What’s for lunch? In Japan, many students and office workers bring their own packed lunch, cooked by themselves or someone from their family. This lunch box is called bento. Sometimes, people take it up a notch by creating character or animal images using the food ingredients. Sausage octopus, Pikachu rice balls, Bear omelet ー How cute!
There are also a lot of people who go to the konbini (convenience store) to grab a microwavable bento or some onigiri (rice balls). Whether you're a bento lover or a konbini patron, why not try something different from your usual lunch routine? Let’s explore some lovely spots and find the best lunch Tokyo has to offer!
Two major characteristics of most lunch items in Tokyo are (1) fast and (2) filling. Take ramen as an example. Some people can finish a bowl in less than 10 minutes! The dish itself is high in protein (smoked meat) and carbohydrates (noodles) and would typically cost no more than a thousand yen. Lunch is usually considered an express activity in this bustling city where people are busy working and time is often considered a luxury. But not to worry! The city has a lot of lunch spots, each place capable of catering to your moods and needs.
In search of a quick meal? Want to unwind and just take your time? Whatever your mood is, you are certainly going to love this list of the best lunch restaurants in Tokyo, which has places that are tried and tested by locals and travelers alike!
6 Spots for the Best Lunch Tokyo Has to Offer
Here are 6 spots to check out for the best lunch Tokyo has to offer:
- Uogashi Nihonichi Standing Sushi Bar
- Gyukatsu Motomura
- Shin Udon
- Shukou Biyori Ateniyoru
- Ramen Nagi
- Matsubara-an Keiyaki
1. Uogashi Nihonichi Standing Sushi Bar
Cheap, fast, delicious ー Uogashi Nihonichi is my favorite sushi spot because you certainly get the best value for your money. They only use the freshest ingredients and offer generous servings which will satisfy your appetite. You’ll be so happy with their fat cuts of salmon and their overflowing negitoro sushi. Their standing bar concept is also perfect for a crowded city like Tokyo where people need a quick lunch fix for a midday energy boost.
Here’s a tip: Order a big aka-ebi sushi and then ask the chef to save the shrimp head, slightly roast it, and put it in a miso soup. Trust me when I say that this soup will be the highlight of your meal. I have already recommended this to a number of friends and 100% commented that “It’s a game-changer!”
Address: 〒105-0004 Tokyo, Minato City, Shinbashi, 3 Chome−21−10 新橋オルバスビル 1階
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00～23:00, Sun 11:00~22:00, Holidays 11:00~21:00
2. Gyukatsu Motomura
With over 20 stores nationwide, Gyukatsu Motomura has been considered one of the best lunch Shibuya travelers have been raving about, and has taken a chief role in providing satisfying teishoku meals to residents and foreign visitors alike.
A teishoku set meal is a regular feature of most Japanese restaurants, consisting of a main dish, rice, soup, and pickles or other side vegetables. At Gyukatsu Motomura, you can have a 130g wagyu beef cutlet with a variety of sauces on the side, dark miso soup, a generous helping of shredded cabbage, and unlimited Japanese rice; all for the price of 1,300 JPY!
What makes this beef cutlet so special is that the marbled beef loin is coated in a thin batter and finely-ground breadcrumbs and then deep-fried until medium-rare, resulting in a refreshing taste and meat so tender that it actually melts in your mouth! You then get to cook it to your liking on a small marble grill on your table. You can personalize the way you cook and eat it so I recommend that you try all the sauces, especially the soy sauce and wasabi, and just experiment with the grilling. (But please do not make it well-done because that’s a crime!)
P.S. Make sure you do not have any fancy appointments after lunch because you will be smelling like delicious smoked meat!
Address: 〒150-0002 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Shibuya, 3 Chome−18−10 2号館地下1階 大野ビル
3. Shin Udon
“The best things in life are worth waiting for.” This Danielle Steel quote is definitely apt for this next spot with the best lunch Shinjuku locals are crazy about: Shin Udon! The place is frequented by office workers in the area and students from a nearby fashion school. You might spend a long time queuing up outside but you will surely be rewarded with great food after all the wait! Come to think of it, I have never seen this place without a line.
The restaurant is tiny and a bit cramped, and can only accommodate up to 10 seats. It may be lacking in space but definitely not in the menu department.
Shin Udon offers a variety of dishes from the usual hot kake udon to carbonara udon, and so you might have a little bit of difficulty deciding which to order on your first visit. It is just impossible to decide when everything sounds so delicious, right?! Don’t worry, the tenzaru cold udon set will never disappoint you. The place also has a lot of options for vegetarians as well.
The charming point of this store is in the dough! It is mixed and kneaded in-house, and cut and boiled to order. As you take a bite of the chewy and gleaming udon noodles, you will realize why this store is worthy enough to be one of the best lunch restaurants in Tokyo.
Address: 〒151-0053 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Yoyogi, 2 Chome−20−16 相馬ビル １F
4. Shukou Biyori Ateniyoru
Ateniyoru is situated in Hibiya Okuroji which is probably one of my favorite places at the moment. I instantly adored the area after just one visit! Hibiya Okuroji is a relatively new shopping strip built under the viaduct stretching from Yurakucho to Shimbashi. The old architecture with more than 100 years of history has been renovated into a modern and trendy shopping facility with so many stores to visit ー including Ateniyoru!
Ateniyoru is a fantastic space for all the sake and wine lovers out there. Ateniyoru’s concept is basically serving food that complements the drink. Their name originated from the word ate which means “to address” and so ate food refers to snacks and appetizers that match the sake paired with it.
For lunch, you must get the grilled mackerel set priced at 1,400 JPY. This is not the typical grilled fish you find in teishoku dining chain stores. This is legit fatty and huge mackerel grilled to perfection! The set comes with unlimited rice and soup and there is no shame to have second helpings. Hopefully, you won’t get too drunk from their great sake collection.
Address: 1 Chome-7-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0011
5. Ramen Nagi
Move aside Ichiran, Ramen Nagi is now a contender for the best lunch restaurants in Tokyo. Ramen Nagi serves fish broth-based ramen called niboshi which has a lighter taste but certainly with richer umami compared to the popular and very common pork broth-based ramen of Ichiran or Ippudo. Their niboshi broth is an original blend of more than 20 types of dried sardines carefully selected from different parts of Japan. It is mixed in a way that it does not have a crazy fishy odor but that all flavors ー sweetness, umami, saltiness, bitterness, sourness are properly well-balanced.
Still not convinced that this may just be the best lunch Shinjuku travelers can ask for? Well, you will realize how extraordinary a bowl of Nagi is when you take a slurp of the niboshi broth mixed with Nagi’s spicy umami sauce which is made by combining several spices and dried sardine extract. And if that is still not enough, Nagi’s original wide noodles, ittanmen, will definitely persuade you with its silky and smooth texture which perfectly complements the whole dish! Since it is not as oily and as “meaty” as other ramen places, it is a fantastic place to get a ramen fix that will not leave you feeling sluggish in the afternoon.
Address: Sankei building 1F, 1-9-6, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Hours: Open 24hrs
Looking for more ramen restaurants in Tokyo? Check out this video from Frank the ramen guide, covering 5 of the top ramen spots in Tokyo!
6. Kamakura Matsubara-an Keiyaki
This is hands down the best lunch Tokyo locals don’t want to let you know about. A personal favorite of mine, Kamakura Matsubara-an Keiyaki is my go-to lunch spot when I just want to experience something traditional and calming amidst the modernity of Tokyo.
Located on the 4th floor of Harajuku Quest, the restaurant has only a humble kanji sign at the building’s entrance, almost unnoticeable to passersby. This aspect of the place already gives you a sense of privacy and quietness. You will experience more of this tranquility as you are seated by the window area and feast on exquisite soba dishes while overlooking the zelkova trees of Omotesando.
Fast slurping of ramen bowls and uncomfortable standing bars are nowhere in sight. This restaurant, with its beautiful Japanese interior and flawless customer service, will help you unwind from your hectic morning routine. If this is not the very definition of luxury, then what is?
Soba sets can go as high as over 4,000 JPY but you'll get a variety of tempura dishes, dessert, and a drink for this price. If you like something to complement the graceful atmosphere of the place, I recommend getting the sudachi soba. It is a refreshing chilled soba noodle dish with thinly sliced sudachi on top. Sudachi is a green-colored citrus fruit famous in Tokushima, and the citrus flavor goes really well with the dashi in the soba. After this meal, you will feel very light but not hungry!
Pro tip: Make sure to book in advance because the place gets full easily. Everyone wants to have that luxurious Omotesando view and a seat in one of the best lunch restaurants in Tokyo!
Address: 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 1 Chome−13−14, HARAJUKU QUEST 4F
Just writing all about these wonderful lunch spots is making me so hungry! How about you? Excited to try them all? There are so many ways to enjoy the noon scene in Tokyo. You can grab a rice ball in FamilyMart, sit in a park, and eat while you admire nature and skyscrapers in harmony around you. You can even try going to that mom-and-pop curry shop you have been too scared to try because of the language barrier. Remember, Tokyo is always about adventures. Explore and have fun! Maybe next time, you will discover the next best lunch Tokyo locals don’t even know about.
Looking for a place to kickstart your morning? Check out these recommended breakfast spots in Tokyo and get your fix of coffee and baked goods!