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Aug 11, 2008 08:22 AM

Japan Trip - looking for some specific suggestions/answers

Hello Japan crew!

Going to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone for my second time around in Japan. This time I'm going with my girlfriend and I really want her to experience what an amazing gastronomical destination Japan is, which is where your expertise comes in!

One caveat before everything, she doesn't do raw fish, so one of Japan's cuisine hallmarks is off bounds. Anything else is good though.

Here is what I am specifically looking for help with:

Italian: This girl loves Italian, and Japan does this cuisine quite well, any favorites in Tokyo? 20, 000 Y and below for both of us is ok for this.

Steak: Teppanyaki or pure steak. Looked at the threads so dont worry about suggestions for this one.

Blowout Meal: Thinking about Ryugin....could I ask them not to have raw fish for my partners partners dinner? Should I ask my japanese friends to make the reservation now? I also remember reading that Ryugin does an amazing steak as one of its courses, is that correct? Because if so I can kill two birds with one stone.

Desserts: the girlfriend is a dessert FIEND! In my experience Japanese desserts can look very pretty but often come up short in flavour. Are there any cafes/restaurants/bakeries with incredible innovative desserts in Tokyo?

Ryokan: Has anyone stayed at Hakone Ginyu and can comment on their seasonal multiple course menu? The place is absolutely stunning and I am planning on booking a night there.

Design/Hip: Anything really new and hot in Tokyo right now in terms of nightlife and bars? Especially interested in anything with stunning design and wow factor. In that vein, any hot new restaurants with molecular gastronomy elements to it or some cutting edge cuisine?

Thank you in advance for any help you guys can give, exilekiss and silverjay your posts have been invaluable so far in helping me plan my trip!

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  1. Hi ilpalazo,

    Sounds like a great 2nd trip to Japan for you! :)

    For Ryugin, yes, you should make reservations as soon as you can to be safe. They were really accommodating when I went with my guest, and I'm sure if you mention that your GF can't handle Raw Fish, they can switch it with something else. You should mention that at the same time when you make reservations.

    Also, "yes," Ryugin's Course B includes a meat course, and from the reviews I've read here and my own visit, it's always been a sourced, fresh Japanese Wagyu from one region or another. I'm not sure if it'll cover a Grade A5 Wagyu Beef experience, but it's very good. :)


    1. For Molecular Gastronomy there is always the Tapas Molecular Bar. It's in a very plush bar setting, quite high up in the Mandarin Oriental.

      1. There have been several strong Italian recommendations on this board, so I'll just add a few that haven't been mentioned as much. Cucino Amano in Akebonobashi ( ) is small and unpretentious, but has terrific, very creative food. Somewhat fancier (and more expensive) is Canoviano in Tokyo Midtown (and also in Kyoto). And Il Ghiottone in Marunouchi, also with a branch in Kyoto.

        Miravile Impakt in Ginza specializes in desserts, with a four-dessert menu (Y1890) or four desserts with drinks (Y2980). There's usually a line though, and I'm not sure if they take reservations.

        I'll second the recommendation for Tapas Molecular Bar. It's a very interactive experience where the chefs are presenting a new dish to you every five minutes, and there are only seven seats. Book well in advance. Located next to Tapas Molecular, the Mandarin Bar scores pretty high on the design front and is quite impressive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robb S

          Robb I've got a cookbook from Il Ghiottone, the food looks incredible, was there anything there that really got your attention?

          1. re: steamer

            I'll have to dig up my notes - it's been awhile, with a lot of meals in between....

        2. Thanks guys!

          Made reservations at Ryugin and Tapas Molecular...going to hit up Guri Guri in Kyoto.

          For Italian thinking about Il Ghiottone but thats almost Japanese/Italian fusion...any delicious Italian that wont break the bank in tokyo?

          Im also seriously considering Teppanyaki, since the girl loves steak...going to do some research further research here on this.

          1. Hi ilpalazo:

            Re Italian : I had a very delicious lunch meal with top notch service at Argento ASO in Ginza. I would highly recommend anyone to go there. On my next trip, I would like to try Aroma Fresca, voted as the best Italian by tabelog.

            Re Teppanyaki/steak: Morimoto and Ukai-tei (for teppanyaki) and Dons (for steak) have been highly recommended on previous threads. My personal friend has highly recommended Sazanka (for teppanyaki) at Okura Hotel.

            Re Blowout meals: Ryugin is excellent, the meal is very creative and imaginative without compromising the quality and freshness of the dish. But there are too many blowout meals in Tokyo; beside Ryugin, I have blow out meals at Koju, Aronia De Takazawa, Banrekiryukodo, Nabura and a few sushi houses (which I think you would have no interest as you want to avoid raw fish). Koju and Banreki are more like kaiseki, Aronia is like Ryugin, very creative, and Nabura specialize on seafood.