Making a reservation especially for dinner is critical in Japan, just like all the big cities in the US.
When you are planning a trip, I understand it can be difficult to do remotely. So today I will introduce you “Tabelog“, a restaurant reservation/rating platform where you can make a reservation online.
No Japanese people make a reservation without screening through this website. Just like Yelp in the US, Tabelog is by far the most popular word-of-mouth restaurant website among local Japanese.
What to Check When Choosing Restaurants on Tabelog
Tabelog rating is on 0 to 5 scale.
In my opinion, you should aim for at least 3.5 in rating. You don’t wanna regret when when a number of meals you can have during the trip is limited, and restaurants with a rating of 3.5 or above rarely have “terrible food” in general.
if the rating is 4.0 and above, it gets extremely difficult to make a reservation, as it usually requires knowing the right people, or making a reservation way in advance (sometimes over a year!).
It is obviously stated as per person and based on the past visitors. It includes beverages.
This is a pretty accurate estimate of the meal cost, so you should definitely take it into account.
Make sure to type it in Google Map and see if the transportation is manageable from wherever you are planning to be on that day. Remember Japanese subway system is super complicated.
Generally it is considered not so accessible if getting there requires using more than 2 different subway lines, unless it’s a specific restaurant you really really wanted to try!
Operating Hours and Shop Holidays
You should definitely check these especially if you are not familiar with Japanese holidays.
Restaurants’ holidays and operating hours vary significantly for each restaurant.
How to Use Tabelog
Go to Restaurant’s Page From Direct Link or Search
On PC page, you can choose restaurants by category, genre and occasion. But we recommend you to use “by category” because this option has many more features to find your ideal restaurant.
If you choose “by category”, you should enter location and price range (per person), and sort by “Overall ranking”.
Check Restaurant Info (See Section Above)
Check all the points that I explained at the beginning and make sure it’s the one you want to go.
Switch to Japanese Version and Start Reservation
In the menu, select “日本語 (Japanese)” to switch to Japanese version.
This is because English site doesn’t have online reservation feature yet. Don’t worry, once you already have a restaurant you want to reserve, it’s an easy step from here!
Then click on an orange button that says “予約を申し込む (start reservation)”.
Enter Info, and You Are All Set!
Fill in the easy form as I translated below.
Two things to note, for the phone number, many of you may not have one for the trip. You should put your hotel’s number in that case as it requires a Japanese phone number.
Another thing is that you have to input your name in Hiragana.
You can use this website and copy & paste the converted katakana name (it’s kind of fun right?)
Then click on a green button that says “予約を申し込む (finish reservation)”.
Now you are all set! You will receive an e-mail notification shortly. Enjoy 🙂