Tokyo

T’s Tantan – Excellent vegan ramen. We picked the spiciest 2 bowls and the fried dumplings plus the curry for sides. This place is kinda hard to find inside the Tokyo station but definitely worth the hunt. It is located in the platform area so you will need a platform ticket or your JR Pass will do as well.

Yaki Yaki Miwa – near Roppongi. The parent restaurant is in Osaka. They have cozy private rooms with japanese style seating on the second floor around a communal grill. We had some pickled vegetables for starters. Their main item is a pancake-ish bread called okonomiyaki, served with a tangy sauce on top. The highlight though was the veggie noodles, probably the best we’ve ever had. Garlic fried rice was great too. Must do when in Tokyo or Osaka, (but disclaimer – we went with friends who were able to explain vegetarian in Japanese).

The pizza bar on 38th at the Mandarin Oriental – Probably the best pizza we’ve ever had. Just a few seats and a personal chef experience. The chef makes the pizza in front of you, and gives you delicious tidbits to try along the way. The dough is light and airy, supposed to be 80% water which creates lots of air bubbles in the crust, making it somehow soft and crispy at the same time. We had the Bufala pizza. The dessert pizza is made with Gianduja chocolate (‘like Nutella but better’, quoting the chef), and tiny wild strawberries. These are frozen as they are available just 10 days in a year, and served super cold on the heated chocolate. They also gave us some home-made limoncello, made with some non-lemon citrus fruit.

Bars

Bar Benfiddich – in Shinjuku. Excellent cocktail bar with a speakeasy vibe to it. There’s no set menu, you tell the bartender what kind of base you would like (gin, whisky etc.) and your taste (dry, sweet, etc.) and he just makes you up something on the fly. But you can also ask for a standard cocktail like a Bloody Mary, and it’s a joy to watch him make it with a personal flourish. No food.

The New York Bar at the Park Hyatt – famous for the movie Lost in Translation. Has a steep cover after 8pm when the jazz start, but we just had a couple of drinks prior to that and left. It’s actually a great bar though, very classy and excellent wine. If you have an evening to spare, would recommend paying the cover and staying. Amazing views from the 52nd floor. We didn’t try the food.

Bauhaus – Live music spot in Roppongi, mostly classic rock. Lively and fun, really great spot. We didn’t try the food.

Golden Gai – non-touristy spot in Shinjuku, reminiscent of the ‘cichetti crawl’ in Venice. Hundreds of bars crammed into a couple of narrow alleys. Many of them charge a cover. Also any bar with an English sign outside will be welcoming of tourists.

General recommendation – try the egg salad sandwiches in Japan, either from super markets or the little stores in the station. Some times you can’t see the filling, looks like an Uncrustable, but you can figure out by the picture on the cover.