Tokyo Confidential
Photo: Millie TangTokyo Confidential

If you only do three things in Tokyo… as recommended by Time Out Tokyo editors

Here are our personal favourite restaurants, cafés, bars, shops and attractions in this great metropolis


As one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world, Tokyo has so much more to offer than our curated list of 101 best things to do in the city. With so many events happening every weekend and so many things to discover around each corner, Tokyo still induces a sense of fomo in us who live here – what more for visitors who only have a few days to cram in all the biggest hits the city has to offer.

So if you’re short on time, check out our 24-hour guide to Tokyo. Otherwise, take this feature as your tried-and-tested itinerary as we reveal to you the Time Out Tokyo editorial team’s personal favourite restaurants, bars and things to do in Tokyo. You’re welcome. Now go out there and explore.

RECOMMENDED: Useful travel tips for visiting Tokyo

Recommended by Lim Chee Wah, editor-in-chief

  • Sushi
  • Nakameguro

If you only splurge on one meal in Tokyo, make it a sushi omakase. After all, Tokyo is the birthplace of (Edomae, or Edo-style) sushi while omakase dining, where you leave all the decisions to the chef – who will undoubtedly be serving you the season’s freshest produce – is a quintessential Japanese dining experience. Having said that, a sushi omakase meal could easily set you back ¥30,000 – but not if you make a reservation for Udatsu.

At this Michelin-starred restaurant hidden in the quiet residential streets of Nakameguro, chef Udatsu takes a restrained, modern approach to sushi while honouring the beloved cuisine’s age-old traditions. His love for herbs and vegetables makes a sneaky but much-welcomed addition to a select number of his sushi creations. The ¥8,800 lunch omakase course includes his signature sushi roll as well as big-hitters such as uni and tuna. (Dinner, on the other hand, starts at ¥22,000.)

  • Cocktail bars
  • Asakusa

Hidden in the quiet but artistic neighbourhood of Kuramae, Ethical Spirits’s Tokyo Riverside Distillery was established as an innovative place to produce craft gin using food leftovers and byproducts that would have otherwise gone to waste, such as sake lees, cacao husks and surplus beer. Today, the distillery continues to expand its creativity by making experimental and limited-edition gin with a host of unique Japanese botanicals.

You can taste all that at the distillery’s onsite bar and restaurant, Stage. Here you get to sample the label’s range of gin and also enjoy the spirits in a host of inventive cocktails. On the short but well-edited food menu you’ll find an updated take on izakaya-style sharing dishes including lamb mapo tofu, black garlic fried chicken and mushroom ‘spring roll’.

  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Asakusa

We understand the apprehension with Sensoji Temple. This iconic Buddhist landmark is one of Tokyo’s top attractions, whose majestic historical architecture is a sight to behold. But the crowds, who are also there for the amazing street food and shopping, can be maddening. 

So instead of visiting in the day, head on over at night when the shops flanking Nakamise street leading from the Kaminarimon Gate to the main hall have all closed and the tourists have moved on. The temple now has a completely different vibe; you can take your time, explore the vast complex at ease, and soak in the serene atmosphere that’s largely absent during the day. Plus, when illuminated after dark, the red on Sensoji’s structures – especially the stately pagoda – takes on a mesmerising glow. 

Recommended by Kaila Imada, associate editor

  • Things to do

One of the most anticipated new attractions in Tokyo this year is Toyosu Senkyaku Banrai, an expansive entertainment complex home to a 24-hour onsen spa and a variety of shops and restaurants. It’s been open for just over a month now and is definitely worth a look if you’re in the area.

While the shopping and dining zone has become quite the tourist hotspot, you can avoid the food queues by heading straight to the Tokyo Toyosu Manyo Club onsen complex. The perfect place for a little R&R, here you can spend your day lounging around the stunning rooftop footbath, sweating it out in a sauna, soaking in one of the many relaxing baths, or spending some much-needed me time in one of the cosy resting rooms complete with reclining chairs and individual TVs.

  • Azabu-Juban

If you’re looking for a bar with an unbeatable view, you’ll want to head straight to Tokyo Confidential. One of the coolest new bars in the city, Tokyo Confidential boasts a stunning open-air terrace offering unobstructed views of Tokyo Tower and the surrounding city skyline. If the weather’s good, you can also head up to the amazing rooftop space. But don’t come here just for the views – the bar shakes up some pretty spectacular cocktails.

One of our favourites off the menu is the Glass Slipper, a lip-smacking concoction made with yuzu liqueur, pandan, fresh melon and soda. For something a bit stronger, we love the martini-style Destroy All Monsters, made with miso brown butter-washed gin, manzanilla sherry, bianco vermouth and ponzu. 

Keep an eye on the bar’s Instagram as it often hosts guest bartenders from some of the world’s best drinking establishments.

  • Things to do
  • Shibuya

This bi-monthly antique market is one of the lesser-known regular markets in the city and gathers around 70 vendors outside Shibuya Garden Tower. It’s not as big as the Oedo Antique Market or the Oi Racecourse Flea Market, but it’s more curated with a good mix of antiques, vintage handicrafts, jewellery, art, home goods, clothing and plants. There are even a few food and drink stalls set up if you need a breather from all the shopping. 

If you’re looking for more of a farmer’s market with fresh produce and organic food, you can head towards Aoyama on the ¥100 Hachiko bus to the nearby UNU Farmers Market.

Recommended by Emma Steen, writer

  • Clubs
  • Aoyama

Even on a night when you're dragging yourself home, too tired to think about anything other than hitting a konbini for a snack before collapsing into bed, stumbling upon the vibrant buzz of Aoyama Hachi on an otherwise quiet street might just change your plans. 

Despite being one of Tokyo’s smallest clubs, this compact, four-storey hub has a lot to offer late-night revellers. The second, third and fourth floors, splashed in varying funky colour schemes, all feature their own line-ups of DJs and music genres on any given night, ranging from house and soul to hip-hop and techno. Hungry? They've got you covered with curry and rice for those late-night cravings, and the bar serves everything from zesty lemon sours to cocktails with homemade syrups.

One more thing that gives Hachi an edge over other music venues in the city is its early morning parties, which start at 6am on Sundays and conclude at brunch time. If you’re usually the type to start nodding off at 11pm, this nifty space gives you the option of waking up fresh from a good night’s rest and partying like you were never home.

  • Takadanobaba

Takadanobaba is a neighbourhood buzzing with students, surrounded by streets filled with affordable noodle spots and izakaya pubs advertising all-you-can-drink beer specials. But hidden amongst these lively youth hangouts is also one of the finest cocktail bars in Tokyo. Originally a snug six-seater hole in the wall for discerning gin enthusiasts, The Hisaka re-opened in 2023 as a craft gin shop and speakeasy. Step inside and you’ll be welcomed by a brightly lit retail space, with shelves made of natural wood showcasing 150 types of craft gin from across the globe. 

One shelf towards the back of the shop, however, is a secret door that leads to a dramatic bar space bathed in charcoal black, where sophisticated cocktails take centre stage. Sip on creations like the Japanese Tea Set cocktail (¥1,760), a blend of Ki No Tea dry gin, hojicha syrup and matcha, for a sweet nightcap, or dive into citrusy, umami-rich drinks such as the Sea of Harris (¥1,760), a concoction of sugar kelp gin, St Germain and grapefruit.

  • Suehirocho
  • price 2 of 4

There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of listening to the sizzle of thinly sliced beef on a table-top barbecue grill, as the colour of the meat goes from deep pink to a slightly charred golden brown. A sister shop of the high-end Yoroniku restaurant, this foodie favourite near Akihabara has a slightly more casual feel than its Aoyama counterpart – and it’s cheaper, too.

On top of the prime cuts of wagyu and beef tongue that the staff will grill for you at your table, Namaiki (loosely translated as ‘raw essence’) is famous for its raw meat specialities like beef nigiri sushi and a buttery, Korean-inspired steak tartare served on toast.

These dishes – available in a multi-course meal (from ¥7,480 per person) or à la carte – are so mouthwatering you’d think you’d never want the meal to end, but Namaiki’s signature kakigori dessert always manages to rival the wagyu it follows.

Discover more of Tokyo

    You may also like
    You may also like