Tokyo is one of the most popular and well-beloved food cities in the world. Its vibrant cuisine and vast selection (covering everything from low-priced fast food to Michelin-star menus) make it impossible not to fall in love with the massive culinary scene.
That said, a language barrier has been a problem for a long time – especially when it came to food delivery services.
Most menus in Japan are mono-languaged, which may make it hard for a tourist to hunt down what they need, especially if there’s not an English-speaking host or server in the vicinity.
In the last few years, however, this has started to change. More and more international delivery services have entered the Japanese market, offering English-friendly options. Here are the biggest among them:
General Delivery Services
If you’re American then this is likely the most well-known name on the list for you. There’s a caveat, however – DoorDash isn’t operating in Tokyo YET. The service is set to launch on April 30th, 2022.
If you’ve ever used DoorDash before (which, you likely have) – then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
The basic interface stays the same, so even if there are any problems with language recognition (it’s been reported to be rather clunky), you aren’t likely to experience any significant problems with putting in your order.
2. Uber Eats
USA’s #2 delivery service is also operable in Tokyo and has been for a while now. Language-recognition and interface-wise this is probably the best service on the list – but there’s no such thing as perfection, and Uber Eats does come with certain drawbacks.
Firstly, it’s definitely not the cheapest option. Each restaurant establishes delivery fees independently, and if you order at a busier time, you should expect there to be surcharges.
Secondly, it’s not the most time-optimized service either. You won’t be able to order either early breakfast or late dinner, as the service is only available from 9 am to 12 am (though busier areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya get an extra hour).
On the other hand, its coverage of the city is comprehensive. Wherever you’re ordering from, the chances of Uber Eats being unable to deliver are very small.
If you hail from Central or Eastern Europe then chances are you’re well-acquainted with Wolt already, maybe even better than Uber Eats.
Wolt has a full-featured app you’ll need to install on your phone, and you do need to create an account if you wish to place an order.
Registering is free, the app takes very little storage space on the phone, and while its machine translation for Japanese menus isn’t always the smoothest, the simple interface makes this app a good choice who are looking for easy options.
Fun fact: Wolt offers a pick-up option if you just want to grab something on the way home, instead of ordering after getting home and paying extra for delivery.
Maishoku is a Japanese native delivery service. Truth be told it offers neither the biggest selection (about 300 restaurants) nor the best coverage – but if you’re determined to try a Japanese service, then this is your best bet.
Its English translations may be a bit clunky but are generally understandable, and if you’re in the city center there aren’t going to be any problems with your delivery.
Maishoku has no delivery charges, but the restaurants do have minimum order amounts – generally in the area of around ¥1000.
FineDine is more of a specialized service than a regular delivery app. It offers access to higher-scale restaurants you’re unlikely to find on many (or any, really) other apps.
This means that while overall charges for your order may be higher than with other apps, the experience is likely worth it.
Delivery charges are set individually by the restaurants and usually cost around 15% of your total order amount (which should be at least ¥1,500)
FOOD-E can be described as FineDine’s younger, inexperienced, but more refined brother.
Same as FineDine, FOOD-E specializes in delivering gourmet food from acclaimed chefs to the customers’ door.
They’ve not been in the delivery market for very long, but have already managed to accumulate a nice list of higher-end restaurants they have exclusive access to a large number of restaurants you’ll find on FOOD-E aren’t doing deliveries through any other apps.
FOOD-E is a solid choice if you wish to have a special experience and order from upscale restaurants like NOBU, Two Rooms, Udatsu Sushi, etc.
This does translate into longer waiting times as the chef starts preparing after getting your order (some dishes have to be ordered a day in advance) and higher minimum order amounts (around ¥5000)
7. Food Panda
In many ways, Food Panda is similar to other delivery apps. There’s one caveat though – it doesn’t always provide English menus, as they don’t translate menus independently.
The app is very easy to use, however, and if you get into the groove, or have used Food Panda before while in another country – there’s no reason to move onto another app.
The delivery charge is set by the restaurant, as with a few other apps.
Individual Delivery Services
8. McDonald’s McDelivery
McDonald’s is the largest fast-food chain in Japan with approximately 2,900 restaurants in the country. The surprising part would be if this American giant WASN’T offering an English-language delivery option and didn’t have a spectacular coverage of the city.
McDonald’s is one of the safest delivery options for a tourist in Tokyo. You know what you’re ordering, and you know you’re getting it fast.
The delivery charge is flat ¥300 for most areas, and the minimum order amount is around ¥1500.
9. Domino’s Pizza
Domino’s Pizza is the largest pizza chain in Japan, operating almost 750 stores (last we checked there were 742 locations). Unsurprisingly, they’re also the largest pizza delivery service.
If you’ve ever ordered Domino’s Pizza from their website – then putting in your delivery order should take you no more than a minute.
If it’s your first time, it may take you a couple of minutes more – but not longer. Their website is very intuitive and directed to simplify the process for the customer.
Chances of Domino’s delivery being unable to bring pizza straight to your door during your stay in Tokyo are very low. They’re one of the most reliable options, especially if you’re staying farther out from the city center.
Domino’s Pizza offers free delivery, but there’s a minimum order amount of around ¥1,100.
10. Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut has been operating in Japan since 1973, and while not as big as Domino’s with 370 stores across the country, they’re still plenty widespread and adept at delivering pizza to their customers’ doorsteps.
Similar to McDonald’s and Domino’s this international chain has an English-language version of the website, making it rather easy for a tired tourist to place an order.
As with Domino’s Pizza, there are no separate delivery charges with Pizza Hut, however, there’s a minimum order amount of around ¥1,100
11. Curry House CoCo Ichibanya
For those, who want to try a Japanese-native establishment, CoCo Ichibanya is a great choice. Their delivery app has an English-language version, where you can easily order curry and rice from the nearest branch.
CoCo Ichibanya specializes in curry rice but offers such a vast selection of toppings that you can easily order every day of the week without repeating your order.
Interesting fact: the chain has two halal-friendly curry shops that offer delivery (Shinjuku and Akihabara)
There’s a delivery charge of around ¥400, however, it may be waived if your order is over ¥3000.
Bonus: The One Japanese-Only Service You Have to Try – Rakuten Delivery
Rakuten Delivery is the most popular delivery service among the locals. Basically, what DoorDash is to US consumers, Rakuten is to Japanese – it dominates and for a good reason.
Rakuten offers its users over 10,000 options, including the big chains like KFC, McDonald’s, Domino’s, and CoCo Ichibanya.
If you can get a Japanese friend to help you understand how the app works or muddle through yourself armed with determination and an online translator, you’ll gain access to the largest selection of Tokyo’s food and drink delivery.
It may not be worth it if your stay in Tokyo is short, but for those who’re planning to use delivery options often – Rakuten is the best option. Any restaurant you want to try out, Rakuten has the highest chances of having delivery available.