Ten days in Tokyo
I'm heading for Tokyo for a week this summer and hope you can help me. I tried to find a "must-eat" restaurant guide for Tokyo, but the city being so ridiculously big and diverse I'm finding it hard to navigate. I therefore put my trust in your hands.
First off all I need a place to stay. Are there any specific part of Tokyo that are know for good restaurants? Like a restaurant-district?
Furthermore I would like to try the many different types of eating in Japan. Sushi, tempura, kaiseki and so on. Never been to Japan before, I'm not very familiar with the different kind of meals. I've tried the "Europeanized" sushi and tempura dishes, and found them the best dinners of my life. But off course, as inn all things, they are better in their native country. I would like to try some real Japanese food in Japan. I'm not squeamish about any kind of food and open to try everything.
Are there any special restaurants I must visit? Id like to try some restaurants in the 200$-300$ price-range, and some cheaper.
Your help would be greatly appreciated.
PS! Are there any good restaurants that specialize in molecular gastronomy in Tokyo?
Besides all the great kaiseki and sushi, etc places....Aronia de Takazawa is a special restaurant that is a "must-eat" in my opinion, I had a mind blowing meal there, the food, service, atmosphere .... is a league of its own in my opinion. But it is very hard to book, so book it 3 months in advance if you plan to go because there is only 2 tables in the restaurant !
Three months is too far ahead these days. According to the chef's wife, they now take reservations beginning on the 1st day of the month prior to the reservations (so for March, they begin taking reservations February 1, for example). There are, of course, exceptions, but because the chef has so many other commitments now (speaking engagements, overseas chef conferences, etc.), they don't like to book too far ahead. You could always e-mail or use their online form now, though, and then she will let you know when they're accepting reservations for the date you'll be in town (or if they'll be out of town that week).
Molecular gastronomy--Tapas Molecular Bar is a fun meal with a lovely setting.
One recommendation regarding kaiseki is this...
If you're going to be in Tokyo for that long, find the time to get away for one night to an onsen (hot spring) resort... Hakone, Yugawara and Kinugawa are all highly regarded hot spring areas that you can get to from Tokyo within 2hrs by train. Spend a night at a hot spring ryokan. For about 10,000-20,000/person per night (based on double occupancy; dinner & breakfast included), you'll get the experience of a ryokan room, hot springs, and lavish kaiseki dinner. Most of my kaiseki experiences in Japan have been at hot spring ryokans/resorts; nothing like coming out of the hot spring all relaxed and then following it up with kaiseki in yukata.
And like I keep saying on this board, some of the best food experiences in Japan are not necessarily traditional Japanese food, nor expensive food. If you observe closely, you'll find tons of Japanese adaptations of Western and Chinese cuisine that you can only find in Japan. Make sure you try those restaurants also; a lot of those are very casual inexpensive places. Make sure you try Japanese bakeries (Pompadour, Vie de France, Le Notre, Andersen's... they're all great bakery chains with quality and variety you'll be hard-pressed to find in America). You may also try visiting a couple of Japan's food amusement parks... like Namjatown in Ikebukuro (one floor with a dozen or so amazing gyoza stands, another floor with nothing but ice cream and gelatos, another floor with all kinds of creative desserts) or Yokohama's Ramen Stadium.
Probably the two most popular dishes for the common people in Japan are ramen and curry. Of course, sushi is a popular eat in Japan... but I usually only eat sushi at those cheap kaiten types of places or I buy the makis from convenience stores (cheap and pretty damn tasty). Of course, if you like sushi, you should definitely try a top-notch sushi place in Japan and see how that is. I'm sure someone else can give you recs for that.
We are not on ‘theocracy’, there is great Kaiseki places in Tokyo (Japan Chowhound preference = Ryugin), but one of the heart beat in Japan is the ‘hot spring bath’, here below a link to a place in Nikko :
http://travel.biglobe.ne.jp/onsen/yad... = room with kotatsu at 18000yens on winter season
http://www.ikyu.com/dg/guide/acc7/000... = 2 sorts of hot spring bath
http://www.ikyu.com/dg/guide/acc7/000... = diner Kaiseki = breakfast choice between japanese or occidental
This hotel will pick you at the station around 15:00 and will give you a lift to the Temple.
Concerning Sushi, so much to enjoy ! Kaiten sushi, Standing sushi, Usual lunch set sushi In Tokyo, Classic Edomae sushi, high-end sushi (and the omakese),..feel free to ask for precisions on the ones you are interested to try or all (?).
Molecular gastronomy - YES! Tapas Molecular Bar - it's amazing! (http://weekenderjapan.com/?p=14568)
Some "must-eat" recommendations:
Sushi: Sushi Dai in Tsukiji market (http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/20...
)Kaiseki: Ryugin for modern kaiseki, Kikunoi for traditional kaiseki
Ramen: Ippudo in Roppongi
Udon: Tsurontan in Roppongi (traditional udon, as well as lots of creative modern ones - I love their creamy mentaiko!)
For places to stay, as long as your hotel is within walking distance to a train station, you should be fine.
It's hard to go wrong with food in Japan, but some of my recommendations:
- Sushi: sushi kanesaka, any of the sushi restaurants right outside of Tsukiji market
- Tempura: Ten-ichi with brances in Ginza and Shinjuku (google for locations)
- Shabu-shabu: Seryna Ginza (eatingsumo.blogspot.com)
- Tonkatsu: Maisen in Shibuya
- Japanese/Western fusion kaiseki: Restaurant Yonemura (restaurant-yonemura.com) - bot quite molecular but very creative. When i went in 2007, it was pretty good value for money too.
- Desserts: Quil Fait Bon (quil-fait-bon.com for locations), Sadaharu Aoki (has an outlet in Isetan Shinjuku basement), Henri Carpentier has a stand alone store in Ginza and their desserts are also available in the basement of Isetan Shinjuku.
If you want to try the ryokan experience, you can take the train to Atami or Hakone (about an hour away) where there are plenty of ryokan hot springs where breakfast and dinners are included. The food in ryokans are almost always really special and elaborate. In Hakone, Gora Kadan is the most famous and expensive and in Atami, I stayed at Atami Sekitei which had an English speaking host.