Ichigaya/Shinjuku Area recommendations
Posted 30 June 2011 - 10:46 PM
Some of you might know me from posts about Japanese food over the years or my little chapter in Steve Shaw's exceptional book, Asian Dining Rules -
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I've been returning with increasing frequency to Tokyo. Unfortunately, between harried meetings, tradeshows, setteis, and restarateurs in Japan I already have longstanding friendships with, I actually get to do very little exploratory dining . This is also the case, I think I may have only 1 lunch and 1 dinner I can actually decide a place, but in case it is more, I am looking for recommendations.
So... I'm staying in Ushigome Yanagicho, which is near Akebanebashi and obstensibly Ichigaya. Office/meetings will be Yurakacho and Akasaka areas.
What I'm really looking for is... well - I lived there 2000-2002, returning frequently since then. I live in NY which, if you've read some of my old posts, I am able to pretty much get whatever I want or need Japanese food-wise due to the huge issei population. So what I'm looking for is -
What's new/modern/newly modernized old/newly old/old but newly discovered in Tokyo, that I can't get in NY, that's trended in the past several years? Just looking to fill in the gaps of my Japan gastro experience. Yakiniku I'm set - but pretty much anything else is game
Really appreciate the help -
Posted 01 July 2011 - 09:54 PM
In the last few years I have not been eating out often enough to answer sensibly on trends and new discoveries, but Shinjuku and Yurakucho, I know something about. I've lived in Shinjuku ward since 1995, and I spent 3 years in the 90's working in Yurakucho.
Have you been to Soba no sen Takasago, about 2 minutes' walk from Ushigome Yanagicho ? Probably on the 'undiscovered' side as far as white foreigners go, though I did meet a group of buyers from Britain's Marks & Spencer eating dinner there a while back. They harvest the buckwheat from the shop's own fields in Fukushima. 03-3260-3908; Shinjuku, Naka-machi 22. Soba for connoisseurs.
Edited by Blether, 01 July 2011 - 09:55 PM.
Posted 03 July 2011 - 12:27 AM
Kagurazaka - one stop or a pleasant walk away - is an entertainment centre with a long history, and it's also convenient for Iidabashi station which has direct trains to Yurakucho. If you weren't focusing on Japanese food, I'd suggest you find out if Shara Diner (French) is still running: "when you book in advance, just ask us for any French food that you'd like & we'll make it", on top of the regular menu; and very good French wines at great prices. Again, old information, but either way, Kagurazaka will spoil you for choice. I should probably renew my own wings - give me a shout if you like and I'll join you.
Do track down thelobster, he's been in Tokyo forever and runs bento.com, Japan's biggest online English-language restaurant guide.
Posted 03 July 2011 - 12:43 AM
It's an interesting question you have - there have certainly been a lot of changes in the Tokyo dining scene over the past ten years, and there's a lot of good food here that you won't find in New York. I think the ramen world in particular has gone through major changes, with whole new styles invented and exploding in popularity over the past five years (tsukemen, abura-soba). Also gourmet name-brand pork from heirloom breeds is a relatively new, and exciting, culinary trend. And charcoal-grill-specialty izakaya, and serious sake pubs with limited-edition monthly specials from small kura are all much more popular than they were ten years ago.
In terms of specific venues, near Akebonobashi I can recommend Asama for their selection of seasonal sakes and good yakitori and very warm, friendly service. Perhaps not cutting-edge cuisine, but well worth trying out, and their sake selection is very impressive.
In Akasaka Butta is very good, and representative of the new trend in gourmet pork restaurants. They serve grilled pork on skewers, including odd parts of the pig that you might not expect to see on a menu. At the other end of the price spectrum is the Kyoto kaiseki restaurant Kikunoi, which wasn't there ten years ago, and which now serves lunch as well as dinner. In Ginza, Nagamine serves a wonderful vegetable kaiseki menu that's quite unique and unlike anything you'll find in New York.
Edited by thelobster, 03 July 2011 - 12:44 AM.
Posted 03 July 2011 - 12:52 AM
Posted 03 July 2011 - 01:44 AM
Kobayashi-san: great sailor, great photographer and wonderful friend.
Edited by Blether, 03 July 2011 - 01:45 AM.
Posted 03 July 2011 - 05:04 PM
So, apply my original question to ALL of Tokyo west of the palace... and the east side too as I'll be in Yurakocho 3 days in a row... What can't I miss?! I only have 5 days! Sucks!
Posted 03 July 2011 - 08:47 PM
Tapas Molecular Bar in Nihonbashi for experimental deconstructions of Japanese cuisine.
Agaru Sagaru in Harajuku for fantastic Kyoto-style cuisine.
Souten in Otsuka for yakitori, game birds and sake.
Torimikura Chaya in Omotesando for charcoal-grilled chicken and game birds.
Nagamine in Ginza for vegetable kaiseki.
Ivan Plus Ramen in Kyodo for the four-cheese ramen.
Bakuro in Ebisu for horsemeat.
Butagumi in Nishi-Azabu for tonkatsu.
Potager in Roppongi for vegetable sushi.
Ryugin in Roppongi for modern kaiseki.
Craftheads in Shibuya for Japanese microbrews.