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Tokyo restaurants - comments/ views welcomed

My wife and I will be in Tokyo in the second and third week of April for one and a half weeks and we have shortlisted the following restaurants to dine at. We 're familiar with Tokyo as we go there every two years. Apart from Yoneyama (which we went to 4 years ago) the rest of the restaurants is new to us and we would welcome comments on those restaurants and (even on Yoneyama as its been some time).

1. Ryugin

2. Tofuya Ukai

3. Ristorante Aso

4. Umi

5. Yoneyama

6. L'Atelier Robuchon

7. Casa Vinatalia

8. Birdland

We're also considering including several other restaurants – Kondo, Dons de la Nature and Sushi but wanted to leave some days free for curry, ramen, okonomiyaki and soba.

We've tried to get the concierge at the 4 seasons to make reservations at the above restaurants, but have been told that the restaurants only take reservations in the beginning of March. I'm wondering whether that is true as having scanned through the various threads here, I've noticed that some chowhounders have managed to get reservations 3 months in advance (or is that limited to certain restaurants)?

If anyone could help out with curry suggestions that would be much appreciated. Our preference is to have curry which is more Jap than Indian (if you know what I mean!).

Lastly, this is probably a long shot, but does anyone know of a Tonkatsu restaurant in Ebisu which is in a house? A friend, who used to work in Morgan Stanley, brought me there and it was just a few minutes walk from his office.

Thanks so much.

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  1. The concierge is correct regarding Ryugin.

    About L'Atelier Robuchon, their online reservation system shows tables are available all the way up to March 31, and then nothing for the first three weeks of April. That would seem to imply that they won't take April reservations at this time, but then if you look a little further, you can get a table beginning April 25th. They're full for most of April, including the time you'll be in town unless they have seats they don't release for online reservations. You should ask the concierge to try again, and perhaps mention the online booking calendar which shows reservations up till the end of April.

    That's for L'Atelier, specifically. La Table and Gastronomy in Ebisu both take reservations 2 months to the day (at least online), so they're taking reservations up to Feb. 3 as of today.

    1 Reply
    1. re: prasantrin

      Thanks, thats helpful to know.

      Btw I was wondering if you've come across a Japanese restaurant mag called Tokyo calender. If so, how would you compare it to Tabelog and the rest?

    2. I've worked in the same Ebisu building (that I assume your friend worked in( for several years and I'm not aware of any tonkatsu places in a house within walking distance, nor is one of my Japanese co-workers who has worked in this building for > 10 years and for whom lunch is a similarly critical part of his day. It's certainly possible that it's no longer around. I'm curious though - if you can get just a bit more information from your friend, such as the name, or something it is/was near, or the general direction.

      6 Replies
      1. re: kamiosaki

        Could it be Tonkatsu Tenshin, on the other side of Yamanote tracks? If I remember correctly, that is in a house and quite close to Ebisu Garden place - isn't that where MS is located?

        1. re: ttj

          You're thinking of this place?

          http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1316/A131...
          http://foodosophy.wordpress.com/2008/...

          It was definitely tasty but is long gone, IIRC it was sort of like Tonki inside with a lot of wood and an open cooking area. It was in the first floor of a corner 3-4 story apartment building on a moderately busy street. There's a dry cleaner there now. We hadn't gone there for a year or so before it closed - the old obaasan there got into words with one of my Osaka-born coworkers about something stupid and we were basically told never to come back.

          1. re: kamiosaki

            Yes, that's the one. I never ate there, but somebody recommended it indeed as something like Tonki back in 2008 I think.

            1. re: ttj

              But Tonki is still cooking with gas, in Shimo-Meguro. I was there last Sunday and got there early but there must have been 100 people in line by the time I finished.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                I have been to Tonki once. We thought we were really early but ended up waiting maybe half an hour. However, I must say that I did not mind the wait at all - fascinating to watch.
                (EDIT - meant as a reply to Uncle Yabai of course.)

            2. re: kamiosaki

              Thats the one! I went there in '99-'00. The old lady there was pretty fierce. She told me off when I crossed my legs and my foot accidentally touched one of the compartments where female customers put their handbags.

        2. I really like Tofuya Ukai Shiba. I have had lunch there several times (unfortunately no dinner though), and I have been happy with the food. The place is gorgeous, especially the private rooms with garden views. I am not sure if you can secure one for two people, so go with friends if possible.
          Btw, FWIW, it seems that they lost their Michelin star, I did not notice them in the 2010 edition.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ttj

            They should be able to accomodate a private room for two. I've done it a couple of times. And yes, it is a great place, especially for a long leisurely lunch.

            1. re: Uncle Yabai

              Thanks, thats helpful. Tofuya's fully booked for the date I planned to go and am trying to get another date. I'll try and get a private room.

              Am having problems making reservations with some of the sushi places as they're quite insistent that we speak japanese (we do, but basic!). Am wondering whether not speaking japanese is going to be that much of a problem given that most high end sushi places (eg Sushi Aoki, etc) we've been to in the past were rather sombre affairs where the itamae didnt really interact with the japanese customers...

          2. Ristorante Aso is a fantastic choice. there are plenty of reviews of it on chowhound, so just take a look and see what you think. Definutely a great choice! Ryugin ditto.

            1. IMO, L'Atelier Robuchon is becoming too commercialize and mundane. With so many other great choices available in Tokyo, I would by-pass it and pick something more special and unique like Aronia de Takazawa or Quintessence!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Charles Yu

                I have read that a meal at L'Atelier in Tokyo is just like a meal at L'Atelier Las Vegas, New York, etc. etc. There's something to be said for consistency, and it is very well-prepared food, but I agree that you find a more interesting place in Tokyo to eat (unless you think you may never get another chance to eat at any L'Atelier again. In that case, may as well try it out!).

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  I fully appreciate your comments. The reason why we're going to Atelier is for sentimental reasons.

                  But you've given me smthg to think about re: Takazawa. Since I have a couple of nights which I have not yet allocated restaurants, I'll check up Takazawa. Thanks.

                  1. re: yumzes

                    Just got a booking with Aronia for 19 March. Was quite suprised to get a reservation as I thought its pretty difficult to book. Booking was fast and easy; did it by email.