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Sep 10, 2009 04:15 PM

Tokyo restaurant with best service?

Hello everyone!

I'm doing a little research and trying to find the restaurant with the best service in Tokyo. Any suggestions? It doesn't have to be high-end.

I'm a first time poster, so still quite new to Chowhound. But I hope I can help you guys answer questions in the future.


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  1. I don't know why anybody would want to know that. Most restaurants in Tokyo have pretty good service, and many many have excellent and outstanding service. If I were to pick one single restaurant for service, I'd say L'Osier. It is the best service I've had in a restaurant in my life.

    1. Hi Madam M
      What took you so long?;-)
      Probably not at all what you are looking for but for 3 days this week I stopped by a little space rented by Keowjai Thai restaurant in the Shibuya Tokyu Food Show and picked up some Thai fried chicken and rice for lunch. The waitress/cashier was so friendly, had such a big smile, was speaking Thai to me, gave me a free wonton or two, etc., anyway it was a little bit of Bangkok sunshine in Tokyo--really made my day(s).

      And on the higher end I really enjoyed the service at Ryugin a couple of years ago, it was attentive without being obnoxious. Very much good will from the staff, not at all snotty as is often the case when the food is at a very high level

      16 Replies
      1. re: steamer

        I'd agree on Ryugin - I also found them very helpful and attentive without being overbearing, and the chef was friendly and nice.

        Another place that stood out was Edition Koji Shinomura - the staff was very enthusiastic about describing the various ingredients and cooking techniques if you showed any interest at all. And the chef seems very warm and personable.

        1. re: Robb S

          Thanks, guys! very helpful. I'm really just trying to see what "service" means to people here, in light of Tokyo's reputation for excellent service. Everyone just assumes, for example, that all the high-end restaurants come with outstanding service, but that's not necessarily the case -- depending on the individual consumer's criteria.

          I became interested in this idea after reading the book Service Included (which Robb kindly lent me).

          Steve, how have you been? Hope all is going well!

          1. re: tokyodrinkingglass

            Sukiyabashi Jiro:

            "This was literally the only example I have ever encountered in Japan of rude service, whether at high end dining places or the cheapest and simplest cafe, and it seems to me wholly unacceptable whatever the culture. "


            1. re: davew666

              Not to take away from the blogger's bad service experience (which from what I heard, would not be unusual at Jiro), but then maybe the master figured out he was dealing with a dilettante wanker (which doesn't excuse the master's behavior, but explains it). Can you spot how many mistakes there are in the first four paragraphs of the blog entry:

              "We had the usual range of sushi items, starting with flounder (which did not have a lot of taste but avoided chewiness) and a squid ("aori") which sadly was distinctly chewy. Eniada or young yellowtail was better, at which point we moved on to the usual trio of tuna: naguro, partially fatty and fatty "oto". These were excellent, though not a patch on the ones at Sushi Mitsutani two days earlier.

              Kohado (a type of shad) was pleasant, as was the tasty horse mackerel that is in season now. "Shako" is a type of shrimp (mantis shrimp) that was very pleasant, as was salmon roe. Sea eel as the final savoury item was not as tasty as two others I had on this trip. Finally the egg custard cake which traditionally finishes a sushi meal appeared.

              The temperature of the rice was correct (i.e. room temperature rather than fridge temperature), and reputedly they keep each fish at a slightly different temperature. The rice tastes more heavily of vinegar than some, but I gather this reflects the particular style of the sushi chef rather than it being objectively better or worse than a more lightly vinegared style."

              How would he know what the "right" temperature for rice is?

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                Sure it is not a easy one, it is their PLAY ! I myself don't understand all of it. I just went a 3rd time to the Ginza SUKIYABASHI and the master of 80years old did some pieces for me. A very stylish 80 years old !
                The rice is in the temperature of the skin... The rice is made in order of the reservations and not more than 7 cups... The reason is if you are waiting 5 minutes to eat your sushi piece... Sure, the temperature will drop.
                Eating high-end sushi only don't feel like a "feast" so I am eating there once a month only.
                On the "omakase course", 20 sushi pieces after, at a glance on the "neta wood box", I asure myself I can order or not. I did some mistake myself on that one. I do reservation on the last minute and still have an open talk.
                This sushi place has is style... particular style.... and it is beginning with the white sushi pieces, you will have a stronger acid point... the order on this is calculated with precision, graduation to graduation.
                Look at the box of the neta, the conservation is very short on the wood ones.
                Japan is a respect of your own.

                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  Not sure what the point of your post is, as you seem to imply both that the blogger had it coming, but also that the service was terrible? I think you secretly agree with the chef ;-)

                  1. re: davew666

                    He he. The blogger does sound like a wanker. Now, one would expect a "3-star" Michelin restaurant to swallow its pride and just go along, but not this dude Jiro. Clearly, not one to suffer fools gladly, and he did not exactly hide his disdain for the customer.

                    Do I think chefs should be disdainful of the customer? No. On the other hand, if I was so on top of my game and proud and/or famous that I didn't care, this is the kind of customer that would get the "treatment".

                    Now, I've never been to Sukiyabashi Jiro, and I don't intend to go anytime soon, although I am curious. I have my own preferred ganko hardass chef to deal with, Nagayama-san at Dai San Harumi, who, once you're on the inside, is a real pussycat.

                    1. re: Uncle Yabai

                      Ah, the glass ceiling of sushi chefs that I will never break through. Lucky Mizutani-san is so friendly even to a pleb like me. Maybe I had better try and make friends with Japanese speaking some sushi experts!

                2. re: davew666

                  I think this guys, Andy Hayler, symbolized all that is wrong with pretentious customers: He probably only found Jiro cause it's 3 stars and he clearly has no knowledge AT ALL regarding sushi. Still, he has the money to check out these 30.000 places.

                  This reminds me a lot of guys like Jay-Z pouring Roederer Cristal or Dom Perignom over ice, or drinking it from long drink glasses. It is wrong. These businesses, be it century old french champagne producers, kaiseki shops in kyoto, sushiyas like jiro or maybe the Hofbräuhaus in munich, have achieved a very high level of sophistication and are aware of that (and should be). They are artisans and dedicated their life to perfection of a certain food or drink, and it annoys them, when people who have clearly know understanding of the matter try to buy themselves in.

                  Clearly this guys, "Andy Hayler" review is completely incompetent -- he does not even manage to spell the restaurant name correctly! Seriously: Sukyibasi Jiro. How hard can it be to at the very least check the name? This is not a transliteration thing, and a simple google search or a simple look in the michelin guide and he would have spotted the mistake. Indeed, it is even mentioned on his site in the comments but the guy is just won't change.

                  So, assuming this food website is pretty important to him (it's his), and he will be ok with such a low standard of accurateness, I can only assume how he acts at Jiro. I mean: Almost EVERY fish name is misspelled. Again, not a transliteration thing, but if you know ANYTHING about sushi, i just can't believe people would seriously talk about "oto" or "naguro" etc. Again: This guy did not do his homework. At all.

                3. re: tokyodrinkingglass

                  Yoh Melinda, pretty tough sledding these days, more often then not my dining out experiences include "Smile 0 yen." Still life is good for the moment. Hope all is well with you.

                  1. re: steamer

                    The topic is good service and to continue the subject on the sushi SUKIYABASHI JIRO Ginza :
                    The 1st time was with a reservation. Was on time, the service was cordial, small compliment talk and the place was empty.
                    The 2nde time, the reservation is definite obligation to sushi… Sorry, I hate this ! Without the preparation, on the last minute, what does it taste like ? It is different ? I did go without reservation and ordered supplement, the total.
                    The 3rd time, the reservation was like 2 hours before lunch.
                    The next time, I will made the reservation for days and will see (hihihi).
                    Very interesting topic for sushi day to day lovers

                    1. re: Ninisix

                      Oh ! Uncle Yabai ; the service at the cockroach McDonald will be the same !!!!

                    2. re: steamer

                      I'm so sorry to hear that, Steve. But I'm sure things will turn around for you soon. I think everyone's feeling the pinch right now. How's the photography going?

                      Take care and hope to catch up with you sometime,

                    3. re: tokyodrinkingglass

                      I'm a bit late in the game, but your point about how people's idea of "good service" varies widely is a good one.

                      I've been to Ryugin, and I thought the service was very friendly and helpful. When the waitstaff realized I was very interested in the food (the ingredients, preparation, etc.), they printed out a menu for me to take home. I was dining alone, so even when they were busy, different staff members took the time to come and speak with me about different things--the food, the chef, the tableware, their backgrounds, etc. From a North American point of view, it was great service.

                      However, from a European service point of view, there were small things that would not (in my opinion) put Ryugin in a "great service" category--little drops of wine spilling from the bottle onto the table, etc. I also noticed that they didn't always serve from the left and clear from the right (but thankfully, they didn't stack plates when they cleared), and I think my napkin was folded and placed back on the table when I left my seat to use the restroom.

                      I know these are very small (and perhaps even non-existent) points to most people, but when I'm judging service, I look at those things. I still had a great meal at Ryugin, and I enjoyed the service, but I would not have put it in the "great service" category because of those points.

                      All that being said, from a North American point of view, even a place like Denny's in Japan probably has better service than most restaurants in the US and Canada, including some of the "high end" places, at least in my opinion.

                      1. re: prasantrin

                        Hi prasantrin,

                        Thanks for your thoughts. Very interesting. When I went to Ryugin, we were fortunate not to have any of those issues you mentioned (nothing spilled, they *did* serve and clear correctly, etc.). We might've been lucky with some great servers, but it was spot-on.

                        And totally agree that service at even the tiniest shops we went to trumped many regular "nice" restaurants here in the States. :)

                        1. re: exilekiss

                          I think a couple of the servers were relatively young and not quite as polished. I had a great chat with one of them, and he was really excited to be at Ryugin, learning about food and service. I took that to mean he was relatively new at serving at that kind of level.

                          And it was a very very small spill. Like a drop on the table. But I still noticed. I like observing the service almost as much as I like eating the food. Well, OK, not nearly as much as the food, but I do like observing people (plus I was alone, so I didn't have anything else to do).

                          Generally speaking, I do find that because that style of "fine dining" is relatively new in Japan, a lot of the servers tend to be on the young side, and so a little less practised and a little less refined (in terms of service). This in no way means I think the service is bad, it just needs a little more practice and training. I also find that, in general, high-end restaurants, particularly French, in hotels in Japan (and the rest of Asia, for that matter), tend to have the most well-trained servers (in the classical European sense). I think it's largely because they have more established training programs, as well as senior staff who really know what they're doing.

                4. Just returned from Tokyo a couple of days ago and had really good meal and service at Tempura Fukamachi near Koyabashi and Teppanyaki Ukai-Tei in Ginza.

                  The latter was pretty pricey and the decor OTT but no faulting the service from the all smiles greeting upon arrival to the teppan chef to the waiter and waitress service throughout. We didn't bother to collect our change (about 125 yen) after paying the bill and one of the waiters raced almost 2-3 blocks after us to return it. The meal itself was excellent as well.