NYC hound tokyo report
First, thanks to all who responded to our SOS, all of these replies were very helpful to us first-timers. Very jet-lagged, but here goes. Got up at 5 AM our first morning and went to Tsijiki market and tuna auction, a great experience. Could not get into Daiwa Sushi for breakfast (was already getting too hot to wait in line outdoors) but we stumbled into another place called Okame that was terrific --- nice, simple, pure sushi at 6:30 in the morning! Sushi chef was very nice, spoke a bit of English. Although we had not planned on going to Sushiko, one of my husband's business colleagues had made a reservation for us there and we could not offend him by not going. We were the only Westerners there, and it took a while for the sushi chef to warm up to us, but once he realized we were not sushi novices, the experience got better. Neither one of us thought this was an especially memorable meal, and we were eating the same sushi as the Japanese customers. Also, we asked for a wine list --- after all, this place was recommended by Wine Spectator --- but were told that only beer and sake were available (and whiskey)! We asked again, thinking perhaps we were misunderstood, but to no avail. So we wound up drinking sake and beer. Still don't understand.
But Ryugin the next night more than made up for Sushiko. We sprung for the 25,000 yen dinner. With wine, dinner for two was about $640 US for two. But it is one of the best meals we've ever had. Course after course of incredible taste sensations. Again, we were the only Westerners in the restaurant, but we felt much more welcome here. A few standouts among the thirteen or so courses --- a lobster soup in a base of pureed fennel and cauliflower; a "salad" of 25 vegetables with tomatoes the size of a fingernail that exploded in your mouth with flavor; sashimi served with various sauces (plum sauce, yuzu, some salt) to mix and match, no soy sauce or wasabi to be seen); two desserts, one a shaved ice with mango and rasberry and sauces to match, and one a chocolate ice cream that had been treated to a blast of liquid nitrogen, which turned the ice cream into a powdery substance which was topped with truffles --- proving once again, in my opinion, that truffles taste great with everything. There were a couple of clunkers, we did not like deep fried shark's fin, conger eel soup was just ok. But just a fantastic experience and worth the cost to our wallet and waistlines.
Bought some great knives in Kappabashi. Union Commerce has a great selection, very knowledgeable owner who speaks decent English. At ProShop, also there, my husband bought a large left-handed chef's knife and had his name engraved on it (or the Japanese counterpart to it) while we waited --- and i don't know why, but because he is a lefty, the knif was half of what the right-handed version cost. Again, the shopowner was extremely helpful and accommodating.
Last night dinner was at Robataya in Roppongi, where we had some amazing huge grilled prawns and kobe beef, and terrific grilled veggies. Place is a bit on the kitschy side, but once again, we were the only Westerners and were made very welcome.
Finally, lunches were on the run, loved the basement in Isetan, could eat there every day. And could drink at Sasagin every night. Can't wait to go back!
thank you so much for the report. We leave for tokyo next week and have been considering Ryugin as a possibility. Now it is more than a possibility, I am thinking it is a definite. Thirteeen courses is usually too many for me. Was there a prix fixe menu with less courses available? Thank you, thank you, thank you!
i think there was a lesser menu for either 20,000 or 21,000 yen, but i don't know if that meant less courses or different food (like maybe no lobster or truffles)? really not sure --- but i think this chef aims to please, and i am pretty sure there were people having dinner who were eating less than we were.