Located just around the corner from Tsukiji, Sushi Zanmai is a 24/7 sushi restaurant that serves super fresh fish at great prices. And, because the restaurant is much larger than Sushi Dai or Dawa Sushi inside Tsukiji, the line moves much quicker, meaning you won't need to wait 3 hours at the break of dawn to get a spot here.
Take a morning stroll through Tsukiji to see the endless variety of seafood that comes through Tokyo each day. While the market opens to the public only after 8AM, you can join a private tour for early access. For access to the tuna auction, you will either need to arrive very early at 2AM and wait, or join a VIP tour option to gain entry at 4:30AM without the wait.
Note: The market isn't designed as a tourist destination so watch out for the mini-forklifts zipping around.
If you want to get up super early, you can register to see the tuna auction (registration starts promptly at 5AM), and takes place here.
Located on a narrow side street on the outskirts of the Tsukiji market, Turret is a pint-sized café where owner Kiyoshi Kawasaki serves top-notch espresso in ochoko sake cups. With just five counter seats and two small tables, it’s a bare-bones space with little room to linger, but Kawasaki pours what just might be the best latte in Tokyo. There are also non-coffee drinks if you are abstaining from caffeine.
If you're an uni lover like we are, this may just be the sexiest spot in all of Tokyo. Located near Tsukiji, Uni Tora Kurau specializes in uni rice bowls. Get a completely obscene amount of uni over a bed of sushi rice. Here, they have uni from all of the world, but you're here for the Japanese stuff. Try the 3 Japanese uni-don, which comes with 3 types of Japanese uni for ¥5,000 - one meant to be eaten sans soy sauce, a second with shiso and salt, and a third with an egg yolk broken over it.
At Toriba Coffee, you'll find an international selection of only the highest quality beans. Their roastery is on the second floor, and their ground floor shop sells beans and coffee equipment. There's no sit-down cafe, but you're welcome to do a coffee tasting for 100 yen per taste cup.
This 6-story high building in Ginza is home to some of the most cutting edge brands in high fashion. Started by Rei Kawabuko of Comme des Garcons, the Tokyo branch of Dover Street Market is where you can find over 150 curated brands under one roof.
The ultimate Tokyo home crafts store. This place is Home Depot and Michael's on speed. You'll find all kinds of products unique to Japan ranging from "high-quality and high-functional livingware, fancy made-in-Japan bags, convenient travel goods, the latest Japanese stationery, unique articles, topical beauty products, and tools and materials for DIY."
This famous tsukemen shop—where the noodles are served “naked” with the broth on the side—was one of the first shops to bring fish flavors to the forefront. While Rokurinsha serves mainly pork-based tonkotsu broths, they use a number of different dried fish, including mountains of katsuobushi, niboshi (dried baby sardines), and sababushi (dried mackerel flakes).
There's typically a long line during lunch hours, so we recommend heading there post-lunch rush.
Explore the shops around Akihabara and be astounded by the array of sex toys, manga, and more. This area is home to the world's largest electronics store - Yodobashi Akiba, and also known for its multi-floored sex shops. While they're no longer out on the street, there are still shops where you can see the infamous used panties sold in vending machines, usually located multiple floors above the ground floor.
You might think cat cafes are one of those "been there, done that" things now. Well, you're in luck because right nearby, Akiba Fukurou is where you'll find the newest animal cafe craze - the owl cafe!
Reservation required, admission is 2000 yen per person (cash only).
Currently on Tabelog (Japan's yelp) list of top 50 sushi restaurants in Tokyo, Ichiyanagi makes some of the best sushi in Tokyo. Their tuna, aji, kohada, ikura, uni, and hamaguchi are outstanding, as is their grilled unagi which has a slight crispy texture. With just 15 seats, getting a spot here is a rare feat.
Japan Times food critic Melinda Joe referred to Code Name Mixology bartender Shuzo Nagumo as “the Willy Wonka of extraordinary cocktails” – and with good reason: Nowhere else in the world can you taste the likes of his blue cheese or smoked chocolate martinis, and his house-infused foie gras vodka. They do have a menu, but the best thing to do is tell the bartender what flavors you like and have him or her mix up a custom cocktail. The second-floor location in Akasaka can be challenging to find, but the lighting is romantic and the dark wood welcoming.