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tokyo with kids

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stephgood Feb 26, 2010 05:39 AM

Does anyone have suggestions for good restaurants in Tokyo with kids - ages 5, 9 and 11? We will be staying in Shibuya for 9 nights. Thanks so much!!

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    ttj RE: stephgood Feb 28, 2010 09:25 PM

    I have two kids (4 and 6 year olds) and we eat out with them just about every Saturday and Sunday (lunch). I have found Tokyo restaurants in general to be very kid friendly. Obviously the very high end places are not suitable, and restaurants with counter seating only can be cumbersome. We rarely go out for dinner with them though, and I assume at dinnertime the cigaret smoke can present a problem in many places.

    Our kids favorites include noodle places (udon and soba), and Italian restaurants (Tokyo has some very good pizza places). Other types of restaurants that can be very kid friendly are tonkatsu (tasty) and yakiniku and shabu shabu places (kids love to participate).

    Are you mainly looking for good restaurants (food-wise) that can accommodate kids, or places that are good in the sense that they are really kid friendly?

    9 Replies
    1. re: ttj
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      stephgood RE: ttj Mar 1, 2010 07:10 AM

      We live in NYC - so we eat in both - good restaurants that allow kids - and also places that are very geared for kids. I think we are looking for both - and definitely not very high end! My kids love sushi and tempura and noodles - so if you have any specific restaurants to recommend, I would be grateful!

      1. re: stephgood
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        ttj RE: stephgood Mar 1, 2010 07:44 PM

        The places we go with kids are not necessarily in areas that will be convenient for you, but here are some kid frienly ones:

        Soba noodles - Sarashina Horii in Azabu-Juban, http://www.sarashina-horii.com/en/
        We used to go there for a really early dinner, at that time the place was not full and they were always very friendly. Kids love the tatami area.

        Udon noodles - Tsurutontan in Roppongi (they have other locations as well), http://www.tsurutontan.co.jp/roppongi.... My daughter says it is a "fancy place". Well the decor is kind of nice, but kitsune udon is only Y680. This place is probably better for lunch than dinner. To avoid a line go early - however if there is line don't worry it moves well. The traditional seating area is nicest.

        Sushi - a kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi can be fun for kids. Our to-go place is at Meguro station (Atre II), good fish, affordable, popular = long lines, http://www.atre.co.jp/shop/index.php?.... So again, if you go, go early, before they open as you need either a table (only few of them available) or five counter seats. If you are not familiar on how these places work I can tell more about the procedure. However I am quite sure that others, or your hotel, can suggest a place that would be more convenient for you.

        If you like Muji (when I was still in NYC the store was quite popular) and plan to visit a Muji store in Tokyo, the main store in Yurakucho has a restaurant. Very healthy food and kid friendly place. One of the biggest Sanrio (Hello Kitty) stores in Tokyo is also nearby, in Nishi Ginza dept store. (There is another big one in Shinjuku.

        )

        You will probably visit Harajuku and Taheshita dori. Eat some crepes while there, and after that head to Kiddy land (toy store), but negotiate a budget before you go.....

        Also, visit at least one department store food floor, they are amazing. We sometimes go with kids, everybody picks what they like and we go and have a picnic. Isetan in Shinjuku is the largest one.

        Last resort: there is a food court type of place in a luxury shopping mall Tokyo Midtown, called Okawari.jp, http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/shop/.... Food is tasty, some sandwiches are excellent.

        Finally, there is a Ramen museum / theme park in Yokohama. This is just a quick Shinkansen ride (less than 15 min from Shinagawa if I remember correctly), and if your kids like trains it might be worthwhile.

        1. re: ttj
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          chowmouse RE: ttj Mar 2, 2010 07:37 AM

          To further expand on the idea of going to department stores for food...

          Most major department stores in Tokyo have the following types of food sections.
          1). Grocery section (just like a supermarket). Typically on a basement floor.
          2). Deli section (many different delis, a lot of them chains, selling specialty prepared items to go... like salads, croquettes, chinese cuisines, yakitori, sushi, desserts, etc). Typically on a basement floor.
          3). Sections selling packaged food items that are primarily meant for gifts (packaged chocolates, cookies, gourmet crackers, etc). These typically are on the 1st or B1 floors.
          4). Restaurant arcade floors. Typically on one or more of the higher floors.
          5). Some department stores also have a bakery, which is usually on the 1st or one of the basement floors.

          You should definitely at least visit the restaurant arcade floor and also the deli section to look around at the prepared items. I believe ttj was talking about the deli section.

          Personally, I really like the deli section at Seibu and Tobu department stores at Ikebukuro station... very big areas with lots of different delis. It's an easy train ride up via Saikyo-line from Shibuya. Both Seibu and Tobu have very good restaurant arcade floors... Tobu actually has like 4 or 5 floors of restaurants. But I really like Seibu's arcade because all the restaurants are on one floor and lined along one corridor, which makes it easier to decide where to go. In Shinjuku, Lumine and Takashimaya Times Sqr have good restaurant arcades... I'm not sure about their deli floors. I'm not sure about Isetan's restaurant arcade or the deli section.

          1. re: chowmouse
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            ttj RE: chowmouse Mar 2, 2010 03:07 PM

            Yes, I was talking about the BF1 (depachika) at Isetan, they have 1), 2), 3), 5) from the list above. Search this board for "depachika" to find more information on that place and others. I usually go to the Nihonbashi places (Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya), but if I happen to be in Shinjuku Isetan is a must for me.
            And what chowmouse says about restaurant floors are words of wisdom, definitely you should go. Kids will love the plastic models, makes decision making fun. And in general, the food is good.
            In addition to department stores, you can find food floors at the shopping malls at larger Yamanote line stations (we go sometimes to Atre at Meguro and Ebisu), and at the office/shopping buildings like Mori tower, Tokyo Midtown, the ones in Marunouchi, etc... One of kids' favorites is Akira at the Marunouchi Brick Square, they love their teriyaki chicken for lunch (we usually get a private room). Have you checked http://www.bento.com/tokyofood.html ? They list restaurants by area, you might find something interesting from there as well.

            1. re: ttj
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              stephgood RE: ttj Mar 2, 2010 04:32 PM

              Thank you so much!! This will be very helpful!!

              1. re: stephgood
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                ttj RE: stephgood Mar 8, 2010 04:20 PM

                One more kid-friendly place I can mention is Hakata Ippudo at Marunouchi Brick Square (this is where our kids had their first Ramen). During weekday lunch rush this place is very busy, but weekend lunchtime is quite ok. They have some tables and even high chairs. It is a chain place in a new building, so it lacks the uniqueness and atmosphere of the ramen shops typically loved by chowhounds, but serves fine noodles. If I remember correctly, during weekdays they have set menus, during weekends no so if you want dumplings (gyoza) order them separately. Btw Ippudo has also a NYC branch, 4th Av b/w 9th and 10th.

                Nearby Shin-Marunouchi building has one of our kids’ favorite ice cream places, Machimura milk boutique (BF1). Kids like the soft ice, I like the soft candies. It is a small shop, but usually you can get a seat. Brick Square and “Shin-Maru” are in the area between Tokyo station and Imperial palace.

                Another ice cream place worth of mentioning is Blue Seal. It is an Okinawa based company making “American style” ice cream, and they have a store in Shibuya. Some nice Japanese flavors (beni-imo, macha…)

                1. re: stephgood
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                  prasantrin RE: stephgood Mar 14, 2010 05:38 AM

                  Hakata Ippudo is great with kids. I remember seeing kids get extra treats there--a lollipop or something?

                  Katsukura in Takashimaya Times Square might be fun--you grind your own sesame seeds to which you add the sauce. Plus they have an English menu, and most kids like tonkatsu (they also have shrimp and chicken versions).

                  Generally speaking, although depachikas are great, their restaurant floors kind of suck. I find most restaurants in department stores (on the restaurant floors, anyway) to be mediocre at best. Takashimaya Times Square tends to have the best selection, though. And it is easy to order there, and most restaurants will be child-friendly. Just don't expect fabulous food at most of those restaurants.

                  1. re: prasantrin
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                    chowmouse RE: prasantrin Mar 14, 2010 08:06 PM

                    Agreed that you will not find the best restaurants, or the best bargains price-wise, in department stores' restaurant arcades. But I find that those restaurants consistently have reliable quality and fair prices. Seeking out restaurants outside can be more of a hit-and-miss.

                    Also these places are almost always kids-friendly, and I just think the experience of being able to browse one after another of show windows displaying plastic models of menu items is fun for kids, not to mention making ordering very easy.

                    1. re: prasantrin
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                      ttj RE: prasantrin Mar 31, 2010 05:05 PM

                      Katsukura is great, keeps the kids busy. And although probably too late for OP's purpose, let me add Tenya to the list as well. And a minor mea culpa for the 'food is good' re: restaurant floors, that is written in the context of mall eating with kids, I should have properly qualified it.
                      Although traveling with kids limits the eating options - more often due to their lack of attention span than food preferences, sometimes their need to eat RIGHT NOW leads to nice discoveries.

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          chowmouse RE: stephgood Mar 1, 2010 12:17 AM

          You've got to take them to Namjatown in Ikebukuro. It is a food amusement park with 3 areas... one area is a collection of different gyoza stands. Another is a collection of different ice cream stands/shops. Another has various dessert/chocolate places. You'd be hard-pressed to find tastier gyozas anywhere else in Japan. And there are some amazing gelatos in the ice cream section (I get the black "Nero" gelato at the Nero), as well as the popular sticky Turkish ice cream. You do have to pay 300yen admission fee to enter. Namjatown is located inside the Sunshine City Complex... from Ikebukuro station, head out towards Tokyu Hands... there are escalators that head underground right next to Tokyu Hands. Just take that down, take a left at the bottom, and ask the information booth for further direction if you're not sure.

          There are so many great dining options for kids. Large department stores will have at least one floor of restaurant arcades. For example, Tokyu in Shibuya, Seibu in Ikebukuro, Lumine and Times Square Takashimaya in Shinjuku. Each restaurant in these arcades feature very realistic-looking plastic models of most of the menu items on display outside. So your kids can go crazy trying to decide which place to try. If your children love fast food, take them to MOS Burger in Shibuya... little more expensive than McDonald's or Lotteria, but MOS Burgers are better than anything in the States IMO.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chowmouse
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            stephgood RE: chowmouse Mar 1, 2010 07:12 AM

            Thanks so much - this is very helpful! I read about the ice cream city - it looks like my kids will love that!! Glad to know we have many options - I am a little worried about the language barrier!!

            1. re: stephgood
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              chowmouse RE: stephgood Mar 2, 2010 07:46 AM

              Language barrier is always a big concern among visitors. And justifiably so, because most Japanese people speak astonishingly little English.

              But even then, all my friends who have visited Japan managed to order whatever they wanted wherever they went, and thoroughly enjoyed the eating experience in Japan. So don't worry, you'll manage to communicate and be able to get what you want. And like I said, most restaurants in department stores have plastic models on display for most menu items, so you can point at them as last resort at those places.

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            jet lagged RE: stephgood Mar 31, 2010 06:43 PM

            A lot of people are proposing ramen- but with a one year old, we have a no hot liquids near her that can spill policy..........so we take turns with the one not eating holding her- but I wouldn't say this is therefore more family friendly than anywhere else.

            Elio Locando in Hanzomon allows kids for Saturday and Sunday lunch and this is an international standard Italian that the adults would love anyway.

            Too bad Cicada limits kids to renting the private room.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jet lagged
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              ttj RE: jet lagged Apr 13, 2010 01:17 AM

              I think you made a good point, child friendliness is definitely a function of the age of the kids. For a bit older ones, noodles in any form are usually a hit.

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              stephgood RE: stephgood Apr 8, 2010 08:24 AM

              I just wanted to thank ttj and chowmouse for your great suggestions - they really helped us to have a great vacation! The ramen museum was a blast, namjatown/ice cream city/gyoza stadium also very fun. We had delicious ramen at Hakata Ippudo and are now looking forward to trying the NYC version. Had crepes in Harajuku (dessert for lunch - kids definitely liked that!) and a MUJI meal too. Found a fun kaiten and had a delicious sushi breakfast in Tsukigi too. Ate twice at Gonpachi which had great food - once in Shibuya and once in Odaiba. All in all a wonderful trip!! Thanks again and if you ever need help in NYC - let me know!!

              4 Replies
              1. re: stephgood
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                chowmouse RE: stephgood Apr 8, 2010 03:45 PM

                That's great! So glad you had a good trip!

                1. re: stephgood
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                  ttj RE: stephgood Apr 13, 2010 01:13 AM

                  Good to hear you had good time! Btw, around NYC the most child-friendly ramen place is probably Santouka at Mitsuwa marketplace's food court in Edgewater NJ.

                  1. re: ttj
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                    chowmouse RE: ttj Apr 13, 2010 02:29 PM

                    I love Santouka. I actually like it better than Ippudo or Setagaya Ramen in NYC, although it's personal taste and I'm sure others will disagree. Just remember, weekends are crazy at Mitsuwa in Edgewater... get there early if you go on weekends.

                    My other NYC faves for Japanese food are: GoGoCurry (best Japanese curry in NYC in my opinion, but it's really a take-out place); Sobaya (soba noodles); Katsuhama (tonkatsu); Otafuku (small hole-in-the-wall takeout place for takoyaki & okonomiyaki). Sorry to digress from Japan discussions.

                    1. re: chowmouse
                      The Chowhound Team RE: chowmouse Apr 14, 2010 08:15 AM

                      These are great tips for New York, but they're off-topic for the Japan board. We'd really appreciate it if you could repost over on the appropriate New York boards so more people will find and benefit from these tips!

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