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Dec 27, 2009 02:32 PM


I've been staying close to Ogikubo / Kichijoji the past two weeks and haven't felt like going into the city every night. There were two places in Ogikubo I really enjoyed. Not saying either is a must go or worth a long train ride, but think if you are out this way and looking you will be very happy.

Namba, なんば , was the best find. It is a sushi place about a 5 minute walk from the station. It seats ten at the sushi bar and there is one table for two so reservations highly recommended because it is usually full. We had to wait until after 9PM for our reservation. The chef and his assistant seem to have much more joy than you usually see and fills the place with a happy atmosphere that is hard to explain. They speak almost no English though so if that bothers you ...

Had the omakase there and it seemed to go on and on for a bargain of 10K yen including some sake. Probably would have been at least 2x that for the amount and quality in most places. On to the food, the highlight for me was the shirako, never had that before. He served that warmed up. So good. The buri was amazing. He must have thought the anago was very good because he served it three different ways. And he really liked using liver in a creative way. I will definitely go back there once more before I leave.

The other places was a soba place called Takabashi, again about a five to ten minute walk from the station. This has been a soba trip for me, trying it in as many places as I can at all different levels to try to understand it. Takabashi again is a small place, man in the back, woman in the front with a great feel. The soba was much better than I expected, actually better than at a big name place in Ginza. They are mainly a lunch place, but they stay open til 8PM so you can get an early dinner there.

I have one place left in Ogikubo to try, honmura-an who is suppose to have some unusual soba / uni dish.

Hope this helps. Wanted to give back to the board a bit since it has been a great help in my visits to Tokyo.

BTW . . . Ivan Ramen was a short walk away so I tried that. Hard for me to give an opinion on that because I'm not a ramen otaku, but there was a twenty person line most of the time so a lot of people liked it.

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    1. re: E Eto

      Honmura-an is part of a chain of well-known hand-made soba places. At one point they had a shop in NYC, but that closed recently.

      1. re: Uncle Yabai

        Place closed in NYC about three years ago. l loved it there, does not seem to get same praise here. They sold in NYC because their address warranted an offer of way into 8 figures for the real estate. The real estate was a simple four story brownstone in Soho just off Houston east of Broadway.

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          The owner of the NY branch said that he came back to Japan to run the family business when his father died. He's now running the Roppongi branch (the only other branch is Ogikubo).

          I was very impressed with the food in Roppongi - creative original cuisine built on a solid base of craftsmanship. If it doesn't stand out quite as much as it did in New York, I'm guessing that there's a lot more competition in the area of modern Japanese cuisine in Tokyo compared to New York.

          (I only went to the NY branch once, and I thought it was around the same quality level as the current Tokyo shop, but I can see why it would make a much bigger splash.)

      2. re: E Eto

        That Namba place scores pretty high on Tabelog. Probably as good as dgpeters makes it sound to be.

      3. By the way, I quite like the branch of Le Jardin Gaulois in the department store north of Ogikubo station - they do nice take-away quiches and terrines, which might be of interest to your hosts. If you're adventurous there's also one of my favorite curry/yoshoku shops on the south side, Tomato, although their curries might be an acquired taste.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Robb S

          Thanks Robb. I'll check out Tomato before I go. Tonight is Il Ghiottone. Looking forward to that based on site feedback.

          1. re: Robb S

            Robb - Tried Tomato last night. It was more of a hit with Pookie than me, but really warmed us up on a cold day. Great winter place. If I lived close by in the area the price / taste / atmosphere would put it in the dining rotation.

            We had the medium spicy beef curry and the Hungarian Goulash stew. The curry was definitely the better of the two [think this is true of all the curry / stew options, stick to the curry] and next time I would go with the full spicy and maybe even ask for the extra hot option.

            1. re: dgpeters

              Glad to hear it. I haven't tried any of the stews there, just the curries.

          2. i highly recommend Okajoki (陸蒸気), a few stations away in nakano. its a well regarded robata-style restaurant which specializes in grilled fish. it also has great sashimi, nimono and nihon-shu on the menu. stepping into Okajoki is like stepping back into taisho-era japan - amazing atmosphere, and watching the chefs tend the fish over the hearth is a great spectacle. be warned that they dont take reservations, and as seats are limited to counter seats around the hearth - it fills up quickly. also note that even my japanese companion had a hard time understanding the fast and impenetrable japanese that the chefs spoke and the menu is written in highly stylized kanji - but then again, i think you would be hard pressed to find anything disappointing on the menu. i recommend the kurokama shioyaki or the kinmeidai nisakana. juicy and delicious. if you are in the area during the day time, they also do a recession friendly ¥900 lunch set.