Tokyo restaurant scene can please anyone – Michelin venues, curry or international cuisine – the choice is yours.
Run by Gino, bronzed bona fide Italian, who has time for every single guest, Napolimania trattoria is famous all over the city. Greeted by the owner who will ask you how your York doggie feels, you will join a row of tables against one wall and a counter, ideal for single diners. Time to enjoy super fresh mozzarella, perfect tiramisu and pizza so heavily cheesed you think you are in Naples. At lunch, you can chose between pizza and the day's pasta, which at ¥800 is a real bargain. Last May, Gino opened another establishment – Gino Osteria and Bar not far from Napolimania.
I discovered this place only on my second year in Tokyo – took an elevator in a residential building to find a dozen little izakaya (Japanese taverns) on the second floor. The owners fight for customers, trying to outshout one another with super attractive deals, like all-you-can-drink for 1,200 yens. You will be sitting at a low stool by old tables separated by bamboo panels from the neighboring joint.
Traditional Japanese place by Tuskiji fish market. Owners can be easily accused of dumping pricing – their stuff is affordable but yummy. The place is always packed so get in line long before opening.
Hacienda del cielo
Everyone in Tokyo knows that if you want to dine in Hacienda Thursday night, you should reserve a table midday Tuesday. But why? Because it's delicious, nice and affordable. A set of gorgonzola quesadilla topped with honey plus Bloody Mary is only 1,100 yens (11 euros). My favorite time to visit is a week day before five – I take a vacant table on the 9th floor veranda and watch the Tokyo sky becoming the color of Tequila Sunrise.
This is an Izakaya (a Japanese tavern where you sit on beer barrels and plastic buckets and the windows are shielded with transparent oilcloth). But don't be fooled by the interiors – the place is pretty pricey. Better come with your friends, order and share their specialty Nokkezushi. It consists of a simple kappa-maki (roll of sushi with wedges of cucumber) sliced into 8 rolls and served with white rice.
Better come here in the summer, where the terrace is opened to try Japanese classics – sashimi, tempura, nabe and noodles. You can order a set of 8 meals for Y 3,500 plus unlimited bar for another 1,000.
A modern place with a cheerful bright stained glass window offers European cuisine. The place is really attractive for tourists who lost the count of time – lunch ends 5 pm and the seventh floor is a great point to admite Marunouchi skyscrapers and Imperial Gardens.
Visit the place for the best curry rice in the city. Forget about Indian or Thai cuisine, Japanese curry is something different – it's loved by locals and is a must-eat at all public events or open air fests as well as family parties. Though located in Ginza, the joint is hard to find – follow the smell.
The place has three terraced zones – Bali offers South Asian fusion, Salvatore is for Italian cuisine and An is all about sushi. On your first time, go for Japanese stuff – you'll enjoy helpful waiters, trays of fresh fish and streams of sake.
This Michelin venue has no menu and guests are often surprised when they get a bill. If you come to have lunch, take their Japanese set with ochadzuke – rice in green tea – for 1,000 yens with free rice refill. The small hall also has a beautiful Japanese garden, but lunch can only feed 20 people a day at 11.30 and 12.30.
Tapas Molecular Bar
Located on the 38th floor of the chic Oriental Lounge , it offers a two-hour journey into the world of innovative molecular cuisine. What about a fluffy lily foam garnished with black truffle shavings? Beware: the food can explode or fume, changing its appearances right in front of you. The 17-dish menu costs 14,000 yens. The place can seat only eight people, twice per night, so make reservations minimum one week in advance.
Rumor has it the place serves the best okonomiyaki in Tokyo. Their "grilled as you like it pancake with meat and veggies" costs about 1,000 yens. If you grab a seat by the bar you can watch the process, but your clothes will long be reeking of grilled pork. And don't forget about the special sauce.