RESTAURANTS IN TOKYO
How can you possibly decide which restaurant to eat at?! At lunchtimes I tended to go for a small Japanese style “cafe” which did not have an English menu (or name!) and just ask for a ramen dish at the cost of around £3! Also check out the 7Eleven’s which have a hot food counter including tasty steamed buns.
Here are a few restaurants I enjoyed:
1-16-4 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0023
Gorgeous pork cutlet tonkatsu in the heart of Shinjuku and you get to grind your own spices and sauce! Spacious restaurant with good service. Meal for 2 with a drink around £30.
〒150-0001 Tokyo, 渋谷区Jingumae, 6−2−4
Based in Harajuku, this is a no frills simple gyoza (served either steamed or pan fried) – six pieces at the bargain price of £2.50. Be prepared to queue.
Yakitori Marukin Shinjuku Main Branch
Went here on my last evening to try their variety of yakitori – we had different types of chicken and beef. We sat downstairs on cushions on the floor, which I loved! Dinner for 2 around £25.
1-1-4 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0023
Part of a chain, C&C curry is a great place at lunch for tonkatsu – you order from a vending machine and sit on a stool around a counter. Only around £5 and actually pretty good quality!
BARS IN TOKYO
There are so many bars to visit in Tokyo! Given that I was staying in Shinjuku, I explored that area more than others.
The Golden Gai area, also known as Golden District, is a small area of a few blocks in Tokyo which contains hundreds of small buzzing bars which could hold from 5 people to around 30!
Some of the bars only accept Japanese locals but you may as well pop your head into a few to see if you are welcome! Be warned that some charge a cover charge ranging from a couple of hundred yen to 1000 per person, which can easily add up.
Our favourite bar was Champion Bar which offers a selection of drinks at 500Yen and karaoke for the general public. We ended up singing the Spice Girls on our first night and everyone was so friendly! Mixture of locals and tourists and no cover charge.
Araku bar is more tourist focused – look for the small staircase with red fluffy carpet and you will enter a small bar where there are a few stools at the bar and a few tables. Bar staff were friendly and no cover charge.
Albatross is a three floor bar in Golden Gai, although each floor can only hold a small number or people. Cosy bar and quirky decorations. Apparently on the upper-floor, customers place their orders and receive their drinks through a hole in the floor but there was not enough space for us unfortunately. Smaller cover charge of 500 yen but they give you some small snacks too.
Most of the Golden Gai bars stay open late but around 1am we decided to head to Casablanca club, which was open until 5am. We went with a local that we had met and he sorted our entry and a drink for around 1000 Yen – great music and lots of dancing around.
Karaoke Kan is the popular chain karaoke bar (look out for the light blue sign) that locals and tourists visit! Be careful not to get carried away though, as the prices at peak time can really add up! I advise to visit off peak for a hour to check it out – you normally have to buy a drink too. Some of the chains (Harajuku definitely) have costumes which is so awesome!! We loved the power ranger suits in particular….
Twilight Club Park Hyatt – highly recommend visiting the Peak Bar in the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku. From 5pm – 8pm every day unlimited drinks and canapes are served. Get there early to make the most of it and guarantee a reservation. You can then get pictures before sunset and then watch the sun go down! Such a nice atmosphere with a good selection of drinks on offer including champagne, wine, spirits, beer and cocktails. You just order at the bar! The canapes are a selection of fish, meat and breads – try to make sure you eat a few otherwise you will get carried away with the drinks!
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