April 19, 2024

Adventure Awaits Journeyers

Discovering the World Anew

This Is the Best City for Food and Drinks in 2024

3 min read

Tokyo is a city overflowing with omotenashi, a term that describes a selfless, sincere, and meticulous form of hospitality with roots in Japan’s tea ceremony. You can see omotenashi come to life in many of the city’s restaurants; it’s one of the magical qualities that have long made Tokyo a world-class culinary destination.

You can experience it through the work of artisans, known as shokunin, who specialize in one kind of food, such as sushi, soba, unagi, tempura, or sukiyaki. You’ll also find omotenashi in many of the city’s restaurants that have been in business for over 100 years, such as Isehiro, whose second-generation owner has been grilling yakitori over charcoal for decades in the basement of the Dai-ichi Hotel. These historic restaurants even go by their own name — shinise. But while the city’s culinary traditions are firmly anchored in the past, Tokyo’s food scene is constantly evolving and innovating toward the future; it’s a combination that makes it an unparalleled destination for hungry travelers. 

The newly opened Azabudai Hills mall — a complex of over 9 million square feet — has dozens of exciting restaurants and cafés, including Florilège, a French-inspired restaurant that focuses on plant-based dishes, and Sushi Saito, the new outpost from chef Takashi Saito, whose sushi is regarded by many as the best in the world. Hotel restaurants tempt diners with celebrated European chefs like Guillaume Bracaval at Michelin-starred Est in the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi, serving French cuisine with Japanese ingredients, while Sergio Herman of Le Pristine Tokyo at Hotel Toranomon Hills brings Italian cuisine with Dutch terroir to Japan. Tokyo now also competes on the world stage for incredible pizza, with pizzaiolos like Yuki Motokura at Pizza Marumo in Ebisu and Daniele Cason at The Pizza Bar on 38th at the Mandarin Oriental both honing their craft, serving pizza with high water concentration in the dough for lighter crusts.

Beyond restaurant walls, the food markets of Tokyo are truly mind-boggling. Department stores shelter vast epicurean food halls known as depachika, which overwhelm with their bountiful arrays of bento boxes, sashimi trays, and seasonal-fruit cakes; some, like Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi, have rooftop gardens for impromptu picnics. Even the 89-year-old Tsukiji Market has evolved; today, the remaining outer market almost feels like an American-style state fair, selling small bites like tamagoyaki on a stick or octopus flattened and grilled to a thin cracker, while the wholesale operation has relocated to a sleek building in Toyosu.

Coffee-shop culture is growing rapidly and can range from retro-cool kissaten, like Hamanoya Parlour in Nihonbashi serving Kona coffee with tamago sandos or toast, to hip third-wave coffee shops like Koffee Mameya Kakeru, which delights with flights of coffee cocktails served by baristas in lab coats. And Tokyo is legendary for its breakfasts, from handmade udon noodles with tempura slurped by office workers at countless stalls throughout the city to an onigiri rice ball from the 7-Eleven. (The Japanese stores are universally recognized as having some of the best convenience-store food on the planet.)

A few things have changed since the pandemic. Casual restaurants have moved to taking orders via tablet or using QR codes. But some things haven’t changed at all. It is still possible to eat well in Tokyo on any budget. Service is exceptional, and because of different wages, lifestyles, and living conditions, there is no need to tip. This makes Tokyo incredibly accessible for food lovers of all persuasions, and it’s one of my favorite things about this city: It always has something for everyone.

Global Tastemakers is a celebration of the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. We asked more than 180 food and travel journalists to vote on their favorites, including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. We then entrusted those results to an expert panel of judges to determine each category’s winners. In many categories, we’ve included a judge’s pick, hand-selected by our expert panel, to shout out more culinary destinations we don’t want our readers to miss. See all the winners at foodandwine.com/globaltastemakers.

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