How to search for the best places to eat in Japan



If you’re looking for places to eat here in Japan, there more than a few options available to help you in your search. Tabelog, a Japanese restaurant review site (much like Yelp) is one, and its rival Gurunavi is another popular option. But over the years an abundance of alternatives have emerged to challenge these two leading services. I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at just a few.

Retty is a popular mobile service, where you can get restaurant recommendations from your online friends. Readers may recall that we previously featured it leading up to the recent CNet Japan Awards. On mobile, you can also look to location-based apps like Tab that suggest nearby points of interest, including restaurants.

map view on Retty
map view on Retty

Another interesting option is through customer relations platforms like Kanban Musume (roughly translates as ‘store representative girl’) which lets consumers communicate with store staff online. By becoming a regular at restaurants, people receive exclusive offers as a bonus. Although the name suggests female staff, Kanban Musume includes staff of both genders.

Moving on to other services, a new website called ‘Kono-ko-ni-aitai’ (meaning ‘I want to see her’ ) recently launched. According to the site, male users can look through photos of female staff at various establishments to find where they’d like to go.

Now this could be for restaurants, hair/esthetic salons, or even night clubs. The site was only launched this past week, so there’s not much data registered at this point. If you want to promote your store, you can add up to three staff registrations for free.

Other ways to discovering new places to eat include websites like Meshitomo, Social Lunch or Coffee Meeting. These websites are built to provide working people or job-seeking students a chance to connect with each other through casual lunches or dinners. While the purposes of these websites are more social, they may also be an interesting way to discover new places to eat and drink.

With so much information out there, it’s good to have so many options to turn to besides just Google. If you’re hungry, these are just a few ways that you can find new and interesting discoveries. If you know of others, let us know in the comments!