Ideas? Visiting Tokyo next week!
Get up about 4AM and head down to the Tokyo fish market. Browse around for about and hour and be absolutely amazed.
At around 5AM all the vendors start ringing their bells indicating that it's time for auction. There is an incredible frenzy for about half an hour until everything is sold. For the next half hour eveybody carts off their buys.
So about 6AM you want to join some of the locals and have some hot noodles in one of the local shops around the market. At that time of the morning, after being up for a couple of hours, anything hot and nutritious will taste like the finest gourmet meal you've ever enjoyed.
Be prepared for a long wait at Tsukiji - to find the best sushi masters' places in the inner circle the longest lines are usually a good indicator. We went three times, this smmer, waited for 90 mins each time, but was worth it. The lines and sushi lasts until about 11 am. The little places doing unagi/rice and other dishes are also very good, if you dont have the time/energy.
Virtually impossible to give directions or find places twice in Tokyo so I wont try - in Shibuya, Shinjuku etc, walk around, check out the plastic models, smells, customers etc and venture into eating places - most are great. Sometimes local friends know good places sometimes they cant be relied on if not foodies. There are places specialising in unagi, ramen, tempura-udon or for small fish etc which are usually superb for that one kind of food.
The bento boxes at Tokyo station are superb. If you go to Kyoto, a great place to eat, one just once, not many times, is the food court at the train station, walk thru and select which place you want to eat. We tried the unago place, one of the ramen shops, a little stall serving chestnut puffs, tempura, and wished we could have done more.
There are so many restaurants in Tokyo, you will probably never even find the same place twice. Believe me, I have looked trying to return to a great place. Wander around and in to places and have your own unique experiences. Things I would not miss in Tokyo are: Yakitori under some rail station, Tsukiji for sushi, and little coffees from vending machines.
I would pass on dessert just about everywhere however.
thanks kep! i'll check out the bento site. i am really open to anything.
it's friday, 12/15 and i just got here last night. i'm staying at a hotel in tachikawa until tomorrow afternoon (friend is working here), heading to shinjuku for the day, i think. hoping to find dinner around the area before i head to the cerulean hotel tomorrow for a few days. so excited to be here!