Top 30 Restaurants in Japan According to International Travelers (2017)

TripAdvisor is a travel website that boasts the world's largest number of viewers. They recently released their "Top 30 Restaurants in Japan by International Travelers 2017". Below are the results of the ranking. This information will come in handy for anyone planning a trip to Japan.


Food & Drinks

TripAdvisor is a travel website that boasts the world's largest number of viewers. They recently released their "Top 30 Restaurants in Japan by International Travelers 2017". Below are the results of the ranking. This information will come in handy for anyone planning a trip to Japan.

1. Okonomiyaki Chitose (Osaka City, Osaka)

Okonomiyaki Chitose, located in Osaka City, came first in the ranking, keeping traditional Japanese food like sushi and tempura at bay. Standing quietly in a back alley, the store creates a retro atmosphere with an exterior that has withstood the test of time.

Their most classic dish is the Buta-Tama (okonomiyaki with pork) (750 yen), which is a hearty dish that adds plenty of chunky ingredients into the mix. A generous amount of yama-imo (yam) is mixed into the dough, giving it a fluffy and light texture. You should be able to finish the serving in no time!

2. Nino (Nara City, Nara)

Second in place is Nino, an Italian restaurant located right near Kintetsu-Nara Station. It is a cozy place with a well-lit interior of wood and white accents, creating an accommodating atmosphere.

The dishes are all thoughtfully prepared using plenty of home-grown vegetables, along with fine ingredients from Italy, to create an authentic taste. You'll love everything on the menu. You can select the portion size depending on how hungry you are, so it's great for people with smaller appetites.

3. Kuma Kafe (Osaka City, Osaka)

Third in the ranking is Kuma Kafe, located near Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, a popular tourist spot in Osaka. There are numerous teddy bears waiting for you all throughout the store, making it a fun and friendly cafe for children and adults alike. 

Their hearty burgers and sandwiches are highly recommended, as well as their adorably decorated pancakes. The Australian owner is very friendly and will offer tips on traveling in Japan, so it's a great cafe to visit if you're seeking guidance.

4. Okonomiyaki Katsu (Kyoto City, Kyoto)

This small okonomiyaki restaurant is located at the northernmost part of Ryoanji Sando Shopping Street, just a 5-minute walk from the World Cultural Heritage Site, Ryoan-ji Temple. The couple who runs this petite shop offers a vast menu which, in addition to okonomiyaki, includes yakisoba (stir-fried noodles), yakitori (chicken skewers), and dashimaki (rolled omelette with dashi). Their popular okonomiyaki is made with finely chopped ingredients to achieve a smooth texture, and seasoned with a modest amount of sauce and dried green seaweed to give a mild and delicate flavor.

5. Han No Daidokoro Kadochika Store (Shibuya, Tokyo)

Conveniently located 5 minutes away from Shibuya Station by foot, Yakiniku Bar Han No Daidokoro Kadochika Store offers very limited and rare cuts from carefully selected wagyu beef that are meant to be enjoyed by mature clientele.

The restaurant procures high-grade Wagyu beef from all over Japan, including Kobe beef, Omi beef, Tajima beef, and Yamagata beef - all of which were grown in a rich, natural environment with tender loving care. Once you have had a bite, you will never forget the rich umami flavor of the beef that has just the perfect balance of savory fat. Do give it a try!

6. Heianraku (Takayama City, Gifu)

Heianraku has been open since 1963, serving Chinese-style cuisine in a building that still looks like a traditional Hida Takayama machiya (merchant's house). Here, you can enjoy dishes that have little fat and are made with plenty of vegetables.

You might want to try the Hida Takayama specialties, such as Hida-style fried bone-in chicken served with soup stock for dipping and Takayama ramen, as well as a variety of locally brewed sake.

7. Glutenfree Cafe Littlebird (Shibuya, Tokyo)

As the name implies, Glutenfree Cafe Littlebird uses no wheat in their menu. Instead, rice flour is used for the meals and desserts, so people can enjoy gluten-free meals!

Everything from their burgers, pizzas, and pasta dishes - including all their sweets, like waffles and crepes - are made from rice flour, so people with wheat and gluten allergies can order anything from the menu without hesitation. Anyone, celiac or not, will be able to enjoy these flavorful and hearty gluten-free dishes.

8. High Spirits (Fuji Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi)

High Spirits just recently opened in 2016. It is an izakaya that specializes in seafood. The owner uses their experience of having lived overseas for many years to serve up unique Japanese-based fusion cuisine. Some of the must-try dishes on their one-of-a-kind menu include the sashimi with truffle sauce and the sashimi shooter, which is sashimi served in shot glasses with shochu. You're guaranteed to have a great night with their exquisite food and delightful drinks!

*Resumes operation from July 2, 2017

9. Arash’s Kitchen (Kyoto City, Kyoto)

Located near Heian Jingu Shrine, Arash's Kitchen serves Persian and Indian cuisines. The dishes are made with halal ingredients, so they are Muslim-friendly. There is a belly dance show every Saturday from 7:30 PM, so head on over if you're in the mood to enjoy an exotic atmosphere.

10. Matsuzaka Beef What’s (Kyoto City, Kyoto)

Matsuzaka Beef What's, housed within a renovated 80-year-old traditional Kyo-machiya (Kyoto merchant's house), is a yakiniku restaurant specializing in Matsuzaka beef, one of the three major Wagyu. Only the top-grade beef is served - all holding a ranking of A4 or above - and a whole cow is procured directly from a farm in Mie Prefecture. They offer a wide variety of cuts from parts that are normally hard to come by. This is the place to go if you want to spend some time in luxury on a special day.

11. Fuwari (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa)

Fuwari is an izakaya located in a renovated kominka (old Japanese-style house), just 2 minutes by foot from Omicho Market, which is also known as Kanazawa's Kitchen. The eatery is like a secret hideout for adults, with the atmosphere of a traditional machiya. Inside the store is an open kitchen with counter and table seatings. From the counter seat, you can enjoy your food while observing the staff as they speedily prepare the orders.

Their specialties include a line-up of regional cuisines, fresh or char-grilled dishes made with local seafood, and many other a la carte dishes. In addition to their regular menu, make sure to check their daily recommendations written on the signboard!

12. Hida Takayama Bar-Restaurant Sakurajaya (Takayama City, Gifu)

The shop master - a Takayama local - made their kitchen debut during elementary school, and underwent years of training in Germany. This experience led to them opening Hida Takayama Bar-Restaurant Sakurajaya, a bar that serves Japanese-European fusion dishes using local Hida Takayama ingredients. They offer many unique dishes, such as meals that use black bass or bluegill (both rare in Japan) and the ever popular cheese fondue.Their famous smoked dishes that the master makes from scratch go very well with sake, too. Create memories of your trip by challenging the food here!

13. Japanese Restaurant Hanasato Kobe (Kobe City, Hyogo)

Located in Kobe, Japanese Restaurant Hanasato Kobe offers regional cuisines sent over from Hida Takayama, as well as seasonal dishes made with a wide selection of fresh seasonal ingredients.

While enjoying each of the dishes a la carte is great, ordering a course of the seasonal recommendations allows you to savor the seasonal delicacies - an excellent deal! Do try making an order there!

14. Kushiyaki Bistro Fukumimi Ginza Store (Chuo Ward, Tokyo)

Kushiyaki Bistro Fukumimi is notorious for their reasonably priced and delicious kushiyaki (Japanese chicken skewers), in addition to their diverse array of inventive foods. Each part of the chicken is carefully selected from different areas in Japan. The skewers are prepared daily by hand and grilled by certified yakishi (grill masters). Binchotan (white charcoal) is used to grill the skewers at high temperatures, resulting in juicy and tender chicken that's sizzling and crispy on the outside. It'll definitely have you asking for more! All the other dishes on their expansive menu go perfectly with Japanese sake. Selecting many different dishes while sipping sake is the best way to enjoy a meal here.

15. Menbakaichidai (Kyoto, Kyoto)

This ramen shop is popular for their flame-erupting performance when serving their negi (leek) ramen, which consists of pouring their hot, homemade negi oil over a bowl of ramen topped with a mound of Kyoto's own Kujo-negi. The explosion of flames erupting from the ramen bowl in front of you is an extraordinary sight. After the excitement of the fire performance, you may indulge in the ramen as you savor the aroma of the browned leeks. 

16. Hakusyu Teppan-yaki Restaurant (Shibuya, Tokyo)

You can see Kobe beef steak being cooked on the teppan (iron plate) right in front of you at this teppanyaki restaurant. The staff will determine when it is perfectly cooked, and then serve it to you on sliced bread - what a treat! What's more, after you've finished eating the steak, they'll turn the bread that's absorbed all of the meat's juices into garlic toast! It might be a cozy and small eatery, but the friendly atmosphere and their strong focus on taste has led to the restaurant being loved by many in Shibuya for over 50 years.

17. Morgan’s Gibier Bar n Grill (Takayama City, Gifu)

This restaurant, established by a Hawaiian owner, serves Hawaiian cuisine and Hidaka game. The food is prepared with utmost care and mildly seasoned. Everything tastes delightful!

*This place has closed down.

18. Steak Aoyama (Kobe City, Hyogo)

Steak Aoyama, located along Tor Road, is a long-established restaurant that has been open since 1963. Here, you can enjoy carefully selected Kobe beef steak in a friendly atmosphere. The tender meat, each cooked on a teppan (iron plate) designed exclusively for cooking them, will literally melt in your mouth. It is a great location for those who want to enjoy a relaxed meal.

19. Thai Restaurant Thanyaporn (Takayama City, Gifu)

Thai Restaurant Thanyaporn is located just 3 minutes away from Takayama Station by foot. The female Thai chef makes authentic dishes in generous portions. It's recommended to order different dishes and share at the table. They also operate a guesthouse for when you are in need of a place to stay.

20. Arcadio Cafe-bar (Osaka City, Osaka)

Arcadio Cafe-bar is a bar, cafe, and guesthouse with a magical atmosphere inspired by the novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was written by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Gabriel García Márquez. All the South American dishes made by the high-spirited and easy-going owner are top notch. The restaurant is always bustling with guests from all over the world, so it's a great opportunity to exchange some traveling advice. If you're looking to spend a happy time, this is the place to go!

*This place has closed down.

21. Okonomiyaki Nagata-ya (Hiroshima City, Hiroshima)

Nagata-ya is an okonomiyaki restaurant located just near the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Unlike Kansai-style okonomiyaki, where the ingredients and dough are all mixed together, the Hiroshima-style is made by layering the ingredients (e.g. cabbage, bean sprouts, pork, yakisoba, eggs) on top of thinly cooked dough. Savoring the okonomiyaki in the retro Showa period atmosphere of this eatery is an exceptional experience.

22. Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi (Kyoto City, Kyoto)

This restaurant, located in Kiyamachi (busy part of Kyoto), is famous for their bite-sized gyoza. As a gyoza specialty store, it offers many different types of gyoza. The top recommendation is the Chao Chao Gyoza (320 yen), which is made with a filling of carefully selected pork and farm-fresh vegetables that is packed into super-thin gyoza wrappers. You're sure to find delight when you bite into the crispy skin and relish its juicy and savory flavor as it fills your mouth!

23. Kourin-Sushi (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa)

Kourin-Sushi is a small restaurant located in front of the Kuro-mon Gate of Kanazawa Castle Park, close to Ohmicho Ichiba. Their popular sushi is made and served with fresh fish from the market, where the owner goes to personally inspect them. The lunch menu offers a sushi bowl called Tenkomori (1,000 yen plus tax), which is served with over 10 different sushi toppings on vinegared rice shaped into a ball. Overall, it is great value in terms of taste, presentation, and pricing - highly recommended!

24. Plat Home Kanazawa Kitchen (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa)

Recently opened in 2015, Plat Home Kanazawa Kitchen offers Japanese-based inventive cuisine and great drinks. A traditional warehouse over 100 years old was renovated to create a modern-style interior. They serve delicious dishes a la carte, made from ingredients that are freshly picked daily.

25. Center4 Hamburgers (Takayama City, Gifu)

Center4 Hamburgers is a popular burger shop located in Hida Takayama, an area where traditional townscapes still remain. The American-style interior creates an inviting and friendly atmosphere. Their most popular burger, Hida Beef Burger (2,650 yen), is made from rare lean cuts of Hida beef while paying particular attention to the blending, cooking, and layering sequence of the hamburger. The bouncy patty has just the right amount of chewiness, and the savory umami flavor that fills your mouth after every bite makes you feel almost as if you're eating a piece of steak! They only serve a limited number of Hida Beef Burger every day, so it is recommended that you go early if you want to give it a try.

26. Kikyo Sushi (Kyoto City, Kyoto)

Located near popular sightseeing landmarks such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijo-jo Castle, Kikyo Sushi is a local sushi restaurant that serves delicious sushi. They have counter seats and raised tatami-floored seating areas, as well as a separate wing with garden-view seats. Their specialty is the Kyo-style Chirashizushi (900 yen), a sumptuous dish made with vinegared sushi rice mixed with finely chopped kanpyo (dried gourd) and topped with shredded eggs, nori (seaweed), large shrimp, squid, lean tuna, anago (saltwater eel), and other things. The dish is created using the meticulous craftsmanship of the sushi chef and is a must-try!

27. Tapas Molecular Bar (Chuo Ward, Tokyo)

Tapas Molecular Bar is situated at the 38th floor of one of the world's most luxurious hotels, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. The restaurant offers molecular cuisine, which is still very rare in Japan. At the sushi bar-style counter that can only seat 8 people, guests can enjoy the course as they witness the inventive presentations of each dish after it has been prepared in front of them. It is the perfect restaurant for those who want to enjoy a delicious meal and also experience the ultimate gourmet entertainment.

28. Sushi-Dining Nob (Takayama City, Gifu)

Sushi-Dining Nob is a sushi roll specialty store which recently opened in November 2015 by the owner, who has been through a long culinary apprenticeship in Kyo-style cuisine. They also have some experience in the United States. Their original sushi rolls are popular for their beautiful presentation and impressive names. The top recommendation is the Hida Beef Roll, which is a lavish dish made by taking a vegetable roll containing asparagus and avocados, and then wrapping it with lightly seared Hida beef. Other than sushi rolls, the restaurant offers a wide range of fish and fried dishes a la carte for you to try. 

29. Elbow Room (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa)

Elbow Room opened in 2016 by a chef who formerly served in one of Hollywood's most popular and reputable Japanese restaurants. It offers various types of sushi, from traditional nigiri sushi to one-of-a-kind Hollywood-style sushi rolls, as well as sumibi-yaki (char-grilled) cuisine where seasonal ingredients are grilled over white charcoal. There are also many other unique dishes for you to enjoy, so savor and compare them with traditional Japanese cuisine! 

*This place has closed down.

30. Pound Kyoto Ekimae Branch (Kyoto City, Kyoto)

Pound is a steakhouse specializing in dry-aged wagyu. It is operated by a team of beef aging professionals. The meat is dry-aged by thoroughly controlling the temperature and humidity for over 45 days. The super-aged, char-grilled steak has a rich umami flavor that lingers, satisfying the palate.

Other recommendations are their thick beef tongue steak that is cut like a mango, as well as seared, aged beef sushi. If you are in the mood for some good meat in Kyoto, this is the place - no questions asked!

There you have it! Other than cuisines typically popular with international travelers - such as sushi and wagyu - there were also cuisines from other parts of the world in this diverse ranking, like Italian, Persian, and Thai. There are many more great places to eat in Japan. Do try the different restaurants and find one that suits you!

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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