12 Of Tokyo’s Best Restaurants And Bars For 2017
Savvy's Choice: The places that left an impact on our dining habits
December 25, 2017
Food & Drink
Savvy Tokyo recommends…
The year 2017 was another delicious one for the Savvy Tokyo team. We enjoyed a great variety of exquisite dishes, sipped on elaborately presented cocktails and admired panoramic views of the city while sitting in a display of creative interior designs — on a number of occasions. To round up the year in style, we’ve put together a list of 12 restaurants and bars that left a deep impression on us this year. Take our word for it — they’re all worth a visit or two!
1. Janice Wong Dessert Bar, Shinjuku
The perfect spot for dessert aficionados, this stylish dessert bar presents the famous “imperfectly perfect” creations of award-winning pastry chef Janice Wong who strives to present innovative and progressive desserts relying on molecular gastronomy techniques. The dessert bar, located in the NeWoman shopping mall in Shinjuku, has a unique atmosphere with dim lights, dark grey walls and colorful abstract paintings.
Why we love it? For the stunningly gorgeous desserts you can’t find elsewhere and for its sweets-only full course.
2. Fratelli Paradiso, Omotesando
Fratelli Paradiso is an award-winning, Sydney-born restaurant located on the third floor of the fashionable Omotesando Hills shopping complex. The restaurant offers a true Italian escape from reality with its laid-back atmosphere, long list of organic and natural wines (that won’t leave you hungover) and delicious menu, including its signature tomato-base Pasta Scampi and the finger-lickin’ good Bottarga Pretzel. In a true Italy-inspired entertainment spirit, at lunchtime customers can also see their own pasta cut in the dining space’s open kitchen. We also can’t help but love the place because it’s where we partied ‘til late at night with our readers, contributors and supporters for the Savvy End of Year party (remember that?!).
Why we love it? For its natural wines that left us hangover-free so many times, for its Tiramisu and for all the memories we cherish from our last party there.
3. Sake Scene Masufuku, Daimon
Sake Scene Masufuku is a Japanese bar like no other. The kimono-clad owner, Yukari Yanaba, opened it just a year ago as a place where customers can not only taste Japanese sake from across Japan, but learn the stories behind the drinks’ produced — in English, of course! This Japanese bar offers you a refreshing and authentic sake experience combined with unique French cuisine — in other words, it gets the best of both worlds.
Why we love it? For its unique combination of Europe and Japan; for the over 60 kinds of Japanese sake and for the endless over-the-counter conversations with owner Yanaba.
4. Sign All day, Daikanyama
Sign All Day, which just opened this July, is a hybrid establishment with a laid-back atmosphere. It’s a sunny deli, a coffee shop, a beer garden and an Italian restaurant all in one location. The café has a minimalist interior and offers vegan-friendly menus, Insta-perfect salads and delicious coffee brews.
Why we love it? Because we can spend all day there and never get bored (which, in our world, is the ultimate compliment).
5. Code Kurkku, Yoyogi
Code Kurkku is a trendy restaurant and bar located in Yoyogi Village, with a high-ceilinged, sleek interior and Scandinavian aesthetics. A collaboration between two restaurants — Tokyo’s Kurkku and fine-dining Italian restaurant Il Ghiottone from Kyoto, Code Kurkku skillfully marries Italian and Japanese cuisines with an emphasis on supporting sustainable agriculture and using organic seasonal ingredients. It also features a bar with comfortable leather couches, dim lights and a DJ to entertain you until 3 a.m.
Why we love it? For its chic interior, creative cocktails, amazing crêpes (and the performance they are served with), and the fact that it’s just a three-minute walk from Yoyogi station — which helps us stay calm that we won’t miss the last train home.
6. Teppan Bambina, Azabu-Juban
Teppan Bambina & Wine by Ushigoro is the perfect date spot, combining a classy, yet cozy atmosphere and a wagyu-based menu of select dishes cooked on a hot plate in the center of the restaurant by a lovely and very friendly cook. The menu features an exclusive range of wines and cocktails that customers can enjoy while savoring the mouthwatering dishes and homemade desserts (we had plenty of those, too). Go there when you’re craving meat, meat, and more meat — and you don’t want to break the bank.
Why we love it? For the sizzling, melt-in-your mouth meat cooked right in front of us and for the excellent service that keeps us going back.
7. Sushi Ya, Ginza
This sushi restaurant is currently one of the most popular spots in Tokyo — and one of the most difficult ones to get a seat in. The famous Sushiya is located in Ginza and is run by Takao Ishiyama, a young and friendly sushi master who also happens to be fluent in English. The restaurant has no menu — you get to choose between an omakase (chef’s choice) or a nigiri (rice ball) set. Either way, you’ll want to give the chef a hug after each bite.
Why we love it? Because it erased our memory of any other sushi (especially our regular supermarket buys) and gives us an incentive to save some extra money every month — for our next visit.
8. Tablao Flamenco Garlochi, Shinjuku
An authentic Spanish restaurant which sets itself apart by mixing traditional delicacies with live performances by legendary flamenco artists. The food is as authentic as its flamenco shows — it’s a place where you can enjoy Spanish dishes cooked with fresh ingredients from Japan. The atmosphere, interior decor and tasty paella will make you feel as if you’ve just stepped into the country of passion.
Why we love it? Because it’s the only place that manages to keep our mouths open even while eating — the shows are ah-mazing.
9. Alexander’s Steakhouse, Shiodome
Located on the 42nd floor of Shiodome City Center, this is a classic American steakhouse with a substantial Japanese influence. The sky-high branch in Tokyo exudes excellence at every seat, drink and bite. It’s the perfect location for a romantic date — and it has more wine varieties than sakura trees in the entire Tokyo area.
Why we love it? For the steaks and the view. No, we’re lying: it’s all ‘bout the wine.
10. Longrain Tokyo, Ebisu
Originally from Australia, Longrain is a fun fusion of Thai, Japanese and Australian dining full of sweet and sour soul. Also, a lively place with a romantic atmosphere and impressive interior decor. Located on the 39th floor of Yebisu Garden Place Tower, this newly opened gem offers a stunning view of Tokyo at the backdrop of dim lighting and upbeat tunes — all of it coming together to create a charming dining experience. One of the hottest spots in the city, this one is a must go for any occasions.
Why we love it? For the names of its cocktails, its Instagrammable menu and for welcoming us with “Shout to the Top.”
11. Umami Burger, Omotesando
Cocktails, classy atmosphere and gastronomy combined, Umami Burger as a restaurant is as versatile as its menu. Born in L.A. to a Japanese concept, Umami Burger came home this spring with a much-hyped opening in Tokyo. And since then, the crowds haven’t stopped flooding in. Featured on the menu are 15 different burger options, including the signature Umami, the popular Manly, the decadent Truffle, the Japan-exclusive Samurai and the U-nami. The cocktails — all highly creatively named — are just as delicious as the burgers. The location, the bar inside and the party vibe all combine to form the perfect casual date spot or a girls night out.
Why we love it? With cocktails named “Maple Bacon Old-Fashioned” and “Garden Party,” you just know you’re in for a good time.
12. Kamikatz Taproom, Higashi-Azabu
Kamikatz Taproom is an ecologically-minded restaurant and a beer bar with a view of Tokyo Tower that bases its menu, interior and principles on three words: reduce, reuse and recycle. Named after the town of Kamikatsu in Tokushima Prefecture (where its operating company originates from), Kamikatz prides itself on not only its assortment of beers, but also for making much out of nothing: every piece of furniture at the restaurant has been recycled — reused after once residing in a home in Tokushima. Broken bottles? Turn them into chandeliers. Discarded tables and chairs? Bring them in — there’s nothing that can’t fit in this perfectly imperfect ambience. The food menu is also varied, with many choices available to both carnivores and vegetarians alike. But it really is all about the beer here.
Why we love it? Based just a few minutes away from our office, at lunch, dinner or beer o’clock, this one is now our regular hangout.