1. Tamakairiki Ginza, chanko nabe
    Photo: Keisuke TanigawaTamakairiki Ginza
  2. Nabezo
    Photo: Nabezo

12 best nabe hotpot restaurants in Tokyo

Gather round for these belly-warming nabemono dishes including shabu-shabu, sukiyaki and motsunabe

Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors
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Nabe, or nabemono, is the Japanese word for hot pot cuisine, where diners can have a casual get-together with friends and share a communal, belly-warming meal that’s as delicious as it is nourishing. That said, nabe is also a broad term that covers a wide variety of hotpot dishes that have their own names, including sukiyaki, shabu-shabu and oden.

The dishes are similar in that they typically involve simmering a variety of meat and vegetables in one large pot to be enjoyed on chilly nights by a large group of people, but differ in the base of their broth and the way they’re meant to be eaten. Here, we’ll break down the most common types of nabemono with a few of our favourite spots for hotpot. 

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The best nabe joints

  • Restaurants
  • Marunouchi

What they serve: motsunabe and other regional dishes from Kyushu

Motsunabe is a rich and hearty stew of offal simmered with vegetables in a miso-based broth. It’s considered to be a local speciality of Hakata, Fukuoka, where motsunabe is typically served with the addition of mentaiko (spicy cod roe) to give the stew an extra kick.

To the uninitiated, a hodgepodge made with the entrails of pork, chicken or beef might not sound particularly appetising, but these morsels are similar in taste and texture to the chewy bits of fat that come on your steak. Throw in some garlic chives for extra depth and you end up with a pot of liquid gold best enjoyed with a cold, frothy beer. 

The classic Hakata motsunabe at Yamaya is made with black beef offal and can be ordered in different portion sizes from ¥2,000 per person. For ¥3,500 per person, you can get the hot pot as well as a selection of other dishes from Kyushu, including a regional sashimi platter and squid dumplings from the fishing town of Yobuko.

  • Restaurants
  • Hot pot
  • Kagurazaka

What they serve: chanko nabe 

Contrary to popular belief, sumo wrestlers have to be careful about what they eat and stick to a strict diet of healthy, protein-packed dishes to build muscle mass. One particular dish that sumo wrestlers are known to eat a lot of is chanko nabe – a nutritious hotpot brimming with vegetables, tofu and chicken or fish simmered in a light stock. Once everyone has had a few servings of the chance nabe and some room opens up in the pot, soba or udon noodles are typically thrown into the soup for optimal gains. 

This chanko nabe restaurant in Kagurazaka is run by retired sumo wrestler Koto Kuroshio, who is still a larger-than-life character, despite having shed plenty of weight since his active years. The nabe is made with white barely miso to give the soup stock a slightly sweet flavour, with sizeable chunks of seasonal fish and chicken (it’s firmly believed that sumo wrestlers should only eat animals with two legs to help them remain standing in the heat of a bout). 

Considering the sumo-sized portions, we recommend bringing both a large group and a true rikishi attitude. You’re guaranteed warm service and a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of sumo memorabilia.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Higashi-Ginza

What they serve: chanko nabe 

A miniature sumo ring greets you at the entrance of this chanko nabe specialist opposite the Kabuki Theatre in Ginza, which features spacious seating with long tables and private rooms, making it perfect for group dining. Get the shio chanko (salt-based soup): the generous sprinkling of sesame seeds on top adds a beautiful aroma to the soup, the chicken and pork meatballs are delicious, and you can even choose to add noodles or rice.

Ningyocho Imahan
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Ningyocho
  • price 2 of 4

What they serve: sukiyaki

Sukiyaki consists of meat and vegetables cooked in a concentrated soup base of soy sauce sweetened with sugar and mirin (rice wine). Because of the strong sweet-savoury flavour of the broth, you don’t need to add additional sauces to the meat and vegetables as you would with shabu-shabu. Instead, the contents of sukiyaki hot pot are dipped in a raw egg mixture that adds a richness to the dish while mellowing out the flavours of the soy sauce and mirin. 

Ningyocho Imahan is a 120-year-old butchery and restaurant, where you can dine on flavourful, top-grade Japanese beef. As you take up your seat in the elegant space, your waiter will pour a small amount of a sweet soy-based soup into the heated iron pot on your table, before simmering the beautifully marbled beef in the sauce. When the beef is medium rare, it’s taken out of the pot and dipped into a beaten egg. Trust us, you won’t have any qualms about eating raw egg after you've tasted it like this.

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  • Restaurants
  • Asakusa

What they serve: negima nabe 

During the Edo period (1603-1867), fresh fish was commonly seasoned with vinegar to make it last longer. Some fish like toro (tuna belly), however, were not suitable to be preserved with vinegar because of their high fat content. Instead, they were steeped and simmered in soy sauce and negi (green onion), which was used to help mask the pungency of the fish. The fat from the fish, in turn, balanced out the sharpness of the onion and negima nabe continued to be a popular dish even after the introduction of refrigerators. 

At this traditional seafood restaurant in the heart of Asakusa – an area that’s thought by some to be the birthplace of Edo-style negima nabe – you can warm up with the classic hotpot in a space that’s reminiscent of Tokyo’s bygone days.

The signature Edo Negima Nabe costs ¥3,400 and serves two people. Remove your shoes and dine tatami-mat style with the nabe in the middle of one of the low dining tables, or get a seat at the counter to get a closer look at the rows of nihonshu bottles and antiques that line the walls.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Otsuka

What they serve: negima nabe 

At this charming eight-seater restaurant in Ikebukuro, negima nabe is served as a course meal. You start with an Edo-style tamagoyaki, or egg roll, which has been lightly seasoned with katsuo dashi and shoyu. Pair it with sake and you’re off to a good start. Next, you’ll be presented with a beautiful platter of negima nabe ingredients before they are cooked inside a light dashi broth along with wakame seaweed and fresh greens.

You’ll be able to sample various cuts of tuna, including the haramo (belly) and kama toro (gill flesh); they are both equally tender and elevated to another level with just a sprinkle of hand-crushed pepper. The thick slices of negi are cooked until soft and make for a refreshing relief between mouthfuls of tuna. To finish, you get to savour all that flavourful broth that’s been simmering with the tuna by pouring it into bowls of perfectly cooked Japanese claypot rice, much like a chazuke (rice with green tea).

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Yamawarau
  • Restaurants
  • Harajuku

What they serve: shabu-shabu

While hotpot dining is an inherently casual and communal experience, Tokyo never overlooks the solo diner craving something more elaborate than a speedy bowl of ramen and less opulent than high-end omakase sushi. At Omotesando’s Yamawarau, you can sit at the round counter of an open-kitchen that serves up premium pork and black sirloin shabu-shabu sets to single diners. 

The sleek dining space and beautifully plated side dishes that come with the sets here add a sense of occasion to the meal without diminishing the relaxed comfort of informal shabu-shabu dining. Each set comes with an individual pot of boiling water lightly seasoned with dashi to cook your vegetables to your liking.

It only takes a few seconds for the meat to cook, so you can use your chopsticks to swirl each delicate slice in the hot broth until it’s done before dipping into ponzu or creamy sesame sauce. Both lunch and dinner courses are on offer (from ¥1,450 and ¥2,900 respectively), plus a la carte options in the evening.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

What they serve: chicken nabe 

A deeply flavoursome option is mizutaki, a rich chicken broth that’s heavy on the collagen. Mizutaki Genkai does it best, in a traditional setting that feels a world away from the buzz and steel of Shinjuku Sanchome. Its signature version is eaten with vegetables, boiled separately as per the original owner’s instructions, and the natural flavour of the Fukushima poultry shines through. It’s wholesome and heartwarming fare, perfect for the cold winter nights.

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Isegen
  • Restaurants
  • Awajicho

What they serve: anko (monkfish) nabe

Alongside pufferfish, anko (monkfish) is one of Japan’s most luxurious fish dishes, and Isegen is the only place in Tokyo that specialises in it. This quaint restaurant is housed in a historic building that was built in 1930, and welcomes customers with a realistic example of the ‘sea monster’ you’ll be tasting. Don’t let the look of it put you off; this is a rare opportunity to try the full nabe experience. And when we say full, we’re not joking – you’ll be eating the entire fish, including the fins, skin and liver, which is particularly coveted for its creamy texture and taste that rivals foie gras. 

  • Restaurants
  • Nakameguro
  • price 2 of 4

What they serve: oden 

Popular in its native Nagoya, this oden specialist laid its first roots in the Kanto area by opening under the railway tracks in Nakameguro. Samon placed a rather eye-catching (and oversized) oden pot outside – a stunt that surely lures in quite a few customers.

Standing out with the way it cooks its oden, Samon offers a mixture simmered in a chicken and vegetable stock noted for its full-bodied and rich taste. We'd definitely recommend having the daikon, which soaks up the stock beautifully, and the succulent chicken skewers – you'll thank us later. The Nagoya Cochin soft-boiled eggs are also rather impressive and well worth driving your chopsticks into. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Shibuya

What they serve: shabu-shabu, sukiyaki and seasonal hotpot

Nabezo is a cheap and cheerful chain with multiple shops in bustling Tokyo neighbourhoods like Shibuya and Shinjuku. On top of the consistent service, clean tables and fresh produce, Nabezo wins points for its budget-friendly all-you-can-eat deals (from ¥3,300) with a DIY sauce bar where you can create the ultimate dipping sauce. 

The menu offers different price points for unlimited servings of thinly sliced pork and beef depending on what cut of the meat you want. You can order sukiyaki, shabu-shabu or one of the seasonal varieties of hotpot including spicy kimchi hotpot to cook your vegetables in from the buffet. If you want more than one kind of hotpot, you have the option of ordering a divided pot (additional ¥220) with a sukiyaki base on one side and shabu-shabu base on the other. 

  • Restaurants
  • Hot pot
  • Shibuya

What they serve: various types of teddy bear-themed nabe

At Kumachan Onsen, you’re in for a different kind of teddy bears’ picnic. This restaurant is the first in Tokyo to serve Hokkaido’s famous ‘teddy bear hotpot’.  These super cute shabu-shabu hotpot dishes went viral on TikTok for their playful presentation and now Tokyoites can try them, too.

Instead of a typical bowl of hot broth, all the meals here come with a teddy bear-shaped collagen jelly, which turns into delicious broth when hot water is added. If you can’t quite bring yourself to disintegrate your little bear, take comfort in the knowledge that kumachan onsen means ‘teddy bear hot spring’, so just imagine your bear is taking a warm bath. The broth comes in seven different flavours: katsuo (skipjack tuna), soy milk, chicken, Sichuan-style spicy dandan, miso and Korean gochujang, plus a seasonal one.

Next, pick your choice of meat – beef (¥3,500), pork (¥2,780), lamb (¥2,780), chicken (¥2,600) beef tongue (¥3,500), or a little bit of everything for ¥2,980. Once your bear is fully submerged, start dipping the meat in the broth.  All meals come with veggies, dipping sauce and your choice of boiled dumplings, ramen or tteokbokki rice cakes as a side.

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