At Time Out Tokyo, we spend a lot of time hunting down the best eating and drinking spots to help you experience all the gastronomic delights that this city has to offer. Unfortunately, we can't actually take you from restaurant to restaurant, but that's where Oishii Tokyo Food Tours comes in. Launched in April this year, the tour provider has already become a massive hit among tourists and even a few locals who perhaps just want to discover a different side of various neighbourhoods. The hosts speak English, are highly entertaining, and will go out of their way to introduce you to Japan's vibrant culture. We joined them on a recent 'Aka Chochin' (Red Lantern) tour around Ebisu to get a taste of what's on offer.
From the minute we met up with our fellow tour participants at Ebisu Station, it felt like we were just hanging out with friends. The three others on the tour with us were all in Tokyo on holiday and had discovered Oishii Tokyo Food Tours online. Our guide first took us to an izakaya to try out yakitori (chicken skewers), giving us a little lesson in how to kanpai (cheers) in Japanese, and then to a sashimi restaurant where we were served chuhai (shochu alcohol with lemon) and the freshest fish we've ever eaten – no seriously, we watched the chef remove it from the fish tank and it was still twitching as we ate...
Next we strolled along to Ebisu Yokocho ('back alley'), where we tried out sting ray fin (quite chewy), okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) and a few other traditional dishes, before rounding off the evening with udon noodles and Japanese dessert.
The Oishii team offers two types of regular tours: in addition to the 'Aka Chochin Tour' (¥13,000), they also offer an 'Underpass Tour' (¥15,000), which shows off the lively atmosphere of Shinbashi. The tours take around 3.5 hours and all food and drink is included in the price. They also have plans to start offering more tours in the future, so keep a watch on their website for new announcements. To make a booking, visit their website at oishiitokyo.com.