Eating your way through Tokyo features everything from ramen to tempura.
For something quick:
For a crash course on the Tokyo food scene, head for the basement level of any major department store in the city. At mealtime, these bright, clean, climate-controlled spaces turn into kaleidoscopes of color, sound and aroma. Vendors hawk everything from tempura (deep-fried seafood and vegetables) and grilled fish to sake (brewed rice liquor) and mochi (sticky rice balls filled with sweets). The astounding variety is an ideal introduction to the city’s restaurants.
For something gourmet:
Higher up the restaurant food chain, kaiseki-style dining, which includes many small, elaborate courses, is growing more popular in Tokyo—as is the globally-influenced modern Japanese restaurant. If soy sauce and fish begin wearing on your palate, Italian or French restaurants are a good bet.
For something in between:
Ramen comes from China, so it’s ironic that this curly yellow noodle in rich broth headlines Japan’s most popular type of restaurant. Look for the telltale fabric canopy over the door—and a line—to signify a good place for slurping. Most shops serve hand-cut buckwheat noodles in a hot broth or with cold dipping sauce. It’s a treat to watch the ramen maker’s precision. Popular regional specialties at other restaurants include okonomiyaki (egg and chopped cabbage pancakes), shabu shabu (beef and other stew ingredients cooked tabletop), yakitori (meat and vegetable skewers), udon (thick wheat noodles in broth), katsu (a deep-fried chicken or other meat cutlet) and, of course, sushi.
For more information on visiting Tokyo, visit the city's tourism web site
This article has been adapted from the original, which was published in August 2007 by MSP Communications.