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Aronia de Takazawa

Does anyone have any reports about this place? I know people here have tried to get reservations (and have mostly failed), but I haven't read anything from anyone who has been there.

I'm trying to get a reservation for one, which I know will be incredibly difficult given they only have two tables, but I'm wondering if I should give up and try somewhere else. I have read of one person who managed to score a table for one, so I know it's possible!

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  1. FourSeasons, guess we are all waiting to hear from you!!! Ha! How does your psychedelic meal in Takazawa compare with Ryugin?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Hi prasantrin & Charles:

      I just had lunch last week at Ariona de Takazawa. Reservation was made 6 weeks prior but dinner spots were full for the week so I could only settle for the lunch. I believe 2 months advanced is needed for dinner reservation as I was told last week that the dinners were fully booked till end of May. Chef Takazawa told me that he will limit to maximum 10 guests at each dining as the quality will be compromised beyond that number. The best bet would be to settle for lunch.

      The meal was incredible. All the meals were the creation of chef Takazawa with heavy Japanese ingredients but he called it "New French". If my recollection is correct, we started with amaebi with macademia & marble syrup, then 2 breads made of green tea and cherry blossom with okinawa pork patate; followed with 15 tiny bits of vegetables in jelly; 4 types of sashimi; foie gras creme buree with mango pieces; pasta made of wakame and clams; fugu karaage with mafugu coated with certain herbs (don't know what it was) to enhance the flavor and a deep fried cheek; finished with kumamoto beef steak. Deserts include a menthol floss on a miniature egg beater and NZ mauka honey ice cream. The first few dishes were creatively artistically presented, they were delicious but did not really "wow" me. But the last few dishes were incredibly good. The fugu was the best fugu I ever had; so is the steak.

      I enjoyed both the meals at Takazawa and Ryugin. Maybe Ryugin has a slight edge but it is really difficult to compare directly as the meals were 6 months apart. And I had dinner in Ryugin so the atmosphere was more relaxed without worry about the next appointment. But both chefs are the most creative I know without compromising the freshness, texture and the taste.

      I know Asomaniac went there a few weeks ago. Maybe he can contributre; he is the Michelin expert here.

      1. re: FourSeasons

        Thanks! Unfortunately, I just now (literally) received an email from them--they're completely booked until the end of June right now! They also write that there is a party minimum of two persons, so that precludes me off the bat.

        Well, the next next time I'm in Tokyo, I'll have to remember to make my reservations three months in advance, and hopefully I'll be able to find someone to dine there with me!

        I would like to hear Asomaniac's account, too, however. But for now, I'm off to try to get a reservation at Ryugin!

        1. re: prasantrin

          I really enjoyed my meal there, although - to use the above comparison - I prefer Ryugin. The 11 course meal we had consisted of very fresh, attractive and imaginative courses, although with some of them I thought the creative concepts and visual appearance were more impressive than the actual flavour. The frozen macademia oil was gimmicky and superfluous. The foie gras creme brule was superb, as were all other dishes. The two kinds of beef steak were very good, but not the best. Obviously any criticism should be viewed in the context of the highest standards, which Aronia sets itself. Even the courses that were not perfect were incredibly good. I would give the restaurant two or three Michelin stars. Probably more likely two than three. One thing I really loved there was the selection of Japanese wines, of which they have more than the rest of the world combined. The Mercian Chardonnay Private Reserve was fantastic, if you like your Chardonnays toasty. The other Chardonnay we had (not private reserve) tasted like a young Burgundy. The red was a Nasu Merlot (virtually 100%), which is normally not my favourite grape, but I was interested in trying Japanese wines and this one was great (though don't order it if you don't like the flavour of cherry). We rounded it off with a red and white Burgundy from their limited but good rest of the world wine list, and found that the Japanese wines stood up against them well.

          I will be back in June. Can't wait. I booked when I had dinner there in March, and already most of June had been booked up and I only got my third choice date.

          1. re: Asomaniac

            Just a quick update... Having been back to Aronia twice recently, I have to revise my above assessment. It was unbelievable, definitely 3 star uqality. Not that I didn't think it was incredible before, but I didn't think it was out of this world. Now I do. They got rid of the gimmicky macademia oil (hopefully for good) and all of the dishes were sheer perfection. The meat courses I had there recently, quail and chocolate pigeon, far surpassed the beef in terms of creativity. Everything was sublime, from the tako amuse bouche to the tomato, corn and curry ice creams to finish the meal. I have booked in for several more meals in the upcoming three months.

            1. re: Asomaniac

              Hi Asomaniac,

              Thanks for the report back! :) Do you happen to have their URL / Info (preferably in English and Japanese)? I can't wait to try it!


              1. re: exilekiss

                Hi exilekiss,

                Their website is aroniadetakazawa.com. Unfortunately, it is only in Japanese. There is very little English language information out there on Aronia. There is that one rave review from the Times, and I think that is more or less it. It will change when they get their Michelin stars and become inetrnationally famous (though in the right circles, they already seem to be; chef Takazawa guest-cooked at the Ritz in Dubai for a week this year, for example).

                We should probably enjoy the current situation - you can imagine how much more impossible it will become to book a table there, givent hat they only have two tables and often you already have to book about 3 months in advance.

    2. Is the lunch menu at Aronia the same as the dinner menu? I'm thinking of trying again the next time I'm in Tokyo (not sure when that will be, but no harm in planning ahead), and perhaps I'll have better luck getting in as a single or as a replacement for a cancellation at lunch rather than dinner.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Asomaniac

          Great! If I go for lunch, I don't want to feel like I'm missing out.

          Now I just have to plan a trip to Tokyo (now that Laduree Tea Room has opened, I really need to go!).

      1. I finally found someone to go to Aronia with, and they'll be closed when I was planning to be in Tokyo! I think I'm just destined not to eat there...

        For anyone planning to be in France in December, Takazawa will be cooking at l'Auberge Basque. The email I got said he'd be travelling around France and Spain until December 17.

        1. Just read a favorable review of Ariona de Takazawa on Wall Street Journal, written by Yukari. I attached the website below. Wonder if the writer is the regular contributor of Chowhound Yukari herself?


          18 Replies
          1. re: FourSeasons


            Also, it's not quite as secret as the Wall Street Journal writer would suggest. Since it's been covered in Newsweek, Travel and Leisure and the London Times it's probably one of the more written-about restaurants in Tokyo.

            1. re: FourSeasons

              Also, for what it's worth, on Tabelog, Aronia is rated 7 out of 17 French restaurants in Akasaka. On Asku, they come in somewhere in the middle of page 7 out of 20 pages of French listings in Tokyo. It seems like they're more popular with the international press than with people who actually live here.

              1. re: Robb S

                True, different publication and survey have produced completely different conclusions. Forget about International Press vs Japanese survey, I have highlighted before on a previous thread that even Tabelog and AskU have different results among their fans. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539223
                Even the highly acclaimed Michelin 3 stars L'Osier and Quientessence are ranked only no.19 and 21 in the Tabelog's French category respectively. One would think with the Michelin 3 stars stamp behind them, they would have ranked at the top of its category but that is not the case for Japanese foodies.

                1. re: FourSeasons

                  #19 and #21 are pretty respectable numbers, and not that surprising at all. Aronia is ranked #586 in Tabelog's Tokyo French category.

                  1. re: Robb S

                    I don't think the chefs of L'Osier and Quintessence will be happy about the ranking of no.19 and 21 when they have achieved 3 stars from Michelin, the supposedly authority on French cuisine.

                    I have not tried 586 French restaurants in Tokyo. I have tried Quintessnce in Tokyo, Robucho A Galera in Macau, and L' Atelier in Hong Kong, and I thought Ariona is not inferior to any of them. So the poor ranking surprised me, but I am not a food critic, just just an amateur foodie who enjoyed the meal at Ariona tremendously.

                    Off-topic: I have enjoyed a few restaurants in Tokyo that really "wow" me but they do not appear anywhere or rank very low at Tabelog.

                    1. re: FourSeasons

                      Oh, I don't think those chefs are losing any sleep over their rankings in Tabelog; as I've opined elsewhere, it's at best a very rough guide to what's good (and more often simply what's popular), with some puzzling and questionable results sometimes.

                      I'm sure that Aronia is good - the descriptions I've read here and elsewhere sound intriguing. I just thought it was interesting to note the difference between its overseas reputation and its local one.

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        I often find that tabelog ratings of restarurants with Western cuisine differ quite a bit from my own view. Often a restaurant that is rated fairly highly on tabelog is not that great at all in my mind, and restaurants I do rate very highly tabelog tends to rate average.

                        Not sure why that is. Is it some sort of cultural difference? Do Japanese people tend to look for different things in their Western meals / rate different things highly? Are my taste buds incompetent to distinguish between good and great food? Possibly, but the views of a lot of serious Western foodies who have eaten in the same restaurants as I have seem to indicate that they tend to rate the places I rate as well, and often do not particularly rate restaurants many Japanese people rate. This (highly unscientific) poll of sorts indicates a cultural difference. An example that comes to mind is Aroma Fresca vs Aso (both Argento and Ristorante). I know a lot of Japanese people who rave about Aroma and swear it is the best Italian restaurant they have ever eaten at. I think it is good, very good even, but not more. I rate Aso more highly (Michelin agrees at least on that one), but tabelog does not (though the ratings are fine, but in both cases certainly below Aroma). (I know you don't quite agree on that one, fourseasons :-))

                        On Aronia specifically, I have spoken to quite a few people who have eaten in many Michelin starred restaurants around the world, and Aronia often was either their favourite or up there. I'd agree with that, but as Robb S says, it does appear that foreigners take to it much more than Japanese people.

                        It doesn't really matter, it's just fun to chat about people's different takes on the various restaurants. I'd be happy if the Takazawas got the recognition in Tokyo which I believe they deserve, but ultimately, whether or not they do, their venison will not taste any different depending on what the critics say. Thank God.

                        1. re: Asomaniac

                          Cultural difference is definitely a factor. Before Robb pointed out to me that Arionia has such a huge different perception between the Western publications and the local ones, I also have personally noted a difference in rating of restaurants between blogs written by Westerners and Tabelog.

                          Yes, you are right, at the end of the day, it's just fun and doesn't matter. Our own enjoyment is the most important matter.

                          On Aroma vs ASO: I actually prefer the food at Aroma Fresca to Argento ASO (I have not tried Ristorante ASO so no comment there). But then I had the seasonal dinner menu at Aroma but just a light lunch menu at ASO so may not be a fair comparison. But in terms of service and ambiance, ASO is first class and superior to Aroma.

                          1. re: Asomaniac

                            Hi Asomaniac, FourSeasons,

                            Great topic. One other thing to consider may be the "Value / Cost" category. Perhaps for many locals they may rate a restaurant higher because it represents a better "value" for them vs. some of the Michelin 3 Star / 2 Star that may be pricier.

                            Or maybe the classic "neighborhood / convenient" eatery for one person reviewing that skews their ranking of a place over a more famous, more distant place?

                            But as you pointed out, that's what makes Food so Fun. :) Everyone has their tastes / differences and it's about discovering and taking it all in.

                            1. re: exilekiss

                              Hi exilekiss:

                              I think you are right; I suspect "Value/Cost" must be a factor when the readers review the restaurants. I have recently tried a restaurant that was very highly rated at Tabelog; the food is very good, but not excellent, but in terms of "Value for money", it is a great deal. I thought they could charge another 30% more expensive for the amount and quality of food it provided. I tried another restaurant that was quite expensive sometime ago; I thought it was excellent but the rating was quite poor at Tabelog; I suspect reviewers perhaps felt it was too expensive. It is either "Value/Cost" factor or simply my taste bud is not in the mainstream.

                              But then Tabelog based its review on tasting, service and ambiance, with another overall rating (that I assume is the average of the 3 factors) and they ranked the restaurants based on that overall point. For people like me who do not care much about ambiance, I would follow more on the rating on the taste category.

                              1. re: exilekiss

                                While I'm sure that value does factor in to the overall scores on sites like tabelog, interestingly enough, 13 of the top 20 restaurants in their ranking start at about 20,000Y per person (about $200), 4 others are in the 10,000-20,000Y range ($100-200) and the 3 others below that. Of course, those scores tend to be inflated, like you find on surveys like Zagat, with a less data points. So it's worth looking at the number of people that have rated the restaurant, as well as those who have made comments. In fact, the comments (the kuchikomi -- 口コミ) is the most useful part of Tabelog. Of course you'd need to read Japanese to get any use out of it, or as in my case, just enough Japanese to get the gist.

                                Also of interest is that the one Sushiya that outranks Mizutani (no. 14) is a place called Hashiguchi (no. 13). I don't think I've heard of Hashiguchi on the Japan CH board.

                                1. re: E Eto

                                  I have made a reservation on line. The reply will be tomorrow (holiday). IN suspense....

                                  1. re: Ninisix

                                    Don't you think that a failing on a reservation can give good results ? And want to try again ? Funny hum...

                                    1. re: Ninisix

                                      I'm not sure I understand your reply, so just to clarify. . . you didn't get a reservation??

                                      In my experience, you need at least 3 months to get a reservation at Aronia. That's just based on all of my failures.

                                      1. re: prasantrin

                                        Unfortunately, it failed. Looking for the occasion. Perhaps in October, not sure about that one. It seems to be possible yet at some point.

                    2. re: FourSeasons

                      Hi there, that article was written by a friend of mine, a WSJ journalist with a good palate (a good home cook as well), so I'd trust what she's written. I believe she enjoyed the meal a lot but wasn't as blown away as she'd expected to be after going through all of drama of getting a reservation.

                      Still, I'd love to try it. How much was it for lunch (with wine, I'm guessing)?

                      1. re: tokyodrinkingglass

                        They do not distinguish between lunch and dinner menues, so you get the same menus and prices (used to be 16,000, 20,000 and 24,000 Yen set menues, I am not sure if the prices are still the same as i have not been for a long time.

                        1. re: Asomaniac

                          No more lunch reservation can be made... Unfortunately, it failed this summer and Chrismas I might not be in Tokyo.

                    3. Aronia de Takazawa is available for two, Oct 2.
                      Be hurry!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CPMK

                        A wanted restaurant... A big wanted one. Did someone tried it after Chrismas ? Like the week between Chrismas and New Year end ? The week of Chrismas is impossible I think to book a reservation.

                      2. Has anyone tried to make reservations at Aronia recently? I sent in a reservation request through their website, and only a few days later noticed in the "News" section that they're on holidays (in Spain for a food-related conference, I think). The website said they were only accepting reservations by e-mail during their holidays.

                        I sent my request in again to both the e-mail address on the website and another e-mail address I have for them (which may be a personal e-mail address), but the one I sent to the website address came back because the mailbox was full.

                        Can I just assume they got my e-mail at their other address, or should I keep trying their website e-mail, too? I don't want to inundate them with e-mails if they've already received at least one of mine, but at the same time, I don't want to risk not getting in (although I know the chances are high that I won't), just because I didn't send the e-mail to the correct address.

                        What to do, what do to. . . .what would you do?

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: prasantrin

                          Hi prasantrin,

                          Please keep us informed of what eventually happens with this. Thanks.

                          As for what else to do, maybe ask the concierge (or if you have friends in Tokyo) call Aronia and see if they can get more information that way?

                          1. re: prasantrin

                            I haven't had any trouble contacting them at their cleek.co.jp email. Was trying to eat there again in Feb but Akiko said they might be on vacation unfortunately. The last time I went was seriously the best meal of my life.

                            1. re: sg_foodie

                              I just came to mention the same thing. I just got an e-mail and was asked to try again around the middle of December, because they're not sure if they'll be open in February. I was trying for the end of February. She said they only book "within three months" (she said they usually book in November for November, December, and January).

                              Will try again in a few weeks!

                              1. re: prasantrin

                                Hi sg_foodie and prasantrin and all, do you know if they still open for lunch ? And is the price range from $16000 Yen to $24000 Yen ? Do you think I can still have a chance to get a reservation if I plan to go in mid to late Jan ? Thank you.

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  I've never asked, but on their website they only list hours for dinner. I would assume that means no more lunches.

                                  No clue about chances for a January reservation. It's just a quick e-mail to find out, so no harm in just trying.

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    No idea about lunch, I had dinner there. That was the price range when I was there in Feb this year.

                                    As for getting a reservation, like prasantrin says, can't hurt to try!

                              2. re: prasantrin

                                I went through the concierge at The Peninsula who has booked all of my upcoming meals (I'll be in town for two weeks). Anyway, I have a 19:30 reservation on November 25th. Not sure if he experienced any issues. The only restaurant he has had trouble booking (I'm third on the waiting list) is Quintessence.

                                1. re: BaronDestructo

                                  When did you request your reservation?

                                  I'm awaiting the middle of December so I can send in my February request!

                                  1. re: prasantrin

                                    I sent my restaurant list to the concierge at the Peninsula 3 months in advance. He informed me that some restaurants required booking three months in advance, some one month, others weeks or days. I don't recall what the case was for Aronia.

                                    The only one I had trouble with was Quintessence that only takes reservations a month in advance. Despite that, I was put on a waiting list. As it turns out, however, there were some cancellations, I moved up, and will be having lunch there on Thursday. Will report back.

                              3. I just got the word that I'm in for March 25! It's my last night as a resident of Japan, so it will be a great send-off! Very excited, I am!

                                1. Hi, I was wondering if anybody who was there recently could give me a good estimate of the price? I am planning to go there with a couple of guests, so it makes quite a big difference if it is 15k or 25k or 35k per person. Thanks!

                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: prasantrin

                                      Ah, didn't see that. Thanks! It's probably smart to go for the 24k course, right? It seems that is without wine and probably without service. So, without crazy wines, it is reasonable to end somewhere in the 30-35k range per person?

                                      1. re: Scharn

                                        I just ate there again last friday, another amazing meal. I had the 24k menu and the wine pairing chosen by Chef Takazawa came up to another 12k (mostly with Japanese wines as their list is at least half Japanese...quite an impressive variety).


                                        1. re: sg_foodie

                                          I'm dining there in October and am going for the 11 course (24k) menu... But, after reading some other reviews on here, I am thinking about switching to the 9 course or even the 7 course. My bf and I can't eat a lot in one sitting. We are snackers and eat several smaller portions throughout the day. Although I've done many tastings that range from 5-16 courses (many times I've been uncomfortably full), I just want to make sure it isn't TOO much food where I won't be able to enjoy my dinner. Was the 24K meal too much for you?

                                  1. On Twitter, Grant Achatz wrote: "Day 2 of 10 Japan w/@dcberan long line restos 2 hit in prep 4 Nexts Kyoto menu. 1st, dinner-Aronia de Takazawa 4 last service as we know it!"

                                    Last service as we know it at Aronia? Does that mean Aronia is changing its format? Closing? Anyone here been to Aronia lately or have some inside info?

                                    1. The most recent picture from Grant Achatz shows the menu for the 21st. It clearly says, "Wonderful to have you, the last night of ARONIA!"

                                      So I guess it's closing for sure. Does anyone know what Takazawa will be doing next?

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: prasantrin

                                        I ate there on the 13th and they gave no indication that they were closing. In fact they wrote 'hope to see you again' on my receipt. It was a fabulous meal.

                                        1. re: prasantrin

                                          The Aronia website gives no indication that they are closing.

                                          1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                            I noticed that, too, and it made me even more confused.

                                            The link to the picture is http://pic.twitter.com/YuYIA1lZ

                                            There must be more to it than face value. I`m guessing they`re changing their format--maybe more tables? Different space?

                                          2. re: prasantrin

                                            Mystery solved! From their website. . .

                                            一日二組限定というスタイルでオープンして早7年が経ちました。 2012年5月、TAKAZAWA として、リニューアルオープンしました。より一層日本の良き風土・人・食材、伝統・芸術にフォーカスし、再構築してモダンに供する‘美味しい+楽しい’世界に邁進していきたいと思っております。

                                            We reopened as TAKAZAWA in May 2012.

                                            We started our restaurant with only 2 tables a day in 2005.
                                            From 2012, as TAKAZAWA, we will put more focus and love
                                            into Japanese products.
                                            Thank you for your everything the past 7 years and
                                            We look forward to welcoming you at TAKAZAWA soon !!

                                            So. . . Aronia de Takazawa *is* closed, but Takazawa is now open. I assume this indicates a change of style. With the increased focus on Japanese products, it sounds a little like the evolution of Ryugin pre-2008 or 2009? to present. I also wonder if they'll have more tables available.

                                              1. re: akated

                                                This guy is amazing!! i was there last November...


                                              2. re: prasantrin

                                                Hi, I'm new here, but thought to butt in. I was just there on Monday for dinner. It was such a marvelous experience and delicious! Reservation was made about 3 weeks before getting there. Myself and a friend has some food restrictions, but through multiple communications with Akiko-san (Chef's wife), Chef made a special menu just for us. Please also note that the communications I had with Akiko-san was strictly in English.
                                                Will definitely go back in a heart beat (provided my wallet allows me to do so). I think there are about 4 tables now, so you have double the chance of scoring a reservation!

                                                On the Takazawa vs. Aronia de Takazawa thing - ever since they renovated the restaurant (after the earthquake March 2011), they decided to change their identity because they are no longer an "Aronia berry" that they once were, and have matured into a full grown Takazawa.

                                                  1. re: erickp

                                                    Yes, I did! Took pics of each of the dish. Looked like a couple of the dish you already had in your November visits. Will upload later.

                                            1. I recommend Aronia--service, food, atmosphere was great. Would I go back again, though? Maybe, no.

                                              After all the variety of great restaurants available in Tokyo, I'd rather leave my visit as a good experience.

                                              I'll post a separate review with pictures shortly. I went for dinner on Valentine's day earlier this year.

                                              1. I went to Takazawa, RyuGin and Les Creations when I was in Tokyo last August/September. Getting into Takazawa is possible, just keep your dates flexible and try mid-week. Takazawa is an experience and I hope you get to enjoy it, and if you don't, I took so many pictures you will feel like you were there :)