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Dec 13, 2009 12:20 AM

Recommendations for visiting foodie family please

Hello everyone:

Longtime lurker, first time poster. I enjoy reading the Tokyo posts and although my budget doesn't always extend to dinners at the Michelin restaurants frequently mentioned here, one of the things I looovvvee about Japan is that great food can be found on any budget. However, I digress:

Some foodie friends are visiting early-mid January; including children, their posse amounts to six pax! I know that they're getting a sitter a couple of nights, but does anyone have foodie recommendations suitable for families in Tokyo?

The gyoza stadium and ramen museums are being looked at; we are more concerned with decent kid-friendly izakayas or other restaurants deemed suitable for a family with four children ranging from 5-11 years. The family is from Melbourne (AU) and fairly cosmopolitan when it comes to dining, so I am unsure whether so-called family restaurants would be appropriate!

I'm childless so am pretty much stumped re: this one.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Ms J

PS. I did search through previous posts, but didn't see anything relevant in the first few pages

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  1. Hi Ms J
    I think Maisen might be a good place to bring your friends - its pretty big double story restaurant with great katsu (breaded pork sets). Maisen is at the omotesando area- you can google it. And if the kids prefer their burgers, head on to the Japanese burger chain, Freshness Burger.

    1 Reply
    1. re: eaterri


      Thanks for the great suggestion. I haven't eaten at Maisen since the early 1990s, but do recall it being good and an 'experience' for a Tokyo newcomer.

      Re: burger chains, Freshness or Mos will be go!

    2. Proper gourmet or cuisine oriented izakaya would not be appropriate for a group of children that young. I would consider chain izakaya with casual environments and picture menus such as Tengu or Watami. Best to arrive close to opening to avoid drunken revelry and cigarette smoke. Though, many of these places have private rooms or seperated areas, so if you call and book ahead any time could be alright. You can also consider standard communal dish restaurants like shabu-shabu and nabe (hot pot). For example, one of the chanko-nabe places in Ryogoku near Edo Museum might provide a nice double shot of a day. Also, kaiten-zushi tends to be a family dining excursion in Japan. Some of the places have booths rather than exclusively having just counters.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        I'm with Silverjay on this, I think kids would enjoy the shabu-shabu. For cheap but good shabu-shabu I like nabezo (locations all over). They have a vegetable bar with the tabehoudai option, which is much easier than ordering extra veggies each time you want something - and also really helps if nobody speaks Japanese.

        1. re: lost squirrel

          Thanks Silverjay and lost squirrel!

          Kaiten-zushi is another must-do, yes.

          Re: izakayas, I once saw a local family numbering 6-7 people at Seigetsu; I do think that this was an exception to the rule, however. The nabe/shabu-shabu restaurants are also a great idea so I will look into nabezo.

      2. I would highly recommend Ivan Ramen. He is a New Yorker making ramen in Tokyo and does fun, creative limited "gentei" ramen. Currently there is a Mexican Tacos ramen that looks like it is out of this world (I have not been yet but have heard about this dish).

        If you go, be sure to try the slow cooked pork and tomatoes over rice.

        It is a kid friendly restaurant!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Yukari

          Before sending a group of six tourists to Ivan Ramen, one might at least warn them that it's pretty far from the center of town, takes quite awhile to get there (even if you don't get lost), often has a line, and might find it hard to seat everyone together. And of course it's ramen, so the idea is to eat and then leave to make room for the next diner.

          1. re: Robb S

            Having been to Ivan Ramen, I tend to agree with Robb S. re: this one. Sadly, I don't think it quite fits the bill re: large groups and location.

            But yes, the pork/roasted tomatoes over rice is fantastic! I broke my own rules eating that and ramen at the same meal. Ivan is very personable too, which made for a great dining experience.

            Considering there is no real ramen to speak of in Melbourne, I think it's on the agenda, most likely the ramen museum. Other suggestions welcome too!

            Thanks again everyone for commenting, much appreciated.