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Food List for travel to Tokyo and Kansai region

Hi guys,

I'm headed for Tokyo and the Kansai region for a holiday in June, and am compiling a food list from recommendations online. My budget is moderate, I'm hoping that most meals would cost not too far above 3000 Yen. Is there anything I left out that is a must try, or do you guys have any comments?

Tempura:
Tsunahachi
Daikokuya at Asakusa

Sushi:
Daiwa or Sushi dai in Tsukiji
Midori sushi
Hanaore (Kyoto) for sabazushi

Ramen:
Gogyo for Kogashi ramen
Ippudo in Ebisu (Ansley rec)
Akanoren
Ramen Jiro in Mita
Koumen chain in Ikebukuro
Jyangara ramen in Harajuku
(will probably not try all since I'm not that much of a sucker for ramen)

Udon:
Mentsu-dan

Unagi:
Obana at Asakusa
Kawachiya at Shibamata
Nodaiwa at Akabanebashi

French-Japanese confectionaries:
Pierre Herme for macarons
Jean Paul Hevin for chocolate
Sadaharu Aoki for salted caramel tart, yuzu eclairs
Hidemi Sugino for mousse cakes

Other food to try:
Amazake
Dango in both Tokyo and Kyoto
Train bentos

Most of the places I've listed so far are for Tokyo, I don't really have any places listed for Kyoto yet. I'd really like to get some nice wagashi though. I don't really have recommendations for Yakiniku, Shabu shabu or Izakayas either so yeah, those would be welcome too.
I am also wondering if there are any other good sushi places that are not too commercial and don't cost an arm an a leg to eat at? I am a sushi afficionado and have considered getting a lunch set at Kyubei, but I read that it doesn't taste representative of Kyubei's true quality. Looks like I've to wait till I'm a richer bloke.. But in the meantime I'd love some sushi shop recommendations that show more finesse than Midori, without being expensive.

Thanks!

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  1. Are you traveling alone or with someone? How many days will you stay in Tokyo? What neighborhood will you be in? Where are you going in Kansai? How many days? Where are you staying? Anything you can't/won't eat? Is that Y3000 budget figure with drinks?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robb S

      Hi there,
      I'll be travelling with a group of friends, in Tokyo for 7 days. Our plan is to be based in Asakusa. Then I'll be headed to the Kansai region for about 4 days, mostly based in Kyoto, though not sure where I should be staying. Any recommendations for a budget traveller? I am well acquainted with Japanese cuisine and there is very little I won't eat - maybe except basashi. The Y3000 figure is without drinks.
      Thanks!

      1. re: Eldarion

        saw that you'll be based in asakusa and thought i'd throw in a recommendation of finding a bike rental if the weather fares well. i was able to get one for 7 days at a grand total of 500yen from that particular area. my feeble biking ways got us to chiyoda in an hour with a few pit stops along the way.

        also, pierre herme doesn't hold a candle to ladurees macarons... but something you might want to check out as a souvenir is the tea liquor from fauchon (takashimaya) that seemed to be only out of japan (brewed by asahi).

        also the aoki in new yurakucho was significantly more relaxed than the insanity of the one in roppongi.

        oh, my favourite handmade soba was in asakusa by the sensoji shrine but i have no name to give unfortunately. there are two locations on either side of the main south entrance and the women who work there are dressed kind of like nuns. very non descript entrance except for a few wax bowls showing soba and shrimp tempura.

        there's an ice cream stall in the shrine area as well that has some great flavours... favourite among them being the really lovely and earthy unpolished rice.

        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          the soba restaurant was called owariya! which i'm slowly getting the impression that it may have been a little touristy but nonetheless just as enjoyable.

    2. I've never been to Daikokuya, but I've seen a youtube video of the place, and the tempura may look like a lot, but from what they showed, it's mostly batter, and seemed rather soggy. Based on that, I'd probably skip it given the price.

      For udon you can also try O-men in Kyoto. They have three branches, and I think the one near Ginkakuji has an English menu (the one on Higashinotion doesn't, at least it didn't last year, but the guy at the counter lived in NY for a few years, so he speaks English very well, and I don't know about the one at Gion). They serve the noodles and vegetables separately from the soup, so you mix it youself as you eat. When I lived in Kyoto it was always recommended to me by locals.

      I'd skip the macarons at Herme, too, and get the salted caramel tart from Henri Le Roux.

      1 Reply
      1. re: prasantrin

        Yeah I saw that youtube of Daikokuya too, it doesn't look like delicate stuff that is for sure. I would have put it off the list if not for a Tokyoite friend of mine recommending it. Thank you for the recommendation of Henri Le Roux!

      2. For sushi, you might want to try some place like Iroha Sushi- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/347704 . A couple of caveats though. First, the location has changed to a place along the river in Naka-Meguro, just across the little bridge. So you would go out the station, cross the street, bear right along the tracks, cross the bridge, and the shop is to the right two doors. Second, I visited the new location and was disappointed in the sushi. But it's a good value and there's no reason it shouldn't be able to live up to it's past location. All things considered, Midori or one of the places in Tsukiji is best for value. You can also try the sushi shops on the restaurant floor of departments stores.

        We've gone through an intense ramen analysis over the last few weeks, so recommend you check out those posts. Most of the shops you've listed are similar to each other.

        Not sure why yakiniku makes people's lists all the time. If you have time, I would add izakaya, yoshoku, and regional Japanese cuisines like Kyushu or Okinawan. And if you like to drink, I recommend a splurge night at a good sake/ shochu pub. Check out the "Japanese Regional" page on Bento.com which lists many good places for all these. If someone in your group can speak and read Japanese, I will recommend some specific izakaya in the Asakusa area.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          Too bad about Iroha's new location. I had actually planned on going tonight. I have to treat a visiting friend to a birthday meal and was hoping for moderately priced sushi. We'll both be too hungry to wait at Midori.
          Time for more research!

          1. re: lost squirrel

            Another option is the sushi shop from the Uoshin people, which is also located in Naka-Meguro. It's called "すし屋 魚真 " (Sushi-ya Uoshin). Here's the page- http://www.uoshins.com/nakame_top.htm . It's a bit of an inconvenient location just off of Yamate-dori. It's about a 15 minute walk from Meguro Station and longer from Naka-Me. But if you hop on the bus outside Naka-Me station, that runs down Yamate-dori toward Meguro-dori, it's only a few minutes. The stop is called "Dendo...something" . Maybe "Dendobashi". The shop is reasonably priced and a good selection as always from the Uoshin people. I wasn't into their shari preparation, but the fish was good.

        2. I had Hanaore's sabazushi just a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn't impressed. I got it at their store in Takashimaya (Kawaramachi), so if you go to their main store, it'll probably taste better.

          In fact, I wanted to try sabazushi at Izuu in Gion (you can walk from Kawaramachi), but they were somehow closed that day. So I went to Takashimaya to get Izuu's sabazushi, but it was sold out! That's how I reluctantly ended up with Hanaore's.

          As for wagashi (or dango?), where you should get it really depends on what kind you want. If you don't know which kind you want, the best thing to do might be to stroll at a depachika where you find most "shinise" stores. I highly recommend real warabimochi in Kyoto. I can't go back to cheap warabimochi at grocery stores anymore (while I'm perfectly happy with cheap mitarashi dango at grocery and convenience stores.)