- November 07 2015
3 Word-of-Mouth Websites you should use when finding good Japanese restaurants
As you know, Japanese people love drinking and eating. Even if we work hard, if we're able to go to our favorite restaurants and have great food and drinks on Friday nights, we'll be free of stress. Many people are like that.
So word-of-mouth websites in Japan are very popular. We always check these sites and make a reservation beforehand, and it is even said that it's a necessary skill to be able to choose a good restaurant, for business people.
How the restaurant industry developed with the word-of-mouth websites
Many Japanese people living in the urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka eat out very often. So we're used to eating good food and more strict to restaurants then people in other countries.
Taste of course, customer service, the atmosphere, cost performance, the way they arrange food on plates, how often menus are renewed...we look at everything.
That is why restaurants have improved their service by hearing those strict voices, and have gradually become higher and higher in quality.
So today we will introduce word-of-mouth websites you should use during your stay in Japan.
The most popular word-of-mouth website: Tabelog
Tabelog is the website that is used the most in Japan. It can be said that this site's popularity was the key to the word-of-mouth custom.
The site itself corresponds to English, Chinese and Korean, but most of the word-of-mouth opinions are in Japanese. But what is important is the rating, outlined in red.
What you should be careful is that how Japanese people rate in five stars and the ratings in other countries are a little different.
In other countries, many people give a five star when they feel that they got everything they needed and are pretty satisfied. But in Japan, that is rated a three-star place. If they had some points that were especially good, they will give a four-star, and if they are fully satisfied and were amazed by the wonderful experience of a lifetime, then they will finally give a five-star. As you can see, we are very strict lol.
On Tabelog, it is said that “if they have more than three points, you can expect satisfaction,” and you might want to keep in mind that “if they have more than 3.5 points, they are a very popular place and reservation is necessary.”
I use Tabelog very often but I’ve never been to a 3.2 point restaurant that didn’t have good food.
If you want to know more about how to use Tabelog, please read this article too.
Trip Advisor, a necessity on trips
Trip Advisor comes in handy during trips. Unlike Tabelog, 1.You’ll be able to know the ratings by travelers, and 2. You can read the opinions in other languages.
Meanwhile, Trip Advisor has more info about hotels and tourist sites, and have only a few reviews about food. You may want to find a place on Tabelog first and search for the restaurant on Trip Advisor.
Of course the restaurants that are rated high on the Trip Advisor are often very crowded and there are times when you have to wait at least an hour.
But from a Japanese point of view, the places popular among tourists may be rated highly because of their convenient location and the atmosphere, and they might be that satisfying in taste after the long wait. I personally do not recommend referring too much to the ratings in Tokyo and Osaka on Trip Advisor.
Yelp: Popular among local people and tourists
Yelp is a popular service among people all over the world so you might already know about this one. Yelp came to Japan in 2014 and is currently gradually increasing their number of users.
The strong point about Yelp is that the opinions by both local people and tourists can be a good reference.
You can also check the ranking in different languages, so you’ll be able to see which places are popular among different people.
It’s also easy to communicate with other users on Yelp! The people using Yelp in Japan are probably gourmet lovers, so you can try sending messeges asking which places they recommend! (But many Japanese aren’t very good at speaking English, so we’re very sorry if you don’t get a reply back...haha)
How was the article? If you have time, you should check a couple word-of-mouth websites to be sure. The encounters with good restaurants are one of the pleasures in a trip. Take your time, use these sites and make your trip tasty and satisfying!