Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.

Singaporean Chilli crab - generic1/5
Photo: Ppy2010ha/DreamstimeSingaporean chilli crab
Sonpon2/5
Photo: Time Out Tokyo
Los Tacos Azules3/5
Photo: fb.com/lostacosazulesjp
Malay Kampung4/5
Photo: Lim Chee WahIconic Malaysian dish, nasi lemak, at Malay Kampung
Nhà Việt Nam5/5
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Best international restaurants in Tokyo

These are some of the best restaurants in Tokyo to get a taste of home, from chilli crab and tom yum to tacos and paella

By Jessica Thompson and Chee Wah Lim
Advertising

Food is one of the easiest ways to transport yourself somewhere else. Whether you’re missing home or just missing an overseas holiday, a meal at one of these Tokyo restaurants is like a passport for your palate.

Food memories call on all five senses, which is why we’ve chosen venues not just for their food, but also their design and atmosphere. From Mexican tortillas and Australian flat white to Thai curries and Singaporean chilli crabs, these are the perfect spots to get your favourite comfort food in the city.

RECOMMENDED: Five cool restaurants to check out at Eat Play Works' international food hall

Take your taste buds on tour

Sonpon
Sonpon
Photo: Time Out Tokyo

Thailand: Sonpon

Restaurants Asakusa

Tucked away in a backstreet of Akasaka, this popular Thai restaurant re-creates the casual dining feel of a Bangkok neighbourhood restaurant. There are bold red- and blue-painted walls, bright lighting, rattan furnishings and Thai trinkets lined up at the entrance. The owner-chef is from northern Thailand and infuses dishes with plenty of fresh herbs and often a spicy kick.

Yum Takrai is a crunchy and flavourful mound of lemongrass salad, while the Pad See Ew – rice noodles with chicken and vegetables – is highly recommended, plus you get to choose the thickness of your rice noodles. Khao Soi, a spicy coconut curry noodle soup from the north of Thailand, is another favourite. Portions are generous for the price, and you can wash them down with a selection of Thai beers like Leo and Singha. Sonpon is open every day until 2am, so you can always head there for a hearty meal after a night out. 

Nhà Việt Nam
Nhà Việt Nam
Photo: Nhà Việt Nam

Vietnam: Nhà Việt Nam Ebisu

Restaurants Vietnamese Ebisu

With a name that means Vietnam House, Nhà Việt Nam does a great job of transporting you to the owners’ home country: there’s the two-story building, reminiscent of Vietnam’s French colonial architecture, local specialities like coffee and lotus tea for sale, staff wearing the country’s traditional áo dài costume, and then, of course, there’s the food.

The pho has its characteristic clean-yet-complex broth, topped with tender beef; rice paper rolls are packed with fresh vegetables and herbs; and the bun cha gio is a bowl of crisp and chewy spring rolls on top of a bed of rice noodles. Where some other Tokyo Vietnamese restaurants blend in Japanese flavours, the chef at Nhà Việt Nam sticks with the traditional recipes.

Advertising
Malay Kampung
Malay Kampung
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Malaysia: Malay Kampung

Restaurants Kayabacho

This homely restaurant, tucked away on the second-floor of a nondescript building in Hatchobori, is one the best Malaysian restaurants in Tokyo. For one, its menu is extensive, offering more than the bog-standard iconic dishes from this multicultural Southeast Asian nation, such as nasi lemak (coconut rice with sambal and chicken rendang; rendang is a sort of dry curry), satay (barbecued meat on a stick), chicken rice, roti canai (Malaysian-Indian flat bread, usually served with curry) and laksa.

The lunch menu (weekdays only for the time being) offers really good value, where you get to enjoy classic Malaysian dishes such as Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak, laksa, nasi goreng (fried rice) and more from just ¥800 – drinks included.

Chilli crab
Chilli crab
Photo: fb.com/singaporeseafoodrepablicshinagawa

Singapore: Singapore Seafood Republic

Restaurants Singaporean Takanawa

This stately colonial-style mansion across from Shinagawa Station looks like it’s been lifted straight from the city state and transported to Tokyo as is. And yes, the world-famous Singapore chilli crab is a highlight here, and the restaurant does the dish justice. In fact, the elaborate menu, which features a host of Singaporean and Southeast Asian dishes such as chicken satay, curry noodles, Hainanese chicken rice and stewed hor fun (flat rice noodles), is well executed.

The lunch menu is a good deal, with one-dish meals including seafood fried rice and roasted pork noodles costing anywhere from ¥980 to less than ¥2,000. But if you’re keen to try the crustaceans, get the chilli crab with fried rice set for just ¥2,850.

Advertising
Dhaba India
Dhaba India
Photo: fb.com/283626995089456

India: Dhaba India

Restaurants Indian Kyobashi

There’s something undeniably comforting about Indian food and at Dhaba India in Kyobashi, you’ll find  a menu of fragrant, deeply satisfying dishes from the southern part of the country. We love the lemon prawn curry, and the tamarind punch of the Tamil fish curry. If you can’t decide, the set menu of assorted South Indian food served on a banana leaf is a great option, with nine dishes including chicken, fish and vegetable curries, plus rice and papadams. The masala dosa (rice flour and lentil crepe), a fixture of South Indian cuisine, is a featherlight wrap containing a filling of potato, onion and green chilli. With dark blue walls and turquoise tiled floors, it’s a tranquil – as well as filling – dining experience.

Il boccalone
Il boccalone
Photo: fb.com/ilboccalone.tokyo

Italy: Il Boccalone

Restaurants Ebisu

Il Boccalone in Ebisu is a relaxed Italian trattoria that has been serving Tokyoites hearty Italian cuisine since 1989. With sunny yellow tablecloths, an open wood-burning fireplace, wooden trims and fresco-decorated walls, the restaurant’s charming setting – not to mention the food – draw a loyal crowd of locals. 

We recommend starting with the crisp and tender calamari fritti and a plate of freshly sliced prosciutto, then moving onto pasta and mains. The parmesan risotto, ladled from an enormous wheel of cheese shipped from Italy, is a speciality. House-made pasta comes perfectly al dente, whether you choose the Bologna-style tagliatelle or the spaghetti with clams. For a hearty main, you can’t go wrong with the house classic: roast beef with rocket and parmesan and a side of organic vegetables sauteed in butter.

Advertising

USA: Soul Food House

Restaurants Soul and southern American Azabu-Juban

Whether you hail from the southern USA or not, you’ll feel right at home as soon as you step inside the cosy dining room Soul Food House. Opened in Azabu-Juban in 2015 by husband-and-wife duo and Atlanta natives, David and LaTonya Whitaker, this popular restaurant specialises in American Southern and Cajun cuisine. 

The house favourites here are undoubtedly the fried chicken and waffles, but it’s also hard to go past the Cajun soft-shell crab served with a sweet and spicy sauce. For non-meat eaters, there's plenty of options – hot tofu sliders (a riff on the restaurant’s pulled pork classic), and mushrooms and grits, to name just a couple. A side of cornbread is a must, as is finishing off with a slice of key lime pie. Servings are heroically sized, but if you can’t finish it all, Soul Food House will happily package it up for you to take home.

Cibi Tokyo
Cibi Tokyo
Photo: fb.com/cibitokyo

Australia: Cibi

Restaurants Sendagi

Aussies – and any fans of the country’s café culture – who are pining after a flat white and avocado toast will rejoice at Cibi’s menu. In 2008, husband and wife Zenta and Meg Tanaka opened Cibi in Melbourne, serving Japanese breakfast to local Melbournians; in 2018, they opened Cibi Tokyo, offering the reverse. The venue is a blend of both cities, set into a spacious renovated warehouse in the historic Yanaka district, with antique furniture from Melbourne surrounded by shelves lined with Japanese handicrafts. 

On the menu, the avocado toast comes on seeded sourdough bread, and might be topped with parsley, pink peppercorns and lemon, or soft-boiled eggs, capers and rocket. For lunch, there’s a range of sandwiches as well as fresh salad bowls. The smell of sourdough, muffins and cakes baking in the open kitchen adds to the homely feel.

Advertising

Mexico: Los Tacos Azules

Restaurants Sangenjaya

At Los Tacos Azules in Sangenjaya, owner-chef Marco Garcia, who hails from the north of Mexico, replicates the tantalising aromas and flavours of Mexican cooking for Tokyo diners, but also incorporates some local ingredients. Dishes vary with the seasons, but you can expect tacos filled with ingredients like smoky barbecued wagyu, ayu (sweetfish) with green salsa, and charred eggplant with goats cheese. Garcia even imports heirloom corn from Oaxaca to process into tortillas in-house.

Naturally, there’s excellent craft mezcal and tequila to try,  or you can go for a local wine or sake. For something non-alcoholic, try an agua fresca: a water-based drink flavoured with fruit, flowers, vegetables or herbs. If you’re the morning taco type, head to the restaurant from 9am to 3pm to start the day on the right foot. 

Gracia
Gracia
Photo: Eat Play Works

Spain: Gracia

Restaurants Hiroo

Spanish gastrobars sit in the brilliant middleground between bar and restaurant, with excellent food and drinks served at affordable prices but in a more casual setting. At Gracia, chef Jerome Quilbeuf serves a menu based on the full-flavoured cuisine of Catalonia in Spain’s northeast.

Pop in for the pork pluma sandwich – premium Iberican shoulder blade meat cooked rare and served between toast – and beer, or stay for longer and try a handful of small plates like smoked bonito with ajo blanco (white gazpacho), patatas bravas, paella and the legendary cheesecake. The relaxed atmosphere and counter seats overlooking the kitchen make the whole experience an intimate one.

Advertising
Zakuro
Zakuro
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Iran: Zakuro

Restaurants Turkish Nippori

This raucous little slice of Persia is tucked away in quiet, leafy Yanaka. Beneath myriad mosaic lamps and billowing sheets suspended from the ceiling, you’ll find a mix of Iranian, Turkish and Uzbek cuisines served on wooden boards placed on the floor. Zakuro is not the place for a quiet meal, especially during the nightly belly dancing show at 8pm. While the restaurant has a menu, the big draw here is the set course customised on-the-fly by the owner Ali to suit each table’s tastes. The ¥1,000 ‘super hungry’ lunch course comes with soup, stew (choose from chicken, lamb, beans or vegetable), curries, chai tea and dessert. Or try the ¥2,000 dinner course cheekily named ‘you-can’t-finish-it-all’; an advance booking for three or more people includes a complimentary shisha session.

Want to recreate a taste of home?

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising