent pour-over coffee house that inspired the creation of Blue Bottle
Omotesando Koffee | To-go coffee in a cool, trendy garage
Fuglen | 70’s-vibing coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night

GREEN TEA TIME
Sakurai | Green tea flights prepared bar-side and paired with traditional Japanese sweets
Yakumo Saryo | Beautifully curated tea house in Meguro

LIFE-CHANGING SUSHI | Sushi Sawada | Overwhelmingly better than three-star sushi bars like nearby Yoshitake, this two-star, six-seat restaurant is reason alone to come to Tokyo. From its melt-in-your-mouth fatty tuna to its tender octopus, it’s an absolute must.

BEST TRADITIONAL KAISEKE | Azabu Yukimura | Unlike Ryugin or other popular kaiseke stops, Yukimura emphasizes a traditional approach to cooking over showy, molecular techniques. In the fall and winter, its star dish is a whole snow crab which is brought to the table live, then charcoal-grilled piece by piece. Fresh and beautifully tender, it’s like tasting crab for the first time.

MIDDAY “BANG FOR YOUR BUCK”
Kyubey | Omakase sushi bar with a stellar lunch deal for $44 pp
Abysse | Seafood-centric tasting menu from a 29 year-old, newly Michelin-starred chef; 6-course lunch for $36 pp

TONKATSU Butagumi | A tucked-away house serving traditional tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets); a lesser-known, but better meal than tonkatsu king, Maisen.

REVOLUTIONARY RAMEN
Rockurinsha | NYC Chef David Chang’s favorite ramen shop; tucked away in Tokyo Station’s “Ramen Alley,” our recent visit left us speechless. Just delicious.
Fu-unji | Championed as Tokyo’s best ramen shop by true noodle aficionados.

WAYGU FOR TWO | Dons de la Nature | An incredible waygu steakhouse in Ginza

HAND ME A COCKTAIL
Bar High Five | A subterranean cocktail den with no menu and a team of fantastic mixologists
Gen Yamamoto | Omakase-style cocktail tasting using seasonal Japanese ingredients

CHEAP EATS
Butayaro | A popular eatery for butadon (grilled pork over rice)
Sakana no Nakasei | A hidden butcher with waygu prosciutto, pastrami and other excellent fresh and cured meats
Kadota | A hidden local favorite specializing in charcoal-grilled fish with lunch specials as low as $8 pp
Ice Ouca | Seasonal, housemade gelato with flavors like Matcha, Brown Sugar and Taro

BIGGEST FLOP | Takazawa | Among the most expensive meals in the city, this French-Japanese haute cuisine restaurant leaves much to be desired. Save your money and treat yourself to some boutique souvenirs (or another night at Sawada). Much more satisfying.

MUST-SEE NEIGHBORHOODS
Nakameguro | Paris’ Marais meets NY’s West Village, this tree-lined neighborhood along the river is Tokyo’s unsung gem. Wander in and out of the local boutiques filled with women’s wear, home goods and antiques to find take-home treasures.
Daikanyama | A less-touristy part of Shibuya with charming, indie shops, vintage stores, cafés and bars hidden within residential buildings. CP

 

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