Feasting on a Kaiseki Meal
Although expensive, a kaiseki feast, consisting of dish after dish of artfully displayed delectables, may well be the most beautiful and memorable meal you'll ever have. Splurge at least once on the most expensive kaiseki meal you can afford, and you'll feel like royalty.
Dining with a View
There's no way you can forget you're in Tokyo when you're dining with views of the city as far as you can see. This category has many options, not all of them expensive, like the Mado Lounge on the 52nd floor of Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills, 6-10-1 Roppongi (tel. 03/3470-0052). However, the very top splurge has long been the New York Grill, located on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel (tel. 03/5322-1234). Surrounded by glass, it offers great American cuisine, live jazz, and breathtaking views of the endless city. On clear days, you can see Mount Fuji, making this the closest you can get to dining on a cloud.
Eating Sushi and Sashimi
Sushi restaurants have spread to the four corners of the earth, but they're rarely as good -- or authentic -- as those in Japan. Not only do Japanese sushi chefs train for years, but also the variety of fresh fish is astounding. For an especially unique experience, eat at Tsukiji Fish Market.
Rubbing Elbows in a Yakitori-ya
There's no better place to observe Tokyo's army of office workers at play than at a yakitori-ya, a drinking man's pub that also sells skewered grilled chicken and bar snacks. It's fun, noisy, and boisterous.
Best Spot for a Romantic Dinner
Great Pacific Rim fusion cuisine, attentive yet unobtrusive service, dim lighting in a comfortable setting, a year-round open deck for after-dinner drinks, and a row of massage chairs make Casita, 5-51-8 Jingumae (tel. 03/5485-7353), a perfect rendezvous for a romantic evening.
Best Spot for a Business Lunch
Join the other movers and shakers at Nobu Tokyo, 4-1-28 Toronomon (tel. 03/5733-0070), located near the U.S. embassy and offering something for everyone with its Pacific Rim fusion cuisine.
Best Spot for a Celebration
Peter, 1-8-1 Yurakucho (tel. 03/6270-2763), has all the makings of a joyous occasion: great food, a theatrical setting, excellent service, and views of surrounding Hibiya.
Located 52 stories above the city, Mado Lounge, 6-10-1 Roppongi (tel. 03/3470-0052), boasts stunning views of an endless Tokyo. Because it's located in the Mori Art Museum, you have to pay the museum's admission to dine here, but the Italian/French cuisine is reasonably priced and the museum's cutting-edge exhibitions and great views are a bonus.
Best Late-Night Dining
Gonpachi, with several convenient locations around Tokyo, has made a name for itself by offering inexpensive Japanese fare daily until 3:30 or 5am, depending on the location. Ditto for La Boheme serving Italian food; Zest Cantina, which serves Mexican food; and Monsoon, offering Asian dishes, all under the same ownership and with the same hours.
There's never a dull moment at Inakaya, 4-10-11 Roppongi (tel. 03/5775-1012), with waiters shouting out orders, U-shaped counter seating, mountains of food, and kneeling cooks laboring over charcoal grills.
Best Weekend Brunch
The weekend brunch at New York Grill, 3-7-1-2 Shinjuku (tel. 03/5322-1234), where you'll be treated to breathtaking views, is so popular there's practically a waiting list.
Best Buffets: The Imperial Viking Sal, on the 17th floor of the Imperial Hotel, 1-1-1 Uchisaiwai-cho (tel. 03/3504-1111), with views of the Ginza and Hibiya, was a pioneer of all-you-can-eat buffets in Japan. After 40-some years, it still offers great lunch and dinner buffets with international selections.
Everything I've had at Yasaiya Mei, 4-12-10 Jingumae (tel. 03/5785-0606), which specializes in fresh, seasonal vegetables, has been delicious, but the wild plant tempura is my absolute favorite.
Best Traditional Décor
With its beautifully landscaped Japanese garden and 200-year-old farmhouse imported from the Japanese Alps, Tokyo Shiba Toufuya Ukai, 4-4-13 Shibakoen (tel. 03/3436-1028), specializing in classic tofu cuisine, seems like it's in the countryside rather than the middle of Tokyo.
Best Traditional Music
Located in the traditional Asakusa neighborhood in a Japanese-style wooden house, Waentei-Kikko, 2-2-13 Asakusa (tel. 03/5828-8833), offers obento lunchboxes and kaiseki meals, along with shamisen and other traditional music performances.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.