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Almost done planning itinerary, would love advice!

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I want to thank all the chowhounders here. Thanks to all the great posts, I've been able to compile some info to help plan our itinerary for next month's trip to Tokyo.

We're only there for 2.5 days, so I've been trying to think of the best way to cover as much as possible in a short amount of time. I am trying to pick places close to where I want to shop too!

Here's what I have so far...
We will defn. visit Takashimaya and Isetan Depachika, so if I'm missing something on my list, please let me know.
I would love to add an izakaya to the list... any recs for one in the Shinjuku area?
Any other recs are very much appreciated.

- Katsukura at Takashimaya
- Sushi Dai at Tsukiji
- Hidemi Sugino
- Ginza Mitsukoshi Depachika- Henri Chapentier, Girotti
- Laduree at Ginza Mitsukoshi
- Isetan Depachika for: Pierre Herme, Jean Paul Hevin, Henri Le Roux, Sadaharu Aoki, Pudding d’Or, Ameya Eitero Sweets
- Kujiraya
- Kozue
- Nihonbashi Yukari
- Ichiran Ramen

Also, is Sushi Dai a camera-friendly place? I know some places don't allow photos.

Slightly OT: looking for good knives. Has anyone heard of Kiya knife store in Ginza?

Thanks, and Happy New Year everyone!

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  1. Wow, so many pastry. You have both similar Japanese kaiseki style meal Nihonbashi Yukari and Kozue in your 2.5 days, I suppose they are both dinner as well ? They are good restaurants but no tempura/unagi/teppanyaki this time ?

    Sushi Dai is a camera-friendly place, but prepare to wait up to 3 hours there depends on the time you start lining up, which you might want to re-consider giving you only have 2.5 days there...

    4 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      Hi skylineR33!
      Thanks for your comment.
      I do love pastries, so I was delighted many are available at depachika.
      If you had to choose between Kozue and Nihonbashi Yukari, which would you choose?
      Yes, the wait at Sushi Dai is quite a deterrent... we were hoping to get there first thing in the AM. Is it worth getting a cab from Shinjuku to Tsukiji to get there early? I think the trains don't start until 6 AM? (Am I wrong?)

      I realized I did miss a couple things... any recs for unagi and teppanyaki?

      Thank you again!

      1. re: koneko

        I don't know which one is better, but base on what I hear from my friend, I will pick Kozue. They are both very good. Personally, I think the Tsukiji experience is a must for visiting Tokyo, I will take a cab to there if I cannot afford the line-up wait time. Sushi Dai gets the best score at Tabelog (actually it is in the top 40 sushi places of Tokyo, better than Jiro) and is the most popular sushi place in the market, however there are also other sushi places that are good in there which has shorter wait time.

        For unagi, I will recommend these two places :
        http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131...

        and

        http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1314/A131... , this one has natural eel when available, but it is like a few times more expensive than the farmed one.

        For teppanyaki, Ukai-tei (there are two branches at Omotesando and Ginza) has some good lunch choice which is not too expensive, food and the environment are very nice.

        I got some very good reference for the following dessert place called Mikimoto in Ginza, maybe you can also take a look ? I plan to visit it in my upcoming trip to Tokyo.

        http://ginza2.mikimoto.com/3f/top.html

        1. re: skylineR33

          thanks again!
          I checked out the Mikimoto dessert place link... is it really in the MIkimoto jewelry store? Wow!

          1. re: koneko

            Yes, it is on the 3rd of the Mikimoto Ginza 2 Building, there are some floors for jewelry and pearl showroom. I found another blog with some picture of it (building + food) , however it is in Chinese. Looks like an interesting dessert cafe !

            http://www.wretch.cc/blog/vivianchiu/...

    2. Kiya is in Nihonbashi, but I also highly recommend Masamoto at Tsukiji Market. There is a woman there who speaks English. She is not always there when I visit though. Great knives at Masamoto. I would stop there first, select your knife (or knives) and then have them sharpen them while you explore the market.

      One of my favorite izakaya is a standing bar that specializes in offal called Saiseisakaba.

      http://foodsaketokyo.wordpress.com/20...

      http://archive.metropolis.co.jp/tokyo...

      Another favorite izakaya is Yamariki in Morishita. But, there is usually a long line.

      Enjoy!

      18 Replies
      1. re: Yukari

        There are two Matsumotos, one inside market, one in outer market. Have found English speakers only at outside one. Sushi Dai does allow pictures, Christ, they will even take them for you. Yesterday at Sushizanmai Bekkan, the chubby owner came in and posed for pictures for around 15-20 minutes. What a nice and happy guy.

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          He did refuse to take a picture with me standing - he kept repeating "down! down! down!"
          Poor little man (in height - not width!)

        2. re: Yukari

          Hi Yukari:

          Saiseisakaba sure looks interesting. I have tried cow brain many years ago, not sashimi style but cooked with curry gravy Padang style in Indonesia. I certainly want to try Saiseisakaba on my next visit. Thanks for recommending it.

          1. re: FourSeasons

            Saiseisakaba is a blast. And, the knife store is Masamoto in the outer market. Very nice shop. There is a short guy there with glasses who is very friendly, but he doesn't speak English. However, he is a pro at sharpening knives. Enjoy!

            If you do go to Masamoto at Tsukiji, tell them Yukari from NYC sent you.

            1. re: Yukari

              Does he (the Masamoto guy) also sharpen knives not bought there, and any ideas how much a general assortment of kitchen knives would cost/time it would take?

              1. re: kamiosaki

                Be by there early next week, will attempt to ask, but with my extremely poor Japanese do not expect much success.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Thanks - please don't go to any trouble on my account but if you are going there anyway that would be great.

          2. re: Yukari

            Thank you again Yukari for the info. I'll try to find Masamoto for sure!
            Saiseisakaba sounds interesting, but not sure I am brave enough!!

            1. re: koneko

              Masamoto and Aritsugu are generally thought of as the two top knife makers. There's a difference between Masamoto Tsukiji and Masamoto Souhonten. Both are great companies however Masamoto Souhonten is a bit more mass produced with machine stamped Kanji as opposed to Masamoto Tsukiji who's knives are all handmade and hand engraved. Personally I would opt for Masamoto Tsukiji as they don't sell them outside of Japan. You could get a Souhonten anytime from Korin or other online retailers. If you do end up going and you know the kanji for your name don't forget to get them to engrave it into the knife.

              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                Where is Souhonten. Are the two at Tsukiji both Matsumoto Tsukiji? What is your opinion on Kasa-ama in Kappabashi?

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  I'm not actually sure where Souhonten is located. I know their head offfice is in Sumida Ward and I hear they have a shop in Asakusa but I've never actually sought them out. The Tsukiji Masamoto location I go to is on the way into the market, area 9, across from the Nori shop. I haven't been to a second location there however.

                  Some more on Souhonten Vs. Tsukiji:

                  http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

                  I like the guys at Kama Asa, they carry mostly Misono which is a great go to for home cooking and the knives are a great value for the price. In Kappabashi I go to Tsubaya as well as Union Commerce which is across the street and a bit more high end.

                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                    For your reference, checked the two pictures of signatures for Matsumoto Tsukiji, the top one is outside the market, bottom signature is for the one an aisle away from sushi Dai and Daiwa sushi inside market. Aritsugu is directly across from Matsumoto inside market and does not seem to have quite the selection as does Matsumoto. Sugimoto outside the market has a good selection and the only one to have sharkskin wasabi graters that are very large. Wish l could remember name but one store at Kappabashi central corner, a la Union and Commerce had the most amazing selection of matahashi ,l have ever seen. These are the chopsticks with long metal tips for sashimi placement on trays. They had from five or six different materialsand four different lengths. Prices for them ranged from 4200 yen to 19,500 yen. They were worth the trip there alone.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Oh interesting! I will be sure to check out that Matahashi shop.

                2. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                  Wow, thanks Notorious and Deluca (hope you don't mind my abbrev. names) for the info on knives. It sounds like I need to find the Tsukiji Masamoto shop. Since I'm going to Sushi Dai, it won't be too hard to get to, it sounds like.

                  1. re: koneko

                    This week, line at Sushi Dai took over 4 hours, granted a lot of people for holiday shopping

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Wow! If I get to the market at about 6AM, is the line still 4 hours long?? Also, is it bad form if 2 people are in line, and 1 goes off exploring, while the other holds their place? I like to be efficient, but don't want people in line to be upset w/ us.

                    2. re: koneko

                      Love this subject on advice for knives, a must. If another must on your visit is Akihabara, so by 5 minutes walk (turn on the Sumitomo Bank glass building), there is a unagi (eel) in an old house. It is more the season until February for the tuna than the unagi…but it will be on tatami rooms(only) and in an old typical house. Reservation in advance is necessary, the unagi is the unagi on rice “unaju” is previously steamed to remove the oil and will give it a soft texture and then this old house has his own sauce. Lunch will be more affordable : 3000-6000yens. Unaju is at 3300yens.
                      However, concerning Izakaya, do you want to know cheap hang outs ? and grilling shells ? Tokyo is great for his very fresh sea products....

                      1. re: Ninisix

                        Sorry... here the link to the Unagi Kanda Myojinshita :
                        http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1310/A131...

              2. Sorry, another question: I was reading about izakaya on the board, and saw that Toki No Ma and Kaikaya are recommended. If you had to choose one, which would it be? Do I need reservations?

                also, does Toki no Ma have English menus? (I saw that Kaikaya does.)

                The third place that interested me was Daidaya, but is it really an izakaya?

                4 Replies
                1. re: koneko

                  Toki no Ma has English menus. Daidaiya and Toki No Ma are both modern izakaya - you order small dishes a la carte to go with your drinks.

                  Daidaiya has a lot of original, very memorable dishes, while Toki no Ma does very good regional dishes with some original touches. They both serve sushi, which was very unusual in izakaya until recently (and still isn't widespread). Daidaiya is more sophisticated in terms of decor and overall menu. Toki no Ma has a much better sake list.

                  If you want to try out modern Tokyo cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere I'd pick Daidaiya (Shinjuku); if you want to see more regional cuisine and sake I'd pick Toki No Ma. Kaikaya would be a distant third choice for me (although I don't think you'd have a bad time if you do end up there).

                  1. re: Robb S

                    Thanks for the info Robb! It sounds like a tough choice... by any chance, do you know how far in advance I'd need to make reservations for a Friday night dinner?

                    1. re: koneko

                      It is a tough choice, although if it were my itinerary I might consider moving Kozue to lunchtime (I think they do a serious lunch menu there, whereas izakaya really have to be experienced in the evening). Your tonkatsu choice is open all afternoon, so you can even squeeze it in if you're not too full.

                      Friday night is generally the busiest night of the week, and the Friday after payday (the 25th) the busiest of the month. I'd try to book a week in advance to be safe, although you might be okay a few days in advance, and if things are getting full you can try going later in the evening - both Toki no Ma and Daidaiya are open quite late.

                      1. re: Robb S

                        Hi Robb,
                        thanks so much for the suggestions! it helps quite a bit with my planning! =)