The way to Tokyo’s heart is through your stomach. Here are the best bars and restaurants according to the team behind Tokyo Confidential
Editor’s note: More Robb Stopovers here.
When visiting Tokyo, the largest city in the world, there are some universal rules to live by. That is to never eat while you’re walking, to always carry cash at all times, and to make sure you leave the country with a fully belly. Needless to say, Tokyo is a key destination for the food lover; the floor and ceiling are high when it comes to quality, precision and variety.
The folks behind Tokyo Confidential would concur. Holly Graham (founder) and Wakana Murata (head bartender) recently began slinging out cocktails from their new bar in the Azabu-juban neighbourhood, where guests may enjoy stunning views of the Tokyo Tower. The bar has something for everyone, from no- and low-ABV drinks to fun creations like Destroy All Monsters, a spirit-forward cocktail of miso brown butter-washed gin, manzanilla sherry, bianco vermouth and ponzu. Find them on the ninth floor at The V-City Azabu-juban Place (1-Chome-6-1 Azabu-juban, Minato, Tokyo), and if you’re in the mood to bar hop, here is a list of places with the Graham-and-Murata stamp of approval.
Holly Graham (HG): My husband and I have been coming here since our first trip to Japan, which was also our first Christmas together, so it’s very special to us. We were recommended by a friend and when you make a booking via email, the owner will usually ask who recommended you. They then take great delight in showing you a photo of that friend on an iPad, and snap one of you to show people you recommend in the future. Friends I send there tell me they often get an approving nod from the chef husband and host wife duo saying “ah yes! Holly-san” when they tell them who recommended them.
The food is a no-nonsense affir. In less than 30 minutes, you’re in and out, stuffed with sushi (and a carafe of sake if you’re me). They do not cater to allergies, and the chef will advise you on how many times to chew, and when to take a shot. If he likes you, he’ll tell you to take a selfie with him, too. My top tip, as recommended by a Japanese friend who also frequents Yajima, is to ask for less rice, as the sushi here is hefty and filling! When my husband and I returned for the first time since the pandemic in December 2022, the owners showered us with little gifts of homemade nori paste and custom pens, and were very pleased to learn that we’d married since we saw them last. I adore this place and have visited every time I visited Tokyo without fail. I’m so glad I live here now and can visit frequently.
Robb Tip: The chef’s wife speaks good English, so if you’re worried about getting lost in translation, don’t.
1-26-31 Higashi Oshima Building,
B1F, Shibuya 150-0011 Tokyo Prefecture
Tel: +81 3 3499 6019
Email: [email protected]
Wakana Murata (WM): This is my favourite bar in Japan—they offer not only cocktails, but also very good coffee, wines and cakes, too. The space is small but it reminds me of the cafes in Italy, where you can just pop in and have a nice espresso, negroni or glass of Prosecco. Try their classic cocktails, especially the negroni, then finish with their espresso. I like it so much that I don’t want to tell anyone about it, but I guarantee you will have a good time and you’ll leave with a smile on your face.
Robb Tip: This is a cash-only establishment.
2 Chome-18-6 Ebisunishi,
Tokyo 150-0021, Japan
WM: This isn’t your typical Ginza bar where you feel the pressure to “behave well”—the owner and bartenders are all very friendly and chatty. Try their seasonal fresh fruit cocktails, including my favourite, the spicy and super fresh Bloody Mary. And before you leave, you will get a cup of tea, which you can take a pick from four different Japanese teas packed with umami. The Shiitake Tea, in particular, is wonderful.
6-4-7 G.O.West 9F,
104-0061 Tokyo Prefecture
Tel: +81 3 6263 9555
Champagne and Gyoza Bar
HG: I knew I had the visit when I first saw this place. When I finally madeit there, I found it to be a casual spot that does what it says on the tin, with plenty of great champagne by the glass and quirky dishes such as a Gyoza Burger. Wakana and I love champagne and will find any excuse to have a glass, so chances are if we’re not at Tokyo Confidential, we’re here.
Champagne and Gyoza Bar
3-14-1 Akasaka Continental IV 1F,
Akasaka, Minato 107-0052
Tel: +81 3 6426 5676
WM: There are many restaurants that I like in Tokyo, but An Di (a Vietnamese restaurant in Gaienmae) is one of the restaurants that I’d go to every week. Not only for the food and drink, but for the authentic and modern vibe. Try the pairing course—you’ll be surprised how sake and simple cocktails can pair so well with Vietnamese cuisine.
1F 3-42-12 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0001 Japan
Tel: +81 03 6447 5447
Flamingo’s Cocktail Parlor
HG: A fun late night spot, this bar combines a love for cocktails and tattoos—a love I share in common. The decor evokes old school tattoo parlour glam and the friendly bartenders (covered in ink themselves) have a great menu of signature cocktails, but the classics are just as great. In fact, the team whips up a mean daiquiri, my go-to for ending a long night of drinking. The atmosphere here is super casual and I’ve a feeling it might become my post-shift watering hole in the near future.
Flamingo’s Cocktail Parlor
30-17 Sakuragaokacho 103 Bldg 1F,
Shibuya 150-0031 Tokyo Prefecture
Tel: +81 3 4362 6363
WM: This restaurant in Higashiazabu is where you can try unagi in different styles, paired with an extensive drinks menu. Unlike the usuals—beer, sake and sochu—there is also an impressive selection of wine and whisky.
Robb Tip: This is a one-Michelin-starred establishment run by Kanejiro Kanemoto, a fifth-generation owner who has devoted his life to freshwater eel for eight decades.
Tel: +81 3 3583 7852
HG: Twelv is a small sake bar decked out in modern and moody black and copper, with atmospheric lighting. The interior was brought to life by designers who have worked with the likes of Prada so it’s super sleek. Twelv is one of—if not the first—bars to specialise in biodynamic and sparkling sake. The staff speak English so it’s a great spot for visitors who don’t speak the lingo and want to learn more about sake, especially the unusual bottles. Expertly curated flights allow guests to taste a wider selection of sakes, and pairing menus match sakes with bites such as cheeses from Tuscany or an Umami Tapas plate. There’s also a rare and vintage selection of sake so if you want something really special, ask the team for the current selection.
Robb Tip: This place operates on a reservation-only policy.
MB1 4-2-4 Nishiazabu Minatoku Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 6805 0764
WM: Caveman is a progressive Japanese restaurant at Hotel K5. They present very creative and beautiful dishes, using seasonal ingredients that are paired with a great selection of wines. Beyond the food and drinks, I love the location and the whole building, too. They’re in a 1920s bank building that was transformed into a very cool spot featuring this restaurant, hotel rooms, a cocktail bar and craft beer bar.
Nihonbashi Kabutocho 3-5 Tokyo,
Tel: +81 03 5847 1112
Fish House Oyster Bar
HG: I first discovered Fish House Oyster Bar when looking to kill some time before a favourite bar opened (Bar Trench), so took a chance and jumped in here for a snack. A cozy nook in winter and outdoor seating for warmer months, this spot has a great happy hour for house drinks and raw or baked oysters. The oyster selection predominantly hails from Japan and is some of the freshest I’ve had. The bar has a good selection of booze, and staff are on hand to recommend drink pairings such as dry sherry; and sherry and seafood will always get a thumbs up from me.
Fish House Oyster Bar
1-23-16 1f, Ebisu,
Tel: +81 50 5798 7373
Featured photo by Millie Tang