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Apr 29, 2010 07:46 AM

Honeymoon in Japan looking for two TOP recommendations

Hi Chowers....

We are going for our honeymoon to Japan (Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto), and are looking to do 2 or three amazing meals (no matter the cost).

I believe we want to do at least one sushi, and one kaiseki.

Additionally, I would like to get a suggestion for a Tempura place and an eel place!

Please give us some suggestions,


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  1. Joel Robuchon in Tokyo. It's a 3 Michelin star restaurant. Joel Robuchon has several restaurants in Japan. I recently tried Joel Robuchon and L'Atelier - Joel Robuchon was definitely the best meal I have had.

    Kikunoi in Kyoto. They serve Kaseiki meals. I would suggest the main restaurant with private dining rooms, gives you a more romantic atmosphere and a better setting for such an exquisite meal.

    Tenyu in Kyoto for tempura I heard is good, though I have never been.

    4 Replies
    1. re: shallotpancake

      Honestly, I'd try something different from Robuchon.
      Maybe something like
      Aronia de Takazawa

      They're both nice inside, fun and full of absolutely wonderful wonderful food. To top it off, they're Japanese-y in a way that Robuchon could never be.

      1. re: lost squirrel

        I am not super knowledgable, but I've been to both Robuchon and Ryugin in Tokyo.

        Robuchon is fantastic. Fun happening atmospher. The little mini burgers are amazing.
        But, it felt a little like an expat place, it's a little informal, I would not rank it as super tip-top, and moreover, there's a very similar one in Paris.

        I agree that Ryugin is a great recommendation, I would definitely take it over Robuchon. Uniquely Japanese, but creative and beyond traditional expectation. Very special place.

        For tempura, I'd definitely recommend Mikawa, with the warning that it's the only high-end one I've tried. If you go there, go to the one in Monzennakacho, as this is the one where Saotome-san cooks, the master behind it all.

        In Kyoto, I had two of the most special meals of my life, and I would recommend eiher or both. The first is Misoguigawa, located alnog the pontocho. They serve what is best described as French Kaiseki. The food is french with japanese influence, and it is amazing. You mentioned eel. They served a dish that was eel with red wine reduction. I am returning there in a few weeks and I specifically requiested they prepare that dish again; it was so good that I think about it often.

        The other was Kitcho Arashiyama. Words can not express. Fine Japanese Kaiseki like no other I've ever had.

        1. re: lost squirrel

          Ditto on Aronia and Ryugin.

          I book-ended my final month of a six-year stay in Japan with these two restaurants, taking along my mother. She was thrilled with both, and appreciated the differences between the two (Aronia being more "playful", Ryugin being more "serious"). Interestingly, she preferred our meal at Ryugin while I preferred Aronia, but we both thought very highly of both meals.

          ETA: We dined at Ryugin at the end of February, and Aronia at the end of March. I don't know if we'd have appreicated the meals as much had we visited both restaurants within a shorter period of time. We're not normally big eaters, however, so we experience satiation easily

          1. re: prasantrin

            And if you end up filling all your expensive spots up, there are always places like Bombance. A similar style of food (if not quite as good), in a cozy and cool space for far less money. Something like 10,000 a person before drinks.

      2. If budget is no object, and you want sushi, go to Sawada. I have not tried the 3* sushi places (Mizutani and Saito), but as far as I could tell, our meal at Sawada was just perfect, better than Kyubey or Masa.
        That said, the atmosphere is quite serious there. Not that Sawada isn't a nice person, but he's totally focused on delivering the best meal he can, which is fine by me.

        The Aronia recommandations are also good. While I'm still wondering whether the food there is 3-star material or not, it definitely is a good meal, and with a super-charming host in the person of Akiko Takazawa, so you know you'll have a great time there.

        14 Replies
        1. re: olivierb

          I would say 1 or 2 stars, but I don't think I would give it 3.

          1. re: prasantrin

            Everyone's different of course, but I've eaten at three star restaurants, and I've never had a meal, or experience, to compare with Takazawa. It's astonishing.

            Other memorable places we ate in Japan were Hyotei in Kyoto. It's old-school kaiseki, with a setting and service you'll never forget; Sushi Mizutani, which is just perfect; and Tapas Molecular, at the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo. That's a huge amount of fun, and there's some very good food in among all the tricks and surprises.

          2. re: olivierb

            If you are talking about that michelin list, actually, Aronia de Takazawa never make it to the michelin list, so for sure it is not 3-star material according to Michelin, not even one.

            Same with Ryugin and Sawada, not 3-star material according to Michelin. But I enjoy my meal at Aronia more than some of the michelin 3-star restaurant I have been to.

            1. re: skylineR33

              I know Aronia isn't a Michelin-starred restaurant, but I suspect it is not on the list nor will it ever make it to the list because of its capacity and exclusivity, not because the food isn't deserving. We're just talking "what if. . . " and if Aronia qualified, it would probably be 1 or 2 stars (in my opinion).

              1. re: prasantrin

                Capacity and exclusivity is never a scoring criteria according to Michelin guide. in fact, I think anyone can make a reservation at Aronia, just like Momofuku-Ko (which get 2 stars) which only accept on-line reservation, it is hard but it is possible if you work on it. I don't see why Aronia is not qualified to be rated by Michelin, they just don't give it any star.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  it is not that Michelin has not given Aronia any stars, it is that Mr Takazawa doesn't want any. That's recently quite often, also in Europe, that chefs do not want to be listed in Guide Michelin, because it means so much pressure. Takazawa sees himself as an artist, and he wants to be free in his inspirations, and don't think about Stars, Points or whatever.

                  1. re: kobri

                    This is possible, but where do you get the information ? Can you point me to the source ? I have not heard or see it anywhere. I see article about chefs turning down michelin star, but not Aronia.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      A good friend of mine has been to the restaurant and asked Akiko. It was just after Michelin for Japan has been issued, so a lot of people were wonderung why no star for Takazawa. The answer was like that they understand a restaurant and the guest like the people you invite to your own place, as very close friends, whom they try to give the most warm welcome and prepare the best meal they can serve.

                      You also don't invite Guide Michelin to evaluate your host qualities. So I can understand this position.

                      1. re: kobri

                        Sorry, but I am not sure what you are trying to say. Are you saying Akiko tells your friend they have turned down the michelin star ? Aronia is not as popular in Japan as they are with foreign press. You can tell from their number of reviews on Tabelog.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          What I want to say is, that the Michelin Star doesn't suit the concept of the restaurant. Takazawa cooks because he loves to cook, not because he wants to be a famous cook
                          By the way I can remember that I have read about the other Japanese Chef, don't remember the name any more,who has also refused the Michelin star, because his opinion was, they cannot understand the essence of his cooking.

                          I from my side cannot understand your remark about the popularity of Aronia in Japan and abroad. What does it say to us? That they need a star to keep the popularity abroad? I don't think they need a star for it, they a constantly booked out 3 months ahead. Probably, not having a star is a good marketing, that make Aronia even more interesting.

                          1. re: kobri

                            My remark about the popularity of Aronia in Japan is just a response to your saying "a lot of people were wonderung why no star for Takazawa".

                            Don't get me wrong, I love Aronia, I think it is one of the best restaurant in the world. As I said, it is bettter than some of the 3-michelin star meal I have.

                            I guess the point I want to make is why bother judging or making suggestion based on michelin star (as in olivierb's post) if people here think Aronia deserves the star(s) which is missed from Michelin ?

                            1. re: skylineR33

                              Oops, sorry, I did not think my quick answer would generate so much debate!
                              Just to be clear, I was just trying to draw a parallel with the Michelin classification because Aronia is expensive, and, somehow, I'm still trying to get the best out of my money. For the same price I could have had a dinner with nice wine at Le Cinq, for example.
                              I was more than happy of my meal at Aronia, and would do it again if I go back to Japan someday, but for someone who wants the best price/quality ratio based on food alone, there may be better choices.

                              1. re: olivierb

                                Price to quality ratio is whole different ball game - I'm curious to see what the CH community would come up with.

                                1. re: lost squirrel

                                  I haven't been outside for a while but i think Kinoshita in Sangubashi has always been pretty good value for money, Chef's menu/omakase is 7,600 yen, Chef Kinoshita's cooking is straightforward, solid, not too fussy French cooking using top Japanese ingredients, and way more food than anyone needs to eat.

          3. I would suggest creation de Narizawa, I think that's how its spelled....maybe on the verge of molecular cooking. it was amazing...western style but eastern ingredients....
            its pricey but definitely for that special special occasion.

            4 Replies
            1. re: dingaling

              Dingaling, can you expand on your experience. Creations de Narizawa is rated #24 on the World's best restaurants list and I was actually conseidering tryingit when in Tokyo in the next few weeks? I was a bit worried that the fod might be somiliar to what I woudl get at home in North America.

              1. re: lkomar

                The experience was amazing. Its a bit molecular and modern. The restaurant is simple, i believe white/black decor. Its got a semi open kitchen, meaning you can see them through the glass. I believe its a single tasting menu that changes seasonal as well as depending on the number of visits by you. They keep tabs of when you go there, so I was thoroughly impressed with that. Almost every dish was memorable and inventive and played a lot with textures. It was a while ago, so I apologize if I can't be more specific but I definitely did not leave hungry. I hope you can experience it because I highly recommend it.

                1. re: dingaling

                  If you want more traditional Kaiseki, I recommend RYU GIN as i'm sure so many others have also. I wrote about my experience there in a past post.

                  1. re: dingaling

                    Thank you, Dingaling, that is helpful.

            2. Thanks for your post. Clever.

              1. I strong recommend the Bulgari Cafe.... food is top quality, decor is nice, but price is so much more reasonable than some mentioned in this thread. I had one of the best pasta I had in my entire life, and mind you I LOVE pasta.. it's a seafood pasta with saffron. Bulgari has a restaurant in Tokyo as well.. I didn't have a chance to try it but I would think if the cafe is that good, the restaurant is superb

                here's the link

                For sushi, go to the top floor of Isetan. I forgot what's the place called but it's sooo good. Check it out.

                For Hakone, stay at a onsen ryokan and I'm sure you'll be well served. I stayed at Setsugetsuka and it's excellent. Recommended.