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mjs

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  1. Not Mimi. No way. Reichl yes, although she would be crucified on the boards today if her name wasn't Ruth Reichl. ← I'm not worried about agreeing all the time with a critic (that is impossible), but I would like the Times to apply the same standard to choosing a restaurant critic as they do a music or theater critic. I'd certainly argue that Craig Clairborne, Mimi Sheraton, Bryan Miller, and Ruth Reichl reached that standard. They were all people who had spent their careers involved with food. Bruni has been an embarrassment when compared to any of them.
  2. mjs

    Babbo

    Sorry, but I disagree with you about letter writing. Sure, depending on the situation it can be more effective to speak to a manager then and there. However, different situations may call for a different approach. A few years ago I was entertaining foreign clients at Le Bernardin. The food was fine but there were several service slip-ups. I did my best to discreetly point them out to the server or captain (one of the issues was lack of proximity of someone in charge). However, problems continued throughout the meal. If I had made more of a fuss, it would have been awkward and potentially embarrassing in front of my guests. I also didn't feel it was incumbent upon me to get up from a business conversation in order to find an appropriate manager. It's also too late to fix certain problems once they have occurred. In that case I wrote a letter and received an appropriate call apologizing. I was sent a gift certificate (I don't remember the exact amount...around $200) as compensation. I was satisfied with the response.
  3. Sounds nice, but for the type of place I'm talking about $40 - 60/person at lunch would be a bargain. Expected price (even at lunch) would be at least $100, probably $150+. At dinner easily over $200. A generous size private room with a dedicated chef for only 3 or 4 guests is going to be pricey.
  4. Ryotei style is definitely what I'm looking for. The restaurant I visited many years ago was a private room (thinking back, I can't say for sure it was tatami), and the chef was there the entire time. That was one of things that made it so special. We essentially had the chef exclusively to ourselves for the entire meal. I appreciate everyone's suggestions above. I've been to various branches of Ten-ichi many times. Always good, but not really standout. A friend once took me to a very small place in Ginza...probably only 8 or 9 seats max, that was the best experience I've had other than the original I described. It sounds like Hayashi may be like that. Appreciating further thoughts.
  5. On my first visit to Japan, more than 20 years ago, I was taken by a senior manager at the company I worked for to a tempura restaurant for lunch. When he suggested tempura, I was secretly disappointed, since I considered relatively uninteresting food that gaijin eat. When I arrived at the restaurant I was stunned. I don't remember much about the entire restaurant except that we were ushered into an exceedingly large private tatami room. The three of us sat at a counter behind which was a huge vat of oil. Behind the vat was a shoji through which the chef entered. We had a 1.5 lunch during which the chef stayed the entire time and cooked individual pieces of a huge variety of exotic (and familiar) seafood and vegetables. I've wanted to replicate this experience ever since, but have never found anyone who could identify a similar establishment in Tokyo. Does anyone have any recommendations? I'm going to be in Tokyo next week and would like to try and reserve it.
  6. I'm afraid this is anecdotal. While I have traveled frequently to Japan for many years, my wife's first chance was when we took a vacation to attend a friend's wedding 7 years ago. She was nearly 7 months pregnant and her OB agreed to let her eat raw fish in Japan. When we told various Japanese women that US doctors generally advise pregnant women not to eat raw fish, they all thought this was quite humorous. The general consensus was that raw fish is healthy and that pregnant women should eat a higher percentage of healthier foods. Therefore, they all assumed it was better to increase one's consumption of raw fish while pregnant. Since this seems to have been the practice for several generations, it might be you won't find any official government guidance on the subject. It would probably require a search of Japanese medical texts to find what Fat Guy is looking for.
  7. mjs

    Aburiya Kinnosuke

    Japanese usually translate "kama" as "neck". However, these days it is usually listed as collar on menus since we don't usually think of fish having necks. I've most frequently seen buri kama in Japan. Buri is just the adult version of Hamachi but they always seem to make the distinction in Japan. I'm not sure whether I can tell if what is frequently sold here as hamachi kama is really buri kama. Maguro kama isn't nearly as common in Japan as buri. I've had it at a couple of places and it has been giant. Obviously from a large tune, one serving of kama was enough for 4 or 5 people.
  8. I've known people who were regulars at Kuruma back when they were at their old location in the late 80s/early 90s. It was more than $100/pp even then. Having said that, the owner certainly has a reputation for varying the price depending on the customer. In my experience, the "usual" these days is $250/person. I imagine it would be easy to blow through that if one kept ordering huge quantities of otoro, abalone, etc. Regarding price of sushi in Japan, I think it is misleading to suggest that Japanese will pay more here because the prices are so high at home. In general, sushi is much less expensive in Tokyo than in NY for comparable quality. This is certainly to some extent a function of the cost of flying the best fish here. However, I've frequently paid $25 - $50 in Tokyo for quality that would cost $100+ here. The most expensive sushi place in Tokyo is generally thought to be Kyubei in Ginza. I've been there a few times and I don't think it has ever run more than $300 or $350 per person (including tax & substantial quantities of sake...no tipping in Japan). One can eat almost as well elsewhere in Tokyo, in much less fancy surroundings, for about $150 - 200. IMHO, the quality at Kuruma (while very good by NY standards) doesn't even come close to Kyubei or other top places in Japan.
  9. The menu is very different from Nobu.
  10. Even in Japan, most people don't make sushi at home. Sushi making is considered a specialized skill which requires formal apprenticeship/training. Sashimi can be purchased pre-cut at Japanese supermarkets. The average person doesn't really know how to properly cut fish for sashimi. One exception is that I've been invited to people's homes a few times for "make your own sushi." In this case pre-cut fish and seaweed are purchased. Sushi rice is prepared. The guests then use chopsticks to take a piece of seaweed, grab some rice and then a piece of fish with it. Dip the combo in soy sauce (wasabi added to either soy sauce or fish) and eat.
  11. Sorry, I should clarify. Not all his comments are post ... obviously the stuff he does where he interacts with the chefs is "live", but the little snippets of information that get cut-in mid battle will have a different audio quality to them.. they're less ambient and are done in studio. This may not be fair comment as the original Iron Chef was completely post-production in that is was dubbed. For me, Iron Chef's appeal is the fact that everything is spur of the moment ... true they may have a good idea of what the secret ingredient is ahead of time, but all the prep/cooking/plating is done in one hour. That's pretty impressive when it takes me 15 minutes to make macaroni & cheese from a box! I think the show is much better because of the spontinaity, and if Alton or Kevin or one of the judges mess up, so be it. Nobody allows the chefs to do a re-take ... A. ← I attended a taping of one of the shows. I assure you Alton was doing his commentary in real time, including "the snippets of info that get cut-in mid battle." It is certainly possible more is added or changed in post but, I think most of it is "live."
  12. They are definitely not being shown in order they were taped.
  13. I usually just call it kama (and most restaurants in NYC call it kama) however, I've usually seen kama translated as "neck." I've alway been partial to buri or hamachi. However, have visited one sushi bar in Shinbashi which serves humongous maguro kama. Very tasty!
  14. I was going to make a similar point. Morimoto is pretty liberal with the foie gras, white truffles, caviar, kobe beef, caviar, etc. The meal doesn't cost anywhere near $500.
  15. I asked one of my just returned from Japan friends about this. Her points are as follows: 1. Sushi is generally better in Tokyo than NYC and you can get very good sushi in Tokyo for $50 if you know where to go (meaning one of your friends takes you to a place they know) 2. The high end places in Tokyo that are accesable to normal people are generally around $200 for sushi. She counts herself as a normal person, Waseda degree and Japanese passport notwithstanding. 3. There are more expensive places in Tokyo for sushi that can go way over $200 but they are not accesable to normal people; they operate as "clubs", you have to be a member. It may be more fair to compare Masa to this kind of place. 4. Non-Japanese food in Tokyo is quite expensive; you can expect something like Jean Georges to be double the price in Tokyo as compared to NYC. Given some of the things on the menu at Masa, like the caviar, truffles and foie gras, Masa might be priced more like a non-Japanese restaurant in Tokyo. I also had dinner on Friday (at Eleven Madison Park) with another friend, who is Japanese-American and who has lived in Tokyo for the last 4 years. Her comment was that her lunch costs her $15 every day(!!!) and every place in Tokyo seems expensive to her. She's an ex-pat with a company paid for 2 bedroom apartment..... I think the "club" thing may be hiding things in Tokyo. There is at least one similar example in NYC. The Nippon Club on West 57th operates a private, member only dining room and I've been told by people who have eaten there that it is one of the better high end Japanese restaurants in town. The Nippon Club FYI is an exclusive business club dating all the way back to 1905, and it occupies 7 floors of a high rise. Anyone know a member? ← As some others have pointed out, The Nippon Club isn't very good. BTW, it isn't all that exclusive either. It is pretty easy to become a member if you know other members. Your friend who pays $15 every day for lunch in Tokyo is eating at expensive places. Even in the pretty good lunch places in some of the office bldgs catering to foreigners a very decent lunch can be had for $8-10 (i.e. less costly than worse food in NYC). Of course, it is possible to spend $15 at "regular" lunch places depending on what you order. However, I usually feel that I spend a few dollars less for lunch in Tokyo versus the comparable place in NY. I'm fortunate enought to have been invited to several of the special "clubs." The food isn't generally better than high end restaurants at which anyone can make a reservation (e.g. Kyubei). The exception are special Ryotei by invitation only places. I've also had some really good sushi for $50-$100 ($50 is if you have a Japanese sized appetite) through knowing people (for example the semi-private sushi bar owned by someone who also owns several wholesale stalls in Tsukiji). Some of this easily rivals or betters the top places in NY (Masa excepted since I haven't been there). However, it isn't really a fair comparison since you couldn't have such places in NY. Point well taken about foreign food in Tokyo. French is what is really outrageous - e.g. Tour d'Argent Tokyo. I haven't eaten there but am told it isn't that good. OTOH, I've had excellent Italian food in Tokyo for $200/person.
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