At Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings in Lower Manhattan, entrepreneurial sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng are led by their appetite for all things local. Here they share 10 discoveries from a recent trip to Japan’s capital city.
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo
This place is touristy, but nothing beats a breakfast of some of the world’s freshest sushi when you’re jet-lagged and bored at 3 a.m. The two most popular spots are Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi, but skip the three-hour lines and head to Sushi Bun, where the locals go. You’ll be craving their seafood miso soup long after you return home. And don’t miss the tuna auction on your first visit!
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo
Just outside the main seafood market you’ll find side streets full of small vendors selling ceramics and tamago, a Japanese omelette. Make sure you head to Kitsuneya for the beef stew with onions over rice—you'll be able to smell the delicious aroma from a block away. Tip: Avoid inadvertently making eye contact with the woman who runs it or she will actually shoo you away.
GEMS Ichigaya 9F, 4-3 Rokubancho, Chiyoda-ku
Chef Nakahara is known for his exquisite cuts of Wagyu beef—and though it has to be reserved beforehand, the tongue is his true specialty. Request a counter seat so you can watch the magic unfold as he prepares your Wagyu katsu sandwich (a must).
1 Chome-4-1 Ogibashi, Koto-ku
This hole-in-the-wall sukiyaki spot is your prize for walking up the requisite three flights of stairs. Sukiyaki is akin to hot pot, but instead of a broth, the food cooks in a light sauce. The thin slices of Wagyu beef practically melt in your mouth.
1-14-1 Ginza, Chuo
This place is known for its croquettes the size of baseballs, somehow breaded lightly enough to keep from overpowering the interior flavor. Go to the Ginza location, which always has a much shorter line, and order the all-beef version (skip the potato).
1F, Haimanten Jinnan Bldg. 1-19-3, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku
You can find Cremia ice cream all around Tokyo, but it’s widely known that this location has the best version. The decadent soft serve is made with 12.5 percent milk fat from Hokkaido, and is topped with fresh whipped cream. Served in a crispy cookie cone, it’s a dream for any dessert lover.
4 Chome-15-3 Jingumae, Shibuya
With a selection of 16 beans, you’ll come into this petite coffee shop for the aesthetics—the deep orange lighting is as rich as the espresso—and stay for the quality product. Get your caffeine fill with a pour-over that will last you all afternoon.
2-2-6 Ginza, Chuo
This market is Tokyo’s version of New York City’s Eataly. It may be smaller in size, but the sheer variety makes up for any lack of physical space. Your food-obsessed friends back home will fawn over all the specialty food items you stuff into your suitcase.
4 Chome-6-16 Ginza, Chuo
To marvel at the array of beautifully prepared foods, head to the downstairs section of this luxury department store. Everything is packaged with such intention that it’s tempting to splurge. This is the spot to stock up on great plane snacks and gifts for folks back home.
5-4-15 Ginza | Efurore Ginza 5 Bldg. B1F, Chuo
This is a serious cocktail bar with no menu. The mixologist will ask you what spirits and flavor profiles you enjoy, and come back with a unique concoction. Though it’s nearly impossible to miss, note the extensive and impressive Japanese whisky collection.