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Travelling Outside Tokyo Requests

I will be in Japan next month and have made the ‘serious’ dining reservations (Traditional Kaiseki in Kyoto (Kikunoi); Modern Kaiseki in Tokyo (Ryugin); ‘French Gourmet’ as interpreted by Japan in Tokyo (Robuchon)). On another thread I have already received recommendations for Fugu and Whale.

My ‘challenge’ is mainly for the areas outside Tokyo. My Japanese can best be described as ‘survival’ but I’d like to try the local specialties (as far as possible).
As further background, I’m not a sushi/sashimi aficionado – neither Matsuhisa nor Urasawa blew me away (neither did French laundry or Per Se); in the US my top 2 places are wd-50 and Jean-Georges (and in Toronto, Splendido – for the numerous Toronto ‘hounds who seem to be making similar trips this year).

If there’s anything relevant in Tokyo, please also let me know, although that part of the trip is pretty full, so I am really looking for the ‘best’ defined as local and/or unique in each stopover.
I both start and end in Tokyo, and pretty much have 2 nights each in Miyajima, Kurashiki, Matsuyama, Kyoto and Matsumoto.
So help me build a few gustatory memories please.

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  1. In terms of non-high-end and affordable meals, I liked Spoon in Kyoto (kyoto-spoon.com) recommended on this board by another chowhound. It was tapas style. Does anyone know if it's an "Izakaya"? I still don't know what one is after eating at so many places there.

    All dishes were good, but the standouts for me were the awesome yuba pizza, the fish and mushroom rice, and the grilled meats (they must use some different charcoal too in Japan because they taste awesome).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Wandering Foodie

      Thanks - Spoon is already on my 'list' although the website was in Japanese so I appreciate the recommendation.

    2. i am in kyoto now and will be heading to tokyo soon. what are the best places for fugu and whale?

      1 Reply
      1. Hello Estufarian! I know 'skylineR33' of the Toronto board just returned from that part of Japan a few weeks ago. His taste in food and restaurants is very similar to yours and he is one true gourmand! I would suggest you write a short post on the Toronto board to catch his attention and hopefully his subsequent input!
        In Tokyo, are you going to Joel Robuchon at Yebisu Garden or L'Atelier Robuchon in Roppongi Hills? S'pore Ch'er Fourseasons just spend the past week eating in Michelin star restaurants everyday. He told me apart from an incredible meal at Ryugin, he also had a great Italian meal at the 2* Ristorante Aso. I'll try digging out his e-mail write up on those two restaurants and forward it to you. Have fun!!

        1. I was in Kanazawa, Kyoto and Kurashiki 3 weeks ago, and would like to recommend the Miyoshian in Kenrokuen (Kanazawa), if you're in the area, and Ryokan Kurashiki for traditional dining (hope the attached menu is legible). In Kyoto, I can't recommend either Minocochi Honten Takeshigero or Ashiya Steak Gero, regrettably. While the service was outstanding, having the chef cook bamboo shoots and beans for us seemed rather unimaginative even for traditional kaiseki. In the Ashiya, the cook waved a steak before us, saying it was Kobe, but not what cut. It tasted like an ordinary round, not even a filet. Absolutely no comparison to the unbelievable melt-in your-mouth Hidagyu we'd had in Takayama. The half hour wait looking at photos of Bill Clinton didn't do much for me, either.
          Whoops- didn't realize this thread is a year old. Guess I'll re-post it elsewhere.

           
           
           
          1 Reply
          1. re: alt.

            Hi alt

            Where did you go in Takayama?
            Headed there next month and trying to find some great restaurants.

          2. hello toronto chowhounds! ... based on all the posts you guys have, i'm definitely not in the same "class" ... being only 2 years out of university and with lots of food/cultures yet to experience....

            but some friends and i just booked a trip to japan for the last 2 weeks of june!!....we're super excited and we've never been to japan before (nor do we speak any japanese) ....we're hoping not to spend too much time in tokyo as well, so any recommendations outside of tokyo would be awesome!....

            we're relatively money-conscious, but we know we'll have to spend on this trip....so thrifty or moderately-priced eats are perfect! .... we may splurge on one or two dinners tho!! ....(if u could even give me a CAD conversion for typical meals, that'd be great!) ...

            1. In Kyoto, I recommend the "bistro style" OMURA near Kyoto University, you will find diverse nice and various food. For one day one night, there is the temple in Koya san. The food is vegetarian food and the tempura are surprising and crispy. More than the sea landscapes, the montains in japan are the most notorious.
              Kanto, for the Tokyo area, the food will be different.
              Hope to hear you soon again

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ninisix

                hi ninisix! i actually didn:t get a chance to go to omura or anything special in kyoto... my group wanted to try a keiseki at a place called uomosa for lunch, but they only offered dinner... and that didn:t fit our schedule becuase of its location....

                we:re actually in tokyo right now, so anything here would be much appreciated!..... we:ll be here until saturday

              2. Enclosed here below the restaurant HIBIKI in Akasaka for the necessary ingredient to sumer your trip to japan : english menu, japanese food, garden, central tokyo...
                http://www.hibikiwedding.com/akasaka/...
                This restaurant is one of the SUNTORY GROUP. You access to the web link and look for. There is also CARETTA in Shiodome 47th floor. http://www.dynac-japan.com/hibiki/

                1. This is to confirm that the restaurant in Ginza - Yurakucho has the "whale bacon" on the menu. The school lunch meals served "whale" to the pupils until 1980's.
                  http://www.dynac-japan.com/hibiki/sho...
                  Also the menu is affordable. Hope you will find everything

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ninisix

                    thanks ninisix!.... unfortunately, today is our last day in tokyo.... and i didn't see your response until now... some of us don't have much money left...hahah...(and we can't read japanese)....but whale bacon sounds amazing!!

                    we did try nihonbashi yukari for keiseki lunch (from an old rec on another thread)....and we loved it!...we sat at the counter and watched/chatted with the head chef (in broken english)....we did feel like it was a bit favoured towards foreigners, but it was still a great meal and good value too!....we also got photos with the chef after since no customers were left by the time we finished...

                    hopefully, i'll make it back to japan in the future and be able to try more eclectic foods!.....(maybe on a business expense account??)...hahah