Maki, Miso and Monsters: Where to Get a Bite in Shibuya

by Christian Monson
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Looking for chow in Shibuya? Your next great meal is closer than you think.

Go to Shibuya for the nightlife but stay for the food. In this bustling neighborhood at the heart of Tokyo, you can find just about anything you have a craving for, and probably with a show too. In fact, there are so many dining options in Shibuya, it can sometimes be hard to decide. This concise categorical list can help you narrow it down.

To make things easy for you, this collection of top Shibuya restaurant options includes the types of cuisine people are most often looking for in Tokyo. That means sushi, ramen, and Japanese Wagyu steak as well as the various theme restaurants the neighborhood is famous for. If none of that peaks your appetite, there are several miscellaneous restaurants to choose from as well. Itadakimasu! 

Shibuya Overview

Shibuya is one of the best known and visible parts of Tokyo. Like Times Square in New York, Shibuya Crossing, for example, is often featured in images of Tokyo, representing the bustling streets of the world’s largest urban area.

Shibuya is technically a special ward close to Tokyo bay and downtown. It’s a very dense part of the city and has both of the two busiest train stations in the world, Shinjuku and Shibuya stations.

Even though it has a defined border, when people say Shibuya, they usually mean the popular commercial area around Shibuya station. There are shopping centers and nightlife famous around the world as well as parks, shrines and other sights. Of course, along with all this world-class cityscape comes some of the best dinings in the country.  Shibuya is filled with can’t-miss restaurants.

Sushi

Sushi is probably the best-known Japanese dish. It originally developed as a way for people to store and transport raw fish in fermenting rice. These days, expertly trained chefs prepare a number of different sushi rolls with various ingredients.

Sushi is a popular cuisine around the world, so people who travel to Japan usually want to try it in its native land. There’s no better part of Japan to do this than Shibuya. Tokyo in general, is full of great, fresh seafood, and the high-end reputation of Shibuya is the perfect place to enjoy it.

Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka

If you’ve never been to a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant, you should know that they have a unique style of serving. The chefs make roles and set them on a conveyor belt that circles around the bar. People can take whatever they want from the conveyor, or order specific things from the chefs. When you’re finished, your bill is counted up based on the number of dishes.

Uobei is a fantastic place that takes the traditional sushi bar model and gives it a modern twist. On top of the usual conveyor belt, customers can place orders on tablets and have their food come down the belt to them soon after. This is especially good for tourists who otherwise might not be able to communicate with the chef.

Not only is it so popular that there’s usually a line (try going early), but it’s pretty inexpensive for a Shibuya joint. Go for the food and the experience.

Umegaoka Sushi

Umegaoka is top-shelf sushi without any conceit. Not far from Shibuya station, it’s a nice, traditional atmosphere with friendly staff. There’s often a long wait, but it’s worth it. The menu is large with lots of different options, including great desserts.

Sushi Nobu

Sushi Nobu makes an especially relaxing lunch stop on a day exploring Tokyo and Shibuya. It’s right next to the station and has an affordable lunch menu.

The biggest draw of this restaurant is the tuna. Not only can you get delicious Pacific Bluefin Tuna, but they also serve cuts of tuna you usually can’t find like cheek and jaw. All this is prepared in a traditional and expert Japanese style, so you can enjoy one of the country’s delicacies as it should be.

Kurosaki

Sometimes, the traditional Japanese sushi setup can be a little overwhelming for people who aren’t used to it. Kurosaki takes the same traditions but puts them in a relaxing and luxurious environment. It’s a secluded and calm escape from the bustling and crowded streets of Tokyo.

Although it’s close to Shibuya station, a black fence around the building keeps it tucked away, and the black interior, wooden furniture, and low lighting make it ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy authentic sushi and fine Japanese dining all in one.

Ramen

Ramen is another of Japan’s big cultural exports. Around the world, you can find various innovations on this simple noodles-in-broth dish. However, nothing can beat a simple bowl of ramen made by an experienced Japanese ramen chef.

Ichiran

Ichiran is one of Tokyo’s most popular ramen chains, and Shibuya is its most visited location. It has a nice, local feel, and is nestled down in a basement level near the Shibuya station. You won’t be able to miss it because there will probably be a long line ascending up the stairwell and onto the street. Business is streamlined, and waiters come to take your order while you’re in line, but if you want to avoid the crowd, try going early in the morning or late at night. Ichiran is open 24 hours a day, so it just depends whenever you have a hankering for savory ramen.

Hayashi

Hayashi has been around since 2003 and is very popular with locals in the Shibuya neighborhood. It’s a small, family-owned establishment handled by Hayashi and his wife, so you know it’s traditional, fresh, and carefully made. 

Hayashi’s restaurant is only open for lunch, though, 11:30 AM-3:30 PM, so have a plan to arrive early and beat the line. For masterful ramen with a homemade touch, there’s no better place in Tokyo.

Shinbusakiya

Shinbusakiya is a street ramen joint like those you’re likely to see around the country. These are great places to go to get an authentic native experience. It’s open through the night until 5 AM, so if you’re enjoying the nightlife of Shibuya, it will be there waiting for you.

The style of ramen is Sapporo Miso, which means rich and creamy suit with thin noodles. That said, there is some variety in the menu. The shop uses an automatic ticket machine, so you can go through all your options, and you don’t have to worry about language barriers.

Kiraku

Kiraku is almost like taking a journey back in time to an older Tokyo. This ramen shop has been around for 60 years and remained more or less unchanged even as its home neighborhood of Shibuya has grown into a major cultural icon. 

Another draw is that Kiraku serves Tokyo-style Shoyu ramen. The noodles are soft and chewy, and the dishes come with plenty of onions. Ramen differs quite a bit around the country, so if you have the chance, try different kinds in different regions. Kiraku is a great place to try the native Tokyo style.

Steakhouses

Kobe beef is a delicacy in Japan that is sought after around the world. In fact, Japan did not export Kobe beef until 2012, and it’s still hard to find abroad.

Kobe cuts are mild in flavor and tend to have high-fat content. The steaks are especially good, which is why many people like to try a Japanese steakhouse while they’re in the country. Steakhouses are fine dining in and of themselves, so you might as well go all in and try some of the country’s famous restaurants in Shibuya.

Han no Daidokoro Honten

Han no Daidokoro Honten has one of the widest selections of Kobe beef around. You can choose your cuts and grill them yourself right at the table. You shouldn’t worry, though. The restaurant has an incredibly friendly staff that’s there to help you make sure you cook the steak just right.

Along with great food, you get a classic Shibuya nightlife experience. The atmosphere in the restaurant is amenable with a lot of interaction between customers and staff. They play pretty good music, too.

Ikuta

Tokyo can be a stressful city, especially the lights and crowds of Shibuya. When you want a relaxing night of good food away from all that, Ikuta is a luxurious steakhouse that makes that possible. 

The establishment purchases whole Kobe beef cows, which means you get the biggest variety possible of the freshest cuts. You can then sear them right in front of you at beautiful wooden tables.

You need a reservation at Ikuta, so make sure you call ahead of time. There are a lot of people who want a table, so you also have to be on time.

Hakushu

Hakushu is technically teppanyaki, which means the chef grills the food right in front of you on a large, flat grill. Along with being a high-quality Kobe beef vendor often lauded as some of the best steaks in Tokyo, it’s family-owned and family-run. This makes for a friendly atmosphere and a memorable trip.

Being family owned, the restaurant itself is pretty small, and with high demand, you need a reservation.

Theme Restaurants

One of the best things about Tokyo dining is a large number of theme’d restaurants. You don’t just enjoy good food, but you have a fun time while doing it in a fun environment that appeals to your interests. You can’t visit the city without trying one of the endless themes, and Shibuya has some great ones to check out.

Maidreamin Shibuya

Maid cafes are an extremely popular type of theme restaurant in Japan, so much so that they’ve become a cultural phenomenon. At maid cafes, the servers are dressed as Victorian-style French maids, and they treat you like you’re in your own house rather than a customer in a restaurant. 

Maidreamin is Japan’s largest maid cafe chain and one of the innovators in the industry. The Shibuya location is one of their most famous, and it’s a good place to round-off a modern Japanese culture experience in the busy neighborhood.

Rockaholic

Shibuya is the rock music capital of Japan, and there’s no better place to experience that than Music Bar Rockaholic Shibuya. On top of a DJ booth that plays requests, there’s live music at night from 7 PM to 5 AM. These are often local artists, and special shows include release parties for Japanese rock bands and even appearances by famous groups like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marylin Manson, and Slipknot.

Along with great music, the restaurant features comfortable sofa seating and even a VIP room if you’re so inclined. The menu has a wide variety from fried chicken to curry, and there are plenty of cocktails to try while enjoying the nightlife. Best of all, there’s not even a cover charge.

Kawaii Monster Cafe 

It’s not as scary as it sounds. In fact, the Kawaii Cafe has an adorable take on monsters that’s fun for kids and families. The restaurant is set up as a colorful city with life-size monsters that roam around. The food is designed to match. It’s colorful, elaborate, and just plain weird. 

Once you’re inside the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by a giant, multi-colored cake. The friendly staff will show to one of four differently themed rooms, including a bar of glowing jellyfish and the fluffy pink cat room.

Take your kids for lunch and then return at night for the nightlife. The place becomes a kind of cabaret with the staff putting on various shows reflecting Tokyo’s pop culture. Just a couple of blocks from the Ukiyo-e Ōta Memorial Museum of Art, it will help you round out your exploration of Shibuya culture.

Shibuya Kyoumachi Koi Shigure

Japan is a big country, and despite the excellent and speedy transportation, it’s just not possible to see it all in one trip. If you want to focus on Tokyo this time but still get a taste of classical Kyoto-style Japan, Kyoumachi Koi Shigure makes it easy. It’s a Kyoto-themed restaurant!

Kyoto-themed means the entrance is elegantly decorated with rows of bamboo and traditional Japanese lanterns. The atmosphere inside is one of beauty with rich traditional Japanese wood tables and construction, and the staff is friendly. 

The food is traditional Japanese as well, including sushi, fresh seafood, and other typical Kyoto cuisine. The restaurant is located near Shinjuku station, but it’s on the 6th floor of the Zara department store, so it’s not an immediate find. Luckily, this means it’s secluded and rarely crowded.

Miscellaneous

The great thing about Shibuya is you can find nearly anything you’re looking for. If you don’t feel like sushi, ramen, or steak, and aren’t up to a crazy theme, don’t worry. There are plenty more restaurants with their own unique setups.

Kaikaya by the Sea

Kaikaya by the Sea is a delicious seafood restaurant in Shibuya. Seafood is a good choice in Tokyo because of its location and many famous markets mean some of the highest quality seafood in the world.

The style itself is more Asian-Western fusion than strictly Japanese, which is good for anyone who wants to dip their toe in the water of Japanese cuisine without diving all the way in. Couples can also go there if one enjoys typical Japanese seafood and the other wants something closer to home.

Besides the food, Kaikaya is famous for its atmosphere. It’s grungy and down to earth, and the mood of the staff is very laid back. Plus, you’ll love the gritty, mismatched decor.

Blacows

Sometimes you just want a burger. It might not be traditional Japanese food, but considering it’s made from Japanese Wagyu beef, a Japanese burger is a must-eat when you’re visiting the country.

In Shibuya, Blacows is the place to go for this experience. They only use Japanese Wagyu beef, and you can select from varying grades. On top of the burgers, the menu features plenty of different complementary sides, from standard fries to zucchini fritters.

Spring Valley Brewery Tokyo

You can’t visit the world’s largest metropolitan area without trying its local craft beer. You can participate in beer tasting, and it’s all complemented by traditional pub food. It’s a large and stylish building with a hip atmosphere with a sleek wood bar and plenty of taps. Occasionally, there’s even live music.

Ta-im Israeli Cuisine

It can be hard to find Mediterranean food in Japan. If you’ve been in the country for a while, you might have a craving and not know where to go. Ta-im is one of the few places you can go to get authentic Israeli food, and as the name, which means “delicious” in Hebrew, suggests, it’s pretty good.

The long menu has plenty of options for all tastes, including vegetarian. Dishes also include a lot of ingredients you wouldn’t otherwise find in Japan like lamb, and of course, there’s the typical falafel and hummus. You can get real Israeli wine and beer, too.

La Bisboccia

Everyone loves Italian food. In fact, it’s the only cuisine in the world more popular than Japanese. La Bisboccia is considered one of the best Italian restaurants in Tokyo and even the entire country. 

The restaurant itself is cozy and reminiscent of a quaint Italian village, a nice escape from the stress of a big city like Tokyo. The food is delicious and expertly made with a good variety of dishes.

Little Bird Gluten-Free Cafe

Those with dietary preferences can have trouble navigating Tokyo cuisine, especially considering the language barrier and foreign ingredients. Little Bird cafe offers plenty of traditional Japanese options along with Western food like burgers and pizza, but all with vegetarian-friendly, vegan-friendly and gluten-free spins. The menus are also in English, so you can order with confidence.

This cafe is located near Yoyogi-kōen station, so you can stop off there after a day in Yoyogi park. Just keep an eye out because it’s on the second floor.

Don’t be afraid to leave the beaten path

Shibuya is a major cultural center and one of the most popular areas in Tokyo. It would be impossible to make a comprehensive list of every great restaurant in the neighborhood. Your dining options are endless.

It’s very possible that you’ll be walking down a side street in Shibuya, and a little restaurant or cafe will catch your eye. If it looks good, give it a shot. You might just find Shibuya’s next hidden gem, and you can always try one of these famous places for dinner. 

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