Tokyo is a haven for excellent restaurants and the hype on many places is totally justified. Unfortunately, a lot of places that get the most accolades from foreigners are severely overrated. When you consider the quality of food, price, and how long the line or reservation list can be, it is hard to understand how certain restaurants get so much love. Here is the two most overrated restaurants in Tokyo, which factors in how locals feel about them compared to foreign reviews.
Coming off the popular documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011), Sushi Mizutani (鮨 水谷) has been a hot spot for foreigners visiting Tokyo. Even U.S. president Barrack Obama went there with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Sukiyabashi Jiro’s restaurant has garnered a three star Michelin rating and gushing media coverage from foodie celebs like Anthony Bourdain.
All of the attention lavished on Sushi Mizutani comes primarily outside Japan. Locals do not feel as strongly about it. Most Japanese in Tokyo are aware that they can get sushi of the same quality without the obscene price and ridiculous reservation list. Sushi Mizutani is high quality, no doubting that, but that quality is not unique to just Sushi Mizutani. Great sushi in Tokyo will be expensive. It does not need to be as pricey as Sushi Mizutani and you are better off avoiding this tourist trap. If burning money is your passion, then by all means join the bandwagon of tourists and impress your foodie friends back home. You are just paying a huge overhead for the ability to say you had a piece of Jiro’s sushi dreams.
The other Tokyo spot that gets way too much foreign attention and nothing but melancholy from Japanese locals is Ichiran Ramen. The ramen is good. It’s not great or even close to how magical the reviews you see in foreign media. The price is not bad, but the lines can get silly. Even at 5am you will wait.
Part of the charm for foreigners is the cubicle-like seating and how your order will come through a little sliding door. Again, not awful, just not really that special either. No reason to plan around this spot, find a ramen fix elsewhere and use the time you save waiting in line for something more meaningful, like drinking a highball under Hachiko or taking a selfie in front of Asahi’s golden turd.