A few positive outcomes of the current pandemic are perhaps spending quality time with family, getting started on things you have been meaning to do, and catching up with long lost friends online.
Many people staying at home during the state of emergency have also found themselves in the kitchen more often than before, sometimes cooking all day for the whole family. Combine that with housekeeping and home schooling kids, while working remotely from home, and multitasking becomes a real challenge.
Consequently, it can be a real pleasure when someone else prepares quality meals for you. Takeout food prepared by chefs at fine restaurants delivered to your door provides the ultimate gratification.
Many restaurants in Tokyo have lost at least 80% of their monthly profits after closing or curtailing their hours due to the coronavirus outbreak. Others face bankruptcy if the situation doesn’t improve. However, some have taken the initiative to offer takeout and delivery service of their signature dishes, as well as items not normally on their menus. For example, Ichigo (https://www.azabu-ichigo.com)), an oden restaurant, is now doing tonkatsu bento boxes, so far only available under the state of emergency.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government recently decided to pay up to one million yen to those food service businesses that add takeout and or delivery to their articles of association. Since then, several dining establishments, from casual to luxury, have created new bento (boxed lunch) menus.
As for delivery, Uber Eats, Demae-kan, Fine Dine, LINE Delima, and Rakuten Delivery are the top portals remarkably booming over the past couple months as more people stay home. Most of them offer numerous campaigns and first-timers get a generous discount.
The number of listed restaurants has increased dramatically. To name a few, even luxury izakaya and kappo (traditional high-class Japanese restaurants) such as Ukyo (https://jubanukyo.localinfo.jp), Gatou (https://www.gatou.com) and Kiki Azabu (https://kiki-azabu.com/index.html) are offering original bento boxes.
Two Michelin-starred restaurants, kaiseki eatery Kohaku in Kagurazaka (https://kagurazaka-kohaku.jp) and Tagetsu (https://tagetsu.tokyo), have spread their wings for delivery. If you want to order from a Michelin restaurant, you can take a look at this site: https://pr.gnavi.co.jp/mb/clubmichelin-takeout.
Other high-end places doing takeouts include sushi restaurant Hatano Yoshiki (https://business.facebook.com/azabu10banhatanoyoshiki/), which is difficult to reserve a place at; and one of the most popular eel restaurants in Tokyo, Tokitou (http://tokitou-unagi.jp).
Stillfoods.inc, which operates 37 Steakhouse & Bar (https://37steakhouse.com/roppongi), Artisan de la Truffe Paris (https://artisandelatruffeparis.jp/) and Sotoroku (https://stillfoods.com/1016/), went a step further under the state of emergency. They not only started takeouts and deliveries from their popular restaurants, but have incorporated a campaign to show appreciation toward healthcare workers. Any orders by these hard workers risking their lives for COVID-19 patients receive 30% discount with an ID. I tried 37 Steakhouse's “Original Mixed Grill (100% beef patty, chicken leg with herbs, Italian sausage, rice)” and “21 Days Aged Black Angus Beef Rib Steak Sandwich” - both perfect to build stamina.
Tokyoites familiar with Egg ’n Things (https://www.eggsnthingsjapan.com), where you often have a two-hour queue to be seated, will be delighted to know they are delivering fluffy Hawaiian pancakes with coconut syrup to your door.
Although the Roppongi Hills complex shut down most of its stores and restaurants, one of the very few restaurants still open, Barbacoa (http://barbacoa.jp), has a takeout menu that I’ve been going back for. “Steak Ju” boasts 150 grams of Brazilian Churrasco barbecue on rice which has helped boost my immune system, as well as my love of meat.
Wonder Table which manages Barbacoa, Obica (http://obica.jp) and Union Square Tokyo (https://unionsquaretokyo.com/) has also started a "Big Smile For Medical Workers" campaign that gives 20% discount to all healthcare workers. Also, some of their restaurants have delivery services too.
For vegetarians and healthy eaters, We Are The Farm (https://www.allfarm.co.jp/we-are-the-farm) and AW Kitchen (http://www.eat-walk.com/awkitchen/) have started selling their organic vegetables in front of their stores as well as signature takeout salads and original menu items.
To help essential workers, Crisp Salad Works has launched Crisp Connect that delivers free salads directly to frontlines among donations. They have donated over 10,000 salads as of May 5, and you can help here: https://connect.crisp.co.jp.
Shibuya and Chuo wards have takeout and delivery maps to show which restaurants in their areas have started delivery and takeouts.
While some restaurants will soon resume normal business in Tokyo, in the meantime, now is a good chance to explore the tastes of restaurants you might never usually visit. It’s now or never to try places where you would normally have to book tables way in advance, or they are not child or pet friendly, or you may be hesitant to go solo.
But best of all, it helps keep them in business. Seeing your favorite restaurants go out of business is utterly heartbreaking.
Japan is already a bento box culture, so I hope restaurants will continue this tradition. Now is the time for change.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government fund for takeout businesses: https://www.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/tosei/hodohappyo/press/2020/04/22/12.html
Stillfoods restaurants takeout and delivery menu: https://stillfoods.com/takeout/
Shibuya Ward takeout and delivery map: https://oishibuya.com
Chuo Ward takeout and delivery map: https://chuo9.tokyo/takeout/© Japan Today