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Jul 18, 2010 05:15 PM

Best restaurant in all of Japan?

I will be going to Japan in Nov., & would like your opinions
now so I can make a reservation, if necessary.

If you had to pick just one place, & cost was not an issue,
what would it be? I love all types of Japanese cuisine.

As a foodie, I'm looking for a memorable experience that
will be the highlight of my trip. I will have a JR rail pass,
so travel is easy.


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  1. Are you dining alone? Answers may depend on the number of people dining, as some restaurants do not accept single diners.

    1. You may want to be more specific on what type of Japanese cuisine you are looking at. You can't really compare the best sushi vs the best kaiseki...

      On another note, there are so many great restaurants in Japan. I don't think any chowhounder has the resources to cover all the top restaurants in Tokyo, let alone all of Japan.

      1 Reply
      1. I will be with a friend (2 people dining).

        Also, I can't decide among all the different
        types of Japanese cuisine. Sushi, kaiseki,
        teppanyaki, fusion--love 'em all!

        1 Reply
        1. re: wagyulover

          guessing from your name...maybe you want to experience a wagyu heaven in japan?
          if you are looking for the best place for that...i do not know where to start. tokyo is a good place but i personally like kagoshima and kumamoto in kyushu island. i liked pork in kagoshima too. but it is just my personal good luck!

        2. Not sure why everyone is getting so anal about this, it seems like a pretty simple question. If you had one meal in japan, where would you go? I don't think you need to have eaten at every restaurant in the country to answer that!

          My personal choice, as much for sentimental reasons as for the food would have to be Sushi Mizutani.

          6 Replies
          1. re: davew666

            Thanks, Dave--love sushi!

            I am really looking forward to Wadakin in Matsusaka
            (I saw your post in June about it).

            Maybe I will end up voting for Wadakin as my #1 in Japan....

            1. re: wagyulover

              i'm not 100% sure if I will go yet, but I would certainly like to!

            2. re: davew666

              Read the headline and you know the OP is seeking the "Best restaurant in all of Japan". Maybe it is a simple question to you. Not to me, I can't compare the best sushi vs the best kaiseki vs the best izakaya vs the best shabu shabu...

              1. re: FourSeasons

                so you couldn't answer the question "if you could only have one more meal in Japan, where would it be?"

                1. re: davew666

                  no, this question cannot be answered.

                  1. re: davew666

                    That is not exactly what the OP ask. But I would have a tough time answering your question anyway.

              2. The best restaurant in Japan (independent of genre, personal taste etc.) is called Gonpachi. Here is a link:

                13 Replies
                1. re: Scharn

                  To make life easier, let me narrow the question:

                  What is your personal favorite restaurant in Japan?

                  For example, after 2 trips to Japan, I would have to say
                  Wakkoqu in Kobe (Shin-Kobe branch).

                  Second place: Seryna in Tokyo (Nishi-Shinjuku branch).

                  Obviously, these are both high-end teppanyaki places, but I'm
                  open to new experiences.

                  1. re: wagyulover

                    it appears no one on this board is willing to say they have a single favourite place!

                    1. re: davew666

                      well, eating nice stuff is the hobby of the guys on this board. so if you asking for just a single recommendation is a bit like asking a wine connoisseur for "the best" wine or an expert of opera for "the best" performance. It's not a question that can be answered, nor is it a question that anyone would want to answer.

                      that said, here are some actual recommendations for shops i personally consider very good: for french, troisgros and l'osier come to mind. for casual sushi, daiwa and dai. good ramen is served at rokurinsha and tetsu (nippori). favorite coffee shops include kohiya arabika (akasaka) and Kohi Mejikan (kioicho). for sweet i like toraya and hidemi sugino.

                      they are of course all in tokyo.

                      1. re: Scharn

                        It's not the Lisbon Traviata?

                        As for the actual question, my experience is limited to 2 trips each of 10 days duration. But:

                        L'Osier: I must disagree. Ate there last trip and it was far far under par from any actual starred restaurant I went to in France. (Janky service, unspectacular food (including a quite poor scallop) and somehow it was also the only meal I was too full after in all of my Japan travels)

                        I can't give one favorite in all of Japan, but I can give 3:
                        -- Ryugin (tokyo)
                        -- Kitcho Arashiyama (kyoto)
                        -- Misoguigawa (kyoto)

                        Honorable mention to Mikawa (tokyo, tempura)
                        and Kaikaya (tokyo, for best non-expensive)

                        1. re: Scharn

                          I gotta be honest. I think what you say in the first paragraph is taking the easy way out. I have worked in the live concert business for 16 years and see upwards of 100 shows / performances per year I could most certainly tell you my top 5. I understand that food may be a bit more of a challenge since restaurants come and go, etc. So how about you answer this question. What / where were the top three culinary experiences you have ever had in Japan.

                          1. re: SPICESupperClub

                            I'm with Scharn on that one. As a wine obsessive, I can vouch for the fact that it is absolutely impossible to say what the 'best' wine was as they are so different from one another, and it is a ridiculous thing to try to rank.

                            You can have a list of top experiences, but THE best? Difficult. It may work differently in the live show business, that's not something I know anything about (though you are offering a top 5 list rather than THE best show), plus Scharn was not responding to a request for a top 3 or top 5, but one single place.

                            It makes more sense to me to list top experiences by category, as Scharn did. I wouldn't know how to compare sushi and classical French for example. On some days, classical French would give me a lot more pleasure than top sushi. On other days, the exact opposite. In terms of quality, I might rank them equally highly.

                            In terms of the pure pleasure of it, that differs from day to day, although if pushed I am sure people could look back on the last 6 months or a year and come up with the place where dinner gave them the most pleasure of all - but that may also have had to do with the mood they were in that day, etc. To give an example, I could swear that one session at all-you-can-eat Barbacoa in Marunouchi gave me the most pleasure of any meal in months, because I had a raging beef craving like never before, and wanted many different cuts with no end in sight - but I would certainly not recommend the place as a must-go or even as one of my top 50 must-goes, unless you really crave lost of different cuts of beef at once.

                            It is of course a lot easier for a visitor to Japan to say that restaurant x or y was his or her favourite, as they know a relatively small number of restaurants here. It is a harder question to ask of people who have been to many hundreds of restaurants in Tokyo.

                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              Y'know, I think it's more a personality thing than anything else. I hate picking a favorite anything (like Aso, top several by category could work). On the other hand, I've been to...oh, about 1500 restaurants in Japan, and the number that I would actively recommend (as in, 'make a special trip regardless of category or location') is pretty low. And on the third hand, I recognized a while ago that there were people who wanted one answer, and resolved to just say 'Merveille' when they asked for my favorite restaurant.

                              On the fourth hand, I just looked at my 'recommended' tags for the last 4 months and kept going "ooooh, that one!...THAT one!" If you asked for my favorite kappo of the last 6 months, it's Uemura. Sake bars, I couldn't even pick.

                              As long as this thread is revived and totally random, let me just say that the charcuterie at Bistro Abats in Hongo (lunch today) is probably the best in Tokyo. If you like the phrase "2 year old deer salami", it's your place.

                              1. re: jem589

                                Anyone offering 2 year old deer salami is worth a detour. Looks like I will be paying a visit to Hongo.

                      2. re: wagyulover

                        Hi wagyulover:

                        Perhaps I misunderstand your question. Based on the headline, I first interpret you are seeking the best restaurant in all of Japan. I thought that was almost impossible, not only is Japan a huge country with so many great restaurants, but in my opinion, it is not possible to compare the best of each distinct category against the other. Davew666's question was tough to reply as well since I have so many favorites. And luckily, I do not need to answer that in real life since I stay in Tokyo 4-5 nights on every trip so I am not limited to one option.

                        With your last question, I will take the same approach as Scharn to provide a few of my favorites. Unlike yours, I focus more on seafood than beef. But top on my favorite list is perhaps Tomura, Sawada, Saitou, Nabura, followed very very closely by Hirosaku, Kadowaki, Quintessence, Aroma Fresca, Mizutani, Ryugin.....all in Tokyo. And I still have not even covered the comfort food places.

                        As to beef, I prefer shabu shabu, yakiniku, sukiyaki more so than teppanyaki and steak. Perhaps this is because I am Asian (Westerners seem to favor teppanyaki and steak). My favorite
                        Sukiyaki: Okahan Tokyo.
                        Shabu shabu: Seryna Tokyo.
                        Yakiniku: Ishizaki, Sapporo.

                        On another note, Seryna is shau shabu restaurant. Mon char ton ton, its associate restaurant, is the teppanyaki restaurant. And if price is not an issue, the crab and its roe in Seryna is heavenly delicious.

                        1. re: FourSeasons

                          I have a picture in my head of you and Scharn at the gates of heaven being offered one last meal, but being unable to decide which one it would be. I hope St Peter doesn't send you to McDonald's as it's obviously popular! ;-)

                          More seriously, I'm interested in Ishizaki in Sapporo, but can't find any info on it. Could you give a description?

                          1. re: davew666

                            Website of Ishizaki in Sapporo あみ焼き割烹 和牛いしざき:


                          2. re: FourSeasons

                            Been to 6 on your list and is a pleasure to see Hirosaku mentioned on this board. Had a rich and charming lunch there last Nov and rarely ever treated as nicely as was there. When mentioned l really liked the owner's yuzu salt for tempura, he gave me a jar of his homemade one upon leaving. One of my favorite Tokyo memories.

                        2. re: Scharn

                          Thanks for the laugh. Very subtle.