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Tokyo Kaiseki Recommendation

Hi all,

I am planning to have one kaiseki meal during my stay in Tokyo and I wanted to see if people have have a recommendation for a place to do it. Obviously, price is not limiting for this meal. I have come across the three places below, each of which received three Michelin stars:

Genyadana Hamadaya
3-13-5 Nihonbashi Ningyo-cho Chuo-ku

Ginza Koju
8-5-25 Ginza Chuo-ku

Kanda
3-6-34 Motoazabu Minato-ku, Tokyo

Any suggestions on whether I should visit one of these or a different place would be most helpful. Thank you!

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  1. Those choices are all well and good and I'm sure you'd have an amazing meal at any of them. However, why not consider a Ryokan with a Kaiseki meal included? I would recommend Gora Kadan.

    http://www.gorakadan.com/

    1. hamadaya is TERRIBLE. Overcooked food, just not that fresh, terrible for that price. Great service, forgettable food.

      Of the three you mention, Kanda I would say is the best. I ate there recently (will post a short review soon), and had some memorable dishes there. Having said that, you will come across non-Michelin starred kaiseki that will not taste any worse.

      Both Kanda and Koju have owner-chefs who are not just very knowledgeable about sake, but also wine. Kanda's wine list is particularly good, and his white Burgundies go incredibly well with his food.

      Ryugin I think is better than all of those though.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Asomaniac

        I should add though that when I went to Ryugin last (which is a long time ago), the meal was a bit disappointing and did not live up to past experience. I am now told by others (e.g., FourSeasons) that they had a similar experience last time they went. I am going again this coming Saturday so will report back. Hopefully they have turned things around again.

          1. re: lost squirrel

            Yes. No prize guessing who I am going with.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                Those are good words. I can still taste them.

                1. re: Asomaniac

                  So how was the rest of your meal? I've been reading several recent reviews of Ryugin recently which express disappointment. I'd hate to think people aren't having meals as enjoyable as the one I had. I was actually planning to make Ryugin my final dinner before leaving Japan. Please tell me the food is still creative and delicious!

                  1. re: prasantrin

                    I had a great meal there a couple months back. They really went an extra mile for us that evening. Everything was prepared well and perfectly cooked. The food is still creative and delicious (at least when I went) although a little more refined with less molecular gastronomy (for lack of a better term) elements than in the past. Or maybe they're just more seamlessly integrated into the cuisine?

                    At the end of the day I don't know what your standards or tastes are so it's impossible for me to guarantee an amazing dinner for you on Ryugin's behalf but hey, if you're a fan of Seiji Yamamoto's cuisine and you've been there more than once I think you could pick worse chefs to watch evolve.

                    My meal for cross referencing purposes:

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/42140802...

                    1. re: prasantrin

                      I went to Ryugin on saturday with Uncle Yabai. We both thought that it was one of the best kaiseki meals we had had in our lives. Uncle Yabai thought so even though he has been to all six 3*** restaurants in Kyoto. It was simply unbelievable (review to follow when I have time).

                      However, the molecular thing is gone. They explained that Yamamoto is classically trained and had always planned to revert to a more classical style (albeit with a few creative twists). He experimented a lot with various methods, still finds them very interesting, but ultimately wants to keep things more traditional.

                      I was one of the people who had been disappointed by his latest visit (which is quite a long time ago, around a year). But Saturday restored my faith in the place. If they do not get three stars this year, something is wrong with the inspectors (or they visited on an off-day, like me previously).

                      BTW, the sake was unbelievably good as well.

                      1. re: Asomaniac

                        looking forward to ur review... i believe both okuda (koju) and yamamoto trained at the same place (青柳) .. if ryugin's focusing more on traditional now, it seems like they are going to take on koju head on..

        1. One of my favorite kaiseki restaurants in Nihonbashi Yukari. I just spent two weeks with the 2002 Iron Chef and 3rd generation chef of the restaurant. He is talented and does a great job. Best of all, there is a counter that you can sit at and watch him preparing the cold dishes at.

          www.nihonbashi-yukari.com

          1. Hello, has anyone tried the traditional Japanese cuisine restaurant Yukimura ?

            It just got promoted from 2 to 3 stars.

            22 Replies
            1. re: skylineR33

              Where did you get the information? is a new list out?

              1. re: skylineR33

                http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi...

                im wondering if they mentioned saito's place wrongly , as it isnt located in ginza.. or they might have mentioned another sushi saito... 3 stars for them... very wonderful news for saito(the one near american ambassy

                )

                *edited http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/new...
                it really is sushi saito at akasaka... congrats to them(from 1 star to 3 star in juz 3years)... chef saito is very friendly... on the other hand.. i wonder if his mentor kanesaka has anything to say...

                1. re: skylineR33

                  Thank God Hamadaya lost a star. But Ryugin not getting one is ludicrous. Do you know where i can get hold of a list that includes the 2 and 1 star places as well?

                  1. re: Asomaniac

                    Hi Asomaniac, here you go :

                    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/gourmet/drin...

                    Any word on Yukimura ? The review on Tabelog seems quite good.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      Brilliant. I am quite disappointed at the lack of certain names in the new 1 star list. But as I said, v. happy about hamadaya losing one. They should have lost them all, they are awful.

                      I have never been to Yukimura so cannot say.

                      1. re: Asomaniac

                        Indeed. Jiro Roppongi getting a star over other establishments is a bit funny to me.

                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                          ...and Jiro readily accepting stars from this foreign publication while being a nasty, sneering old man to any foreigner daring to go to his restaurant smacks of hypocricy.

                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              Sorry, had overlooked you meant Jiro in Roppongi. I don't know how they treat foreigners, I heard his son is better than the father. My above reference relatesto the 3*** Sukiyabashi Jiro.

                              You wonder if the Roppongi Jiro got favourable treatment from the guide because of the famous father.

                              1. re: Asomaniac

                                Oh yeah, understood. The son is better than the father hospitality wise for sure. The question of favourable treatment is certainly a valid one but I guess we'll never know.

                                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                  Hello ! Again this gang subject ! The old man is the only sushi master who was nice enough to explains his sushi process in books. The good sushi or just sushi does not put itself under patent ….An exemple, sushi in France is crap ! crap ! crap !

                                  1. re: Ninisix

                                    Not entirely true. Ozawa from Sushi Ozawa in Ginza/Daikanyama published "The Sushi Chef's Bible" explaining the fundamentals for Sushi Chef's. I'm sure there are others.

                                    Anyway, the point was that Jiro Roppongi getting a michelin star above a host of other Sushi Shops was questionable. Nobody here is criticizing the father's skill.

                                    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                      There is always Nagayama-san of Dai San Harumi, who has written not one but two books about sushi, one of which is a true visual treat. Coffee table material for sure.

                                      http://harumi-sushi.sakura.ne.jp/syou...

                                      1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                        Oh nice! I wasn't aware of either of those. See you later paycheck!

                                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                          A signal to my Chrismas rush.... Nice info, thanks.

                        2. re: skylineR33

                          Your link takes me to a Japanese character web site. I've scanned that page reasonably thoroughly, but I can't see a way to toggle to an English-language version of the page. Did I miss the toggle or is the site in Japanese only?

                          Thanks.

                          1. re: Indy 67

                            If you can't read Japanese the best thing to do would be to take the URL and paste it into a Google search. When the results of your page come up, there should be a "translate" option next to the link. Hit that for a very, very rough translation to that page.

                            1. re: Indy 67

                              Hi Indy67, that site is in Japanese only.

                          2. re: Asomaniac

                            If the inspectors visited while Ryugin was going through a "transition" period, then it would be understandable that they did not gain a star. From the reports I read, several people who visited within a course of 6-ish months had lacklastre meals.

                            But If Yamamoto has regained his stride, then perhaps he's on-track for a third star next year!

                            1. re: prasantrin

                              prasantrin,

                              I agree - my experience before Saturday was disappointing (having previously been out of this world). It is frustrating if that is the reason they did not get the extra star - when on form, they deserve it a lot more than Koju or Kanda. On the other hand, the stars are also awarded for consistency - inspectors visit several time during a year to see if the kitchen performs consistently. Ryugin definitely did not (which really amazes me, considering what they are capable of and considering that Chef Yamamoto was always there when I ate there - i..e, no off-day becasue his substitute was on duty).

                              1. re: Asomaniac

                                Does he actually take time off? I always assumed he just closed the restaurant when he attended conferences.

                                (very much an aside, I really do know how to spell "lacklustre". .. .)

                                1. re: prasantrin

                                  I don't know. I never tried to book at a time he was away.