Retail in Asia

In Sectors

Tokyo: From Michelin to Fast-food

In global food and beverage circles, Tokyo is a world-beater. Home to endless of fine dining options, innovative Japanese cuisine, and some of the world’s most creative fast-food, Tokyo is firmly established as one of the leading international restaurant destinations.

Diversity is the name of the game in Tokyo. The 2016 Michelin Guide Tokyo boasts close to 600 establishments of starred best-in-class dining. Michelin Stars aside, aided by media exposure, the city is also host to a sub-culture of competitive “B-Grade” gourmet, which includes everything from battling ramen chefs, rival pork tonkatsu (cutlet) shops, to casual sushi restaurateurs vying for prize tuna. The list goes on.

Shifts in Spending Patterns

More recently, Tokyo’s food and beverage scene has received a boost from demographic shifts. Recent dips in department stores and traditional retail sales would suggest that consumer spending has taken a hit. Quite the contrary. Tokyoites—most recently, Tokyo millennials—have voted with their wallets, embracing a lifestyle of socializing and eating, at the expense of more traditional consumption.

SEE ALSO: 5 things to know about Asian millenials

Students, homemakers and professionals alike flock to the city’s mainstream and underground eateries for top-notch dining and socializing all year-around. With high population density and space restrictions for many urban dwellers in the city, eating out has now become a focal point of the evening for residents. According to, 2016 alone brought more than 200 new and new-at-heart food & beverage concepts to the city.

American Fast-food Redux

A recent and rather surprising phenomena has emerged onto the dining-out scene in Tokyo—the rebirth of American fast-food. Named locally as American Fast-food 3.0, these franchises have appeared in the market with upgraded food quality, retooled marketing strategies and enhanced branding not seen in the continental United States.

Most notably, Shake Shack, which has come onto the burger scene in a strong way with Tokyoites, forming lines out of the door several weeks after the grand opening for a new dining experience. 2016 was also the break out year for other American chains following the same “3.0” approach, such as Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr. and Panda Express.

SEE ALSO: Starbuck’s Willy Wonka-inspired Roastery coming to Tokyo

The New Retail Destination

Tokyo has its share of mesmerizing retail destinations, from Mitsukoshi and Dover Street Market in Ginza, to Roppongi Hills and the NeWoman complex in Shinjuku. However, to the discerning eye, new F&B concepts dominate the ground floors and command Tokyo’s crowds of spenders. New restaurants like 800 Degrees Pizza, The Pie Hole, Alexander’s Steakhouse and Bill’s command long lines and create exotic atmospheres that keep Tokyoites filling their seats seven days a week.

Traditional fashion and apparel retailers have also joined in the fray, adding cafés and restaurant components to standalone stores. Everyone, from luxury to sports, is adding their own branded lifestyle concepts including brands like Armani and Fred Segal. New Balance’s new Harajuku flagship even features a themed café on its fourth floor to bring foot traffic up to the top.

The World’s Food & Beverage Capital

Whether your appetite is for fine dining, exclusive delicacies or a casual burger, Tokyo has you covered. Dining out has never been more social and entertaining, yet equally satisfying to the palette, as in the great Metropolis of Tokyo


prince-phillipsPrince Phillips is an Associate Director on the Retail Services team for CBRE Japan. His team actively advises domestic and international retailers on their expansions in Japan and other markets. His team provides retailers with support every step of the way from opening strategies, market analysis, local operating partners searches to property acquisition.