This Akasaka restaurant, now in its sixth decade, is open 24 hours and specialises in a Korean dish known as seolleongtang, a cloudy soup made from slowly simmering beef bones and offals for many hours. It’s deeply flavourful, and accompanied by a spread of 11 types of banchan (small Korean side dishes) plus a bowl of rice – just the type of filling, comforting and warming meal your body cries out for after a night out. While this ground-floor annex specialises in this single dish, it’s also worth visiting this restaurant’s main location on the fifth floor of the same building, which offers a diverse menu of Korean dishes.
The staff can be surly and the seating cramped, but you won’t find cheaper Peking duck in town. The suggestive decor has novelty value and the location – right across from the sumptuous Grand Hyatt makes it feel even more surreal, especially in the wee hours, when it fills up with clubbers. Featured in: Tokyo’s top 24-hour restaurants
Perhaps Mean’s new-wave pizzas make sense when you’re drunk – it’s hard to imagine soberly ordering their okonomiyaki or chicken teriyaki options. To be fair, their Italian-Japanese fusion creations have their fans, although we like to stick to the tried-and-tested margherita, a steal at only ¥550. The extensive menu covers a host of Italian classics such as pastas, diced beef steak and roast chicken, while baked potatoes, prosciutto and French fries are available as sides.
Few experiences can make you feel more like a genuine Tokyoite than tucking into a feast of raw fish at three in the morning. This dependable chain gets surprisingly busy with sushi fans in the middle of the night. If you’re after some serious post-nightlife nourishment, a surefire bet is the sumptuous Sushi Zanmai selection (¥3,000), a vast bowl of rice with 13 toppings including tuna, sea urchin and salmon roe. Get it with a side order of grilled fish and chawanmushi (a savoury egg custard dish) and it’ll keep you going till lunchtime.
The Nagi ramen chain now has half a dozen shops scattered around Tokyo, but in 2008 it returned to its birthplace by reopening a branch in Golden Gai, Shinjuku’s famed old-school bar district. Located on the second floor of an old wooden house, this Nagi comes steeped in the atmosphere of the neighbourhood, with a smell that hits you as soon as you walk in the door. And no wonder – the speciality here is pungent niboshi ramen, made by boiling vast amounts of dried sardines for 12 hours to create a distinctive, boldly flavoured soup. We recommend the tokusei niboshi ramen (¥900), which comes generously laden with slices of chashu pork, menma (seasoned bamboo shoots), scallions, nori seaweed and a soft-boiled egg, and with a mix of curly and wide, flat noodles. If you fancy something a little different, the tsukemen (¥870) and shio (salt) ramen offer alternative ways of enjoying that potent niboshi taste. As an added bonus, Nagi is open for business 24 hours a day, meaning you can start and end a heavy night out with a bowl of their noodles.
Coffee shops in Tokyo tend to open late (usually after 10am) and close early, which kind of defeats the point of caffeine – to help wake you up in the morning, or to help keep you awake at night. But coming to the rescue is Unir, where you can get your caffeine fix any time of the day or night. Located on the first floor of the fittingly titled Hotel Innsomnia Akasaka, this smart, slick speciality coffee haunt offers espresso, French press brews, granola and excellent pastries.
If you’re craving tender, juicy grilled slices of meat 24 hours around the clock, then this yakiniku joint located in Shinjuku’s lively Kabukicho district is your place to go. Open daily from 7am to 6.30am the next day, this eatery is cherished by a large number of barbecue lovers due to the smoky taste provided by the charcoal grills on each table. The all-you-can-eat course menus range from ¥3,480 for the girls and ¥3,980 for the guys (all-you-can-drink plan included). Choose from more than 70 dishes including their A4-grade meat options and Korean delicacies such as bibimbap. For hungry foodies during lunch time, order the ‘kalbi (spare rib) set meal’ (¥950) or the ‘harami (pork belly) set meal’ (¥850).
A 24-hour coffee shop is perhaps the perfect business model – caffeine-fuelled customers can stay up all night long ordering cup after cup, while stragglers stumbling home from a hard night’s clubbing can start the process of sobering up. If your 1am craving is for a cup of Joe rather than a midnight feast, then head to Edinburgh. Perched on the outskirts of Kabukicho, it offers as many as 20 varieties of coffee, including high-end brews such as ‘Hawaii Kona’ (¥1,380) and ‘Royal Blend’ (a snip at ¥3,000). Servings are generous and you can squeeze two cups out of a pot, while they also have free wi-fi.
A well-known stop for K-pop junkies, Hyungboo attracts a seemingly constant stream of customers, who dine amidst walls plastered with the photos and autographs of Korean and Japanese celebrities. If you’re not there for the stars, go for the food – the restaurant offers an overwhelming selection of Korean fare, including hotpot favourites gamjatang and budae jjigae, keranchimu (Korean-style steamed custard egg), jijim and yakiniku, as well as an excellent set menu consisting of more than a dozen different dishes.
Sometimes, only a kebab will do. When the appetite takes hold, duck into Kader, a Turkish restaurant not far from Roppongi’s main intersection, for a beef kebab topped with crunchy salad. If you’re hankering after something sweet, round off your meal with a bite-sized square of baklava; or for something a little different, try some menemen, a traditional Turkish breakfast of scrambled egg with tomato.
This late-night soba spot may be cheap, but it doesn’t compromise on quality: those noodles are made from 100 percent buckwheat flour, ground in-store using a traditional stone mortar. Choose between thick or thin noodles, complemented with all-you-can-eat wakame seaweed. Located next to Tokyu Honten Department Store, Sagatani attracts both the early risers grabbing breakfast on their way to work, and late-night party-goers crawling home after a night out drinking. Wherever you’re off to afterwards, if you fancy an early-morning bowl of soba, this is the place to go.
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