Travel Expert Patty Pineda’s Tokyo Holiday Spree
Tokyo is a city that is endlessly fascinating with always new places to visit and experience. But it is also overwhelming as its frenetic pace, massive size, and huge crowds can be daunting even for experienced travelers. Thankfully, Patty Pineda of The Traveling Party (IG @eattraveldrinkph) shares her top tips to experiencing the city, especially its unrivalled food scene.
My top things to do in Tokyo
- Visit galleries and museums like the Mori Art Museum and the National Art Center Tokyo.: https://www.mori.art.museum/en/ and http://www.nact.jp/english/
- Spend the day in Tokyo Disneyland.: http://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tdl/
- Shop along Ginza, Tokyo’s premiere shopping district, especially at Ginza Six Mall and the flagship Uniqlo building across the street. Make sure to go to the top floor for its exclusive U collection.: https://ginza6.tokyo.e.abf.hp.transer.com
- Stroll around the Marunouchi area, my favorite place to walk in the city where you can catch a view of the Imperial Palace.
- Visit the Asakusa Shrine, one of Japan’s most famous Shinto shrines. Make sure to buy local Japanese souvenirs right outside in the afternoon before it gets dark.
- Take the train to Yokohama about one hour from Tokyo, where the big cruise ships usually dock. If you’re sick of Tokyo, you can tour this city in just one day. It doesn’t feel like you’re in Japan.
- If you love music, make sure to catch a concert or two, and take the time to shop for vintage vinyl records
My 15 quintessential Tokyo eats
- Den is a two Michelin star restaurant that does not accept reservations through email, only by phone. The 10-course meal goes for only 15,000 yen (around US$130)—definitely worth it: http://www.jimbochoden.com/en/
- Kyubey Sushi is a sushi institution, supposedly the place where gunkanmaki, sushi topped with uni, was invented: www.kyubey.jp/en
- Ranjatai has one Michelin star but is not too well known. All the chef does is yakitori, but he grills the whole chicken and serves it part by part. The chicken liver tasted like foie gras with the same texture. He uses only Hinai chicken which is the highest kind of free range chicken. The 10-course set menu costs around 6,000 yen (roughly US$50) and it’s only open for dinner. (2 Chome-12-3 Kanda Jinbocho, +81 3-3263-0596)
- Fukuzushi is good for fish head stew, and of course sushi: http://www.roppongifukuzushi.com/e_fukuzushi/e_fukuzushi.html
- Harajuku Gyoza only serves gyoza, fried or steamed, and rice. I super love this place!: http://harajukugyoza.com
- Toritake offers yakitori, although the unagi is good too. Make sure to ask for the one with teriyaki sauce. (1 Chome-6-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya)
- Imaiya uses only Akita chicken delivered every day, considered the Kobe beef of chicken. Do try the oyakudon as well. (Branches in Shinjuku, Nishishinjuku, 1 Chome−18−15; Shinjuku, Kagurazaka, 2 Chome-13-2, B1; Marunouchi, 2-4-1)
- Nodaiwa Ginza is an unagi restaurant right beside Jiro, the famous sushi place. It’s quite good if you’re not up to going all the way to Matsuyoshi. (Chuo, Ginza, 4 Chome-2-15).
- Buy Me Stand makes all different kinds of grilled cheese. It’s a hole in the wall but it’s amazingly good (1 Chome-31-19 Higashi, Shibuya)
- Henry’s Burger is the Tokyo version of the famous US chain, Shake Shack, according to the locals: http://henrysburger.com
- Jomon offers very good yakitori in the Roppongi area, especially the chicken tail, pork rib and mozzarella: (Fujimori Building, Roppongi, 5-9-17, Mintato-ku)
- Tenfusa is a super good tempura place in Tsukiji Market. Get the mixed seafood because it includes scallop tempura. (5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo)
- Meat Man is the place for sausage, Iberico ham, mozzarella, sukiyaki (4-8-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku)
- Tempura Yamanoe is better if you can sit by the bar where they cook the tempura right in front of you: http://www.tempura-yamanoue.jp/roppongi/english/index.html
- Echiré Maison du Beurre has the best croissants I’ve tasted. When I heat one in the toaster oven, it burns right away because of all that butter. At the shop, the line for croissants is quite long and by 12 noon, they’re usually gone. They have good madeleines and ice cream, too. (Marunouchi Brick Square, 2 Chome−6−1, Chiyoda)
Hidden dining spots only the locals know
- Matsuyoshi only serves unagi. When you order, that’s the only time the chef kills the live unagi and grills it. So it takes quite a while before you get your meal. Their miso soup is also served with unagi liver (9-5 Nihonbashi-Kabutocho, Chuo-ku).
- Sukiyaki Yonekyu has one of the best sukiyaki I’ve tasted. Best part is when you cook the egg in the leftover soup then eat it on top of rice (?17-10, 2 Chome, Asakusa, Taito-ku).
- Tengu Sakaba is a local izakaya in the Shibuya area that has been open since 1969. They serve good kamameshi rice (15-15 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya).
Follow Patty Pineda on Instagram @eattraveldrinkph