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-starred sushi to family-run burger joints and izakaya 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.
AFURI is definitely one of the more popular ramen joints in Tokyo, and for good reason. They avoid fancy accoutrements and focus on serving simple, delicious ramen that everyone can enjoy. Hailing from the neighbouring Kanagawa prefecture, AFURI’s signature ramen is made with a citrus yuzu broth, making it much lighter, but still incredibly satisfying. For those wanting something with a little more body, they also have 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 ramen as well as your classic go-to staples.
Jimbocho Den is owned by celebrity chef Zaiyu Hasegawa, who learnt the tricks of the culinary trade by working alongside his mother; who just so happened to be a geisha in a high-end ryōtei-style 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 Jimbocho Den a few months in advance.
Tokyo still has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to navigate for non-carnivores. Luckily there are a few hidden gems like Nagi Shokudo. This restaurant proves that eating vegan in Japan isn’t just tofu and rice. The cozy and understated restaurant offers a broad cross-section of international dishes; drawing heavily from Thai, Indian and Japanese-style cuisine. 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 five-minute walk south of Shibuya Station, tucked below street level, Nagi Shokudo can be difficult to find – look out for the specials blackboard leaning against the window – but it’s well worth the effort. Visit midday for generous set lunches that costs around ¥1,000 ($9 USD) per person.
It may seem a little counter-intuitive to go all the way to Tokyo to eat Chinese food, but this restaurant can’t be missed. Given the close relationship between the two nations, China and Japan have crafted a unique blend of cross-cultural-culinary pollination, and Chuka Kosai 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 takeout you’ve ever eaten. Dinner time can be a little pricey, so lunch is your best bet on a budget: pick up an opulent rice set spread for ¥1,100 ($10 USD) which includes a main, rice, soup, side dish, dessert and a serve of their famous mapo tofu for an extra ¥250 ($2 USD).
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 locals 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 wedges. There is a humble but satisfying selection of vegetarian options, too. Always busy – but never rushed – if just for a moment you want to leave your tourist status at the door and hang out like a Shibuyan, this is the place.
This is the Shibuya sister restaurant to the famous Gonpachi Nishiazabu: AKA the izakaya that inspired Quentin Tarantino’s vision for the famous ‘The Bride v The Crazy 88’ fight scene in Kill Bill Vol 1. Although it may not be the one from the movie, the food at the Shibuya outpost is just as delicious and the vibe just as authentic. Only about 10 minutes from Shibuya Crossing, the interior is decked out in 1960s-style, old-world Japanese hybrid opulence 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, as they’re a house favourite.
Regularly touted as having the ‘best yakitori in Shibuya’, brother-sister establishments Teppen Onnadojo and Teppen Otokodojo are technically two separate eateries, located across the road from one another. However, they could be considered one dining establishment. There is one notable difference between the two venues: Onnadojo is run by women, while Otokodojo is run by men. 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 laid-back hip-hop pumping through the speakers, 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 museum of four to six toppings, traditional New York-Style pizza can be ordered by the slice with either soda or beer to drink. It may be basic, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Chicken on a stick may seem basic, but Imai’s meticulous chefs have made it their life’s mission to prove that yakitori is much more than just a quick, easy snack enjoyed by overworked businessmen. What makes this place a little different to many of the other yakitori haunts in Tokyo is that the chicken is tailor-seasoned to suit the atmosphere of the day. To experience Yakitori Imai to the fullest, sign up for the (chef’s choice) menu. Depending on the time of year, owner and head chef Mihumi Imai will curate a yakitori course with seasonal vegetables and matching natural wines.
Remarkably, Tokyo is one of the best places to eat French cuisine outside of France. Sincere, AKA the Japanese pronunciation for Cynthia (シンシア), is a Michelin-starred French restaurant that balances high-end French sophistication with a refreshing level of playfulness. The interior is chic, from the stone floors to the elegant porcelain, but the dishes are fun; think street-style taiyaki fish waffles, elegantly plated on a bed of flowers. Sincere has taken the best bits of French culture and infused it with Japan’s cheeky side, making it an exciting cross-cultural dining experience.
Tucked away from the manic energy of Shibuya Crossing, Kurosaki Sushi 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 he could serve omakase sushi courses with his own unique twist. This is the ultimate counter dining experience as the restaurant only has nine seats, but the intimate setting means you get to watch Kurosaki and his team perform their magic.