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Tokyo Restaurants: Reviews & Recs


Jason Perlow
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Jason:

Year, it is tough. Sushi restaurants in TOKYO exceed ramen

shops in number. Even out of them which are receiving

the ultimate praise, it still is difficult to tell which is

the best.

Here are some lists which I have been dreaming of visiting.

They must be really good, but quite expensive as well.

BENTENYAMA MIYAKO

2-1-16 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo

81-3-3844-0034

SUKIYABASHI JIRO

4-2-15-BF1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

81-3-3535-3600

KOZASA ZUSHI

8-6-18 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

81-3-3289-2227

If you are looking for the cost-perfomance, the best choice

is DAIWA ZUSHI in Tsukiji fish market.Though you must wait in

line, it's worth.

5-2-1 Tsukiji,Chuoku, Tokyo

81-3-3547-6807

The quality of sushi is basically depending on the freshness

of NETA(seafood material). In that DAIWA ZUSHI is enjoying the

advantage of its location.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jason: Thank you for the explanation.

jhlurie: Sorry for my misunderstanding.

I bet most of under-rated sushi restaurants are in

residential areas in Metropolitan Tokyo rather than

in busy towns like Ginza, Shibuya or Roppongi. The most

reliable gourmet magazine "Dancyu" has digged out and made

them rated or well-known in the last several years.

But as you know we have as many sushi restaurants as stars

(few stars are visible in tokyo, though!). We have more stock.

A usual Japanese family has at least one regularily visting

sushi restaurant. In my living zone, Ooimachi which is next

station to shinagawa, one of the largest terminal in Tokyo,

Arimura is my recommendation.(Let me know,if you need specific

data.)

It is quite difficult to compare these restaurants located in

each residential area because no one has ever tried all of

favorite of local people. I could be of your help if you

specify in which part of Tokyo you need info or where you

are gonna stay.

If this were about ramen, I would be able to tell you where

to go instantly. 

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  • 4 months later...

Oh finally I can post a message !!!!   :p  :p

Dear Bon,

Thank you for your help in reply mail. If "Tsuna hachi" is only so-so, can you suggest some other nice tempura restaurants in Shinjuku or Shibuya with reasonable price? Better tell me how to walk there from JR line too. Thanks.

Actually I dare to try any VERY LOCAL Japanese restaurants in Tokyo, such as raw fugu or see urchin. You know what I mean? I want to eat something exclusive in Japan but popular among Japanese people. I can easily gather a list of Japanese restaurants from internet, but I would never know if it is gonna be a show for tourists only!

Please recommend some speciality to me. I am going for 10 days, ie 3x10 = 30meals I need to plan!! haha!! Meanwhile, I can only get information from internet for my lunches & dinners as they all list to be opened from 1100am+. What Japanese breakfasts can I take? Please dont tell me McDonalds or other burger shops open early in morning.  ???  ???  ;)  ;)

Good site & keep it up!

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Hi Tonny, Welcome to the Japan forum of egullet.com. :D

without the budget in your mind, it is difficult to make best recommendation. The following is the normal price range for me to set in mind when visiting a tempra restaurant.

(First Class)

Dinner:over 10,000yen($70) Lunch: around 7,000yen($45)

(Intermediate)

Dinner:over 7,000yen($45) Lunch: around 5,000($35)

Tempra is one of the luxury stuff when eating out and it is costy especially in busy areas like Shinjuku or Shibuya. So within the same price range, "Tsunahachi" is not bad.

If you prefer one in the same price range as "Tsunahachi" and you stick to Shibuya/Shinjuku, I would recommend you "Ten-matsu."

Address: 1-6-1 Dougenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-3462-2815

Open: 11;00-14:00 17:00-21:00 7days/week

They offer you preset menu "Teishoku" at 2000yen for lunch.

Better tell me how to walk there from JR line too. Thanks.

It is too difficult. Both Shibuya and Shinjuku are too big in size and complicated to guide you from the JR station without a map. Best for you is to get assistance from a concierge.

I will make another thread for other recommendation.;)

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  • 1 month later...

Hello --

Does anyone have a good French or Thai restaurant to recommend in Tokyo? I'd like it to be nice, but not much more than 200,000 yen total (which unfortunately would rule out places like Cote D'Or). We're staying in Asakusa, and I'm hoping not to have to walk too far since I'm dressing up for the occasion -- it's my birthday dinner.  :smile:

Thank you very much!

C.

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Hello --

Does anyone have a good French or Thai restaurant to recommend in Tokyo? I'd like it to be nice, but not much more than 200,000 yen total (which unfortunately would rule out places like Cote D'Or). We're staying in Asakusa, and I'm hoping not to have to walk too far since I'm dressing up for the occasion -- it's my birthday dinner.  :smile:

Thank you very much!

C.

hellahungry, happy birthday to you!

Sorry for the dalayed reply.

Here are my recommendations;

Name: Geuchai

Genre: Thai

Address: 1-11-9 Koutoubashi, Sumidaku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-3634-9991

Open: 11:30-21:45

Close: Mon

This is one of the pioneer Thai restaurants in Tokyo.

It is bit too far to walk from Asakusa, so you'd better

take ASAKUSA line(Subway) and change to Soubu line

(JR) or take a cab. Please be noted that you cannot

expect any fanciness in decor as this is a casual restaurant.

Name: La Che brue

Genre: French

Address: 1-1-12 Nishi Asakusa, Koukou-ku,Tokyo

Tel: 03-3845-1336

Open: 18:00-22:00

Close: Wed

Reasonable and friendly atomosphere.

Name: Oomiya

Genre: Japanised French

Address: 2-1-3 Asakusa, Koukou-ku,Tokyo

Tel: 03-3844-0038

Open: 17:30-20:30

Close: Mon

Small but well-established. Need reservation for

dinner.

Those places won't cost more than 10,000yen per

person. If you need more luxurious places, let me know.

Hope you will have a nice birthday dinner!

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  • 1 month later...

The situation: (1) I'm starting a new job this fall, so I'll have little vacation time but money burning a hole in my frequent flyer card, and (2) I hate American Thanksgiving food.

The solution: Thanksgiving in Tokyo. I'll be spending November 28-December 2 (about four full days) in the city of...well, what is Tokyo's nickname anyway?

I've never been to Japan before and am only somewhat knowledgeable about Japanese food. I've emailed BON, and he has kindly offered to help plan my trip but suggested we work it out here for the benefit of readers.

Details: I've enjoyed every Japanese food I've tried with the exception of uni (but I'd give it another whirl). I'm already planning a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji, and of course BON is going to take me to some great ramen. I'll probably be taking some meals alone (from what I hear, Tokyo is a great place to do this). Unagi is one of my favorite things, so I'll be seeking out an eel meal as well.

So what are some other can't-miss dining experiences? I want to focus on Japanese food, of course, but within those unconfining confines, I'm up for almost anything. BON has suggested that I stay in Ginza or Shinagawa. Anyone agree or disagree?

I realize I'm asking something like "where should I eat in New York?" but I'll do my best to narrow things down as we go.

The heat will be on!

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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mamster:

Welcome to Japan!

From 28th of November to 2nd of December... sounds good because

the World Series should have been over at that timing even if Mariners

could successfully climb up the ladder. :smile: Anyway, you can enjoy

most of delicious seasonal specilality food like Matsutake mushroom,

oysters, Fugu, sanma (saury), etc.

Sushi at Tsukiji... No problem. My office is just around the courner from

the market. Actually I am eating lunch almost every weekdays! :raz:

No uni!? :blink: OK, I'll take yours. :rolleyes:

Ramen...no need to comment, shall I?

Unagi. Mmm...if you like full-course, it may cost around $100. You can

afford a bowl at around $25 even at the best unagi restaurant. They

serve natural one, though most of cheap shops are using cultured ones!

What else?

How about NABE, hot pot stuff. There are several varietions to be considered.

Also, although you would like to focus on Japanese food, but pls be noticed

that we do eat foreign oriented food as frequently as Japanese. And some

of them have been refined to meet local taste here and worth being tried.

Among them I would recommend you Japanised Korean BBQ (Yakiniku) and

Japanised curru & rice.

I'm interested in what kind of cuisine you'll choose from your information

source, so let me hear. We have plenty of time!

Also I would like to welcome opinions from other eGullet readers. Some

members seem quite knowledgefull about Japanese food.

BON

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Your post fondly reminded me of the Thanksgivings that I spent in Japan searching for restaurants that would actually serve me a Turkey dinner as I nostalgically pined for home.

BUT, if I were lucky enough to go back for a visit this November I would definitely skip the turkey and head straight for:

Ninikuya... is a great restaurant in Ebisu, not straightforwardly Japanese but not food you are going to find anywhere else.

Okonomiyaki... sort of "street" food that you make yourself at the table and not exactly haute cuisine but I miss it. Sort of Japanese savory pancakes, made with batter and shredded cabbage and depending on the type could have seafood or meat and veg, or even pepperoni and cheese! Don't miss the... what was it called? I think it's mentaiyaki... no that doesn't feel right, someone help me out, what is the mochi with mentaiko combo that you spread on the hotplate and scrape off with that little implement?

Akiko

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Thanks, Akiko. I'm definitely interested in okonimiyaki. I guess I need to start following the Mariners if I'm going to admit to the Japanese that I'm from Seattle. Go Ichiro! Go Kazu!

What kind of food do they serve at Ninikuya?

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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What kind of food do they serve at Ninikuya?

mamster,

Ninikuya is actually misspelled. Correctly it is spelled "Ninnikuya."

"Ninniku" means garlic in Japanese. So every dish served at

Ninnikuya has garlic as one of ingredients. I'll look for more info.

but unfortunately that shop has changed its chef and lowered

reputation. If you are still interested, I'll look for photos for your

refference.

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:sad:

Bon, I'm sad to hear that the chef changed... Do you know where he went and how long ago this happened?

Ninnikuya (I apologize for the misspelling, I don't always do so well in translating to romaji) was amazing for quite a while. All of my siblings have lived in Tokyo, one after the other over a span of ten years and it was something we all looked forward to experiencing after having the meals regaled to us from oldest brother down to youngest sister.

Ninnikuya had some garlic in all of its dishes, the flavour was intense and the combinations excellent. I never found that the garlic was overwhelming...but still managed to be the star ingredient. Although, I must admit, you did smell like garlic afterwards!

The kitchen was open and you could sit at the bar in front of all the chefs. Running along the bar was a open style "cooler" full of ice chips and whole veggies and herbs. There was very little already chopped... I don't know how they did it but almost everything was prepared to order. Freshness was very important to them.

I'd love to know where the chef went.

Akiko

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Mamster: one of the best ways I enjoy food in Japan is not just the restaurants, but the department store food centers (usually located in the basement). The visual bounty and variety of both Japanese traditional and Western delicacies and Chinese will certainly astound you. Nothing in the US comes close, in my experience (not Draeger's in SF, not Zabar's in NYC). In Europe, it is reminiscent of Fauchon, Kaefer in Munich and KDW in Berlin.

I love it also because unlike in restaurants, you often get a free sample from eager vendors (they are esp. nice to foreigners) which allows you try tons of stuff you've never heard of. The first think I do when I arrive in Tokyo is to hit the basement food centers!

While almost every department store has a basement food/delicatessen area, my favorites are as follows:

1) Shibuya Station (in front of the Toyoko subway line on ground floor) I forgot the name but BON may be able to help there. There are two of interest (to me anyway), both right under Shibuya station. One is in the basement next to the entrance to the Hanzomon subway platform.

2) Mitsukoshi Department Store (flagship store) at the Mitsukoshi-eki-mae station (Ginza or Hanzomon subway line)

3) Takashimaya Department Store (flagship store) at the Nihombashi subway station (Ginza subway line).

Foods to look for:

1) Assorted sushi & sashimi (for take home). Note tip: after 7PM or so, sushi/sashimi and other perishables are sold at steep discount. I once bought some very nice Honmaguro ootoro and chutoro (bluefin tuna).

2) Tonkatsu (take back to hotel and eat). You will note different prices for similar looking sizes. I avoid the cheapest ones because they have huge borders of pure fat. More expensive cuts are more meat than fat.

3) Japanese desserts/pastries: mainly rice based and bean based sweets. I find Japanese desserts too one-dimensional for my taste, but is worth a try. My favorite: look for something called "warabi-mochi", very delicate desert coated with a nutty soybean (I think) powder called "kinako".

4) Japanese savory condiments/accompaniments to rice in soy sauce called "tsukudani". In this fashion, many things, from small shrimp to fmall fish and clams are preserved. They are great with hot steaming rice. Try some walnut "kurumi" tsukudani- a personal favorite.

5) Fruits: the quality of fruits in Japan are unparalleled but you pay through the nose! However, they are worth a try. For the traditional , try the persimmons (kaki) which are amazingly sweet and tender. My two favorites are mandarin oranges (mikan) and strawberries (ichigo).

Gee- there is so much stuff to try! And be forewarned, even buying food at these places, while cheaper than restaurants (but not necessarily cheaper than traditional foodstalls), are not bargains.

I really recommend you try at least one such place. I would start with the Mitsukoshi department store.

Enjoy!

PS Sometimes, the butcher's section will have free samples of wagyu steaks cut in little bite size pieces. You have got to try that if you spot it. Also, take a look at the various grades and cuts of wagyu beef for your edification.

:biggrin::biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

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Mamster

For planning your trip, my suggestion is that you visit Tokyo Food Page and Tokyo Q(at both sites you will have to do a little bit navigation before you hit the restaurant reviews). Both sites are in English, and has an extensive collection of reviews. Tokyo food Page's restaurant list is more extensive, where as tokyoq has more in-depth reviews. I have found both sites to be fairly reliable in their reviews(I am not associated with either of the sites). Tokyoq has a review of an Eel Restaurant for this months review which you indicated was on the agenda of things you wanted to do.

For Department store food halls, one tip if you really want to cheap it. All department stores close one day mid week(Monday-Thursday), so visit just before close on the day before their mid-week close. They are offering steep discounts, since it will be two days before they can sell their food-stuff again. All the department stores listed previously are excellent, but I would also like to add Isetan in Shinjuku to the list. The Takashimaya branch in Shinjuku used to have a Fugu counter with live fish where the fish was sliced before your eyes. The fish should be in season end of November, definitely worth trying (at least you can say you had it and survived).

Another suggestion is to go to Ameyoko between Ueno and Akihabara(The electronics district). This is a more down-to-earth version of the department store food hall.

For sushi, I always thought that Sushisay in Tsukiji was the best place for visitors. The fish is of very good quality, the price is reasonable and it is housed in an old wooden building next to the fish market which adds to the ambiance.

Yakitori (Grilled Chicken), eating under the rail-road tracks in Yurakucho(near Ginza) is quite an experience. There are several vendors, all of roughly the same quality.

It was suggested to pick up Tonkatsu at a department store. Alternatively, go to Maisen in Omote-sando. They have a file of "Black Pork" (which is their signature dish) that is just unbelievable, tender and tasty for about 3,000 yen if I remember correctly.

It's a shame that Ninnikuya has gone downhill(as indicated in this thread), it was definitely one of my favourite places in Tokyo.

If you have the money to spend, try Arakawa in Shinbashi (near Ginza) for Teppan-yaki. It will be expensive, but I would be very surpised if you did not come out of the restaurant claiming that this was by far the best steak you ever had. I have yet to find a steak outside of Japan that comes even near the best steaks in Japan.

Chanko-nabe in Ryogoku. "Sumo"-cuisine. More of a been there, done that experience, but you could be eating with real wrestlers.

For Sake you can visit the Japanese Sake Center in Ginza for some tasting. Most department stores will also have sake tastings.

I would stick to Japanese places. Tokyo has some outstanding international restaurants, but with four days you are better off focusing on the local stuff (Even sticking to Japanese you will barely scratch the surface of what Tokyo has to offer). Tokyo has it's fair share of medicocre and/or over-priced restaurants and my uggestion is to go to places that you have done prior research on.

Eating alone should not be a problem, especially at the places that offers a counter(which is where you want to be anyway). Since you are a foreigner, at night-time people will be eager to strike a conversation with you after they have had a few sakes and beers.

Warnings:

A lot of places do not accept credit cards, so please come armed with cash.

A lot of places will have menus only in Japanese with pictures or plastic replicas of the dishes in the windows (If you want to bring your own plastic replica food, head to Kappa-bashi which is a half-mile stretch of shops selling restaurant supplies). The magic word is Omakase (chef's choice), which is ususally the best way to go anyway in better restaurants.

Also, not every restaurant will have English speaking staff (I would say most of them don't). I would not be too discouraged by this, there will usually be a guest at the restaurant who speaks English willing to help out.

Enjoy your trip.

Disclaimer

I left Tokyo two years ago, so some of the info might be out of date

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Thanks everyone for being so helpful--I'm getting more and more excited about my trip and it sounds like I'll have plenty to look forward to on future visits.

The eel restaurant, Obana, reviewed by Tokyo-Q, sounds like something I can't miss. I just love eel, and I have a feeling none of the eel I've eaten in the US comes even remotely close to the quality available in Japan.

Sushi breakfast at Tsukiji is definitely on the menu, as is yakitori.

What are some other breakfast options? I'd hate to let a meal go to waste.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Thanks everyone for being so helpful--I'm getting more and more excited about my trip and it sounds like I'll have plenty to look forward to on future visits.

The eel restaurant, Obana, reviewed by Tokyo-Q, sounds like something I can't miss.  I just love eel, and I have a feeling none of the eel I've eaten in the US comes even remotely close to the quality available in Japan.

Sushi breakfast at Tsukiji is definitely on the menu, as is yakitori.

What are some other breakfast options?  I'd hate to let a meal go to waste.

Mamster: If you're a greedy lil pig like me, sushi for breakfast, while a revelation in Tsukiji, is not enough to fill me up. To bulk up, I subsequently pass by one of the many ramen/udon stands in the area outside the Tsukiji market near the Hibiya subway entrance. BON, may have an opinion on the quality of the noodles there, but for me, it hit the spot, especially on a cold morning.

:biggrin:

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Sushi breakfast at Tsukiji is definitely on the menu, as is yakitori.

What are some other breakfast options?  I'd hate to let a meal go to waste.

mamster

I am quite surprised to see useful infomation has been collected this much! :blink:

Typical Japanese breakfast consists of a bowl of steamed rice, miso-soup, broiled fish, some pickles (daikon raddish, cucumber, etc), seasoned seaweed (Nori), and raw egg. This combo is usually served at Kyokans, but it is difficult to find eaterie serving this type of breakfast outside. Please be noted that most of restaurants except first food and noodle stand open at 11:00 am at the earliest. If you would like to try to various different type of breakfast, my recommendation is to eat in Tsukiji again. Actually, Tsukiji market has about 100 small restaurant in and around. Sushi is not the food served there! :biggrin: And they are open from 4:00am to 13:00pm, so are ideal to eat breakfast. (Though you cannot expect fancy decor there!)

The best hotel to commute :raz: to Tsukiji market is GINZA TOBU hotel, within 10minutes walk. I think their room is reasonable, though it is located in Ginza. This hotel is well reputed among my colleagues visiting from overseas. Why not take it consideration!

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To bulk up, I subsequently pass by one of the many ramen/udon stands in the area outside the Tsukiji market near the Hibiya subway entrance.  BON, may have an opinion on the quality of the noodles there, but for me, it hit the spot, especially on a cold morning.

Wimpy

You're quite experienced! :blink:

Among the shops lined along this alley, I would suggest to pick up GYUDON, a beef bowl. Soba is quite good. Ramen... I think I can take him to better shops. :wink:

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If you have the money to spend, try Arakawa in Shinbashi (near Ginza) for Teppan-yaki. It will be expensive, but I would be very surpised if you did not come out of the restaurant claiming that this was by far the best steak you ever had. I have yet to find a steak outside of Japan that comes even near the best steaks in Japan.

mamster

This is the steak restaurant that I have been dreaming of visiting!

But please be noticed that it will cost $500 per person AT LEAST!

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Mamster-

I just remembered that November is the month of a traditional children's festival called "Shichi-go-san" (name stands for 7,5 & 3). That's the ages that are celebrated. Parents and kids of that age go to local temples to pray in full regalia (cute little kimonos). Asakusa Temple (Ginza subway line) would probably offer you the best photo ops. Asakusa temple is in any case one of the "must sees" in Tokyo.

While you're there, there is an amazing area just 10 min walk from Asakusa called "Kappa bashi dori" (street name). They sell loads of specialized kitchen utensils and restaurant equipment at good prices. I spent a good 3 hours walking up and down the area and it still wasn't enough!

:smile:

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There is a yakitori-ya in Roppongi called Ganchan (6-8-23 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 03-3478-0092). I remember it as rather small and smoky from the wood fire where they cooked the skewered foods, but very good, both in the range of skewers offered and in their quality. Caveat: I have not been to this place in several years.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Speaking of Yakitori, may I ask whether you eat internal organs of chicken or pork? Liver, heart, and intestines are very popular at Yakitori-ya and Motsuyaki-ya (Literally translating "Internal organs BBQ shop" ).

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I'd have to second the Daiwa Sushi in the Tsukiji fish market. It's not as glitzy as some of the Ginza place, but it's awesome and awesomely fresh. The fish is litterally hours off the boat.

It's small, and there can be a wait, and the selection is goes only as far as whats off the boats that morning, but thats what made it so great. They dont even have plates, the food is put down right on the counter in front of you.

I had some of the best toro (o-toro, actually) and yellow tail (hamachi) of my life. The amaebi (sweet shrimp) was great too, followed up by the head of the shrimp toasted crispy for you.

Cire

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