Tokyo’s Shibuya area is home to famous tourist attractions like the Meiji Jingu, Shibuya Scramble and the Hachikō Memorial Statue, but it’s also a melting pot of international cuisines – executed with Japanese finesse.
As one of Tokyo’s major tourist hubs, Shibuya is among the city’s most diverse neighbourhoods – and the food scene reflects that. From Michelin-star sushi to family-run burger joints and izakaya (Japanese pub) chains that have inspired blockbuster movies, there are endless belly-pleasing options. Culture Trip dives into the rushing crowds to bring you the best restaurants in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Quietly nestled in one of Shibuya’s most populated areas, this humble 24-hour soba shop offers some of the best noodles in the city – for about the price of your morning latte. Upon arrival, you’ll notice a simple vending machine set up out front where you’ll order your noodles by punching in the size and toppings you want, which includes fried chicken, eggplant tempura and more. Go for an extra helping of tororo – a sticky yam-based topping made from dashi, wasabi and green onions.
If ramen is more your speed, visit Menya Nukaji, a no-fuss noodle bar widely considered the hidden gem of Shibuya. Specialising in tsukemen – cold ramen noodles that you dip in a separate bowl of rich chashu pork broth before eating – the 10-seat eatery has a constant flow of patrons, but turnover is fast and rarely requires waiting in a line.
While you might not expect to find next-level French food in Tokyo, it’s a lot more common than you think. Some French restaurants in the city, such as Florilège, might just do French fare better than the French. Helmed by chef Hiroyasu Kawate, this imaginative modern restaurant (which ranks No 7 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 list) combines classic French fare with umami-packed Japanese ingredients, such as manjū dumplings stuffed with pigeon and simmered in port wine – the result is a certain je ne sais quoi on a plate.
Walk down any block in Harajuku, and you’ll likely see a few people chowing down on colourful crêpes. Marion Crêpes is a local institution, well loved for its wide selection of flavours. From sweet and salty to savoury, there are over 70 varieties on offer, including matcha ice cream and even a briny tuna salad. Unlike the traditional crêpes that you’d find in a French restaurant, the Japanese type is rolled into a snack-size cone shape, which makes it easy to grab and go.
Kiraku knows how to make a bowl of ramen. The ramen shop is one of the oldest in the city, serving up piping bowls of traditional Chinese-style Japanese noodles since 1952. Located in the heart of Shibuya’s red-light district, it specialises in shoyu-flavoured ramen with chukamen (the Chinese noodles most often found in ramen), but the chūkadon (a type of Chinese stir-fry over rice) is highly recommended.
Celebrating something special? Head to Sushi Tokyo Ten Shibuya. The omakase (chef’s choice) sushi meal will set you back about ¥7,000 (£52) per person for dinner or ¥3,500 (£26) per person for the lunch set – but it’s well worth it. The omakase menu varies day by day, depending on what’s fresh and in season, but you can expect to get your fair share of octopus, sea urchin, seared bonito and more locally sourced seafood. Note that despite the quality and price of each meal, Sushi Tokyo Ten Shibuya is cosy and relaxed – so you can leave the suit and tie at home.
Tucked into residential Moto-Yoyogi, Les Chanterelles is the spot to be for fungus fiends – foraged and imported mushrooms appear on nearly every plate. Helmed by chef and mushroom specialist Yusuke Nakada, Les Chanterelles is inspired by his experience working in a rural French restaurant. The 16-seat creative restaurant doesn’t have a menu, but as long as you love mushrooms, you’re guaranteed a mouthwatering, umami-packed meal. While the menu changes daily, classics include smoked salmon with boiled aubergine and roquefort sauce, and mushroom tea paired with a foie-gras macaron.
AFURI is one of the more popular ramen joints in Tokyo, and for good reason. It avoids fancy accoutrements and focuses on serving simple, delicious ramen that everyone can enjoy. Hailing from the neighbouring Kanagawa prefecture, AFURI’s signature ramen is made with a citrusy yuzu broth, making it much lighter, but still incredibly satisfying. For those wanting something with a little more body, it also has oily tsukemen dipping ramen. While many of Shibuya’s noodle-centric hangouts serve up bowls with thick cuts of pork, AFURI offers plenty of vegetarian-friendly, vegetable-heavy ramens, as well as your classic go-to staples.
Tokyo still has a reputation for being difficult to navigate for non-carnivores. Luckily, there a few places like Nagi Shokudo. This restaurant proves that eating vegan in Japan isn’t just tofu and rice. The cosy and understated restaurant offers a broad cross-section of international dishes, drawing heavily from Thai, Indian and Japanese cuisines. On any given day, you can expect inventive dishes such as soy meat karaage – a twist on Japanese fried chicken – and simmering coconut curry. Just a short walk south of Shibuya station, tucked below street level, Nagi Shokudo can be difficult to find – look for the specials blackboard leaning against the window – but it’s well worth the effort. Visit midday for generous set lunches that cost around ¥1,000 (£7.45) per person.
DEN is owned by celebrity chef Zaiyu Hasegawa, who learned the tricks of the culinary trade by working alongside his mother who just so happened to be a geisha in a ryōtei-style restaurant (a type of high-end restaurant). Wanting to breathe new life into traditional-style kaiseki (multi-course) dining, Hasegawa opened the restaurant when he was 29. In its relatively short lifetime, it has garnered a reputation for being one of Asia’s best dining experiences. What makes DEN such a popular place is the incredible hospitality and eye for detail. Guests can expect personalised dishes based on their nationalities, food-related brain-teasers and plenty of other hidden surprises. Due to its popularity, it’s worth booking a table at DEN a few months in advance.
It may seem a little counter-intuitive to go all the way to Tokyo to eat Chinese food, but this restaurant is a must-try. Given the close relationship between the two countries, China and Japan have crafted a unique blend of cross-cultural-culinary pollination, and JASMINE is one of the best places to explore it. Specialising in the Szechuan province’s take on powerfully spicy dishes, this elegantly designed restaurant will make you rethink every single cheap Chinese takeaway you’ve ever eaten. Dinner can be a little pricey, so lunch is your best bet if on a budget. Pick up an opulent rice set spread for ¥1,100 (£8.20), which includes a main, rice, soup, side dish and dessert – add a serving of its famous mapo tofu for an extra ¥250 (£1.90).
To really see the local side of the neighbourhood, go to ARMS and eat as the suburban Shibuya families do. On the quiet side of Yoyogi Park, ARMS is a popular neighbourhood burger restaurant that’s been serving residents for so long that those same customers are now taking their kids. It’s a quaint slice of Japanese Americana, with no-frills cheeseburgers, crispy toasted sandwiches and thick-cut potato wedges. There is a humble but satisfying selection of vegetarian options, too.
Gonpachi Shibuya is the sister restaurant to the famous Gonpachi Nishiazabu – also known as the izakaya that inspired Quentin Tarantino’s vision for the famous ‘The Bride v The Crazy 88’ fight scene in Kill Bill Vol 1 (2003). Although it may not be the one from the movie, the Shibuya outpost offers food that’s just as delicious and a vibe just as authentic. Only about 10 minutes from Shibuya Crossing, the interior is decked out in 1960s-style, old-world Japanese hybrid opulence, complete with moody lighting and nostalgic dark-wood panelling. The menu is sophisticated but not extravagant; it mixes casual izakaya fare with a more high-end touch. Be sure to order the home-made soba noodles.
Regularly touted as having the best yakitori (chicken skewers) in Shibuya, brother-sister establishments Teppen Onnadojo and Teppen Otokodojo are technically two separate restaurants, located across the road from one another. There is one notable difference between the two venues: women run Onnadojo while men take care of Otokodojo. Both are rowdy, jam-packed, yakitori-centric izakayas and home to some of the city’s most friendly staff. Putting on a bit of a show over the grills, the chefs use traditional ubame oak charcoal to smoke the chicken to perfection. On any given night, the clientele is a cross-section of international and local diners, making it incredibly welcoming for non-Japanese speakers, without lacking any backstreet inner-city Tokyo authenticity.
Pizza Slice is the epitome of Shibuya cool – an ultra-clean interior with hip-hop pumping through the speakers and populated by some of the city’s most fashionable clientele. The entire place runs on the motto that less is more – making the simple premise of a takeaway cool. With an uncomplicated menu of four to six toppings, traditional New York-style pizza is available by the slice, with either soda or beer to drink. It may be basic, but if it isn’t broke, why fix it?
Tucked away from the manic energy of Shibuya Crossing, Kurosaki is well and truly one of the city’s best-kept culinary secrets. After clocking up almost two decades of experience in high-end establishments across the city, owner and head chef Kurosaki opened his own place so that he could serve omakase sushi courses with his own unique twist. The restaurant provides the ultimate counter-dining experience – it only has nine seats – but the intimate setting means you get to watch Kurosaki and his team perform their magic.
Kaitlyn McInnis contributed additional reporting to this article.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.