An Insider’s Guide To Tokyo
An Insider’s Guide To Tokyo

An Insider’s Guide To Tokyo


Steve Hill is the MD at Japanese restaurant group Bone Daddies – so of course he knows a thing or two about Tokyo. From hidden drinking dens to great sushi spots, these are the places he thinks you should bookmark for a trip…



For A Quick Bite:

Nagi Ramen, Golden Gai Store, Kabukichō

This is a tiny eight-seat ramen bar, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It always has a queue regardless of the time. Nagi has ramen spots across Tokyo but this one has a real dive-bar feel. The team serve a few variations of their famous pork and anchovy ramen, and it's such a tiny space that you get to see the ramen being made in all its glory right in front of you.


For Izakaya Dishes:

Daitoryo Annex, Ueno, Tokoyo

This famous izakaya under Ueno station has two branches, one either side of the street. The one on Ueno has a more varied menu and a long bar that stretches right through to the back of the restaurant. It gets busy in the afternoon and early evening with local businessmen and the atmosphere is pretty lively. Skewers of grilled meat and offal are served up alongside beers and high balls. The surrounding streets are filled with izakayas serving similar fare, but this one remains my favourite as they tend to have more unusual meat cuts on offer, and the vibe is always good.

For Great Sushi:

Sushi Kakizaki

For pure indulgence, book a table here. Chef Kakizaki sources his ingredients daily from Toyosu market – meaning you get the best of the best. Expect top-notch sushi and sashimi, as well as inventive seafood dishes. It’s a real gem for an intimate evening when you want to escape the hectic Tokyo streets.


Frank From 5am Ramen/Unsplash

For A Cheap Eat:

Oroji, Shinjuku City

You know you’ve found the real deal when you can see years of wear and tear as soon as you enter a restaurant. Oroji is an unassuming backstreet spot, but it’s worth venturing here for something a bit different. There’s often a queue but it’s so worth the wait to try a small menu of various meat cuts, all breadcrumbed and served with a tangy curry sauce and rice. It’s simple but dishes are big on flavours.

For Next-Level Gyozas:

Gyozaso Muro, Takadanobaba

Gyozaso Muro is a no-frills restaurant in the Takadanobaba neighbourhood. It doesn’t overcomplicate its gyoza, but it does vary the fillings. They’re extra spicy or curry filled, and everything is designed to accompany plenty of ice-cold beers. It’s super popular with the after-work crowd.

For On-The-Go Snacks:

7-Eleven, various locations

Hear me out, 7-Eleven in Tokyo is a goldmine. It’s particularly good for late-night snacks after a few too many high balls. The egg sando is iconic and you won’t find it elsewhere. Deliciously soft, fluffy white crustless bread, filled with egg mayonnaise – simple but perfectly executed. The first 7-Eleven opened in the Toyosu area in 1974, and now Japan apparently has more 7-Elevens than anywhere else in the world. 

Mandarin Oriental, Marunouchi
Mandarin Oriental, Marunouchi

PEXELS/Pedro Slinger


For Swanky Cocktails:

Bar High Five, Ginza

For a fancy cocktail in the Ginza area, try this cocktail bar. It's a cool spot from Tokyo bar legend Hidetsugu Ueno, with some serious bartenders who really know what they’re doing. The house signature is the 'Ueno-San' (Ceremony), featuring an all-Japanese ingredient list of Hakushu whisky, Hermes Green Tea and Suntory Matcha. Be prepared to not remember what time you left…


For A Quick Beer:

Golden Gai

Golden Gai is touristy, but it’s still a fun place to have a few drinks with a group of mates. The area is perfect for bar hopping as it's full of tiny bars – some with space for only two guests at a time (so not too many friends!). Most have different themes, so you get a different experience every time you visit. I tend to just pick one at random and see what happens. A six-cover rock bar where you get to choose the playlist or a 10-cover darts bar with an iguana that watches you play? Anything goes.

For An Unexpected Drink:

Any Alley, Stairwell Or Lift

The first time I went to Japan a local guide told me to always follow a flight of stairs, go down an alleyway or take the lift, and see where it ends. This has served me very well in discovering places to drink across the city on my various trips. One alley contained a garden shed with four seats and a make-shift bar that was an absolute vibe, and when we went back the following evening it was gone. These things move around quickly, so you never quite know where they are going to be.



Mandarin Oriental


It might sound like an obvious choice, but the Mandarin Oriental is up there for good reason. If you want sheer luxury, this is one of the best hotels in the city. It has cool futuristic design while still feeling traditional and blending in with the neighbourhood. If you don’t stay, visit the sushi restaurant for a world-class experience or the Mandarin Bar to unwind with a beer while watching the city fizz below.



For something more affordable, BnA_Wall is a quirky hotel with super modern and colourful interiors. It’s good value and the hotel helps fund projects by local artists. The art is great, the vibe is fun, and it’s a good place to meet other travellers. 


APA Hotel

APA is bang in the heart of the action. It’s a huge vertical hotel so noise isn’t an issue when sleeping, but you are right among the chaos of Tokyo as soon as you leave the lobby. An affordable choice and a go-to for longer stays.



Mandarin Oriental, Marunouchi
Mandarin Oriental, Marunouchi


For Beautiful Views:

Yoyogi Park

This is one of Tokyo's biggest and most popular parks. It’s home to shrines, gardens and temples, but Sunday is the best day to visit as this is when groups of rockabillies get together to dance to 50s rock ’n’ roll. They have become renowned across Japan, and attract crowds of thousands of eager fans who want to watch the show. Visit during the cherry blossom season to enjoy picnics under a canopy of pink blossom. 

For A History Lesson:


This epic temple is probably the city’s most famous. Go early to avoid the crowds, then make your way to the nearby Nakamise shopping area to fill your boots with street food and souvenirs. 

For A Moment Of Calm:

Japanese Tea House

Tokyo is like no other city; it has an energy which is hard to describe. If you ever want to take some time out, learn about the ancient ritual of drinking tea at one of the city’s teahouses. The Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience is a good place to start, offering endless tea varieties to choose from.

Yayoi Kusama Museum
Yayoi Kusama Museum

For A Culture Fix:

Yayoi Kusama Museum

No trip is complete without paying homage to Japan’s great Yayoi Kusama. The museum dedicated to her has an extensive collection of her artwork, including signature polka-dot paintings and large-scale installations.


For A Sumo Tournament:

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Fancy watching a sumo match? This stadium hosts the official tournaments throughout the year. Tickets don’t come cheap, but it’s worth the price for a bucket-list experience. 


For Kitchenware:


This area is known as Kitchen Town. It has everything you could possibly ever need in a kitchen or restaurant – think high-end Japanese knives and bright red ramen bowls through to fake plastic display fruit.

For Condiments & Sauces:

Food Courts, various locations

There are huge food courts and stalls in the basement of every department store across Tokyo. You could spend hours wandering around, sampling produce and discovering different dishes made with 'out there' ingredients, plus loads of local drink concoctions and cool souvenirs.


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