If you’ve experienced difficulty making restaurant reservations in Japan, the country that boasts the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, you’re certainly not alone. Foreign travelers face multiple obstacles when making restaurant reservations in Japan, with the restaurant’s exclusivity and the language barrier being just a couple of examples.
Currently, only about 4.4% of the restaurants in Japan can be reserved online (based on statistics from Tabelog), and most of them require Japanese language ability to do so. For other restaurants, making a reservation over the phone is possible; however, many restaurants cannot accommodate English speaking customers. Thankfully for foreign travelers in Japan, byFood has solved this problem.
As of August 2020, byFood has launched our new restaurant reservation service, with the mission of making every restaurant in Japan accessible to foreign travelers. The platform has an easy-to-navigate directory of restaurants, which filters by location, type of cuisine, price range, dietary restrictions, and more!
ByFood offers three types of restaurant reservations: free, paid, and high-end.
To place a free reservation using byFood, travelers just need to fill out their reservation details in English and the automated robot call system will notify the restaurant of the request in Japanese, at no charge to either the restaurant or the guest.
After the restaurant responds to the call, the traveler will be contacted with an email in English that confirms or rejects the reservation request. Once the reservation is secured, just show up to the restaurant at the reserved time and enjoy the meal!
While free reservations are for casual restaurants, paid reservations are also available for restaurants where a reservation is recommended, and high-end reservations are for restaurants that are very exclusive and difficult to book.
For both of these types of reservations, the restaurants will be contacted directly by a byFood representative and the guest will be charged a fee for the service if the reservation is successfully made on their behalf.
Payments for paid reservations are made when the reservation details are submitted, while payments for high-end reservations can only be made after the restaurant has accepted the reservation. The payment link will be sent by email after confirmation.
No need to worry about making reservations in Japanese, here’s how to make a restaurant reservation in English at all types of restaurants -- from casual gastropubs to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Go to the restaurant reservation listing page and choose filters such as areas, dates, cuisine, dietary restrictions, price range, and number of Michelin stars. There are also buttons for free reservations and nearby restaurants.
Once you have selected a restaurant, on the restaurant's listing page you will choose the number of guests, date, and time. For free restaurants allowing free reservations, the button will say "Free Reservation," restaurants accepting paid reservations will have a button saying "Reserve Now," and the button for high-end restaurants will read "Contact for Availability."
On the checkout page, you will confirm your personal information, agree to the terms and conditions, and make your free reservation.
For paid reservations, you will also submit payment info for the restaurant reservation service at this time.
For high-end reservations, you will not need to submit your payment info until you have received the reservation confirmation email, at which point you will follow the payment link in the email and enter your details to finalize the reservation.
When you arrive at the restaurant for your reservation, let the staff know that you have placed a reservation through byFood. Then, sit back and enjoy your meal!
If you don’t see the restaurant you are looking for on the restaurant reservation listing page, fill out the VIP Gourmet Concierge form and a byFood representative will be happy to inquire into the restaurant’s availability for you.
This and other platform upgrades have been made in response to the needs of our guests and hosts, but our core values have not changed. The mission of spreading happiness through food is still at the forefront of what we do, with restaurant reservations also contributing to our Food for Happiness projects. We will continue to promote small local businesses and authentic food experiences across Japan so you can have unforgettable and delicious adventures!