Tokyo, Japan, is a foodie's dream. When traveling to this beautiful city, there's ample opportunity to try new and exciting foods, learn about Japanese food culture, and taste the local specialties.
Food in Japan varies by region. Tokyo, being the capital of the country, is a melting pot of the best food Japan has to offer. If Japanese cuisine is high on your to do list on your next trip, consider joining a Tokyo food tour.
A food tour allows you to try the local food but from a local's perspective. You enjoy delicious cuisine that may have otherwise gone under your radar, guided by a gracious host who teaches you about the local culture while taking you to some of the best food establishments in the city.
Learn everything there is to know about Japanese culture and get recommendations of where to visit on your trip, such as the Tsukiji fish market. Whether you're interested in getting an up-close and personal sushi-making experience, want to try many types of famous Japanese dishes, or simply want to join a bar hopping tour and experience the Tokyo nightlife, City Unscripted has just the tour for you!
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- Key Takeaways
- How Do Food Tours in Tokyo Work?
- The Best Tokyo Food Tours
- Special Dietary Needs
- Tokyo food tours specialize in sake, sushi, and favorite food establishments from a local's perspective.
- You can join a food tour whether you're a solo traveler, traveling in a pair, or have a small group.
- On a food tour, you'll stop at various restaurants, sampling regional dishes and having a diverse range of atmospheres.
3 Fun Facts About Japanese Food
- Japanese food is carefully prepared by using seasonal ingredients.
- It's proper etiquette to clean up your plate when you're finished dining in Japan.
- It’s unsure whether fortune cookies originated in Japan or California.
How Do Food Tours in Tokyo Work?
Solo travelers will be far from bored when joining a private food tour of their own. A private tour presents you with the opportunity to get to know your host more personally and has more opportunities to have all of your questions answered about Japanese history. If you're traveling solo, spending your whole trip alone can get lonely.
Joining a few tours throughout your trip is a great way to stay social while getting a feel for how true locals live in the city. Many of these tours can be tailored to fit your specific needs, and a solo tour allows you to enjoy a more customizable experience. For anyone traveling to Japan on their honeymoon, anniversary, or birthday, joining a food tour is a great way to spend your experience with another person, experiencing great Japanese food alongside your gracious host. For pairs, a food tour can be a great way to spend a romantic afternoon or evening in Tokyo. Between the two of you, enjoy finding the best street food on your walking tour, and share a few of Japan's delicious snacks.
A small group tour is also a great way to spend your vacation, especially if you're traveling with family or friends. City Unscripted tours are offered for up to eight people, so there's plenty of room for everyone to join! Having a local guide can help your group stay organized and find places that will accommodate your group's size.
When you visit Tokyo, especially with a group of people, navigating the bustling city can be overwhelming when trying to find hidden gems and delicious food. By joining a tour, all of the planning is handled for you.
Many tours have specific start times that you must accommodate in order to join. City Unscripted believes it's important to allow travelers the freedom of choosing what time of day they want to explore the city. Whether you're looking to join a cuisine tour, sightseeing tour, or anything in between, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you can choose when you want to experience it. City Unscripted has many local guides to meet your accommodations.
Certain tours may be better experienced at different times of day. For example, you may want to join a sake-tasting tour in the evening, not only because you'll be drinking alcohol but because you can experience Tokyo's nightlife and entertainment at its peak.
When in Tokyo, you find that not every izakaya offers its menus in English. Your tour guide is there to help educate you on the fresh ingredients included in the many dishes you'll try along the tour, helping you eat food that you're comfortable with and meet your dietary needs.
Sure, you may be familiar with miso soup, matcha tea, fresh sushi, and other common Japanese food or beverages, but there are plenty of famous dishes you've likely not encountered yet, outside the country. Don't be afraid to ask your guide about the dish, how it's prepared, proper etiquette, and anything else you wish to know throughout the duration of your tour!
The Best Tokyo Food Tours
There are many food tours offered in Tokyo, but these three, offered by City Unscripted, give you an immersive experience and a tour straight from a local's perspective. These are the best food tours in the city.
Eat Like a True Tokyoite
If you're looking for a true, localized experience of trying the best food Tokyo has to offer, join the Eat Like a True Tokyoite tour. Why join a simple ramen tasting tour when you have the opportunity to explore famous Japanese dishes such as sushi, traditional gyoza, grilled seafood, yakitori, and many other popular izakaya dishes?
If you're looking for a true, localized experience of trying the best food Tokyo has to offer, join the Eat Like a True Tokyoite tour. Why join a simple ramen tasting tour when you have the opportunity to explore famous Japanese dishes such as sushi, traditional gyoza, grilled seafood, yakitori, and many other popular izakaya dishes? On this tour, you have 6-8 tastings, depending on where your host decides to take you and how much time you spend at each stop. This gives you plenty of opportunities to try some of Tokyo's local favorites.
This tour is great for anyone looking for Tokyo's hidden gems, which can be difficult to find out on your own. Not only that, but your tour guide educates you on a few local hacks, like buying sushi in department store basements, and helps give you guidance for the rest of your trip beyond the tour.
The Eat Like a True Tokyoite tour introduces you to delicious street food like dango, which is a rice flour dumpling smothered in a delicious sweet soy sauce. Karaage is another popular street food, which is essentially supermarket fried chicken. Each of your stops along the tour will be unique. Experience eating in an 8-seater sushi shop, or explore the lantern-lit alleyways where many of Tokyo's izakaya bars reside. Your tour may also include visiting expansive food halls in the basements of luxurious department stores, giving you a truly local experience.
Lastly, your guide takes you to Shibuya, a neon-lit district in Tokyo that provides you with a food hub of many regional flavors found throughout Japan, all in one spot. After joining this tour, you'll be surprised by the many amazing dishes Tokyo has to offer, and you may even find your new favorite dish! The Eat Like a True Tokyoite tour costs $321.10 for solo travelers and $194.60 per person for pairs.
The "Sake" Experience
Food isn't the only tasting tour available in Tokyo. A sake-tasting tour is a great way to spend the afternoon or evening alongside one of the city's best hosts. Sake is an alcoholic beverage that's offered alongside meals. Sake is made from rice, water, yeast, and koji spores. Fermentation is a key process in creating sake, where rice starches convert into sugars, feeding the yeast and creating an alcoholic beverage.
Since sake is one of the most popular beverages in the country, it's important to know which places have the best sake for you to experience, and this is where your tour guide comes in. Your guide chooses three unique sake-tasting establishments to take you and your guests on an authentic experience, trying many different types of this delicious drink.
One stop your host may recommend is KURAND, a specialty sake bar offering 100 types of sake. Here, you can taste-test many variations of this drink, helping you find which one you most enjoy. There are many other unique sake-tasting bars for you and your guide to choose from. A Nemoto Liquor Store is also on the agenda, where you can purchase sake from a local spot. This liquor store also often has vibrant nightlife happening just around the corner.
By the end of the sake tour, you'll have visited three establishments with their unique atmosphere, giving you the full experience on your sake journey. The tour includes small plates of food for you and your guests to enjoy alongside your drinks. These dishes are popular izakaya foods, such as yakitori and karaage. The tour lasts three hours and is primarily a walking experience. The Sake Experience tour starts at $266.86 for solo travelers and $171.23 per person for pairs.
On a Roll in Tokyo!
The final food tour to make our list is the On a Roll in Tokyo sushi tour. You haven't had sushi until you've dined in Tokyo and visited a local's favorite sushi spots.
There are many types of sushi; some you may not find in other parts of the world. On this sushi tour, you enjoy eight unique dishes. This allows you to explore Tokyo’s delicious flavors, styles, and variations of sushi. Your guide will educate you on the types of sushi that are offered at each stop, helping you understand which ones to taste test.
There are countless sushi spots, ranging from small-dive spots to luxurious restaurants and specialized eateries. Your local guide creates an itinerary that allows you to have the full experience while tasting authentic sushi that truly reflects Tokyo's food history and culture. At one stop, you can order sushi straight from an iPad, have it delivered by train, and dine at a conveyor belt restaurant. Another spot includes finding your guide's favorite local sushi at the depachika, an underground department store basement food court. Regardless of where you eat, there are plenty of side dishes, such as miso soup, a house salad, and tempura.
The On a Roll in Tokyo tour lasts up to three hours and is primarily a walking experience. The cost for solo travelers is $262.35 per person, and the cost for pairs is $164.73 per person.
Special Dietary Needs
City Unscripted is open to creating a specialized tour experience to meet your dietary needs, including restaurants offering vegan and vegetarian or allergy-friendly options.
Depending on the tour company you choose, you may be able to request special dietary accommodations. If you have a specific allergy or preference, don't hesitate to contact your host when booking your tour. Talk with them, let them know what you need from the experience, and they'll do their best to make sure you have the opportunity to enjoy yourself, regardless of the food tour you choose.
Book a Tour Today!
After reviewing the culinary tours in the article, which one will you choose for your stay in Tokyo?
Whether traveling solo, in a pair, or with a small group, there are plenty of food tour options for you and your guests. Book a tour at the beginning of your trip so that your local guide can answer any other questions you have about the city and give you some hidden gems to visit throughout the rest of your days in Japan.
City Unscripted offers more than just food tours; there's also a large selection of tours ranging from cherry blossom tours, uncovering Tokyo's best secrets, and other immersive experiences to elevate your time in the vibrant capital city of Japan.
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