Top 10 Izakayas in Tokyo
In the food and drink department, Japan comes correct. No other country gets so niche when it comes to specific types of bars and restaurants. In a lot of other places you go for grub at one spot and go for drinks at another. Not so in the colossal capital of Japan, where the izakaya captures a place in between: a casual, inexpensive restaurant that doubles as a bar.
Of course, like pubs in London or bars in New York City, izakayas in Tokyo have undergone a bona fide renaissance and facelift of late. Old-school establishments still persist – and thrive – but new breeds of cooks, bartenders and owners have gone avant-garde on the genre. Whether traditional yakitori and oden or twists on the classics, the norm is still to start with draft beer (nama biiru) and then move on to the strong stuff, i.e. shochu and whisky.
Tokyo is a massive izakaya bonanza, with one ’round just about every corner (and, notably and conveniently, close to most underground and bus stops). With that, here are ten izakayas worth a special detour.
3-12-4 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
This gem in Minato is a bit of a rebel on the scene. Whereas speedy service is the name of the game at most izakayas, at Chez Aburiya a slow food ethos prevails.
1-5-9 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Just a few minutes walk from Shibuya Station, Yamaga honten is a classic yakitori izakaya open 24/7.
Kaleid Shibuya Miyamasuzaka 6F, 1-12-1 Shibuya-ku
Ask hungry Shibuya students or cab driver where to score killer budget sustenance in the ward and, most likely, the name Bucchigri Sakaba will come up.
2-20-1 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku
A furtive little backstreet spot in the Nishi-Azabu district of Minato, Teyandei serves quality fish, seafood and tempura.
1-21-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Just a stroll from Harajuku ensures Yukari is seldom empty. The feverish izakaya capitalises on the choice real estate with cheap drinks and fast hangover food.
B1F, 30-8 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku
Grungy, loud Tatsumichiya is a magnet for Shibuya’s hip and provocative types. Infectious vibe and above-average food.
Meishu Izakaya Akaoni
2-15-3 Sangenjaya, Setagaya-ku
Minutes from Sangen-jaya Station, Meishu Izakaya Akaoni is a spot for sake purists and has a prolific food menu with over 200 items.
2-2-2 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku
Ikebukuro is decidedly off the tourist path in Toshima, let alone Tokyo, but Sasashu is a solid reason to visit for a pure, unadulterated izakaya experience.
Bistro 35 Steps
B1 Shibuya City Hotel, 1-1 Shibuya-ku
Busy Bistro 35 Steps is on the opposite side of the seedy spectrum but is a cheery, animated izakaya with wonderful food in affordable abundance.
2-4-4 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku
A Brit owns this convivial spot underneath the Yamanote tracks that sources most, if not all, ingredients from Tsukiji Market.
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