Tokyo’s Roppongi district is never short on crowds – by day, it’s filled with business people and wide-eyed travellers take their place at night. Thankfully, no matter the time of day or the tastes of hungry diners, its varied restaurants are up to the task of keeping everyone full and happy.
Gonpachi Nishi Azabu serves up delicious charcoal-grilled skewers and house-made soba noodles. Unlike your typical izakaya (Japanese pub), it has plenty of seating, but reservations are recommended. It is most famous for its unique appearance; taking inspiration from a scene in Kill Bill(2003), it looks as if it’s out of the Edo period. Dishes are slightly westernised, so it’s a great place to ease into Japanese cuisine.
Afuri offers non-traditional ramen made using chicken broth with a splash of yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that gives a lighter, crisper taste than normally found in the dish. Though it may be tempting to order the original yuzu shio ramen, the yuzu ratanmen is the star of the show – its spicy broth adds a whole new depth of flavour. There’s also a vegan ramen, which comes topped with fresh seasonal vegetables.
Owned by the celebrated chef Jiro Ono of Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame and run by his son Takashi, this sushi restaurant has been awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. Bookings are required, and bringing a Japanese friend or translator is recommended. Also, strict sushi etiquette such as eating the sushi in the order the chef presents it is observed here. The food is crafted with extreme care and dedication to the art of sushi-making.
Every day can be the weekend at Mercer Brunch, where they serve New York-style brunch Monday through Sunday. Try Tokyo’s best brioche french toast, along with a selection of savoury dishes including salmon tartare with avocado and poached eggs, and sirloin steak with scrambled or fried eggs. Relax in front of the cosy fireplace with a mimosa or bloody mary to complete your meal.
This restaurant started in Canada before opening a branch in Japan and combines the elegance of sushi with a casual, friendly izakaya vibe. The tapas-style menu contains traditional nigiri sushi, but the real draw here is the aburi oshi sushi: fish that’s pressed and flame-seared. Another highlight of the menu is the fresh Canadian lobster. Choose a Japanese cocktail to pair with your sushi and then continue your evening in one of Roppongi’s excellent bars.
Specialising in udon noodles, Tsurutontan caters to the late-night crowd – the doors stay open until 8am – and to eaters with dietary restrictions. Despite being a chain, the noodles are freshly made, meaning you’ll want to slurp every last drop. However, you might struggle to finish your meal due to the generous portions; Tsurutontan gives up to three servings of noodles per meal with no additional charge – perfect for hungry travellers on a budget.
Cafe, Hole in the Wall, Lebanese, Turkish, Japanese, $$$
Falafel Brothers, as the name suggests, specialises in falafel and freshly baked pita bread, a dish that is usually hard to find in Tokyo. Customise your meal by choosing two or three of the original toppings, including edamame salad and curry corn. This tiny place only has indoor seating for three people and a small bench outside, so get your wrap to go.
This small, reasonably priced Thai restaurant is always packed, a sign of the quality and authenticity of the food. The menu is simple, just classic dishes such as green curry and tom yum soup. The most popular dish is the Thai chicken stir-fry, a hearty dish with hints of basil and garlic.
Jomon is a favourite among local people who are down to fill their stomachs with tasty yakitori skewers and sake. Don’t be intimidated by the numerous kinds of yakitori on offer – just order omakase, which translates to “I’ll leave it up to you.” This place usually fills up quickly, so it’s best to make reservations a few days in advance.