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In June 2015, TripAdvisor Japan published their ranking of the most popular Japanese restaurants among tourists. This ranking was compiled based off of reviews from April 2014 to March 2015 thanks to the reviews created by users.
30. Katsukura (Kyoto)Yuichi Sakuraba/Flickr
This tonkatsu specialty restaurant in Kyoto offers crispy, juicy, and delicious tonkatsu. While you said, you can have fun by grinding sesame seeds in a mortar. Cabbage, miso soup, and rice all have free refills. There are branches in Kanto, but eating it in Kansai is more special due to it being its place of origin. They have an English menu.
HP:www.fukunaga-tf.com/katsukura/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Kyoto Station Senmontengai TheCUBE 11F, 901 Higashi-shiokouji-cho Shimogyou-ku, Kyoto
29. Steakland Kobe (Kobe, Hyogo)Richard, enjoy my life!/FlickrRichard, enjoy my life!/Flickr
Near Sannomiya Station in Kobe, in the middle of a residential area, sits a restaurant where you can eat Kobe beef steak for a reasonable price. The lunches are especially good value, such as the Kobe beef steak lunch (150g) for 3180 yen or the steak S-sized lunch (100g) for 1080 yen. Both of them have rice, miso soup, salad, grilled vegetables, pickles, and coffee included. You can watch the chefs grill your meat directly in front of you. English menu available.
HP: steakland.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Miyasako Building 1-2F, 1 Chome-8-2 Kitanagasadoori Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo (Google Map)
28. Sushi no Musashi (Kyoto)
In Kyoto, there are 3 branches of this sushi restaurant in which craftsmen make all the food. There are more than 50 types of sushi available and 2 pieces will run you 157 yen. Their homemade soup, Akadashi, using broth made from hamaguri clams and special miso, is definitely recommended. This is the shop to try if you want to casually have sushi in Kyoto. English menu available.
HP:www.sushinomusashi.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 440 Ebisucho Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
27. Abucha 2-go (Kutchan, Hokkaido)Yong Thye/Flickr
This is the sister shop to the popular izakaya Abucha in Niseko. You can eat fresh Hokkaido seafood in a comfortable space with great service. Children are welcome. During the ski season it gets so crowded that reservations are necessary.
HP:www.abucha.net/abucha/ja/abucha2-info (Japanese Only)
Address: Suiboku 1F, 191-29 Yamada Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido (Google Map)
26. Genki Sushi (Tokyo)Kevin Yank/FlickrMarco/Flickr
This branch of the popular chain restaurant is in Shibuya’s Center-gai. There are many kinds of sushi that you can get two pieces of for 129 yen. You order using the touch panel (which also has English available), and it will be delivered to you using the high-speed lane. When you want to casually eat sushi for a cheap price, you can come here with your whole family.
HP:www.genkisushi.co.jp/genki/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 24-8 Udagawacho Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
25. Daiwa Sushi (Tokyo)Min Lee/Flickr
This is an Edomae sushi restaurant in Uogashi Yokocho inside Tsukiji Market. Edomae sushi is already seasone with sauce, so you eat it as is without putting soy sauce on it. The recommended omakase set (7 nigiri pieces, 1 maki roll, and miso soup) is 3780 yen. The hours are from 5:30AM to 1:30 PM, so try to get there early! English and Chinese menus available.
Address: Building 6 inside Tsukiji Ichiba, 5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
24. Ichiran (Osaka)
This famous tonkotsu ramen shop on the banks of the Dotonbori river is open 24 hours a day. The name Ichiran is almost synonymous with delicious ramen, but what’s more is that it’s also known as the world’s first cubicle restaurant. You can sit by yourself in your own cubicle and focus only on the taste of your food. You order using meal tickets, and you can specify the flavors and noodle texture you prefer using the machine. Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English menus are all available.
Address: 1F, 7-18 Souemoncho Chuo-ku, Osaka (Google Map)
23. Wakkoqu (Kobe, Hyogo)Chi (in Oz)/Flickr
This Kobe steak restaurant is directly connected to Shin-Kobe Station. The steak is grilled on a teppan plate using a special technique that releases all of the uami and deliciousness inside the meat. All seats are counter seats so you can enjoy watching your food be cooked directly in front of you! It’s a stylish restaurant that uses Imariyaki ceramics and antique glassware from the mid-Edo period to the Meiji period. English, simplified Chinese, and Korean menus available.
Address: Shin-Kobe Oriental Avenue 3F, 1 Chome-1 Kitanocho Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo (Google Map)
22. Ippudo (Kyoto)
Next to Kyoto’s Daimaru department store, you can find the Fukuoka tonkotsu ramen restaurant that’s gained popularity all around the world. You can eat the ramen with toppings such as mustard greens, moyashi namul, and the ginger that’s available on the table. They’re open until 3 AM. English, Chinese, and Korean menus available.
HP:www.ippudo.com/store/kyoto/nishiki.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Nishiki Bldg 1F, 653-1 Bantoyacho, Nishikokoji Higashi-iru, Higashi-no-Toin, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
21. NINJA AKASAKA (Tokyo)Sebastian Ritscher/Flickr
This is an entertainment restaurant with ninjas! Inside the restaurant is a good luck waterfall, a lake, and here and there are ninja residences tucked away. The food is Japanese-style, and there are dishes in which smoke and fireworks explode from! You can also enjoy the ninja show. This is definitely cool Japan!
Address: Akasaka Tokyu Plaza 1F, 2 Chome-14-3 Nagatacho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
20. Chojiro (Kyoto)Yusuke Kawasaki/Flickr
You can eat reasonably priced kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) in refined lighting in a stylish, modern restaurant. You can order using the iPad (menu offered in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean), so it’s a very easy system that’s quite popular. The staff is very friendly and kind.
HP: www.foodsnet.co.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1F Kiyamachi Shijo, 103-2 Hashimotocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
19. Tsukiji Kiyomura Sushi Zanmai (Tokyo)ClieistD/Flickr
Sushi Zanmai’s company present is famous for calling himself the Maguro King, and every year he wins the first tuna of the year at Tsukiji Ichiba auctions. There are many branches throughout the city but this Higashi-Shinjuku restaurant is in a corner of Koreatown. It’s open 24 hours a day 365 days of the year, so you can easily stop by after enjoying the Shinjuku nightlife.
Address: 1 Chome 1-13, Okubo, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
18. Harajuku Gyozarou (Tokyo)
This gyoza restaurant is reasonably priced and delicious. The yakigyoza has crisp skin and crunchy vegetables, while the wrappers of the suigyoza are very springy. From the counter seat, you can watch the gyoza being grilled. On the menu there is only suigyoza, yakigyoza, bean sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, rice, and drinks.
Address: 6 Chome-2-4 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
17. Kaikaya (Tokyo)
This restaurant uses seafood from the Sagami Bay to create meals that have a Japanese-style base. They have a wide variety of sashimi and carpaccio available, plus the staff is very energetic and friendly. It’s a restaurant with energy, so it’s recommended for when you want to have a really fun time out. A bottle of wine starts at 1680! English menu available.
Address: 23-7 Maruyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo (Google Map)
16. NARISAWA (Tokyo)
This French restaurant has a chef studied for 8 years at one of Europe’s top restaurants with 3 Michelin stars. The food is made with the theme of living together with the forest, so it’s plated beautifully and when you’re done it feels like you’ve been told a story.
Address: 2 Chome-6-15 Minami-aoyama Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
15. Sushi no Midori (Tokyo)| Ray Chang |/Flickr
This sushi restaurant is inside Mark City, which is right by Shibuya Station, and offers fresh seafood from Tsukiji for reasonable prices. The recommended course is the Choutokusen Nigiri (ten pieces of sushi, chawanmushi, miso soup, mini kanimiso salad – 2160 yen in total). There is an English menu available. If you go to the restaurant, please get a numbered ticket from the machine first. There is also a kaitenzushi restaurant, Katsumidori, produced by the same people who do Sushi no Midori.
Address: Shibuya Mark City East 4F, 1 Chome-12 Dogenzaka Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
14. Nagataya (Hiroshima)
Okonomiyaki is one of Hiroshima’s famous dishes! Different from Osaka-style okonomiyaki, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki has layers of ingredients, while Osaka-style mixes the ingredients into one pancake. Nagataya is near the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and it’s an okonomiyaki restaurant where you can enjoy the retro atmosphere of the Showa era. The outside of the okonomiyaki is crispy while the inside is fluffy, and you eat it with the special sauce for a perfect experience. If you sit at the counter, you can watch them cook. English menus and vegetarian menus available.
Address: Omoshi Building 1F, 1 Chome-7-19 Otemachi Naka-ku, Hiroshima (Google Map)
13. Shiba Tofuya Ukai (Tokyo)Anzai Keisuke/Flickr
At the foot of Tokyo Tower, in the 70,000 sq.ft. Japanese garden, you can enjoy first-class tofu and seasonal meals. The elegant interior of the restaurant evokes Edo, and it’s so calming that you won’t even feel like you’re in Tokyo. The scenery of Tokyo Tower lit-up at night is lovely. Please enjoy this healthy Japanese food.
Address: 4 Chome-4-13 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo (Google Map)
12. Sushidai (Tokyo)Wally Gobetz/Flickr
This Edomae sushi restaurant in Uogashi Yokocho often has a long line. The omakase set is 4000 yen and you receive 10 pieces of nigiri sushi, 1 maki roll, eggs, and 1 maki of your favorite nigiri sushi. The service is very hospitable and the food is delicious so be prepared to wait. Business hours is from 5AM-2PM. There are only 13 seats inside, so a 2-5 hour wait is not uncommon.
HP: www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/22_sushidai/index.htm (Japanese Only)
Address: Inside Tsukiji Market Building 6, 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
11. Center4 Hamburgers (Takayama, Gifu)
In the ancient streets of Hidata Takayama, there is an American hamburger restaurant tucked away. They have more than 15 kinds of beer, most of them from the U.S., Germany, and Belgium. The recommended burger is a little expensive, but you really should try it: the Hidaka beef burger at 2300 yen. They have other burgers that you can enjoy as well, like the avocado burger (925 yen).
HP:tiger-center4.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 4 Kamiichinomachi Takayama-shi, Gifu (Google Map)
10. Ichiran (Tokyo)Isen Majennt/Flickr
This famous 24-hour tonkotsu ramen restaurant is just 3 minutes fom Shibuya Station. The name Ichiran is almost synonymous with delicious ramen, but what’s more is that it’s also known as the world’s first cubicle restaurant. You can sit by yourself in your own cubicle and focus only on the taste of your food. You order using meal tickets, and you can specify the flavors and noodle texture you prefer using the machine. After you eat a bowl, if you’re still ready for more, don’t forget to get seconds on the noodles for the rest of your broth!
Address: Iwamoto Building B1F, 1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
9. Kiji (Osaka)
This is a retro-style okonomiyaki restaurant on the first floor of the basement of the Umeda Sky Building. The surface of the okonomiyaki is crispy and the inside is nice and soft. You can eat all sorts of delicious dishes for reasonable prices, including butatama, ikatama, modanyaki, mixed-yaki, and sujiyaki. The friendly owner is also one of the restaurant’s charms.
Address: Umeda Sky Building B1F Takimikoji, 1 Chome-1-90 Oyodonaka Kita-ku, Osaka (Google Map)
8. Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511 (Tokyo)
You can eat high-grade (A5 rank) Kobe beef at this stylish restaurant in Akasaka. For steak-lovers, the Kamayaki Steak Dinner is recommended. They have more than 80 kinds of wine available. Lunch starts at around 1500 yen. The name “511” comes from the Beef Marble Score used by the American Wagyu Association to grade beef; 511 is the highest grade a piece of meat can earn.
Address: Deer Plaza Akasaka B1F, 4 Chome-3-28 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
7. Kyubey (Tokyo)
This Edomae sushi restaurant has been in business since 1936, and it’s been beloved with artists like Rosanjin since its inception. During the day, you can have nama-chirashi, nigiri, and sushi kaiseki (complete with appetizer, sashimi, something flame-broiled, something in a bowl, and a nigiri) while in the evening they offer only nigiri and the sushi kaiseki. This is a high class sushi restaurant, so lunch starts at around 4000 yen. The futomaki that’s available to take home is also famous.
Address: 8 Chome-7-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
6. SUSHI BAR YASUDA (Tokyo)
Near Gaien-mae Station and Aoyama Cemetary is this 8-seat sushi bar. The owner, Yasuda-san, managed the famous Sushi Yasuda in New York before returning to Japan. He’s very particular about his sushi, and he serves it exactly the same way he did in New York. Reservations are necessary.
Address: Minami-Aoyama 426 B1F, 4 Chome-2-6 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
5. M (Osaka)
This yakiniku restaurant is five minutes from Namba Station and is the place to go for Matsuzaka beef. Since they buy an entire Matsuzaka cow, you can try all sorts of cuts of meat presented to you beautifully. The Japanese-style, modern interior is made up of mostly partially-private rooms so you can spend a very relaxing time there.
Address: 1 Chome-1 Nanba Chuo-ku, Osaka (Google Map)
4. Heianraku (Takayama, Gifu)
This Chinese restaurant just five minutes from Takayama Station has been in business for about 40 years. You can enjoy the residential feeling of Hidata Takayama while you eat different dishes like gyoza, karaage, subuta, Hidata miso ramen, and more. They also have a variety of local liquors.
Address: 6 Chome-7-2 Tenmanmachi, Takayama-shi, Gifu (Google Map)
3. Hafuu (Kyoto)
This restaurant sits south of the imperial palace in a very quiet area. They have lunch sets that change every day for a reasonable price, as well as dinner courses that use only the highest-grade meat. Here you can enjoy the true feeling of Japanese aesthetics while eating delicious meat. The katsu sandwiches available for take-out are also popular.
Address: 471-1 Sasayacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
2. Tapas Molecular Bar (Tokyo)Rachel Lovinger/Flickr
The Mandarin Hotel’s restaurant on the 38th floor is a chic place where you sit at the counter and eat experimental meals. The bite-sized dishes are made by the chef and look just like art (16000 yen for 16 pieces). They have two slots open at 6 pm and 8:30 pm, limited to 8 people each. Reservations are required.
Address: Mandarin Oriental Tokyo 38F, 1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Cuo-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
1. Ootsuka (Kyoto)
This steak restaurant is a refuge in Kyoto’s Arashiyama. It’s very reasonable, as you can get meals such as suji-don and roast beef rice bowl starting at 1100 yen. Here you can fully experience the deliciousness of Japanese beef. There are English menus available that explain each type of cut. This restaurant is only open for lunch, and only between the hours of 11AM-3PM.
HP: www.otsukabeef.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 20-10 Sagatenryuuji Setogawacho Ukyou-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
Many of these restaurants are very used to having foreign tourists. However, there may still be staff members who are unused to serving non-Japanese guests. If you walk in and say “konnichiwa,” and say “itadakimasu,” before you eat, then you might be able to get even better service. Also, when you finish paying and are about to leave the restaurant, saying “gochisousama deshita” is showing a way to show gratitude and good manners.