This simply named shop sells freshly made Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches in several enticing varieties, including roast pork (our current favorite), grilled chicken with honey and lemongrass, ham and liver paste, shrimp avocado, and vegetable-cheese, all served on fresh-baked bread with crunchy, not-too-sour pickled vegetables.
Takadanobaba 4-9-18. Open 11am-7pm (Sat -6pm). Closed Sundays, Mondays.
The unusual specialty of the house is Korean futomaki - fat sushi rolls filled with vegetables, bulgogi, cheese, kimchee, glutinous black rice - some ten variations in all, including a sampler set if you can't decide.
While they many not win any awards for their rather basic decor, this late-night shop offers decent curries, friendly service and good value for money. And everything on the menu is available for take-out. If you somehow miss their 5am closing hour, they also have a 24-hour branch nearby (03-5272-6336).
European-style home cooking, wrap sandwiches and other "wrap cuisine" is the focus of the menu at this casual park-side cafe. Full-course vegetarian dinners are available, and everything on the menu is ready for take-out.
Shinjuku 1-3-12. (along the N side of Shinjuku Gyoen) Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-10pm (LO) daily.
You've probably seen it as you walk from Shinjuku station to Takashimaya Times Square - a nicely landscaped terrace, a bright yellow sign, and a metallic, retro-50s trailer home that's been converted into a grill.
Shinjuku 4-1-7, Journal Standard 3F. Open 11:30am-8:30pm (LO) daily.
Perhaps the best deli counter in town, with a huge selection of cold cuts, pates and salads. Lunches are priced from around Y1000, and breakfast is served on weekdays from 8 to 10:30am. The outdoor terrace seating is pleasant in warmer months.
Nishi-Shinjuku 3-7-1-2, Park Hyatt Hotel 1F. Open 11am-8pm (Sat, Sun -7pm) daily.
A convenient department-store outlet of the legendary Sangubashi burger shop, this Shinjuku branch of Arms offers smaller, picnic-size burger as an option. Besides the usual bacon, cheese, etc., the menu generally includes some interesting special seasonal toppings.
Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-5, Lumine 1, B1F. Open 10am-10pm daily.
Good Bangkok street-stall food in this department-store basement, including dishes like Nam Phrik Kapi (shrimp and chili paste with vegetables), stir-fries and spicy salads. Most of the menu is available for take-out, and popular items like curries and pad thai are ready to go immediately.
Nishi-Shinjuku 1-1-5, Lumine 1, B1F. Open 10am-9:30pm (LO) daily.
First-rate doner kebabs, substantial in size, ready to take home or just eat on the sidewalk outside the shop. Kebabs are chicken, beef, or mixed, served in toasted pita bread and topped with a sauce that's mild, medium or extra-spicy. Y500.
Jingumae 1-8-8, Coxy 188 Bldg 1F. Open 10:30am-9pm daily.
Singaporean-style Hokkien Mee seafood noodles are the specialty here; Y990 to eat in, or Y800 to take out, but the wide-ranging menu includes many other dishes, including daikon radish cakes (called "carrot cake" in Japanese for some reason), oyster cakes, laksa soup noodles and fried prawn balls. Beers are Y300 during happy hour, and Spanish wines are Y2000 per bottle all the time; there's also a big selection of non-alcoholic fruit-juice cocktails.
Jingumae 4-29-9, Square Jingumae Bldg 1F. Open noon-11pm (LO) daily.
Farm-fresh fruits and vegetables are on sale at the popular farmers market that pops up every weekend in front of UN University (across the street from Aoyama Gakuin). Besides the dozens of stalls there are also several food trucks selling coffee, curries, salads and other quick snacks. The hours are usually 10am-4pm, but they stay open until 8pm on the third Saturday of every month.
The original Breadworks is in Tennoz Isle next to TY Harbor Brewery; this new branch is attached to TY's sister restaurant Cicada, and offers a similarly inspiring selection of pastries and savory breads and rolls.
Gourmet burgers, sandwiches and upscale American diner fare at this tiny burger cafe. It's run by Chef Michi, of the celebrated Michi's Manhattan Beach near Los Angeles. The Kobe beef burger is their flagship sandwich, but our favorite is their amazing Cajun lamb burger (Y1300 for a double burger).
Kita-Aoyama 2-12-27, Hale Kalani Kita-Aoyama 1F. Open 11:30am-3, 5:30-10:30pm (Sun 11am-5pm) daily.
Artisanal mozzarella and ricotta cheeses are freshly made right here in Shibuya in this combination retail shop, cafe and factory. Take them home - fresh mozzarella is Y550/100g, ricotta Y470 - or pull up a chair in the cafe corner and peruse the cheese-centered menu.
The first Tokyo "artisanal bakery" from famous French baker Gontran Cherrier produces first-rate breads, pastries and sandwiches. The selection includes some interesting Japanese-inspired items like yuzu cheesecake and curry baguettes.
Shibuya 1-14-11, BC Salon 1F. Open 7:30am-9pm daily.
The chef at Libre hails from San Francisco, and his mission is to bring good Cali-style burritos to Tokyo. Indeed the food here seems to pack more oomph than what's on offer at some of the other burrito joints around town - it's assertively spicy (although a milder version is an option), with a solid dose of onions and garlic and just enough avocado for balance.
An old standby in the Mita neighborhood, this long-running basement shop has solid wood furniture, stucco walls, odd little paintings and soft jazz in the background. The roux here is okay, but the quality of the meat really stands out - nice lean pork and very tasty and tender chicken. The mixed meat or all-chicken options are recommended. The boiled potatoes are also quite good.
Shiba 4-6-16. Open 11am-3, 5:30-9:30pm. Closed weekends.
Gourmet burritos, tacos, and fajitas, all made from premium organic ingredients. Choose from grilled chicken, carnitas (braised pork), steak or vegetarian filling; prices range from Y800-1100. Everything is available for take-out, and you can fax your order in advance. There are a few outdoor courtyard tables for when the weather permits.
Roppongi 6-6-9, Piramide Bldg. 1F. Open 11am-10pm. Closed 2nd Sunday.
The concept here is a New York-style bakery-cafe in the heart of Azabu-Juban, selling top-quality cheesecake, carrot cake, brownies, cookies, cornbread and pastries just like you'd find in New York. There's a small eat-in corner where you can enjoy your sweets along with a cup of coffee or tea.
Azabu-Juban 1-8-6. Open 11am-8pm (Sat, Sun -7pm). Closed Mondays.
Decent fast-food-style burritos, tacos, and fajitas, all made from premium organic ingredients. Choose from grilled chicken, carnitas (braised pork), steak or vegetarian filling; prices range from Y800-1100. There's a small but tastefully appointed dining area, or you can take out.
The sandwich menu includes a few impressively overstuffed deli-style sandwiches - Y1700 for a large Reuben, Y2000 for a large turkey breast. The grilled feta and vegetable on focaccia (Y950) is also recommended. Lunchtime delivery in the neighborhood.
Akasaka 3-15-10, SP Japan Akasaka Bldg B1/1F. Open 11am-9:30pm (LO). Closed weekends.
Don't come here looking for fusion cooking - it's all straight-ahead curries and tandoori items, above average in quality although sometimes overly salted. One thing that sets them apart is the Hoegaarden on draft, a refreshing Belgian white beer that provides a very pleasant contrast with the spicy dishes. The decor is fairly pedestrian, with sports on the big-screen TV, but at least the smoking and non-smoking sections are on separate floors.
Choose from over 30 varieties of chazuke - with both katsuo- and pork-based broth - at this modest little budget shop. Side dishes and drinks are served in the evening, plus chazuke-centered set meals like pork shogayaki. Take-out is available.
Higashi-Shimbashi 1-9-1, Pedi Shiodome 2F. Open 11am-11pm daily.
Mostly an all-day cafe/restaurant, although they also have a small deli counter and grocery section with coffees and teas, spices, baked goods, cold cuts, four kinds of smoked salmon, and real dill pickles. Groceries cover the luxury end of the spectrum, with Y1800 jars of pasta sauce and exotic pates.
Marunouchi 1-4-5, Mitsubishi Trust Building 1F. Open 7am-11pm daily.
Akashiyaki is like takoyaki, only lighter and fluffier, with bits of tender Akashi octopus in the center; here it's Y850 for a plate. They also make yakisoba, okonomiyaki, and a variety of inexpensive teppanyaki grilled foods. One of the nicer Kitchen Street interiors, with a big wooden counter and tables. Take-out is also available. English menu.
Marunouchi 1-9-1, Kitchen Street (1F). Open 11am-11pm daily.
Charcoal-grilled gourmet burgers and sandwiches can be ordered for delivery within most of Shinjuku and Chiyoda wards. Sandwiches are priced Y980-1500, with a line-up of Cajun Smoked Chicken; Reuben; Pastrami; Shrimp Avocado and ten more varieties.
Arakicho 16, Espero Bldg 101. Open 11:30am-3, 5-8pm. Closed Sundays, Tuesdays.
A bright and airy branch of this French-cafe landmark, located directly in front of the New Otani Hotel. There's a take-out bakery at the entrance, a big cafe area, a smaller dining room for proper French meals, and plenty of outdoor seating, heated in winter. Lunches in the dining room start at Y850; full-course dinners from Y3800. The cafe serves light snacks like quiche, omelettes, salade nicoise and steak frites.
Kioicho 4-1, Shin-Kioicho Bldg. 1F. Open 10am-11pm daily.
The original Japanese curries here incorporate umami-rich coconut milk, ripe tomatoes and cheese as well as fresh seasonal vegetables. Some popular options (from Y730) are oysters and spinach with baked cheese; ripe tomato, eggplant and chicken; and pork-cabbage, while extra toppings (mostly Y100) include corn, bamboo shoots, coriander, garlic shoots and tofu. Curries are also available to take out.
The Ichibanya shop sells over a hundred varieties of sembei, with exotic flavors like garlic, wasabi, hot pepper, shiso, plum, seaweed and many more. You'll even find shrimp, bonito, cod roe and other seafood surprises. [See photo feature.]
They really do serve some of the best gourmet burgers in Tokyo at this rustic little shop. The mozzarella mushroom burger (Y1200) is one of our faves. Sandwiches are no longer on the menu, but can be found across the street at sister shop Qino's (03-6231-5527).
Hongo 4-5-10. Open 11am-10pm (LO; Sun. 7pm) daily.
Above-average budget Chinese in a spiffed-up dining room; the specialties are dim sum (including soup-filled shoronpo dumplings), Chinese desserts (featuring their home-made sweet tofu), and noodles, plus a dozen varieties of Chinese tea. Almost the entire menu is available for take-out.
Good breads, cakes and vegetable salads at this cute, plant-filled bakery-cafe inside the Atre shopping mall. Lunch options include a "plate of vegetables" and vegetable tarts with salad as well as burgers. They also have branches in London and Paris. Open from 9am on weekends.
Kichijoji Minamicho 1-1-24, Atre Kichijoji 1F. Open 8am-10pm daily.
The second Tokyo branch of the internationally famous Belgian organic bakery is open from 7:30am, serving coffee and pastries, salads and tartines - open-face Belgian sandwiches with toppings like smoked salmon-avocado and ham-gruyere cheese. There's also a bar serving wine and beer.
Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2, Tokyo Opera City Tower, 1F. Open 7:30am-10pm (LO) daily.
Mi Choripan proudly serves up "Argentinian Soul Food" - those overstuffed chorizo-sausage sandwiches seasoned with chimichurri sauce and sold from street stalls in Argentina and other parts of Latin America.