Standout New Faces of Tokyo's Gourmet Scene in 2016
New popular restaurants crop up every year, constantly revitalizing Japan's restaurant scene. In recent years, sushi and washoku (traditional Japanese food) have thrived particularly much. Here we will be introducing the new faces of 2016 from a variety of different cuisines.
1. Takiya (Tempura)
Founded by Chef Kasamoto, the head chef of "Hinokizaka"at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, this tempura restaurant was the top candidate for 2016's Tokyo Gourmet rookie-of-the-year.
Its luxurious interior, careful selection of ingredients and oil, and frying methods all set it apart from other tempura restaurants, earning it a reputation as an "industry innovator." The restaurant's specialty is its beef fillet tempura. Perhaps its Michelin debut is on its way soon?
Address: 2-5-11 Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo
2. Sushi Arai (Sushi)
This sushi restaurant immediately became a hot topic among Tokyo's gourmets when it opened in October of last year.
While the owner, Chef Arai, honed his craft for many years at famous restaurants like "Kyubey" and "Sushi Sho," he most certainly has his own style unique different from that of either restaurant (rather, I feel that he may be influenced by "Shinbashi Shimizu," a restaurant Chef Arai looks up to). Since you want to eat your fill of delicious sushi when you come to a sushi restaurant, his nigiri are on the larger side and are sure to satisfy (however, supposedly they've become smaller lately).
As for the toppings, after all is said and done the tuna is excellent, and you'll find piece after piece of quality tuna served to you.
The restaurant also employs a beautiful female chef with sommelier-like skills, and she'll suggest perfect pairings of wine to go with your sushi.
Address: B1F 8-10-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
3. Sushi Ryusuke (Sushi)
This sushi restaurant was opened by 37-year-old chef Ryusuke Yamane, who studied his craft at "Kyubey" and "Sushi Ichi."
It is one of the new faces in the sushi scene, alongside "Arai," that has gotten a lot of attention from Tokyo's gourmets.
Although the restaurant stays true to the basics of Edo-style sushi, at dinner you can enjoy playful side dishes that use high quality ingredients like caviar and truffles.
As for toppings, they focus particularly much on their uni and will pick up the best uni at Tsukiji Market every day.
I don't want this to get out either, but the cost performance for their lunch is also just about the best you can get in Tokyo.
Address: B1F 7-3-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
4. Ichita (Japanese)
This Japanese restaurant is currently dominating the Tokyo gourmet scene. It first opened in September of 201, and quickly earned its first Michelin star in 2015.
Despite its comparatively fair prices, this restaurant's foodie owner pulls no stops for purchasing the finest quality ingredients. That quality combined with the owner's amazing sense for food results in beautiful and delicious dishes.
The soba that he learned to make during his time at "Ginza Yabe" is incredibly flavorful and the dipping sauce deliciously salted.
The restaurant is packed with customers daily, but there are relatively few foreign patrons. I have no doubts that this will be a hot spot that's hard to get a reservation for soon enough.
Address: AOYAMA346 101, 3-4-6 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
5. Daikanyama Yakiniku Kaneko (Yakiniku)
Yakiniku: a style of cooking popular with Japanese and tourists alike. There are plenty of amazing yakiniku shops in Tokyo, but for some reason the most popular are "Nakahara" and "Yoroniku."
I wonder if that's because there's comparatively less information out there about yakiniku compared to sushi or washoku?
This newcomer to the yakiniku scene in 2016 that I want to introduce to you was opened by Chef Kaneko, who worked for several years at one of Tokyo's most famous yakiniku restaurants, "Kunimoto."
After opening, Yakiniku Kaneko immediately caught some hot attention from local gourmands.
Their thick-sliced "Tamura beef" dipped in a special fruity sauce is unspeakably good! I most definitely recommend giving this restaurant a try.
Address: 17-17 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
6. Vesta (Steak)
This new restaurant was born of the desire to make "the best steakhouse in Japan" by former chefs from famous steakhouses like "Aragawa" and "Gorio."
They use the highest-quality Sanda beef, the same beef used at "Aragawa,"and it's unarguably amazing.
Their steaks are slowly cooked in stone kilns, and when you bite into a piece the rich, flavorful juices overwhelm your senses.
There is no sign outside of the restaurant, making it somewhat low-profile, so it only received 2 reviews on Tabelog in its first year.
Even so, I believe that Vesta will become one of Japan's iconic restaurants in the future.
Address: 3-8-13 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
7. Oryori Miyasaka (Japanese)
This is another Japanese restaurant, alongside "Ichita" which was introduced earlier in this article, that was a big hot topic. As it's located in Omotesando, it's in a great spot to drop by after sightseeing.
Chef Miyasaka is an amazingly talented cook who studied for 10 years at "Mizai," a Kyoto restaurant with 3 Michelin stars.
It boasts a score of 4.29 on Tabelog as of August 2016, making it a big hit right off the bat.
Tokyo Table Trip has yet to drop by, but it certainly seems to be a high-level restaurant.
Address: B1F 4-26-12 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
8. Daimon Aoki (Tonkatsu)
This is the second location of Aoki, ranked #4 on Tabelog for tonkatsu restaurants, now available in an office neighborhood near Shinagawa.
Since this new location is still recently opened, it's a great way to enjoy the same dishes as the original location without the long wait (the first location, near Hatsune Sushi, always has a long line every day).
Their umami-packed tonkatsu, fried to rare, is an absolute gem that you can only get here at Aoki.
I also recommend their pork loin and fillet cuts.
Address: 1-11-12 Hamamatsucho, Minato-ku, Tokyo
9. Kagawa Ippuku
This new restaurant is quickly approaching the level of Tokyo's #1 udon shop, "Jinbocho Maruka."
Their soft, thin noodles are a completely different experience from those of Maruka.
Their fish-based soup is also first-rate and delicious.
If you decide to give this restaurant a go, be sure to try their niku-udon, produced by "Ginza Shinohara," a restaurant known across all of Japan.
Address: 1-18-11 Uchikanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo