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Feb 27, 2008 06:55 PM

Final plea for advice in Tokyo

Yes, I realize most of you are sick of me by now and I hardly blame you.

I have a list of restaurants assembled and I have the possibility of about 15 meals but I am sure it will end up being about 7-10 of my choosing due to the lack of interest, knowledge and taste of my company who reside in Tokyo. Honestly, if they just would make some reservations for me, I would be happy. I have none, a complete disaster I realize but at this point, I am just going to make them, myself, when I am there by phone or in person.

These are not in any order of preference and has been assembled by filtering results of various guides and sites, including this one. Trying to have spots in different neighborhoods and of different price points, etc. For advice, note, I am not so into spending 30000 JPY on sushi/sashimi or steakhouses.
If there are some to eliminate or add, please chime in. I just have a terrible feeling about missing out on so many I want to go to due to this reservations nonsense.
I have some more rambling after the list.

Ristorante Aso
Ristorante Honda
Tateru Yoshino
Le Manoir d"Hastings
Chez Tomo
Bon Chemin
Agout Du Jour
Siciliano Masshu
Vin Picoeur
El Pulpo
Silom Soi
A Ta Guele
Aburiya Fudo
Le Dessin
Lamb Junkie
Tori Shin
Bongout Noh
and I think Suzuran and Sakurazaka in Shibuya for ramen

I am going to make a most concerted effort to go to Bon Chemin, Cicada, Rist. Aso and Vin Picoeur and possibly Kikunoi but I might go in Kyoto. A few others will be right behind those, mostly higher end just that they are more of a pain. Any knowledge of places from the above where I can walk in and get a seat, any time of day, would be great.

Also, have done the search for the "cheap, great" joints, noodles or whatever, for some reason, it is not as well organized and easy to just read off a list as I would have thought.

I admit, there might be ONE more post for whatever I have forgotten.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. hi....i use to live in tokyo in the 80's. a great place to eat near roppongi was the "EX", a very small bar/restaurant run by a German and his Japanese wife. do you know if it's still there and in business? thanks in advance...bud

    3 Replies
    1. re: bud27503

      Bud, I am the wrong person to ask, sorry.
      Quick search gives me nothing.
      If you like, post a topic question for it.
      There are a few people who know their stuff on this board, more than I can say for others.
      However, as there are so many places in Tokyo, there is a chance they don't know it but would know how to find out.

      1. re: gambit50

        I'm a year plus late in replying....I did assume that Horst was married and that Hiroshi was his "wife".....thanks for the info. Missing that great German cuisine...and as you mentioned portion size (as I recall they served each meal on 2 ten inch for the meat and one for the vegetables). I traveled the world (over 50 countries) with IBM and without hesitation EX served the best food. My family STILL brings up how good the food was....we left Japan in 1982. Thanks for responding...Cheers, Bud

      2. re: bud27503

        Bud, EX is still run by the same guy, Horst. Has been for 32 years or so. But not with his Japanese wife, unless you mean Hiroshi by "wife". Horst is gay, always has been, never had a wife, and Hiroshi, his partner, is largely responsible for the incredibly good German cuisine (coming in the largest portions I have ever seen).

      3. If I were you I'd switch Firehouse out for MosBurger. It's much more 'japanese' and fun. Firehouse is for when you want an American style burger.

        Let me know when you go to Suzuran, I've never been. Last time I tried it was closed (Sundays).

        I'd also switch out Toriyoshi for a different yakitori joint. I've been disappointed at the location I've tried. My dad and brother, both visiting me at the time, were completely unimpressed as well.
        I like Fuku and Kushibeh much better.

        Also, if you have time for a second ramen meal I'd recommend one of the Jiro's. It's a good experience I think. My favorite Jiro is in Fuchu, a little out of the way from downtown Tokyo but worth it in my opinion.

        7 Replies
        1. re: lost squirrel

          > Also, if you have time for a second ramen meal I'd recommend
          > one of the Jiro's. It's a good experience I think. My favorite Jiro
          > is in Fuchu, a little out of the way from downtown Tokyo but
          > worth it in my opinion.

          I don't disagree with recommending Ramen Jiro to someone who is adventurous. However whenever I recommend Ramen Jiro to someone, I always include a disclaimer about the "ambiance" of some of the different locations. The one in Fuchu is decently clean and not too physically cramped (although a little hard to find, since it's the only Ramen Jiro that is actually inside a building and not easily visible from the street). However some of the Ramen Jiros are real "greasy spoon" or worse type places - don't be suprised to find a lack of kitchen cleanliness or the occasional roach on the floor. I'd prefer not to mention specific "bad" ones, that information is available elsewhere on the web. Some good ones I can recommend on this point are Ikebukero, Sakuradai, Hibarigaoka. And if you are willing to travel as far as Fuchu then you might also consider the branch in Hachioji, although it's a longer walk from the station, as that is my personal favorite. Regardless of which branch you choose, I would recommend to gambit50 or anyone else that they try to get a visual on the inside of the store to see if it is to their liking, before waiting on the 15-30 min line that most Ramen Jiros have.


          1. re: kamiosaki

            True, some of them are pretty dirty. I tried the Kabukicho location a few weeks ago and it was a mess. Also, I was served 10 minutes after the people who were seated 5 minutes after me. I don't know if the guy was just afraid to talk to me or was specifically excluding me but I don't think I'll be back for that reason alone.

          2. re: lost squirrel

            how do you ask for less beansprouts in japanese when they ask you ninniku iremasuka?? how do you say no extra? isit better to have more garlic?? if i want a firmer noodle, do i juz say katame?

            1. re: Lucil

              Moyashi (bean sprouts) wa sukunameni (onegai shimasu), but when they ask if you want garlic??? I think more garlic or less garlic is your personal preference.

              Men (noodle) wa katameni (onegai shimasu)

              1. re: kuidaore

                Now I got it. You were talking about Jiro's special commands...

              2. re: Lucil

                The following link may also help as far as Ramen Jiro is concerned:


                1. re: kamiosaki

                  That's a good link for Jiro info.

                  If you just want regular, "futsu de" (onegai shimasu)
                  I'm not sure if that's technically correct, but it works for me.

            2. if you go to kaikaya i would suggest doing a course (they have 3 options and the most expensive one is 4500 i think). you get sashimi (wonderful), miso, a whole baked fish stuffed with herbs, carpaccio, the famous "tuna ribs" and a bunch of other things i can't remember. the menu is quite huge so it's a nice way to sample a bit of everything. the staff there is REALLY friendly and i think you will be fine trying to make reservations in English.

              12 Replies
              1. re: taryn

                Kaikaya is one that is on my list for my next visit. Don't think I want to do a course but prefer to order ala carte. I was visiting the website and the "tuna spareribs" looked really weird. What is that? Also how far ahead do you need to do a reservation? Appreciate your reply.

                1. re: FourSeasons

                  "Tuna spare rib" is "kama yaki", the large sickle shaped jawbone at the back of the tuna's head. It's a standard dish. One of my favorites. You sometimes see it called "spare rib" because of it's resemblence.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    I know what "kama yaki" is; I had hamachi and kampachi kama yaki before. But the photo certainly does not resemble a kama yaki. Like you said, it look more like a "spare rib" and is stated as "maguro no kama no supearibu" on the menu. Is there much difference between a hamachi kama yaki and a maguro kama yaki? Or was it due to the angle of the photo taken that was misleading?

                    1. re: FourSeasons

                      I didn't see the photo on their site. Post it if you've got it. Depending on where the cut of the bone is, it can come out looking like a spare rib to varying degrees. Maguro is a larger fish, so the kama is larger than hamachi, kampachi, or sake. And the meat hangs on the bone similar to spare ribs. It's the gold standard in "kama yaki" dishes as far as I'm concerned. I can't bother with other fish kama. Here's an excerpt from what I wrote a couple of years ago:

                      "This is not a dish for everyone. You've got to love fish and it helps if your good with chopsticks too. As NYT described, there is all sorts of exploring to be done. There are at least 3, maybe 4 or 5, different types of meat to be had. Once you've gone through this a few times, you become skilled at uncovering the nooks and crannys, the false bone walls, and the hardened areas that reveal more chunks of meat. Some pieces are incredibly fatty and moist, others dry and salty. Some dark, some light.Only salt was used to cook it, but a little bit of soy sauce when you eat it goes a long way to accent the tuna oil."

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        Sorry, I wasn't specific enough, the photo was not in its official website but posted by a reviewer. I have attached it this time.

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Actually it's うまそう~ or うまそ~ :P you drop the い when using ~そう.

                            1. re: Klimbim78

                              Actually, either way is used in the Japanese blogosphere professor..

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                Hahaha. Touchy. I looked around in the "Japanese blogosphere" and while there are a few instances of people using うまいそ、it seems pretty rare. Maybe it's just your circle or just a few people who want to be different. I've got no beef with it, I don't really care how people choose to use language. I just thought it might be a common mistake by a beginner and give you a headsup but if you had meant to say that then my bad.

                                1. re: Klimbim78

                                  I'm not a beginner, though certainly no where near a translator either. But I often post on CH from a PC with no Japanese IME capability. In such cases (as above) I must find an example of what I want to express in Japanese and cut and paste from a Japanese site.

                                  1. re: Klimbim78

                                    I think he meant to write うまいそ" so chill.

                  2. re: taryn

                    I'd second Taryn on Kaikaya, and don't forget to try the ginger ale there. Love Vin Picoeur--reservations are a must, great wine list, fabulous pork, and charcoal grilled foie gras. You can't lose at bongout noh either. For FourSeasons, I have booked about a week ahead but ymmv.

                  3. You must try Okonomiyaki. A friend took us to a restaurant in the red light district in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo. We cooked our own Okonomiyaki on a grill in the center of our table. It was fabulous. Good with beer. I think the restaurant was called Shinjuku House. It's a 3-minute walk from Shinjuku Station East Exit, or a 2 minute walk from Seibu Shinjuku Station. Their phone number is 03-3209-0760. Hope this helps.

                    1. Okonomiyaki "edited" info. I just found the match box we took from the restaurant where we ate Okonomiyaki. The writing is all in kanji, except for their phone number which I googled ... and found their website.

                      Here it is:


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Flamingo

                        I like Sakuratei for okonomiyaki. It's a very fun place and they get creative with some of the dishes.