Did you know Tokyo's got more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris? And there's more than 88,000 restaurants to get your mouth around? We were lucky enough to have a local foodie guide us through the city and here's our top restaurants from this incredible place.
Shimada Bldg, 1F, 2-25-5 Dogenzaka, Shibuya uoshins.com
The food we had here on our first night was so good, we'd have happily got back on the plane home again after it finished. Surely we wouldn't get another meal this good during our stay? Uoshin is essentially first class sushi (straight from the famous Tsukiji fish market) at brilliant prices. Hidden away in a basement on a side-street in Shibuya, this meal was definitely one of the highlights of the city's dining scene. From a dazzling sushi and sashimi spread - tuna, red snapper, mullet, scallops and swordfish - to panko-fried oysters and octopus in a barbecue sauce, everything was delicate, flavoursome and just so fresh. A whole steamed fish was served in a beautiful broth and washed down with a little umeshu (plum wine), this really is Japanese food at its very best. They only speak a little English in here, so you'll need to take someone who speaks Japanese, or be happy to point on a menu and take what comes out (it's all delicious, anyway). A full dinner with drinks will be about ¥6000 a head. uoshins.com
2F, Shinjuku Golden Gai (G2 Street), 1-1-10 Kabukicho, Shinjuku
This tiny little ramen bar is hidden in the maze of the Golden Gai area (see honourable mentions below for bar choices). It can be a little difficult to find, but look out for the painted lantern and red sign outside for your entrance to ramen heaven. If there's no queue (there usually is), then you need to order your noodles to your liking from the machine. The plain ramen costs ¥900, then toppings of nitamago (tea-stained egg), extra pork, extra noodles, seaweed or spring onion can be added for about ¥100-200 each. The machine spits out your tokens, you give them to the staff on entering and wait for the bowl of noodles 'n' broth to be delivered. It's a deeply flavoursome and salty base (made from sardine stock) with unusual flat noodles to be slurped up with the toppings. Remember, slurping is a sign of appreciation and it does actually make the dish taste even better, so get noisy and enjoy. There are a few other Ramen Nagi across the city and the Shinjuku one a few streets away is open 24 hours.
Shibuya, Dogenzaka, 2 Chome−19−2 teyandai.com
You've got to have a night on the skewers in Tokyo and this yakitoria is the place to do it. Take off your shoes and pad through the smoky mega-grill area towards the back of the restaurant and grab a table on the floor-level table and get ordering. Chicken parts are always the favourite - skewered hearts with ponzu, almost raw chicken breast with wasabi or (the best) chicken skin - basically chook crackling. Other great things-on-sticks are pork belly, mushrooms and bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes. You might want to give the raw horse meat a miss, though - it's pretty chewy. However, their version of a Scotch Egg - korokke - is a million times better than the ones back home. Skewers cost around ¥150-200 each. teyandai.com
23-7 Maruyamacho, Shibuya kaikaya.com
When you walk through the door at Kaikaya, you get an almighty cheer from the staff and the other diners. That's just the sort of place this is. It's a favourite with visiting bands, musicians and DJs (check out the wall of fame) and it's easy to see why - great seafood and a really lively atmosphere. You can order from the a la carte menu, but we recommend going all out and having one of the excellent value set meals (at ¥3500, ¥4000 or ¥4500. Get the ¥4500 one - when are you next going to be in Tokyo, after all?). This is around 10 courses of sashimi, tuna carpaccio, grilled whole red snapper and a delicious tuna rib, which is one of their signature dishes. It's not strictly traditional Japanese food and has a mix of cuisines and influences, but after a few hours of unending delicious plates of food, you'll probably end up posing for your own photo on the wall of fame in gratitude. kaikaya.com
Tokyu Food Show
2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku tokyu-dept.co.jp/toyoko/foodshow
While you'd never dream of having breakfast or lunch at Marks & Spencer or Debenhams, in Toyko, eating at a department store is really popular. And with a food selection like the basement of Tokyu Food Show next to Shibuya station, it's a wonder that people don't eat every meal here. Alongside the Whole Foods-esque selection of incredible groceries (always worth a browse - check out the £150 melons!) there are about 50 little stalls cooking up every sort of food imaginable. Dumplings, sweet pancakes, sushi, pastries, spring rolls, juices, chicken skewers - whatever you fancy, it's probably sold somewhere along the aisles of mini-eateries. There's nowhere to sit and eat the food, just a little standing counter where you can chow down on your selection. This is a perfect place for a cheap snack if you're on the move or before heading out for the night. tokyu-dept.co.jp/toyoko/foodshow
Other honourary mentions:
Death Match, Nightingale or Cremaster bar - basically, any of the amazing six-seater bars in the tiny alleyways of the Golden Gai market in Shinjuku. Pay a small fee to enter, but spend all night drinking (and being given snacks, if you're lucky). By Shinjuku station.
Momotaro - This is a cool, modern yakitoria in Ebisu for a dinner with everything on sticks. The savoury porridge is also worth a try too - it's like Japanese risotto. japanchickenfoodservice.co.jp
Robot Restaurant - less of an actual restaurant (in fact, don't bother eating here), more of an insane, neon robot rave cabaret but the high price of a ticket is worth it, even if just for the waiting lounge. Think an acid-fuelled trip in Liberace and Daft Punk's living room. shinjuku-robot.com
Beat Cafe - A fun late night hangout that musicians visiting the city love to drink in. There's usually someone great on the decks, so pull up a bar stool and get stuck in. facebook.com/beatcafe