Tokyo is full of excellent restaurants, you’ll find a good one at every corner in this wonderful city. At times, I got quite overwhelmed with the wide selection that we had, it took me quite some time to settle on one place. There were just too many places to choose from! Sometimes we were looking at places for almost an hour because we couldn’t decide. We used foursquare, TripAdvisor and tabelog at the same time to read recommendations and compare the recommended restaurants. Yes, we take our business very seriously.
So I am going to blog about all the amazing places that we have been to and that we really liked in Japan. I’m very excited to write about them actually because we had some awesome finds this time.
After visiting the Hamarikyu Gardens, we walked around to find a nice place for lunch and by chance walked by the Caretta Shiodome and lo and behold, we saw a sign showing that there was a Din Tai Fung branch in the mall. As I have written previously, my boyfriend is a huge fan of the Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) there, so obviously we had to get our lunch here!
Actually, we have visited another Din Tai Fung branch in Shinjuku, Tokio, two years before but I admit that we were not impressed by the place at all, after having been at the branch in Hong Kong. First of all, it was so difficult to find! And the Xiao Long Bao were quite disappointing, actually, sticking to the bamboo baskets and thus falling apart and spilling the soup, which ruined half the fun of eating them. Such a sad memory.
But nevertheless we were quite excited to try out this branch, so in we went! I love how all the Din Tai Fung branches have these large windows into the kitchen, so you can stand in front for quite a while and watch them make the Xiao Long Bao. Or, if you have to wait in line, it’s also quite a nice distraction.
The Caretta Shiodome branch was a lot better than the one in Shinjuku but didn’t quite reach the level from the branch in Hong Kong. We had some regular dumplings, some Xiao Long Bao and also ordered baozi, steamed meat dumplings, which are also called nikuman (肉まん) in Japanese. I really liked the soft and steaming baozi, with the flavorful meat inside, and I love to put some chili sauce or tabasco on top. Also, we call these bapao in Indonesia, apparently the Dutch brought them to Indonesia when it was still a colony. Did not know that, I always assumed it came with the Chinese immigrants.
The Xiao Long Bao were quite good, better than those at the Shinjuku branch, they didn’t stick to the bamboo basket and were easy to put on the spoon. If you haven’t had Xiao Long Bao before, be careful when you eat them. First of all, you will dip them in a mixture of chili oil and vinegar. Then you have to poke a hole with your chopstick into the dumpling and let some of the soup spill out onto your spoon, but don’t let it spill over. But the soup is piping hot, so careful! The entire procedure is totally worth it, though, Xiao Long Bao belong to my favorite dumplings since tasting them for the first time in Hong Kong.
I can’t say much about the regular dumplings, they were ok, not bad but not outstanding either. We also shared a ramen soup as well, since it was on the lunch menu. In total, our bill added up to around ¥ 6.000 (around 45 € or 50 $) for four people, so it was quite a good price for a hearty lunch.
A good indication in Japan for a popular restaurant is a long queue in front of the store. The Japanese are absolutely willing to wait up to two hours to get into a popular restaurant. Two hours! It must be worth it then, right? We were quite lucky because it was just before lunchtime, but we were one of the first ones to arrive at the Din Tai Fung, so we were seated right away. They actually had about ten chairs just in front of the restaurant for the waiting line, so I imagine that it usually gets quite crowded. Lucky us!
Have you been to Tokyo before? What are your favorite places or restaurants? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to check my other posts in my Tokyo Foodie Tour series. If you are planning a trip to the ancient capital Kyoto as well, head over to my Kyoto Foodie Tour series.
Planning your trip
There are a lot of good hotels or hostels around in Tokyo. I prefer to stay at an Airbnb apartment. In my experience, it has often proven to be much more affordable and comfortable as well. If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb yet, you can use this link and get 18 € (or 20 $) off of your first booking! If hotels are more your thing, I’ve been told that the Toyoko Inn Hotels are good, so feel free to check their rates!
If you are planning a longer trip through Japan, consider getting the Japan Rail Pass! Read here to find out more about the pass!
To help me plan all my trips and itineraries in Japan, I mostly used the Lonely Planet Japan (Travel Guide)*. I’ve used it a lot when I was living in Japan and found it a great help this time as well!