Tokyo offers everything from unique to downright bizarre restaurant choices varying from traditional Zashiki floor seating options to being handcuffed and locked in a room. It also has plenty of upscale dining and drinking options, literally something to meet any preference especially those wanting to try something far outside the box. These are a few of the many restaurant experiences worth trying while visiting this fast paced and brightly lit city:
Tokyo offers several famous extravagantly themed restaurants throughout the city ranging from the popular LED robot show to small cafes filled with cats to play with while enjoying a coffee. One of the less known thematic restaurants is Ninja where, you guessed it, everyone is dressed like and acts the part of ninjas.
We arrived at a plain nondescript building and passed the restaurant twice before noticing the small lit up sign. After stepping inside the plain door we were greeted by masked hosts in a closet sized dimly lit room. Soon we were escorted across a bridge and through a maze of dark hallways into our own small private room. The attention to detail made the experience quite memorable from the waiters who seemingly appeared out of thin air (coming through concealed entrances), to the menus that disintegrated in seconds in front of us after we made our meal selections. Waiters popped in and out of random doors and holes in the room that blended in seamlessly to the walls to deliver our dinner and then quickly disappear again. It was definitely a fun experience and one that is unique to Tokyo.
Kill Bill Traditional Restaurant
The famous fight scene between the Bride and O'Ren's 'Crazy 88' in the movie Kill Bill is an absolute classic. So I was thrilled to find out that the place it was based on is a normal restaurant that is open to the public. While the bloody scene was actually filmed at a reconstructed version in Beijing, it was still exciting to casually have dinner in the place that inspired the 'House of Blue Leaves' in the movie. The restaurant name is Gonpachi and is located at 1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu in Minato-ku. It is quite popular with the locals so go early!
There are numerous sushi go rounds throughout the city, but one of the biggest and best is the Nemuro Hanamaru Sushi which is centrally located by Chiyoda. Here guests sit at their booths and pick plates off the conveyor belts that bring mounds of delicious fresh seafood by the table continuously. At the end of your meal, the hostess uses the color and number of plates to calculate the cost of your meal. While the dishes are reasonably priced, it is easy to get carried away and continue to snatch more up off the endless array of tasty options cruising by.
James Bond Style Restaurant
Not only does Tokyo offer some of the stranger restaurant choices, it also has plenty of fancier options. One of the evenings out on the town, we decided to class up our dinner selection and go to one a top recommended restaurant. We dressed in our best and headed to Luxis, a gorgeous restaurant that looks like it was designed for a James Bond Villain. All the rules went out the window for guests who were seemingly allowed to do whatever they wanted and for the price of the menu, that was pretty reasonable. The entire back wall of the restaurant was a massive aquarium that had turtles and sharks swimming around keeping watch over us while we ate our meal. While this would not be an every weekend occurrence, it was certainly fun to strap on some heels and mingle with a whole different side of the cities' crowd.
Best Sushi Restaurants
Located on the Sumida River, Tsukiji is the world's largest fish and seafood market where approximately five million lbs of seafood is sold daily. At the outer edge of this famous market are some of the best sushi restaurants in the world. It was easy to find the famous sushi restaurants as there was already a line queuing up out front with nearly a 45 min wait at 0530 in the morning! Sleepily I waited my turn before crowding in behind the few other customers in the narrow seating area. he green tea was a welcome start after the chilly wait outside, but the sushi and sashimi were the show stoppers. Before moving to Japan I had not been much of a raw fish fan, but living in Japan quickly changed my mind after being introduced to the substantially higher quality that was readily available. Now I am confident that even the unbeliever would enjoy the meal that was served here comprised of perfect rice and obviously only the freshest of seafood. While it was definitely worth the early morning to get this experience, unfortunately the famous Tsukiji closed in October 2018 but it is scheduled to reopen at the Toyosu Fish Market across town.
Some of the other Japanese staples that are well worth trying is yakisoba at Mikasa, any hole in the wall ramen joint, and some of the street food. And definitely do not miss trying some local warm sake either with your meal or as a delicious treat afterwards!