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A taste of Tokyo

Award-winning Danish chef René Redzepi has taken his world-famous Michelin-starred restaurant Noma more than 8,500 km across the globe to Tokyo, Japan. The move gave Redzepi the opportunity to realise his desire to explore Japan’s cuisine, ingredients and culture. “You can find absolutely everything in the culinary field. You can enjoy the best pizza or dine at the trendiest, most expensive restaurants, but you can also have a dish that dates 500 years back in time.”

Japanese cuisine has many faces and for each style, there are restaurants. Not just for sushi, sashimi and tempura, but also for oden (Japanese comfort food: small patties poached in broth), ramen (noodles), yakitori (barbecue skewers) and the classic kaiseki cuisine from Kyoto (ancient Japanese cuisine that stems from minimalist Zen aesthetic and refined court culture): it’s all there. The care for each individual plate is fascinating in its own right. Redzepi shares his favourite tips for an unforgettable culinary Tokyo experience.

Roasted Kombu and pumpkin, Noma, Tokyo
Roasted Kombu and pumpkin, Noma, Tokyo

Tokio

Visit the Tsukiji Fish Market

This fish market is worth a visit in the early hours of the morning. As only 120 people are allowed in, and free tickets are distributed on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, it’s best to get there between 3am and 4am and apply for your ticket at the Osakana Fukyu Center by the Kachidoki Gate. The auction starts at 5.25am. Inside the vast hall, hundreds of deep-frozen tuna, sorted by size, lie on the floor in long rows. Buyers move slowly among them, armed with hooks. After a while an auctioneer starts the bidding from a chair in the middle of the hall.

Octopus at Tsukiji Fish Market

Best sushi in Tokyo

If you’re not such an early bird, then you can always visit the wholesale fish market (the largest in the world) from 9am, or peruse the wider variety of wares on offer in the adjacent outdoor market until 2pm. And when you’re done ‘window shopping’ the fish, Redzepi advises you drop by Sushi Zanmai, which is situated in Tsujiki. You can eat the best sushi for next to nothing, 24 hours a day. “Finding food of such excellent quality at 6am would be impossible anywhere else.”

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Fresh raw tuna

Places to eat

Fuku, A great yakatori restaurant. Address: 3 Chome-23-4 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku.

Konokara Oden, meat, fish and vegetable patties are poached in broth and served in small bowls. Address: 1 Chome-9-6 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku. 

Sushi-ya, this tiny sushi place is close to the Tsukiji Fish Market. Address: 8 Chome-5-25 Ginza, Chuo-ku. 

Maru, the classic kaiseki cuisine is given a deliciously modern twist. Address: 5 Chome-50-8 Jingumae | B1 Aoyama KT Building, Shibuya-ku. 

Eatrip, a trendy little place in the Harajuku district. Address: 6 Chome-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku.

Foto credits

  • Octopus at Tsukiji Fish Market: Holland Herald May, Oof Verschuren
  • Fresh raw tuna: Holland Herald May, Oof Verschuren