There are so many fantastic restaurants in Tokyo that planning where to eat during your stay can be a bit overwhelming. Many well-established restaurants begin taking reservations upwards of a month in advance, so if you’re not in the know, you’ll likely miss out on an opportunity to have a fantastic meal. While many of these restaurants tend to be quite fancy, I discovered a hidden gem that I want to share with you: Narukiyo Tokyo. This restaurant only serves an omakase menu (meaning there is no menu), has insanely fun vibes (sit around the kitchen counter for added entertainment while enjoying the chef’s playlist and the awkward yet hilarious phallic objects scattered about the restaurant), and is basically guaranteed to be one of the best nights you’ll have in Tokyo.
Vibe at Narukiyo Tokyo
The restaurant has a large open kitchen with about 10 seats around it. If at all possible, make sure you sit there. There’s also seating in a separate dining area if you’re with a larger group, but I promise that your experience will be much better if you can see all the action in the kitchen.
I had a fantastic seat at the kitchen counter where a massive black flying penis was hanging down from the ceiling, practically in front of my face (no, seriously.. check out the photos above). Aside from phallic references (and by references, I mean straight up penises) everywhere you turn, the restaurant may seem a bit underwhelming when you first walk in.
A few minutes after we were seated, we really got into the vibe of the whole place. Expect funky music (they had on a bit of rock while we were there) compliments of whatever the chef (who was hilarious and was wearing a pin that read “I love sex”) is feeling like that evening, a view into what’s going on in the kitchen, and lots of laughter and smiles among the other diners.
Here’s the thing about dining at Narukiyo. There’s no menu. We literally sat down, asked for sake, and then our food slowly began to arrive. Prior to making our reservation, we had heard that the chef actually determines what he’s going to serve you based on your appearance. So, my understanding is, if you show up looking all fancy and whatnot, you can expect many delicious courses, but be prepared to spend a pretty penny on your meal.
We began with a bowl of cold local vegetables that were simple, but delicious. A plate of medium rare wagyu beef came next that we shared. The wagyu was oddly chewy, but the flavor was great. I’m not a massive seafood fan, so I was slightly skeptical when a box of cold fish was put in front of us. Thankfully, the fish was quite good (bones and all!), albeit messy to eat. One of my favorite dishes was the raw bonito fish with a light peanut sauce, which was incredibly fresh. We then shared a large plate of fresh sashimi, including octopus, salmon, tuna, and some other fish that I honestly can’t remember (sorry; we were two bottles of sake in at this point!) aside from the fact that everything was insanely good.
The chef makes fresh wasabi by grating the wasabi root. If you’ve never had fresh wasabi, you should definitely try it – the taste is much different (read: much better) than what you’re likely used to. Next up, we each had an individual plate of asparagus and tomato. This must have been the largest asparagus I have ever seen, though I’ll admit I felt the dish was random. We finished up our meal with a sharing plate of artichoke with salt.
During our meal, we began chatting with a couple of fun guys who sat beside us and they ended up ordering a giant vase (with a penis handle, of course) of strawberries and cream. Aside from the hilarity that ensued from the condensed milk drizzled everywhere, these were some of the best strawberries I’ve ever had.
All together, we had 7 courses (excluding the strawberries), three of which were individual and four of which we shared. When we were done our meal (we did have to tell our waiter to stop bringing the food out, otherwise I think dishes would have kept coming), a little piece of paper with the total came out. There was no individualized pricing for each dish, so I honestly have no clue how much each cost (though, if I do remember correctly, each flask of sake we had was ¥1,600 and we had three flasks over the course of our 3.5~ hour meal). In the end, our entire bill was ¥20,700.
You’ll be guaranteed an evening of fun and great food at Narukiyo Tokyo. I would definitely recommend checking it out on your next visit to Tokyo, just be sure to make reservations ahead of time and ask for a seat around the kitchen.
B/F, 2-7-14 Shibuya
Tel: +81 3 5485 2223