Shinbashi Tokyo Food Tour: Explore The Hidden Gem

Have you ever heard of Izakaya – the casual Japanese pubs where people hang out after work? As visitors should try tapas when visiting Spain, drinking at Izakaya is one must-do activity when traveling to Japan.

But how to find good Izakaya in Tokyo?

I took the Shibashi Tokyo food tour with Arigato Japan. It was a great experience, and I could experience Tokyo like a local and explore the Shinbashi area with different eateries and Izakaya.

Below is my detailed review of this food tour.

Meetup

We started our tour at the meetup point outside Shinbashi station – the railway station located 10 minutes walk from the Ginza shopping district.

The station was huge and crowded, filled with thousands of commuters.

places to visit in Tokyo Japan
There’s an old model train in front of Shinbashi station. Our meetup point was next to it.

The tour was on the evening of Friday night, and it made the atmosphere even more chaotic. However, with the explicit instruction from the email, I could easily reach the group on time.

Robatayaki

Leaving the station, we began exploring the Shinbashi area. Following the flow of salarymen, we walked along the small alleys to restaurants and the izakaya area.

Our first stop was at the restaurant, which offered a Robatayaki cooking style.

things to do in Tokyo food tour
Our first stop at Robatayaki restaurant

What is Robatayaki?

Robatayaki is a traditional cooking style originally from Hokkaido, but it can now be found in other parts of Japan.

Traditionally, Hokkaido fisherman grills fresh seafood and vegetables on charcoal, so it’s fresh and tasty.

It’s pretty similar to the barbecue cooking method, but a well-trained chef prepares the food for you.

Robatayaki is a unique experience that I would recommend to anyone traveling in Japan.

Read more: Best Japanese food you should try.

Entering the restaurant, we gathered around the “kitchen” on the tiny chairs and observed the “performance” of the chef.

Some guests were sitting at the next tables drinking and talking already, even though it was only around 6 pm at the time.

Robatayaki cooking style Japan
Experiencing this cooking style was excellent!

Back to our “kitchen,” the chef started selecting different types of seafood and vegetables to grill on the charcoal.

He grilled fish, oysters, shrimp when we chose our drinks.

It felt like gathering around the campsite and grilling food on the campfire. The chef then gave us some dishes to enjoy with our drinks.

The seafood was fresh and tasty, and it was interesting to observe this cooking style.

Japanese food Tokyo food tour
I had oysters, grilled fish, and fried rice. They were fresh and tasty.
Tokyo food tour
Another grilled fish dish!

Oden

After finishing our grills, it was time to try some Oden.

Leaving the small alleys full of Izakaya, we walked into a building with lots of little bars on the ground floor. Passing bakery shop, sake bars, and others, we reached Oden’s standing bar.

I hadn’t been to a standing bar restaurant without chairs before, so it was a new experience.

According to my tour guide, no chairs would make customers eat faster within 30 minutes so the restaurant could sell more to more customers.

things to do in Tokyo
Visiting Oden standing bar is an exciting thing to do in Tokyo!

What is Oden?

Oden (おでん) is a Japanese one-pot dish consisting of different ingredients such as fishcake, boiled eggs, Atsuage (deep-fried tofu), vegetables. Instead of using miso soup, Oden soup is made from Dashi soup stock.

Just entering, I could recognize the fresh and tasty smell of Oden. The owner gave us a big smile and instructed us to stand.

The place was quite small, so our group filled up quickly. We then selected the dishes and got served immediately.

Japanese food tour

We had Beef Oden, Tofu Oden, and Chicken Sashimi. At first, I hesitated to try Chicken Sashimi because it was raw chicken, but after trying it, it was okay.

weird Japanese food
I was hesitant to try Chicken sashimi, but it tasted okay after all.

Finished Chicken Sashimi, we left the standing bar and went to the next food stop. On the way, our guide showed us the vending machines and some useful information about them.

vending machine in Japan
We learned some information about vending machines on this tour too!

Izakaya

Although you can find Izakaya everywhere, they gather mostly around the train station. The guide showed us to the izakaya place, which was located underground.

Izakaya Tokyo

Entering the Izakaya, I felt like traveling back to old-time Tokyo. This Izakaya still reserved the nostalgic design with many old posters around.

As most of the guests were Japanese, our group could experience Tokyo like a local.

Eating with the Japanese working class was a great experience in this Tokyo food tour.

drinking at Izakaya Tokyo
These posters brought a nostalgic feeling.

So what did we eat here? Because this Izakaya is famous for its Yakiniku dishes, we had many different grilled chicken skews.

tasty Japanese food
Tasty Yakiniku and shrimp dish

Taiyaki

At our final stop, we visited the Taiyaki shop. Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake filled with red beans or cream.

Taiyaki shop Tokyo food tour
We had our final stop at Taiyaki fish-shaped cake. It was great to see how Taiyaki was made!

It was fascinating to see how Taiyaki was made in front of us. Each of us received one fresh and hot Taiyaki. Not only smell good, but the fishcake was also tasty too.

Taiyaki Tokyo food tour
I had a Taiyaki with cream filling.

Book Shinbashi Tokyo Food Tour

Are you interested in taking this tour? Click here to check out!

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Shinbashi Tokyo Food Tour.

As always, opinions are our own.

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18 Comments

  1. I was in Tokyo exactly a year ago and did go on a Sushi spree. I was actually at Shinbashi too. I did try the Oden and as you say its absolutely yummy. I just wish I had come across this post earlier. Would have got more out of my trip then. MAybe next time I ‘ll shortlist these places. Thanks a lot!

  2. I lived in Japan for a little while and when oden starts showing up at 7-11’s it makes me feel so warm and cozy inside. :o) This post made me miss ALL THE FOODS! So lucky to have gotten to try such a variety of stuff in one day/tour.

    1. I love the Oden at 7-11 too, but I think trying them at Oden restaurants will be better :) This one-day tour is really nice. Trying different dishes and understanding about them are the best!

  3. Navita Deshpande says:

    We would love to go on a food tour in Tokyo. The options are so inviting. Really informative sharing here, and for us learning about Robatayaki, Oden and other traditional aspects/ dishes associated with Japanese food. So far we have tried a few Japanese dishes and have loved them. I can only imagine how satisfyingly this tour would be to the gluttony!

    1. This tour is really great. You will definitely love it when you join :)

  4. I’m hungry now. The food in Japan is some of the best I’ve tried and this looks like a great way to sample lots of different varieties. I love eating in the izakaya, the old world feel and informal approach to dining is so refreshing. Thanks for a great post.

  5. I loved all the food in Tokyo! Looks like your tour was amazing, so much great food. Don’t you just love all the vending machines? My daughter was mesmerized by all the ones we saw!

    1. The vending machines in Japan sell many things. It’s cool, right?

  6. Amy Chung says:

    OMG…… as if I don’t already love this cuisine enough you seem to have opened up a whole different side to it! Love the izakayas in Japan with its wide selection of food. I haven ever been to a Robatayaki and I bet I would absolutely love it. this is a seriously great list. Thanks!

    1. Robatayaki was amazing! I didn’t know about it until I joined this food tour.

  7. Blair Villanueva says:

    Oh my, your today’s story is making me hungry! I love dining in many Tokyo restaurants and get fascinated with the chef’s magic in cooking. Where are you heading next?

  8. Sarah Wilson says:

    This looks great, I love foodie tours. Wish I had done this on my first trip to Japan, I had no idea how to order in restaurants. Planning a trip next spring and would definitely want to do this!

  9. Going for a food tour in Japan must be interesting as Japanese food is very famous and healthy worldwide. Great to see Japanese food cooked in an authentic way at various restaurants. The posters at Izakaya looks very colorful and vibrant. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I really love those posters. Observing the cooking style of these Japanese dishes is the highlight of this Tokyo food tour.

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