Marukita Shop 2

Best kaisendon in Tokyo

Kaisendon is a national obsession in Japan and these seafood restaurants serve the best sashimi rice bowls in Tokyo

Written by
Yoko Asano
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There are plenty of ways to enjoy seafood in Japan, but for some reason, people tend to get stuck riding the sushi train. That’s fine if you like to try sashimi one piece at a time, but if you’d rather dive in head – and mouth – first into an assortment of super-fresh raw seafood, there’s kaisendon.

Fluffy white (usually vinegared) rice topped with artfully arranged slices of sashimi, kaisendon may sound simple but there are as many varieties of kaisendon as there are restaurants serving it. A single bowl is like a tasting tour of the Toyosu Market, featuring different kinds of seafood and different cuts of fish. 

The best way to understand kaisendon’s appeal is to try it, and these Tokyo restaurants will make you a kaisendon convert.

RECOMMENDED: Best budget sushi in Tokyo

Bowled over

Marukita Shop 2
  • Restaurants
  • Tsukiji

Kaisendon is probably still the single most popular meal in Tsukiji, and Marukita does these bowls of seafood sashimi rice with panache. While the popular salmon and tuna with ikura (salmon roe) kaisendon starts from ¥1,000, we recommend spending ¥2,500 for Marukita’s omakase-don – a luxurious bowl topped with a daily selection of 11 kinds of seafood. The exact contents vary by season, with typical choices including super-fresh shrimp, fatty tuna, salmon, scallops, salmon roe and uni (sea urchin).

  • Restaurants
  • Hiroo

This local restaurant on Hiroo’s shopping street offers a variety of kaisendon during lunch hours. Uni enthusiasts will be delighted with the sea urchin bowl, vinegared rice covered in rich, almost buttery uni (¥2,200). For a bit of contrast, the sea urchin and crab bowl (¥1,700) is a great introduction to the wonderful world of uni without being too overpowering. Everything about the food is fresh – the uni is sweet and smooth and the wasabi even has an extra kick.

Don’t be intimidated by the lack of windows and the kanji-filled display menu outside – push through the door and you’ll be greeted by friendly staff, traditional wooden furniture and best of all, an English menu (hint: it’s behind the Japanese menu).

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Uomaru Main Store
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Yurakucho

This izakaya specialises in seafood, and is part of a restaurant complex that’s open 24 hours a day. Located right between Hibiya, Yurakucho and Ginza, Uomaru is a favourite of both salarymen and hungry tourists. One of the most popular items is the kaisendon, made with mountains of sashimi delivered fresh daily. The vinegared sushi rice beneath goes perfectly with the seafood. Uomaru has plenty of other seafood delicacies, too, such as seafood yakisoba (fried noodles) and udon with sea urchin.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Shirokane

This restaurant specialises in tuna, so expect a colourful kaisendon, or opt for rice bowls featuring sea urchin and raw beef. You can customise your kaisendon, too, right down to the type of rice and the vinegar used to prepare it. When possible, the restaurant also serves a delicacy called noten, a special cut of meat from the top of the tuna’s head, which has a smooth, creamy texture. But you have to get in quick – there’s a strictly limited number of bowls of noten on rice per day.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Nihonbashi

Kaisendon is pretty much the only dish on the menu at this Nihonbashi restaurant. Tsujihan isn’t exactly a well-kept secret anymore, so expect to queue – sometimes up to two hours – for a bowl. But the wait is worth it when you can dig into a bowl of fluffy rice topped with tuna, shellfish, salmon roe, leek, cucumber, and more. Before finishing the rice, be sure to pour in some of Tsujihan’s dashi stock to turn it into an ochazuke. To enhance the flavour, add a sweet sesame sauce to the remaining sashimi. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, come later in the afternoon, or try one of Tsujihan's other branches in Kagurazaka and Akasaka.

Know more, eat more

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