Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Spectrum of Japanese restaurants in 1 week


jhirshon
 Share

Recommended Posts

My wife and I are planning a trip to Japan during the first week of June - I've been to Japan a number of times for work, but it is her first trip.

As such, I wanted to expose her to the wealth of different cuisines and styles that she would never find here in the States - or to have the finest of a particular type of cuisine. It ranges from ramen to Kaiseki, and we are trying to squeeze in as many styles as we can - would that we had one more day in Tokyo, so I could take her for some chanko and kabayaki-style eel - but that will have to wait till next time,,,

After much research (THANK YOU eGullet!!!) here is my list - I welcome thoughts or additional data, as one or two restaurants lack addresses or phone. Comments are my own or from the reviewers here if I haven't yet been to the restaurant in question.

cheers, JH

Japan food-fest!!!

May 31 dinner:

Inakaya

3405-9866

Roppongi 4-10-11, Yamaki Bldg. 1F.

The best place for robatayaki in Tokyo - dinner is about $85 per person

June 1 breakfast:

5:00 AM – Sushi Dokoro Okame

03-3541-5450

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Area 6

Opening at 5:00 AM, this is *THE* place for a toro sushi breakfast - they specialize in toro, omakase is about ¥3,650

6:00 AM - Sushi Bun

03-3541-3860

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Area 8

Another early-morning sushi shop in Tsukiji, been in business for more than 150 years. Specializes in seasonal and wild (non-farmed) fish varieties. Omakase course for about 3650 yen. Opens at 6:00 AM, come here after sampling the incomparable toro at Sushi Dokoro Okame at 5:00 AM. :)

June 1 lunch:

Miyako Zushi

03-3851-7494

10-12, Yanagibashi 1-chome, Taito-ku

Superb sushi (5th generation of family!) - considered the best in Tokyo. No menu - Kato-san only provides the market's daily best through a unique relationship with Tsukiji. No plastic, bill is usually between ¥6,000-10,000 - it is next to the Asakusa temple.

June 1 dinner:

Chibo

5424-1011

Ebisu 4-20-3, Yebisu Garden Place 38F

Great okonomiyaki - KILLER VIEW

June 2 breakfast:

Grand Hyatt

June 2 lunch:

Honmura An

3401-0844

Roppongi

SUPERB soba - Honmura An offers two classic zaru preparations year-round: inaka soba (dark, thick, rough textured noodles made from the whole grain; $7.45 a portion) and seiro soba (lighter, thinner, smoother noodles made from the grain's kernel; $6.20 a portion). In addition, Honmura An offers seasonally flavored noodles for $13.85 a portion. In the winter, there is yuzu (an aromatic citron peel); in the spring, yomogi (a healthful green herb), and in the summer basil-like shiso that is finely minced and added to the noodle dough. These soba dishes are served with a very smoky, bonito enriched dipping sauce to which freshly grated wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and chopped leeks can be added. When soba yu is added to the dipping sauce, it becomes a lovely broth. Portions are small, and it's easy to manage two or three servings.

Open weekdays 11:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. and 5 to 9 P.M.; 11:30 A.M. to 9 P.M. weekends and national holidays. Exit Roppongi subway station from stairway No. 4B. Walk straight ahead and turn right at the first corner. Restaurant is halfway down the narrow street, on your right. Sign on ground level; restaurant is up one flight. Hibiya subway line stops at Roppongi.

June 2 dinner:

Sakuragawa

03-3408-0039

SK Roppongi heim 1F, 6-8-21 Roppongi, Minato-ku

The quintessential itamae kappo (master chef cuisine) - With its traditional wood front and understated interior, there is counter seating for 10, plus two small side rooms. Chef Kurahashi is a quiet man who prefers to let his food do the talking. He cooks delectable full-course meals in the style of his native Osaka, which many local gourmets rate as the finest food in Japan. No doubt that is why, since opening in 2002, Sakuragawa has become one of the most popular restaurants of its kind in Tokyo.

The menu will closely follow the conventions of kaiseki ryori, the multi-course Japanese haute cuisine, in which a succession of exquisite dishes, each cooked in a different style, is served in prescribed order. You will start with a couple of delectable appetizers (known as sakizuke), followed by a steaming bowl of soup (owan), usually containing slivers of white-meat fish and colorful seasonal vegetables in a fragrant clear broth.

For connoisseurs, this soup is the true measure of an itamae's skills. Likewise with the dish that follows: a few cuts of prime sashimi (tsukuri). Good sashimi demands to be accompanied by a thimbleful (or three) of premium sake.

June 3 breakfast:

Grand Hyatt

June 3 lunch:

Maisen

(03) 3470-0071

4-8-5 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku

Any argument over which restaurant in Tokyo serves the best tonkatsu—Japan’s beloved plate of deep-fried pork cutlet, rice and cabbage—should end with Maisen. The restaurant has made an obsession of perfecting a dish that is usually cooked quickly as standard daily grub. The secret to Maisen’s success is that cutlets can be doused in one of three tangy sauces brewed on the premises. Our favourite is a fruity concoction served with the house special, a delicious cutlet made from kurobuta, a black hog from Kagoshima. JH prefers the ‘rosu’ cut, which is fattier - but the ‘hire’ or fillet cut is also good.

This large, crowded restaurant is tucked away in a converted old bath-house off the main Omotesando drag. Be prepared to wait at least 20 minutes for a table and expect to sit on the floor. If you hit the weekend rush and the queue seems too daunting, buy one of the superb tonkatsu sandwiches from the Maisen stand outside the restaurant.

June 3 dinner (Kyoto):

Hotaru

075-441-4411

nakadachiuri,shinmachi-Dori,kamigyo-ku

The restaurant of Chef Mitsuro Harada, winner on Iron Chef - superb Kyoto cuisine in the Brighton Hotel, the city’s finest western-style hotel

June 4 breakfast:

Kyoto Brighton Hotel

June 4 lunch:

Menbaka Ichidai

81-75-812-5818

Marutamachi Chiemitsuin Higashi iru Minamigawa, Kamigyou-ku

*THE* place for negi ramen (ramen with a lot of chopped scallion). The heated oil that a waiter pours over the bowl catches fire in front of customers sitting on the couter stalls. The shop is quite famous for this unusual service.

June 4 dinner:

Sushi Iwa

cater-cornered from the Kikoku-tei Gardens

The best sushi in Kyoto

June 5 breakfast:

Kyoto Brighton hotel

June 5 lunch:

Owariya

231-3446

Kurumaya-cho, south of Nijo, Nakagyo-ku

A legendary Soba shop - established in 1465! Closed Wednesdays

June 5 blowout dinner:

Hyotei

075/771-4116

35 Kusakawa-cho

The best Kaiseki in Kyoto, hence the world. FIENDISHLY expensive (from $170 per person for dinner) and worth every penny.

This 300-year-old restaurant first opened its doors as a teahouse to serve pilgrims and visitors on their way to Nanzenji Temple. Today it consists of two parts: one offering expensive Kyo-kaiseki, which originated with the tea ceremony but is now associated with Kyoto cooking, and an annex offering seasonal obento lunch boxes. The kaiseki meals are served in separate tiny houses situated around a beautiful garden with a pond, maple trees, and bushes; the oldest house, which resembles a small teahouse, is more than 3 centuries old. You'll dine seated on a tatami floor in a private room, the food brought to you by kimono-clad women. The annex (bekkan), to the left of the kaiseki restaurant and with its own entrance, serves delicious lunch boxes (Shokado Bento) at about $35 each, which change with the season and are served in a communal tatami room with views of a garden.

To find it, look for Nanzenji. West of Shirakawa Dori and south of Murin-an; look for a plain facade hidden behind a bamboo fence with a sign shaped like a gourd.

Edited by jhirshon (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where are you traveling from? I assume jet lag will not be a problem (we couldn't make it to dinner for at least the first 5 days of our trip due to jet lag from the east coast of the US). Also - it sounds like an awful lot of food (I can't do justice to 2 big meals a day - much less 2 with breakfast).

Finally - perhaps I am just a traveler on a "slow" track - but I would always give myself some room to "stop and smell the flowers". To explore areas - and happen on places (except perhaps at dinner - when you want to be relatively close to your hotel to minimize travel during rush hour).

E.g., we didn't eat breakfast at Tsukiji until about 7:30 - because we spent about 2-3 hours poking around all the markets (both the fish and the vegetable/fruit areas).

And in Kyoto - I assume you want to see the sights (which are quite extraordinary). Are the sights close to the places you want to eat?

I think you are eating too much sushi to the exclusion of other styles - like tempura. We've eaten at a couple of wonderful tempura places - but I wouldn't necessarily structure my day around getting to them (we just happened to be in the areas where the restaurants were located for those lunches). Or eel - we ate at an excellent eel restaurant in Kyoto today for lunch.

And I think one of the most fun things you can do is order "take out" from the food basement of a major department store (we've done that a few times because we've been too tired to eat out).

By the way - in terms of kaiseki - we've eaten 2 high-end kaiseki meals here in Kyoto at relatively famous restaurants. One was about $100/head for lunch (Roan Kikunoi) - the other $200/head for dinner (and the most expensive menu was $300/head - that was the branch of Kitcho in the Kyoto station). Those restaurants weren't considered the "tops" though. The very top restaurants are about $300-600/head. We didn't go to them because they were pretty far away from where we are staying. Kyoto Kaiseki is very beautiful - but very ascetic. Not my favorite.

Perhaps I have been in Japan too long (almost 2 1/2 weeks now) - but I have adopted a very zen approach to travel here. Just let it flow. There are over 100,000 restaurants in Tokyo - and I don't know how many in Kyoto. There is no best restaurant - in any category. There are simply dozens of excellent ones. So relax - and enjoy.

By the way - we found a very excellent English speaking cab driver/guide for sightseeing in Kyoto. Not that expensive either. Used him for 2 days. If you are interested in his services - PM me and I will give you contact information. It is harder to get around in Kyoto to see the major sights than in Tokyo and it's nice to have a driver/guide. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Read some of your prior messages - and have some additional suggestions.

With regard to Kaiseki - like I said - it is fairly ascetic. You can wind up poor eating it - but you'll never get fat :biggrin: .

And up to about $150/per person - you are mostly paying for food. After that $150 to who knows what price - you are paying for presentation. The pictures of the food I saw on the Hyotei web site were relatively simple presentations compared to those we had at Kitcho. On the other hand - we enjoyed the food at Roan Kikunoi more (even though it was cheaper).

You kind of have to ask yourself what you're looking for. Forget about the concept of "the best". Even if there is a "best" in a particular geographical area in a particular category - you will likely not be able to dine there because many extremely high-end restaurants do not accept non-Japanese patrons. So try to find the good - and the excellent - and the kinds of food you're looking for in the neighborhoods you're in.

With regard to menus and reservations and the like - use your hotel concierge. English is not spoken at all in most of the restaurants we've dined at in Japan. We did ok in most places because my husband learned some Japanese before this trip - but it was useful having Japanese-speaking friends with us when we dined at higher end places. You don't have to speak Japanese if you are pointing at the "plastic food" (although a few polite words in Japanese are always appreciated) - but it is a problem if you're trying to decide between 3 different set menus in a Kaiseki restaurant where the menu is written 100% in Japanese. E.g., at the Kitcho branch we ate at - which is in the Granvia Hotel at the rail station - we asked the concierge what the differences were between 3 menus costing between $150-$300/per person. We couldn't have figured it out on our own since my husband can't read Kanji (the form of Japanese in which most restaurant menus are written).

BTW - I don't think you should miss the eel. The eel restaurant we ate at here in Kyoto was Edogawa - top of the Isetan department store in the train station. Excellent. Better than anything you'll have in the US - and it has plastic food (don't knock plastic food - it's a great way to communicate - because this restaurant - like all the others - didn't have any staff who spoke a word of English). Middle of the road prices - about $50 for lunch for 2 people. Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robyn, that's all great feedback, thank you! :)

We're going heavy on the sushi because my wife is a Sushi fanatic - and your suggestions on the kaiseki are well-taken.

We've actually had killer tempura here in the states at Inagiku in NYC and I've eaten probably the best tempura in Japan at Hayashi in Tokyo, so we thought we would forego the tempura.

As for the eel, we both love unagi, so I think what we will do is substiitute eel in place of Kaiseki - as I prefer kabayaki-style eel to kansai-style, we'll eat eel in Tokyo. I love Yama no Chaya as the premier eel restaurant for this.

Also, we ate an AMAZING kaiseki dinner at Kincha at the Grand Wailea hotel on Maui 8 years ago that was $400/head and still ranks as one of the best meals ever - so we can do kaiseki on our next trip to Japan, whenever that may be.

Instead of blow-out kaiseki, we'll take the opposite approach and eat out last meal in the serene setting of a Buddhist temple - Myoken-ji Temple offers very inexpensive vegetarian meals within the Temple grounds for visitors, as long as you RESERVE WELL IN ADVANCE. It seems appropriate to end our stayin Japan eating a Temple vegatarian dinner, somehow. :)

I'll pm you for the name of your driver, that sounds like a REALLY good idea.

Again, thanks for the suggestions! :)

The revised list follows this post.

cheers, JH

Edited by jhirshon (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is the revised list. :)

I should probably clarify that I am NOT rich as Croesus, despite my choice of restaurants and hotels. The reason for this trip was that American was running a fare sale to Narita from California - $520 per person round trip, so the wife and I jumped at the chance to fly on the cheap.

Also, I'm burning Hyatt points to get 2 out of 3 nights free at the Grand Hyatt (which is good, becuase it's $400 a night!!!!), averaging out to $133 per night - not bad for 3 nights in Tokyo at a top hotel! :)

As for Kyoto, the Brighton is the best Western-style hotel in the city, and is normally $350 per night+ - but for some weird reason, my travel agent was able to get us in at $140 a night. :)

So, the bottom line - the savings are going into our meals, in true eGullet fashion. :)

cheers, JH

_______________________________

Japan food-fest!!!

May 31 dinner:

Inakaya

3405-9866

Roppongi 4-10-11, Yamaki Bldg. 1F.

The best place for robatayaki in Tokyo - dinner is about $85 per person

June 1 breakfast:

5:00 AM – Sushi Dokoro Okame

03-3541-5450

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Area 6

Opening at 5:00 AM, this is *THE* place for a toro sushi breakfast - they specialize in toro, omakase is about ¥3,650

6:00 AM - Sushi Bun

03-3541-3860

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Area 8

Another early-morning sushi shop in Tsukiji, been in business for more than 150 years. Specializes in seasonal and wild (non-farmed) fish varieties. Omakase course for about 3650 yen. Opens at 6:00 AM, come here after sampling the incomparable toro at Sushi Dokoro Okame at 5:00 AM. :)

June 1 lunch:

Miyako Zushi

03-3851-7494

10-12, Yanagibashi 1-chome, Taito-ku

Superb sushi (5th generation of family!) - considered the best in Tokyo. No menu - Kato-san only provides the market's daily best through a unique relationship with Tsukiji. No plastic, bill is usually between ¥6,000-10,000 - it is next to the Asakusa temple.

June 1 dinner:

Chibo

5424-1011

Ebisu 4-20-3, Yebisu Garden Place 38F

Great okonomiyaki - KILLER VIEW

June 2 breakfast:

Grand Hyatt

June 2 lunch:

Honmura An

3401-0844

Roppongi

SUPERB soba - Honmura An offers two classic zaru preparations year-round: inaka soba (dark, thick, rough textured noodles made from the whole grain; $7.45 a portion) and seiro soba (lighter, thinner, smoother noodles made from the grain's kernel; $6.20 a portion). In addition, Honmura An offers seasonally flavored noodles for $13.85 a portion. In the winter, there is yuzu (an aromatic citron peel); in the spring, yomogi (a healthful green herb), and in the summer basil-like shiso that is finely minced and added to the noodle dough. These soba dishes are served with a very smoky, bonito enriched dipping sauce to which freshly grated wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and chopped leeks can be added. When soba yu is added to the dipping sauce, it becomes a lovely broth. Portions are small, and it's easy to manage two or three servings.

Open weekdays 11:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. and 5 to 9 P.M.; 11:30 A.M. to 9 P.M. weekends and national holidays. Exit Roppongi subway station from stairway No. 4B. Walk straight ahead and turn right at the first corner. Restaurant is halfway down the narrow street, on your right. Sign on ground level; restaurant is up one flight. Hibiya subway line stops at Roppongi.

June 2 dinner:

Yama no Chaya

03-3581-0656

10-6, Nagatacho 2-chome, Chiyoda-ku

THE place for kabayaki-style Eel - accept no substitutes. NOTE: closed Sundays, no plastic. Dinner is ¥17,000 per person

June 3 breakfast:

Grand Hyatt

June 3 lunch:

Maisen

(03) 3470-0071

4-8-5 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku

Any argument over which restaurant in Tokyo serves the best tonkatsu—Japan’s beloved plate of deep-fried pork cutlet, rice and cabbage—should end with Maisen. The restaurant has made an obsession of perfecting a dish that is usually cooked quickly as standard daily grub. The secret to Maisen’s success is that cutlets can be doused in one of three tangy sauces brewed on the premises. Our favourite is a fruity concoction served with the house special, a delicious cutlet made from kurobuta, a black hog from Kagoshima. JH prefers the ‘rosu’ cut, which is fattier - but the ‘hire’ or fillet cut is also good.

This large, crowded restaurant is tucked away in a converted old bath-house off the main Omotesando drag. Be prepared to wait at least 20 minutes for a table and expect to sit on the floor. If you hit the weekend rush and the queue seems too daunting, buy one of the superb tonkatsu sandwiches from the Maisen stand outside the restaurant.

June 3 dinner (Kyoto):

Hotaru

075-441-4411

nakadachiuri,shinmachi-Dori,kamigyo-ku

The restaurant of Chef Mitsuro Harada, winner on Iron Chef - superb Kyoto cuisine in the Brighton Hotel, the city’s finest western-style hotel

June 4 breakfast:

Kyoto Brighton Hotel

June 4 lunch:

Menbaka Ichidai

81-75-812-5818

Marutamachi Chiemitsuin Higashi iru Minamigawa, Kamigyou-ku

*THE* place for negi ramen (ramen with a lot of chopped scallion). The heated oil that a waiter pours over the bowl catches fire in front of customers sitting on the couter stalls. The shop is quite famous for this unusual service.

June 4 dinner:

Sushi Iwa

cater-cornered from the Kikoku-tei Gardens

The best sushi in Kyoto

June 5 breakfast:

Kyoto Brighton hotel

June 5 lunch:

Owariya

231-3446

Kurumaya-cho, south of Nijo, Nakagyo-ku

A legendary Soba shop - established in 1465! Closed Wednesdays

June 5 dinner:

Myoken-ji Temple Lodgings

75-414-0808

Teranouchi Higashi-iru, Horikawa-dori, Kamigyo-ku

Very cheap lodging/food in Kyoto (about $44 w/ breakfast), but you must send a postcard or call WELL IN ADVANCE for reservations - you actually stay in the monastery! Pretty sure they also serve dinner.

Edited by jhirshon (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shame. They're one (two) of the glories of Japan.

My own list would be completely different from yours. I'd skip breakfast altogether most days, take no food at all in the hotel, cut the ramen, throw in a top-notch Italian or French dinner (probably in place of kaiseki), and leave at least two days unscheduled, to choose a restaurant as the mood takes me. But then we both know that each of us is right, and we also know that a week could never be enough in Tokyo, don't we?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a nice program. I'd second the suggestion to cut some of the hotel breakfasts and sushi, particularly in Kyoto. We take breakfast only in the good ryokan. In Kyoto, you should try some of the Buddhist temple cuisine, particularly tofu dishes. We liked the yudofu at Ryoanji. Izusen is also a good choice. Personally, I'd also throw in a yakitori-ya in Tokyo, maybe an unagi place.

A tempura specialist is a must. Endo in Kyoto is very refined. Hyotei is wonderful but difficult for a beginner to fully appreciate. Be prepared to eat off the floor sometimes. You must have good knees and no back problems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

MANY thanks to all for their contributions and suggestions - they are truly appreciated and I continue to remain amazed at the depth of culinary expertise here on eGullet. :)

Given that my wife and I are sushi mavens, we are eating LOTS of it in Tokyo - we'll hit robbatayaki, chanko and other styles on the next trip - we go from the refined to the mudane. :)

Before anyone says anything about the omission - we don't really drink, so Izakaya are out - we'll have some sake at one or more of the dinners, but only a glass.

I hope this list will help others seeking to enjoy Tokyo and Kyoto's better restaurants and in creating their own ideal itinerary. :)

So, without further ado, here is the final list:

May 31 dinner:

Sukiyabashi Jiro

03-5413-6626

Residence B, Keyakizaka Dori, Roppongi Hills, 6-12-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku

One of the best Sushi restaurants in Japan - period. A favourite of Joel Robuchon and Daniel Boulud. Also close to the Grand Hyatt, to avoid going to far afield after we have just flown in.

June 1 breakfast:

5:00 AM – Sushi Dokoro Okame

03-3541-5450

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Area 6

Opening at 5:00 AM, this is *THE* place for a toro sushi breakfast - they specialize in toro, omakase is about ¥3,650

6:00 AM - Sushi Bun

03-3541-3860

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1, Area 8

Another early-morning sushi shop in Tsukiji, been in business for more than 150 years. Specializes in seasonal and wild (non-farmed) fish varieties. Omakase course for about 3650 yen. Opens at 6:00 AM, come here after sampling the incomparable toro at Sushi Dokoro Okame at 5:00 AM. :)

June 1 lunch:

Miyako Zushi

03-3851-7494

10-12, Yanagibashi 1-chome, Taito-ku

Superb sushi (5th generation of family!) - considered the best in Tokyo. No menu - Kato-san only provides the market's daily best through a unique relationship with Tsukiji. No plastic, bill is usually between ¥6,000-10,000 - it is next to the Asakusa temple.

June 1 dinner:

Chibo

5424-1011

Ebisu 4-20-3, Yebisu Garden Place 38F

Great okonomiyaki - KILLER VIEW

June 2 breakfast:

Grand Hyatt

June 2 lunch:

Honmura An

3401-0844

Roppongi

SUPERB soba - Honmura An offers two classic zaru preparations year-round: inaka soba (dark, thick, rough textured noodles made from the whole grain; $7.45 a portion) and seiro soba (lighter, thinner, smoother noodles made from the grain's kernel; $6.20 a portion).

In addition, Honmura An offers seasonally flavored noodles for $13.85 a portion. In the winter, there is yuzu (an aromatic citron peel); in the spring, yomogi (a healthful green herb), and in the summer basil-like shiso that is finely minced and added to the noodle dough. These soba dishes are served with a very smoky, bonito enriched dipping sauce to which freshly grated wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and chopped leeks can be added. When soba yu is added to the dipping sauce, it becomes a lovely broth. Portions are small, and it's easy to manage two or three servings.

Open weekdays 11:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. and 5 to 9 P.M.; 11:30 A.M. to 9 P.M. weekends and national holidays. Exit Roppongi subway station from stairway No. 4B. Walk straight ahead and turn right at the first corner. Restaurant is halfway down the narrow street, on your right. Sign on ground level; restaurant is up one flight. Hibiya subway line stops at Roppongi.

June 2 dinner:

Yama no Chaya

03-3581-0656

10-6, Nagatacho 2-chome, Chiyoda-ku

THE place for kabayaki-style Eel - accept no substitutes. NOTE: closed Sundays, no plastic. Dinner is ¥17,000 per person

June 3 breakfast:

Grand Hyatt

June 3 lunch:

Maisen

(03) 3470-0071

4-8-5 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku

Any argument over which restaurant in Tokyo serves the best tonkatsu—Japan’s beloved plate of deep-fried pork cutlet, rice and cabbage—should end with Maisen. The restaurant has made an obsession of perfecting a dish that is usually cooked quickly as standard daily grub. The secret to Maisen’s success is that cutlets can be doused in one of three tangy sauces brewed on the premises. Our favourite is a fruity concoction served with the house special, a delicious cutlet made from kurobuta, a black hog from Kagoshima. JH prefers the ‘rosu’ cut, which is fattier - but the ‘hire’ or fillet cut is also good.

This large, crowded restaurant is tucked away in a converted old bath-house off the main Omotesando drag. Be prepared to wait at least 20 minutes for a table and expect to sit on the floor. If you hit the weekend rush and the queue seems too daunting, buy one of the superb tonkatsu sandwiches from the Maisen stand outside the restaurant.

June 3 dinner (Kyoto):

Hotaru

075-441-4411

nakadachiuri,shinmachi-Dori,kamigyo-ku

The restaurant of Chef Mitsuro Harada, winner on Iron Chef - superb Kyoto cuisine in the Brighton Hotel, the city’s finest western-style hotel. Kyoto cuisine both refined and elegant in a western setting.

June 4 breakfast:

Kyoto Brighton Hotel

June 4 lunch:

Menbaka Ichidai

81-75-812-5818

Marutamachi Chiemitsuin Higashi iru Minamigawa, Kamigyou-ku

*THE* place for negi ramen (ramen with a lot of chopped scallion). The heated oil that a waiter pours over the bowl catches fire in front of customers sitting on the couter stalls. The shop is quite famous for this unusual service.

June 4 dinner:

Kushi Kura

075-213-2211

Takakura Dori, Oike-agaru. Just north of Oike Dori, Central Kyoto

Some of the finest yakitori in Kyoto - open for dinner 5-11. Housed in a 100-year-old warehouse with heavy-beamed, dark-polished wood and whitewashed walls, this yakitori-ya serves specially raised chicken grilled over top-grade charcoal, with an English-language menu offering various set meals and a la carte selections. You can watch the action while you're comfortably seated at the counter with its leg wells. A large selection of sake (including the local Fushimi brew) adds to the great atmosphere here.

June 5 breakfast:

Ryokan breakfast (TBD)

June 5 lunch:

Tenryu-Ji Temple Shigetsu

882-9725

Inside Tenryu-ji Temple in Arashiyama

Open 11:00-14:00 daily. Vegetarian, Zen cuisine served by the chefs of Kyoto's famousTenryu-ji ZenTemple. Ingredients include tofu, yuba (dried bean curds), nama-fu (raw wheat gluten) and seasonal vegetables. Enjoy your meal while watching their exquisite Japanese garden- experience the essence of the Zen spirit. Reservations necessary. 3.000 yen, 5.000 yen, 7.000 yen, plus tax. Admission to Tenryu-ji Temple 500 yen. Takes plastic.

June 5 dinner:

Yasaka Endo

075-551-1488

Komatsu-machi, Yasaka-dori Higashi Oji Nishi Hairu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City

Superb tempura, kansai-style.

Located in a traditional area, close to Yasaka shrine and Kennin-jiTemple; enjoy fine tempura cuisine in an old building(interior maintained) that was originally a teahouse where geiko and maiko lived; freshest ingredients of the day; lunch: tedon (1,500 yen; a big bowl of rice topped with a selection of tempura), tempura course (3,000 yen), tempura kaiseki (6,000 yen); dinner course and kaiseki (from 8,000 yen); single tempura items (seafood,Kyoto vegetables, etc.) are also available; reservation required

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was reading your message and I thought that you seemed to know a lot about restaurants before you went to them. Then I realized that you were simply copying restaurant reviews - like this one from The Economist:

"Any argument over which restaurant in Tokyo serves the best tonkatsu—Japan’s beloved plate of deep-fried pork cutlet, rice and cabbage—should end with Maisen. The restaurant has made an obsession of perfecting a dish that is usually cooked quickly as standard daily grub. The secret to Maisen’s success is that cutlets can be doused in one of three tangy sauces brewed on the premises. Our favourite is a fruity concoction served with the house special, a delicious cutlet made from kurobuta, a black hog from Kagoshima.

This large, crowded restaurant is tucked away in a converted old bath-house off the main Omotesando drag. Be prepared to wait at least 20 minutes for a table and expect to sit on the floor. If you hit the weekend rush and the queue seems too daunting, buy one of the superb tonkatsu sandwiches from the Maisen stand outside the restaurant."

I'd like to know what *you* think of the restaurants you eat at after you eat at them - not what restaurant reviews written by third parties say. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True - I've eaten at Honmura An several times and loved it, but all the others are new to me (deliberately so, I like to broaden my horizons on every trip).

I'll happily report back on my impressions. :)

cheers, JH

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good point about giving the source of restaurant reviews.

BTW, I don't have my notes, but I don't know if that is the same Endo tempura shop. The one I am thinking of is quite modern inside, at least at the bar. The bar, of course, is the only place to eat.

Also I'm not sure what the big deal about Maisen is. It's almost a chain. We had both the regular pork and the special mountain kurobuta by Okita Hayao, and the kurobuta was not worth nearly triple the price (the heavy batter-fried technique obscures any difference in the pork). I found the rosu far too fatty given the batter, and I like pork fat. It was a good tonkatsu, no question, but surely there is better?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>It was a good tonkatsu, no question, but surely there is better?

I agree with your opinion. Maisen is good but not the best tonkatsu in Tokyo. I know better and cheaper Tonkatsu near Shibuya Station, located guard-shita(under overhead railway).Not clean but lovely taste.

But Maisen is convenient. They delivery Tonkatsu bento to our office and home, and also we can buy Tonkatsu sandwitch at the airport and enjoy during the flight.And its taste keeps expected level.That's why I sometimes enjoy Maisen not at the restaurant but at home or in the airplane.

Japanese female born and grew up in Kansai area (western Japan incl. Osaka,Kyoto) now living in Tokyo for 10 years. Love to cook and go for dining esp.Italian,Korean and Chinese.

My blog themed on cooking and dining in Tokyo:http://travel.web.infoseek.co.jp/blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never been to Maisen, but I think Katsukura could probably top it any day. I've never been to the one in Tokyo, but frequented one of the ones in Kyoto often when I lived there. They are top quality--excellent flavour, not too greasy, very crispy/crunchy outside. And you get to grind your own sesame seeds--how much fun is that? The one in Osaka (Umeda) is closer to me now, and the quality is as high as the ones in Kyoto, so I would imagine the ones in Tokyo would be equally good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with nagitokyo about Maisen, I actually prefer their sandwich (which can be bought almost anywhere including some department store basements) to the meal at the restaurant. While it is quite a good meal it was no different than the tonkatsu I had eaten anywhere else. There was nothing about it that stood out to me.

Their sandwich, on the other hand, is really wonderful! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A general (and possibly ignorant) question about tonkatsu. We didn't get to try it until we got to Kyoto - and there - we had it take-out from the Isetan food basement. It was very tasty - but aren't you basically talking about fried pieces of pork - where the difference between the best and the worst isn't huge (assuming you're starting with a decent piece of pork and dealing with places that know how to fry things)? For what it's worth - in the Isetan food basement - they made the stuff from "scratch" while we waited - and the hotel room was 5 minutes from Isetan - so we got to eat it hot and fresh.

And just as a general comment to jhirshon - as a matter of personal preference - I always like to leave room on a trip to explore and discover things (even if I'm not the first to discover them - they will be a first for me). Perhaps not high end dinners in large cities where reservations are useful and frequently essential. But something. I think that a huge city like Tokyo very much lends itself to poking around. A large % of what exists there hasn't appeared in English language guides. So I think that if I were planning a trip - I wouldn't script everything (including every meal). Give yourself some room to find something new - "to slow down and smell the flowers" :smile: . Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in Kyoto right now, staying for a few days with some family who live on the edge of the Gion district.

Last night we got on the topic of favorite ramen shops (my current one is the Jungara ramen in Akasaka) and it was suggested I give their favorite local a try. I believe the name is Muttepou is something similar.

I have directions and a name and am heading out in a few minutes. Will let you know how it goes.

Edited by bruce (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

jhirshon, your restaurant choices sounds wonderful but it seems you'll be doing a lot of travelling around! Is there a reason you selected those restaurants in that order? Ebisu and Jingumae is closer so I would go to Maisen and Chibo on the same day. If you're savvy with public transport it shouldn't be a problem but if you're taking the cab everywhere I can imagine the amount of time you'd be stuck in traffic!

There are sooooo many wonderful Edomaesushi places in Tokyo that doesn't make it in western rags and let me share a few my favourites! Your wife will sure to be impressed with the following:

Sukibayashi Jiro, 4-2-15 Ginza, Chuou-ku tel: 03-3535-3600

it's pricey but well worth it. Jiro san looks like he's 60 but he's 80 years old , super passionate and makes the best "zuke maguro" which is so popular it has to be pre-ordered. This is a red tuna (maguro) that is marinated in soy and a bit of vinegar, quintessential Edomaesushi!! Unfortunately it's a winter thing so I'm not sure they would have that in June. 20pc omakase was approx. 25,000 yen

Shin, this place is in Nishiazabu which is very close to Roppongi.

4-3-10 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku tel: 03-5385-0031

Sushi master is quite young but has gotten quite a lot of attention, a word of mouth kind of place. The attention to detail is seen everywhere from decor, dishes used and of course their sushi! Omakase 10 pc approx. 8,000 yen

Yuta, also in Nishiazabu. A quick cab ride from Grand Hyatt (I walk!)

3-13-1 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku tel: 03-3423-2885

This place is also run by the next generation sushi master, classical music is played and the decor is clean modern style. Their anago and ootoro is to die for. Impeccable timing and the combination of totally raw and flamed (is this the right expression?) sushi is perfect.

If you can't make it to these places this trip, it's definitely worth trying next time!

I wonder if Miyako Zushi you're going to is the same as the one I have in mind... is it the same place as Betenyama Miyako Zushi? This place is also in Akasaka but the address looks different.

They say you can always tell a great Edomaesushi place by their tamagoyaki. What you may be use to having in North America is not quite the same as the traditional Edomae style... it usually has ground up white fish, yamaimo (mountain potato) and lightly seasoned with mirin, soy sauce and sugar. The texture is a lot finer and it's not like a sweet omlet!

I hope your wife will have a fantastic time. Your next visit with her, I too would recommend izakayas. There are many "new age" izakaya that caters to a broader audience (not just the salary man) and it's not just about drinking. Chanko nabe is great in the winter but there are many other places I would go before I have chanko... Leave some room for pastries too!!!

Happy eating!

ahh where's the button for the fries?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tokyogurumegal - many thanks for your kind words and suggestions, they are very much appreciated! :)

As it happens, we changed Maisen to Katsukura as it is much closer to our hotel, but I'll be the first to admit my knowledge of Tokyo geography is just awful. :(

If you (or anyone else) have any suggestions on rearranging the order of the restaurants to make it easier, (as in closer) to one another, I would greatly appreciate it! :)

cheers, JH

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tokyogurumegal - many thanks for your kind words and suggestions,  they are very much appreciated! :)

As it happens, we changed Maisen to Katsukura as it is much closer to our hotel, but I'll be the first to admit my knowledge of Tokyo geography is just awful. :(

If you (or anyone else) have any suggestions on rearranging the order of the restaurants to make it easier, (as in closer) to one another, I would greatly appreciate it! :)

cheers, JH

One way to improve your sense of geography is to use the subway map in terms of orienting yourself. Most guidebooks will give you the closest subway stops to attractions/restaurants/etc. The better guides will tell you exactly which exit to use at a particular station.

For what it's worth - I thought the subway system was fantastic - and we used it for most of our transportation in Tokyo. Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...