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'Wine Spectator' recommended Tokyo restaurants - Comments Please!

In preparation for my next trip to Tokyo, I have initiated another bout of 'Chow' search. My current effort has led me to an article in the recent edition of Wine Spectator in which it highlights a list of recommended Tokyo restaurants with 'food and wine pairing tasting menus'. These include:

- Banrekiryukodo in Higashi Azabu
- Bird Land in Ginza
- Hishinuma in Roppongi
- Ohno in Ginza
- Tenpura Tenshi in Hirakawa - Chyo
- Enotica Ponchiorri in Ginza

Question: Has any fellow Chowhound given any of the afore mentioned a try?! How's the food? Any 'must try' amongst the list? I believe I have time to try two. But which one? Many Thanks!

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  1. If you can only go to two restaurants while in Tokyo, I don't think I would pick any of these. Though good, solid places they are not really "destinations." If you have the bucks go to Cucina Hirata (Said to be Tokyo's best Italian 2-13-10 Azabu-Juban Minato-ku, Tokyo 03-3457-0094) or for a more mind-blowing though costly dinning experience check out Ryugin. http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/cgi-...
    more pictures on my blog:
    http://www.omoshirogourmet.blogspot.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: steamer

      Cucina Hirata is good but overrated. There is better Italian in Tokyo than that.

      1. re: gkanai

        Do tell, I haven't tried them all yet.

    2. Can't say I've been to any of those. I wonder who the write at Wine Spectator was.

      12 Replies
      1. re: gkanai

        Jeannie Cho Lee, according to the Wine Spectator website.

        1. re: gkanai

          Still waiting to hear what you thought was better than Hirata's place. Wait a minute ... Robb knows everything. What places are better than Hirata?

          1. re: steamer

            Second Steamer's question! Also, would love to hear more about Ryugin, especially detail of some of the dishes served.

            1. re: Charles Yu

              I'm pretty backed up at work right now, but I will try to post some more items from Ryugin on my blog. This place is entirely not about ego, we were sitting there for more than 2 hours and thinking jeez how does he make such unbelievably tasty food that makes you smile with its unique presentations. Great to eat the food of a truly creative chef who has deliciousness as his bottom line.

              Once again calling on the Robster for the Italian recs.

              Realdeal maybe you were here after the war? Your real street food Tokyo seems to belong to another time. Street steamers? Fish houses? Quasi dim sums? 10 year kombu broths? Never seen any of this stuff. Sounds like maybe you stumbled into a ramen shop and had a bowl of ramen and gyozas? It is cool to wander the streets but if you have limited time and have no idea where you are going you could just wind up wasting a lot of time and eating something mediocre, albeit in an exotic atmosphere. Then again if have the time, sometimes you find a little hole in the wall that will blow your mind.

              1. re: steamer

                Wine Spectator did not include this, but if you are looking for a wine and washoku experience, Toyoda in Ginza has amazing food and a great wine list.

                http://www.travelandleisure.com/resta...

                1. re: Yukari

                  In addition to knowing lots of good places to eat, the modest Yukari is a sommelier, so if she recommends Toyoda you can count on it.

                  1. re: steamer

                    One of the best of the many terrific Italian restaurants in Tokyo is Ristorante Siciliano Masshu in Ginza -- tiny, out of the way place specializing in Sicilian. The chef's tasting menu -- he decides -- is out of this world and changes with the availability at Tsukiji, which is just a stone's throw away. Dinner only -- about 10,000 yen pp with excellent wine, spumante, coffee.
                    Less if you drink less, but you will find it difficult to go wrong if accept the captain's suggestions for the wine(s) to go with chef's decisions for tonight.
                    Ginza Stella Bldg. 2F, 6-2-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku
                    Tokyo 104-0061
                    03-3572-8623
                    Reservations a must -- only seats about 20 and it is becoming "discovered" beyond the few who first made it their local.

                    Also fun for appetrivo, lunch, less esoteric dinner, terrific Parma Ham, salame and reggiano is Ferrarini in the Italian Square area behind Shiodome/Shimbashi. Much more casual, VERY Italian place with excellent products from the source in Italy.
                    Shiodomeitalia Creative Centre 1F
                    2-14-1 Higashi-Shimbashi,
                    Minato-ku
                    03-6430-0486
                    bst
                    dg

                    1. re: jicamasama

                      Many Thanks! Your recommendations are most interesting. Will definitely make time to give at least one of them a try.

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Charles:
                        just ate at Ferrarini again on Friday night and a great time -- four people, two bottles of great Italian red from their house wine operation in Italy for about 18,000 yen, all in, including appertivo (1730-1930 Tues-Fri (closed Mon)) for three of us.

                        Had a huge platter of Ferrarini prosciutto crudos, speck, lardo and salami plus two green salads to start, shared out linguine with artichokes, spaghetti pomodoro and risotto Milano (wrapped in proscuitto) and a selection of desserts including panna cotto, tiramisu and three types of gelati.
                        great fun and very casual.

                        Masshu is more formal (not in the dress sense, but in the food sense) and offers an incredibly interesting and creative tasting menu. Masshu will also do a complete non-meat tasting if you ask ahead and for a guest of ours who had gluten intolerance, with warning, they made all the pastas with rice instead of wheat -- not too shabby!
                        bst
                        dg

                        1. re: jicamasama

                          How would you compare Ferrarini with Il Mulino?

                          On Ryugin, any suggestions on which menus to take? Am debating between the 15k and the 21k. Will spend a couple of days in Tokyo next week and will try to pack as much eating in as possible! There are just too many good restaurants there!

                          1. re: HKTraveler

                            Hi:
                            I haven't eaten at Il Mulino, but from the pix and reviews I would guess it is sort of apples and oranges.
                            Ferrariini appears to be a much more casual, modern "Italian" place -- sort of like, perhaps like, the difference between an Alessi coffeemaker and Bialetto. They both deliver the goods, the latter with a rather old world style, the other with a more modern touch.
                            Certainly, the hams and salami at Ferrarini can't beat for my money in Tokyo.

                            On another note, Masshu did a menu for my birthday last week based on baby goat, flown down from Hokkaido, that was out of this world.

                            Rare and wonderful in Tokyo.
                            bst

                  2. re: Yukari

                    Yukari-san,
                    are there any good wineries or sake factories that are interesting or fun to visit that you would be willing to recommend? (anyone else pls feel free to chime in). I'll be in Kyoto / Tokyo.

                    On another note, i went to http://www.kyoto.travel/ and emailed them to make a reservation for lunch at tenryu-ji shigetsu for lunch to try the buddhist cuisine because when i call the temple, they don't speak english and I don't speak japanese. well the kyoto travel people wrote back and helped me out. That's so cool!

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              1. I went to Bird Land. It's "Bird" Land because of its devotion to chicken. In Ginza there's a massive Sony building / store. It's across the st in a basement. You'll need a reservation and it's mostly Japanese salary men getting drunk and eating yakitori from what i saw. Chicken is among my least favorite meats (I prefer duck, lamb, beef, pork instead) but the food was very tasty and in very typical Japanese style, very clean flavors with minimal use of seasoning only to enhance the natural flavors (Personally I call this bland but really this is my own opinion).

                The chicken was cooked to perfection if not perhaps a bit under done. Being american i was worried / scared about E Boli to some extent but really I was fine. The chicken was tasty ... I instead perferred the various home made tofu offerings and the vegetables they had. I'll go back there again next week and try to enhance my review. The people there didn't speak much japanese so learn some key words / phrases from your guidebook. The wine selection was impressive but expensive. It was a nice experience as the restaurant is big square with the cooks cooking in the middle of the square and random tables dotting the exterior of the square. It was fun to watch the masters at work.

                I had a good time and enjoyed it and will probably go back.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Hot Chocolate

                  HC Just curious, if chicken is your least favorite meat and you find yakitori bland, (my note: the place is pretty expensive ) Why do you want to go back. You might want to check Vin Picoeur in ginza and maronouchi, they bill themselves a French bbq and the grilled pork is mighty fine as is the foie gras cooked over charcoal.

                  1. re: steamer

                    Glutton for punishment?
                    I've only been there once and it's highly recommended among most of the american / western type guides (time out, wine spectator, etc) and i was willing to give it another shot to see if maybe that day i wasn't in the mood. plus i kind of liked the secret feel since it was hard to find and no one speaks any english. thanks for the tip on Vin Picoeur. I'll try to check it out on Sunday.

                    1. re: Hot Chocolate

                      Don't do it--closed on Sunday, if you go another time you'll need a reservation.