If you are traveling to the great city of Tokyo, Japan chances are good you are interested in taking advantage of some of the local fare. The city is full of options and no matter how long your stay you’ll be left hungry for more.
Without question, the most popular cultural Japanese export to nearly every corner of the world is, you guessed it, sushi! While you can absolutely get fantastic sushi in nearly every major city at this point, the Japanese simply do it better. After all, they’ve been at it for centuries.
Tokyo is perhaps the epicenter of sushi worldwide, so you will certainly have you pick of the litter. That variance is both a great opportunity and something of a burden! How can you be sure that you are getting the very best?
Luckily, we have compiled a quick guide for you to take with you when you walk the bustling streets of Tokyo to find that holy grail of a sushi meal.
Please note, Japan is one of the most intact cultures in the world, so don’t be surprised if you’re waiter does not know a single word of English! For help with ordering, see Unseen Japan’s guide to ordering anything at any restaurant in Japan
Here is your guide to the best sushi restaurants in Tokyo in 2019.
If you are looking for an experience that is both luxurious and uniquely Japanese, head to the two Michelin star rated Taku. Perhaps the most delectable option on the menu are their grilled and simmered fishes along with their sweet crab. They also integrate maitake mushroom and lotus root for a unique and fresh-to-the-palette flavor. This is a firm favorite of mine and I make sure I check out this restaurant whenever I’m in town. Its recommended to book well ahead!
Takaaki Sugita has long-been championed as one of the entire city of Tokyo’s top sushi chefs, and that reputation is well deserved. He is now working at his brand-spanking new Sushi Sugita and is certainly at the top of his game and at the center of attention when it comes to Japanese cuisine.
With fresh flavors, and an impeccable ability to blend traditional and new, this is certainly not a place. Just like many of the options on this list, however, you are going to want ot make sure to get your reservation in ahead of time – or simply line up early on – because this place is beloved by both tourists and locals alike and it can be quite hard to score a seat during the dinner rush.
Not only is this place always bringing some of the best sushi Tokyo has to offer to their guests, but they are willing to get a little wild as well! This restaurant is known as one of the best sushi spots if you are also looking to break out the sake and have a night on the town. Chef Jun Takahashi is known for having a fantastic taste in sake and he makes sure that his patrons never go without.
The name says it all. This three Michelin starred icon is simple and serene. It is also quite strict and steeped in Japanese culture. Before you head here, make sure to hop on their website and read their 12 rules. Do not expect to be wowed by the unhemming décor of this space. Though, by the end of your meal you may almost believe that its simplicity is the point. That way, you can focus entirely on what you are experiencing on the plate in front of you.
What sets this place apart from many of the other options on this list are two thing: its freshness and its price. The reason why the fish is so incredibly fresh here is because it is actually situated just outside the Tsukiji outer market, where many of the city’s sushi chefs get their ingredients from.
Beyond that, the prices are truly reasonable which allows this counter-only restaurant to be just a simple meal as opposed to a massive experience that you have based your entire day – or even trip – around.
Something fascinating about this sushi chef is that it features one of only Tokyo’s two female sushi chefs. Takeuchi trained at Sushi Shimizu in Shimbashi and certainly turned heads when she decided to open Sushi Take in 2014.
Now, she’s turning heads for the food that she is offering. She combines the precise technique and traditional style with her own personal flare. It results in a balanced and delicious experience that you will be sure to want to return to.
This tiny spot is one of the best places in the city to get sushi in the “kojinmari” style, with a single counter and one table.
Here, you can indulge in the authentic Edo-style sushi including their Otoro, which is the fattiest part of the tuna. It is so tender that it literally melts in your mouth.
The one thing that is unique to this Tokyo spot is the fact that it offers aged fish. This delicacy will open your eyes and palette to a completely new way to experience fish and seafood.
On top of that, another aspect of Kimura that is fascinating is that it focuses only on fish that are currently in season. So, if you do happen to miss out on sea urchin or tuna, you may be lucky enough to try some aged fish that will knock your socks right off!
There are few sushi masters throughout the world that hold a higher reputation that Takashi Saito. His three-Michelin star status is a reflection of his skill and the incredible taste he offers on his nigiri sushi. Other than his food, the one thing that sets him so dramatically apart from his colleagues and contemporaries is that his restaurant is quite comfortable and relaxed, as opposed to rather strict.
If you are interested in dining at Saito, make sure to get your reservation in months ahead of your trip. Otherwise, you will likely be on the outside looking in at this nine-seat establishment.
Don’t let this locale’s modest façade and interior fool you, the food is top-notch. Not only does it offer fresh-as-can-be urchin, abalone, and other seafoods, but Fukamachi also is an expert in batter-fried morsels and perfectly cooked vegetables.
Another great aspect of this restaurant is that it is actually open for both lunch and dinner, so you have much more time to hit it, and re-hit it if your heart so desires.