Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo: 21 Spots Where Tony Ate

There are few cities in the world that can hold as special a place in the heart of Anthony Bourdain – and fans of Uncle Tony’s work – as Tokyo. From his stories in Kitchen Confidential, we know that it was a place that opened his mind, heart, and stomach to the incredible variety of great foods you can find around the globe. Today, travelers still make pilgrimages to sample the same dishes he did.

Anthony Bourdain filmed 7 episodes in Tokyo during his television career: for episodes 1, 2, and 6 of season one of A Cook’s Tour; for season 4 (episode 16) and season 8 (episode 5) of No Reservations; and for season 2 (episode 7) and season 8 (episode 6) of Parts Unknown.

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo Hero

Despite this extensive list and it being one of the most-filmed locations he visited, it is likely the case that Tony visited Tokyo far more than he filmed there. It’s perhaps one of the few places I feel confident in saying he had secret spots he would never share, places only he knew for favored dishes and quiet contemplation.

In any case, you’re in good company if you’re planning a trip to Japan and want to go to some of the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo. Below you’ll find a complete list of all the restaurants where Anthony Bourdain ate in Tokyo, and can plan your meals accordingly. I also have a guide to all of the other places Tony traveled in Japan, if you’re going to other cities or prefectures (regions) and want to continue following Uncle Tony’s recommendations for where and what to eat.

This post was originally written in January 2023 and was updated most recently in January 2024.

A Cook’s Tour (2001)

If you’ve read any of the recent books about Anthony Bourdain’s life and legacy, you know that Tokyo long held a place in his heart – it was his first big international trip (aside from jaunts down to Saint Marten/Sint Maarten from NYC) and one of the first places he filmed during his first show, A Cook’s Tour.

Sushi Karaku

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Edomae Sushi

After visiting Tsukiji Tokyo’s Central Fish Market with Chef Togawa, the two chefs head for incredible sushi at Sushi Karaku in the Ginza District. The meal is a great introduction to the variety of sushi dishes you can find in Japanese culture – usually a far wider range than on most American menus.

The two enjoy slow-simmered octopus with sweet plum sauce; a plate of edomae sushi with flounder, prawn, Otoro tuna, marinated tuna, and raw eel; eel with sugar, soy, and sake; plus beer and iced sake to drink.

Chanko Edosawa Restaurant

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Chanko Nabe

Next, Tony learns more about other aspects of Japanese life and visits Tomozuna Sumo Stable to see the trainers and athletes at practice. He there learns about Chanko, food for sumo wrestlers, and decides to seek it out at Chanko Edosawa Restaurant.

There he tries Chanko Nabe (Sumo Stew), including beef, chicken, meatballs, tofu, seafood, egg, rice, vegetables, and more. To call it “calorie loading” seems like an understatement, but it’s what the sumo wrestlers need to gain strength, muscle, and mass to improve.

Nibiki Restaurant (CLOSED)

Next, Bourdain goes for something a little lighter – though it’s hard to imagine eating again after a meal of Chanko Nabe.

At Nibiki Restaurant, he has raw fugu (a type of pufferfish) with soy sauce, chives, and thin radish, as well as nNbe-tyle fugu soup with tofu, mushrooms, and cabbage, and batter fried fugu.

Unfortunately, Nibiki is now closed so you won’t be able to replicate this meal exactly during your own trip to Tokyo.

Honmura An Soba Restaurant (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Soba

While sushi may be the most well-known Japanese dish to American diners, there are many other incredible styles of food to try. The rest of Tony’s culinary adventures during this first trip show a few of them off.

He visits Honmura An Soba Restaurant to try Soba noodles; these buckwheat noodles can be found across Japan and he tries other varieties in regions like Hokkaido and Okinawa. In Tokyo though, for this first attempt, he has a traditional style: cold soba dunked in scallion and wasabi broth. It’s a simple but delicious dish – and still adventurous enough for those looking to try something new.

This restaurant is now closed too, sadly!

Yakitori Bar (?)

Bourdain also shows off Yakitori food, or grilled meats, with a final stop at Yakitori Bar. There he has grilled chicken elbows, chicken meatballs, and more, served with soy, sugar, and sweet rice wine sauce. He pairs this with beer and sake, a nice pairing with this fun style of dining.

I couldn’t find this venue on Google or other restaurant platforms. Please, if you have information regarding its status, let me know in the comments!

No Reservations (2008)

Anthony Bourdain visited Tokyo twice during No Reservations; his first trip was in 2008, and included some higher-end dining experiences to show off more of the city’s culinary scene than he sampled earlier in his travels.

Sarashina Horii (CLOSED)

First up, Tony heads to Sarashina Horii with (Iron) Chef Masaharu Morimoto; he picks up there almost where he left off in A Cook’s Tour: with soba. The two chefs enjoy soba noodles with broth, happily slurping the dish while discussing Japanese cuisine.

Note (July 2023): Unfortunately, it seems this restaurant has closed since I first wrote this guide.

Bar 石の華 Ishinohana

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Cocktails

Next, Bourdain visits Bar 石の華 Ishinohana, to try a few fancier drinks than the beer and sake he had previously enjoyed. He and his companion try Japanese interpretations of two uncommon cocktails by champion Japanese bartender Shinobu Ishigaki: they have versions of the Claudia Cocktail and Polar Star.

I wasn’t able to find the specific recipes Tony had, but I found other sites that mentioned these drinks (which I had actually never heard of before despite loving a good craft cocktail myself!), and linked them above.

XEX Morimoto

Anthony Bouradain in Tokyo - Monkfish

While he didn’t do it often, sometimes Bourdain enjoyed the perks of his celebrity; such was the case during his visit to XEX Morimoto (the namesake restaurant of Chef Masaharu Morimoto who he dined with earlier in the episode). There, he enjoyed a special private meal focused exclusively on monkfish.

The menu included monkfish skin, tomatoes, leeks, and liver, with hot vegetable oil, “Kentucky fried monkfish” with bamboo shoot, and Nabe with bok choy, other vegetables, and many parts (liver, skin, meat, and cartilage) of the monkfish. While I would never think to eat the undeniably ugly monkfish myself, this meal shows that any ingredient can become a masterpiece in the hands of the right chef.

Bar Piano

Tony’s final stop during this episode is at Bar Piano, where he enjoys cocktails and conversation before wrapping up with a classic monologue about the magic of his favorite Japanese city.

No Reservations (2011) (Cook It Raw)

Bourdain’s second trip to Tokyo for No Reservations was as part of attending the Cook It Raw food “competition” in the Ishikawa Prefecture in 2011. He starts and ends his trip in Tokyo, as many travelers do when visiting other parts of Japan. Here are the places he visited during that trip.

Ivan Ramen Plus (CLOSED)

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Ramen

After exploring a bit of Tokyo with a fellow chef, Tony finally tries another popular Japanese dish at Ivan Ramen Plus – ramen, of course! He doesn’t spend much time on this dish, though it’s certainly one to seek out if you’re looking to try different Japanese dishes Bourdain ate during his visits.

Sadly, this restaurant has closed since I wrote this guide.

Hosaka Ya (CLOSED)

Next, Tony heads to Hosaka, which is unfortunately another restaurant that is no longer open. However, it’s worth mentioning what he ate there in case you find it on other menus elsewhere. He eats Unagi (eel) liver wrapped in fillet, as well as “the guts,” and dried Unagi liver with ponzo and radish.

Hachi

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Sashimi

Before heading out of the city, Bourdain heads to a meal with chef Rene Redzepi, whom he had previously met and dined with during a visit to Copenhagen (where Redzepi’s restaurant Noma was repeatedly named the best in the world). The two dine at Hachi, trying a number of lesser-known ingredients and preparations.

The pair starts with codfish sperm with spinach, followed by sashimi of red bream, bonito, and smashed moonfish with miso and ginger, and a clay pot rice with mushrooms, whitefish, and chives.

Lawson’s Convenience Store

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Egg Salad Sandwich

After visiting the Ishikawa Prefecture and dining very well with the other chefs working the Cook It Raw event, Tony returns to Tokyo and spends some time exploring with David Chang. Chang takes him to an unlikely spot for great food: Lawson’s Convenience Store.

This Japanese chain of stores originated in Ohio but has become popular and beloved in Japan, where you can find great food at good prices. Skeptical, Bourdain tries a number of foods, including red chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, and an egg salad sandwich. While you (like Tony) might be scared of pre-made egg salad sandwiches, Tony says it’s one of the best he’s ever had and returns to enjoy them again on future trips.

Yakitori Ton Ton

For his final food stop during this trip, Anthony Bourdain visits Yakitori Ton Ton for a casual meal: chicken yakitori and beer. This is a good recap and reminder that Japanese food goes far beyond sashimi.

Parts Unknown (2013)

While he didn’t visit Tokyo as part of The Layover (though he had undoubtedly taken advantage of layovers to sample some of the great food), Anthony Bourdain again visited Tokyo twice as part of filming Parts Unknown. His first visit was in 2013, and his second (below) was just a few years later.

New York Grill

Anthony Bourdain Tokyo
Photo courtesy of CNN

As is often the case in his later shows and seasons, especially in places that provoke introspection, Bourdain started off with a beer and deep thoughts. In this case, it was at the New York Grill of the Park Hyatt Tokyo; here, he muses on the magic spell Japan holds over him – then sets out to sample more of what the city has to offer.

Bar Albatross

His first stop (after recovering from jet lag and resting a bit) is Bar Albatross; there, Tony tucks into another beer as well as a great conversation about Japanese working culture and the solemn oath of the bartender to serve and keep secrets.

Yasuda (CLOSED)

Feeling hungry, Bourdain then visits Yasuda to enjoy hand-rolled sushi by master Naomichi Yasuda. This is one of those places where the ingredients must be fresh to honor their preparation, so the menu changed daily. Unfortunately, this restaurant has now closed, so you won’t be able to enjoy whatever they would have offered during your visit.

Daitoryo

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Kusaya

During Parts Unknown, Bourdain often brought culture (especially alternative culture) onto the screen and into the mainstream; his visit to Daitoryo with Tamika, a professional dominatrix, Kinoko Hajime, a shibari (a Japanese form of rope bondage) artist and Tamika’s partner, and Naga, a translator, serves as a bit of a theme throughout the episode exploring the tensions that many Tokyo residents (especially workers) face.

Over conversation, the group enjoys Kusaya, skewers of beef intestine and chicken, and Motsunabe, an intestine stew with miso. As usual, Tony doesn’t shy away from the ‘nasty bits’ of the meal, or the conversation topics that others might find sticky.

Mienoumi

Anthony Bouradain in Tokyo - Katsuo No Tataki

Continuing off the popular path, Bourdain then enjoys a meal with Toshio Maeda, the Manga illustrator credited with inventing tentacle porn. (Yep, that’s a specific genre of manga!)

The two dine at Mienoumi, enjoying Katsuo No Tataki (seared bonito with daikon, fresh greens, sprouts, and ponzu) and tomato Nabe (a hot pot of meat and vegetables favored by sumo wrestlers), while discussing how the varied interests and desires of Japanese people come to be and integrate into outward pop culture.

Mahakala

Wrapping up this episode, Bourdain next heads to the Nakameguro neighborhood to enjoy a meal with sushi master Naomichi Yasuda (rather than prepared by him as before). The two meet at Mahakala for Kushiage (fried skewers of shrimp and basil, lotus fruit, octopus, and pickled quail eggs) and Okonomiyaki (egg-batter pancake stuffed with squid and brushed with Worcestershire sauce).

(This latter dish is actually quite popular and you can find it in the U.S. at some Japanese restaurants.)

Parts Unknown (2016)

Tony’s final visit to Tokyo occurred a few years before his death, but it has the hallmarks of his later work: introspection, cultural reflection, and insanely good food. He visits just one restaurant in Tokyo during this trip (which includes other parts of Japan too), but it’s well worth seeking out and making a reservation if necessary.

Ginza Sushiko Honten

Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo - Maguro

Together with Masa Takayama and Mamoru Sugiyama, head chef at Ginza Sushiko, Bourdain enjoys a meal at Ginza Sushiko Honten.

The trio tried some dishes Tony had not yet shown before: seared horse mackerel over green onion and ginger, drizzled with house-made soy; Maguro (bluefin tuna); Japanese tiger prawn, octopus, and fluke sashimi; striped jack brushed with soy and sake; Anago (sea eel) rolled in seaweed; and Tamago-yaki (a ‘loaf’ of breaded shrimp eggs and fish paste)

After five trips, I’m sure he worked hard to continue showing different aspects of Japanese cuisine to inspire viewers and travelers.

Tokyo Food Tours to Try

While you obviously have plenty of options for where to eat among the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo, food tours are a nice option for sampling a lot in a short time. Here are a few good ones I found that offer plenty of tastes of the city:

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Tokyo, or did you notice an error I can correct? Let me know in the comments!

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Valerie is a travel writer currently based in Cleveland, but her favorite destinations are Alaska, London, and Jordan – only one of which Bourdain ever visited! You can find her writing on Lonely Planet, Forbes, and her travel blog, Valerie & Valise.

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