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Jul 11, 2006 07:28 PM

Kaikaya in Tokyo

The best restaurant I've been to in Tokyo is Kaikaya (開花屋) in Shibuya. It's not far from the famous department store Shibuya 109, but is tucked into a small street abouta ten minute walk from the train. See the map on

They have excellent fish and beef dishes, especially "maguro no kama no Supearibu" (tuna spareribs --- amazing!) and "shimofuri kobe-gyu no nigiri-zushi" (wagyu beef sushi).

The ginger beer (non-alcoholic) was outstanding, and they had a very large selection of unusual sake and beers. The menu is very seasonal and all of the ingredients are fresh so sometimes certain items are not available from day to day. The owners and staff are very friendly, and while very little English is spoken the menu is translated into English, so you'll be alright if you don't know any Japanese. You just need to find the place first! By Tokyo standards it is not even very expensive.

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  1. On my trip to Tokyo in February, I met up with a friend for lunch at Kaikaya. He had read about it somewhere on line, and sent me the link to the webpage. We had big dreams of sashimi, and I thought the tuna ribs sounded especially intriguing. However, lunch there is much more low key. There were only two dishes available -- we each chose the same dish (forgot the name, but it was a white fish, grilled and served with a light chili oil), and ordered one of the second to share (tuna tartare). They were both very tasty, good quality and decently priced.

    I hope to catch dinner there someday, because the menu does look good. I do wonder, though, why it seems to be especially popular with non-Japanese (not that there's anything wrong with that).

    1. I've lived in Tokyo for 20 years and discovered Kaikaiya about 10 years ago. I've been dropping in pretty regularly since, especially when I have visitors that I want to impress.

      Why is it so popular with foreigners? My guess is, word of mouth. It's terrifically good fish, and has a good English menu. But I don't see any evidence of catering to gaijin tastebuds.

      And the staff, especially Ippei, are some of the nicest guys you could meet.

      I always get the zakko grill, which the three catches of the day, grilled, in olive oil and herbs. Always excellent. Be sure to order a bagguette to soak up that delicious olive oil.

      The Japan Times got around to reviewing it a few months ago, so the secret is definitely out.

      1. For the money, this is the BEST restaurant in Tokyo. And the larger the group, the cheaper it seems to get. Have been there numerous times with groups of 8 or more, and dinner and lots of booze never came to more than Y3,500 per person.

        Can't wait to go back now that I'm back in Tokyo!

        1. I'm kinda shocked, I often used to go there for lunch,(ribeye steak and a ginger ale not the pale kind but real spicy ginger taste) friendly vibe and good food but I had no idea a lot of gaijins consider it the best izakaya in Tokyo. I would eat there often if it was in my neighborhood but I woould never consider it worth a detour.

          4 Replies
          1. re: steamer

            Boy was I wrong, went last week for dinner, looks like enough people already know about this place. Best Izakaya in Tokyo, I don't know, certainly the best value for money and damn good food, I will be spending more time here, best to go with a group and just let them omakase you. We got out totally satisfied for 7,000 yen per head including drinks.

            1. re: steamer

              7,000 YEN per person is quite expensive for an izakaya. I would expect that from a high-end place. The poster above you seems to indicate half that amount as an average cost per person. What was included in the omakase you had?

              1. re: Silverjay

                We're not talking a couple of orders of shishamo and atarime, It was a major bouffe. It was a while ago, and I have a photgraphic memory--out of focus and underdeveloped--but here goes, chicken salad w/crunchy bits, Kampachi carpaccio, crab spring rolls, A large whole tai, A massive sashimi moriawase, Roasted maguro collar, sizzled at the table wagyu ribeye, an amazing soup with chunks of fish, cherry blossom ice cream for dessert. This along with cocktails and plenty of nihon shu and probably something else I've forgotten.

                1. re: steamer

                  I walked by Kaikaya for years and never went in, but a few months ago I went in and had a great time. More expensive than the average izakaya, but cheaper than high-end places. Our bill was 9,000 yen for two people and we had a good amount of food and sake, so the 7,000/person event must have been a real feast. I wouldn't say it's the BEST place in Tokyo, but it ranks among the best.

          2. We have reservations for Sunday, yay! Steamer, anything we shouldn't miss?

            2 Replies
            1. re: sweetpotater

              It's all good there, you sure won't be dissapointed if you get a heap of sashimi.

              1. re: sweetpotater

                Go for the fish cheeks (to die for), the carpaccio (and ask for bread to soak up the olive oil), the shrimp in shrimp sauce (also to die for), and definitely the sakurambo ice cream!

                Went back almost as soon as I returned to Tokyo, food is still excellent, prices a bit higher, but the food and Ippei-san are still wonderful!