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Oct 8, 2010 02:02 PM

Japan Food Itinerary 10/14 - 10/20

Hello All!

I'll be leaving Los Angeles next Wednesday and will be landing in Narita on 10/14 late afternoon. I've been doing a lot of research (sort of) and have most of my eating itnierary done. I would really like to hear your thoughts and any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!

Some things to note: I am staying in Shinjuku area and only plan on staying within Tokyo. I will be traveling with my boyfriend (he is 4th generation Japanese so doesn't speak any Japanese). He has a friend who lives out there (he is Japanese and fluent in everything) so some dinners and lunches might be for a party of 3 or more, but most will be just for a party of 2.

THURS - 10/14 (Shinjuku)
Arriving at Narita around 5:30 PM
Dinner: Tsunuhachi (tempura) in Shinkjuku

FRI- 10/15 (Tsukiji/Ginza/Shinjuku)
Breakfast - Sushi Dai @ 5:30 AM
Lunch - Narutomi (Soba)
-I had originally planned Nodaiwa (Unagi) in Ginza for lunch (we will be sightseeing in Ginza after Sushi Dai), but decided to go with soba. I know we will be back tracking to Tsukiji, but since it was close I didn't think it was a big deal. Does anyone have any other great lunch suggestions in Ginza, preferrablly unagi, soba or ramen?
Dinner - Banyou (shabu shabu) in Shinkjuku
-I wanted to eat some wagyu beef shabu shabu and my bf definitely wants to try wagyu beef steak. Since I know there are some steak/teppanyaki places that are really expensive, I was hoping Banyou would offer a slightly cheaper alternative. Your thoughts? Is Banyou ONLY shabu shabu?

SAT - 10/16 (Roppongi/Ebisu/Shibuya)
Lunch - Butagumi (Tonkatsu)
Dinner - Bakuro (Horse)

SUN - 10/17 (Harajuku/Marunouchi/Yoyogi)
Lunch - I wanted to eat ramen and I need suggestions for good ones open on Sundays! If there is a good ramen spot in Ginza, then I would be looking for good soba or unagi places in Harajuku or Marunouchi area.
Dinner - Fuku (Yakitori)

MON- 10/18 (Ahkihabara/Ikebukuro/Akasaka)
Lunch - Unasho (Unagi)
Mid-Afternoon Snack - Ice cream city & Gyoza stadium
*Dinner- Aronia de Takazawa

TUES - 10/19 (Akasuka/Odaiba/Akasaka)
Lunch - Somewhere in Odaiba
*Dinner - Sushi Saito

WED - 10/20 (Shinjuku)
Lunch - Need a good lunch spot in Shinjuku before heading to the airport

The only two dinners that we are fully committed to going are marked by the asteriks (*). The rest is where I would like to go, but are not confined to it. I realize there is a lot of fun in exploring the city and discovering the cuisine that way, but I usually like to have a plan whenever I vacation (hey... it's the event planner in me). I just want to make sure I cover almost everything: ramen, soba, unagi, sushi, etc.. etc... While I realize that is tough to do in one week, I can surely try!

Oh, I have two sushi spots because sushi/sashimi/seafood is my absolute favorite thing to eat and have been since I was a child. And I will be hitting up some bakeries and pastry shops, but I didn't include it on here to avoid any further confusion and clutter.

Also, i don't have any yakiniku places listed because I was hoping I can go there as a 2nd spot for drinks. Do you know any yakiniku places that function like an izakaya (which I think they are pretty similar, yes?) around Shibuya & Shinjuku & Ebisu area?

I wanted to hit up some bars as well, so if you guys have a favorite hang out or a bar with a nice view that'd be great. The bar can be hole in the wall that serves beer and sake or a cocktail bar, I'm really up for anything.

Any insight and advice would be awesome! Thank you in advance!!

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  1. Have you made the reservation on the two with asterisk? Aronia and Saitiu both need advanced booking of 1-2 months.

    Since you are staying at Shinjuku, I would recommend to try tonkatsu at Katsukura instead on the 14th floor of the Takashimaya Department Store. I actually prefer this Kyoto-style tonkatsu here to the ones at Butagumi (though I did not try its famed Iberico pork tonkatsu). On the same floor, Imahan is famous for sukiyaki and shabu shabu as well though i think it is quite expensive. Also a few blocks away, Saiseisakaba specialize on grilled beef offals; it is a standing bar that you can order food and drinks, it is quite fun but can be tiring for the legs!

    If you want to try high end sushi without any reservation made yet, you can try your luck for lunch at Dai San Harumi. It is easier to get reservation there and the lunch is value for money, compared to others at Ginza area.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FourSeasons

      Photo of Saiseisakaba;

      first pic: beef tongue, heart, temple, shoulder;
      second pic: stomach, neck;
      third pic: intestine;
      fourth pic: small intestine.

      1. re: FourSeasons

        Yes, I've already secured reservations for both! =)

        I love offals! I'll definitely check out saisesakaba! Thanks!

      2. That looks like a good itinerary. And I like that you've left open the option of izakaya visits for pre- or post-dinner drinks and snacks.

        For a snack/drink izakaya in Shinjuku I'd highly recommend Daidaiya ( ). It's a good introduction to modern Tokyo-style dining, and very different from what you'd find overseas.

        Yakiniku on the other hand wouldn't be my first choice for a drink and a snack - there's usually a big platter of meat and a fire, so there's some commitment involved. Yakiniku might be a good lunch alternative though.

        Banyou does more than shabu-shabu - sukiyaki, steaks, and a beef kaiseki menu.

        I love Bakuro in Ebisu for horse. The charcoal-grilled meats are really the star of the show there in my opinion, although the nabe is also quite good.

        For lunch in Daiba, Hibiki ( ) is perfectly okay (although their dinner is far better) and they have a nice view. A ten-minute walk from there, at Venus Fort in Aomi, is Cafe Ozen Mariage ( ) which has Japanese-style desserts and a few main-course lunch items I think.

        For lunch in Shinjuku, I'd recommend Oshima in the Halc department store ( ) - they do an excellent Kaga kaiseki lunch showcasing regional dishes from the Kanazawa area. If you want something more low-key, Lois ( ) has brown rice and assorted vegetable dishes.

        1. I have some comments/ advice regarding your itinerary. But first, thanks for putting something together like this. Much easier for everyone to provide you with feedback.

          I would have a backup late night restaurant plan- maybe something in Nishi-Shinjuku where your hotel probably is (Banyou?). You’ll most likely be at Tsunahachi in time of last order at 10pm, but just in case plan something. Shinjuku is at minimum 1.5 hrs from the airport and you have to tack on waiting for bus/train, customs, luggage collection, immigration, etc.

          This is a really unrealistic day. Shinjuku is on the other side of town from Tsukiji. The most direct route, other than an expensive taxi ride, is the Oedo subway line. Check the schedule. Most train lines don’t get started until 5:30am, so being at Sushi Dai at that time is unrealistic. Even if you get there in the 6 o’clock hour, waited, and ate, walked around Tsukiji, you are still way ahead of the day for sightseeing in Ginza. The department stores don’t open until 10am, as do most of the retail shops. Frankly, there’s not much to sightsee in Ginza to fill up much time anyway. Consider heading over to Odaiba mid-morning or early afternoon. There’s not enough in Ginza for a full day unless you really intend to go crazy shopping.

          Roppongi Hills and Mid-Town complexes are fine during daytime, but Roppongi is a night life area- Friday being the most “exciting”. Not sure what you would get out of Roppongi on a Saturday afternoon other than trekking down under an elevated highway to Nishi-Azabu for lunch at Butagumi. Suggest bundling Shibuya and Harajuku, maybe Omotesando as well, during the day and eating in Ebisu at night.

          If you want to eat at Fuku that night, suggest west side of the city like Shinjuku, Shimo-kitazawa during the day. Maybe Ikebukuro if you’re really dying to do the gyoza stadium and ice cream store. Or you can swap this with Saturday plan if you want to see the Sunday Yoyogi Park scene in Harajuku, but it’s pretty tame these days. Another option is spending the day around Enoshima and than stopping back at Fuku for dinner… Ginza and Marunouchi are on the other side of town. Except for the department store shopping areas, not much going on there on a Sunday. You will have covered it with the Friday plan.

          You need to check your geography here. You’re all over the place. If you are going to Akihabara, you might consider other sights on that side of the city such Ueno, Ameyokocho, Edo Museum in Ryogoku, etc. If you are only going to Ikebukuro for the Gyoza Stadium, you’re plan pretty much zig zags across the city.

          I think you mean Asakusa….You might want to consider tacking on Odaiba to your Friday plan as I’ve noted above. It’s pretty accessible from Ginza and can kill some time on that day….Anyway, Sushi Saito is not close to anything touristy. So be prepared for setting aside time to find it and get home.

          In general, I think you need to overlay your eating plan with a much more realistic touring plan. You might want to also consider a day trip to Kamakura as your plan seems to have a lot of overlap in the same Tokyo neighborhoods.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Silverjay

            Wow, thanks for all your input! This is exactly what I needed. I'll definitely take your advice and re-arrange my touring plan. Thanks again!

            1. re: Silverjay

              Silverjay, I forgot to mention that the reason why I am going to Ginza area after Tsukiji market is because I really wanted to wait in line for some pastries/cakes at Hidemi Sugino in Kyobashi. I figure by the time I wait in line and eat the goodies, the shops in Ginza would be starting to open. But, I'm not sure how long the line gets and how fast the service is. I heard that people line up at least an hour in advance?

              1. re: nelehelen

                Definitely have to get to HS early. And you should call to make sure they're open that day and check on the time they'll be opening. They used to open at 10, so I went bright and early and arrived around 9:20. There were already a few people in line when I arrived, and I noticed a sign on the door saying they weren't opening till 11 that day. Very annoyed, I was. Most people who arrived didn't know they wouldn't open till 11, either, judging by the remarks and the number of people (mostly women with suitcases headed back to their hometowns) who left almost as soon as they saw the sign.

                By 10 (the original opening time), there were maybe 30 people in line, by 11 there were more than 50. The lines move relatively quickly as not everyone eats in, but most do take-out. But if you want to eat in, you've got to get there early if you want to do anything else that day. (Caveat--I think the day I went was either a holiday or a weekend, so it's possible it was busier than usual.)

                1. re: prasantrin

                  Thanks for the tip. I also heard that you can't take any pictures inside.. Is this true?

                  1. re: nelehelen

                    It's true. They're quite strict about it, but I suppose if you're in the eating area, you could surreptitiously take a picture of the cakes you're eating. I wouldn't, though. It would be terribly embarrassing if you were caught.

              2. re: Silverjay

                Y'know, I think you might be able to spend a day in Ginza if you hadn't been there before. There are tons of art galleries, the antenna shops in Yurakucho, funny little stores like the chopstick place or the super high-end shoe stores, food floors in department stores, homewares floors (laquer, cut glass, kimono...), chocolate shops... If you're walking up to Kyobashi you'll pass the Pilot Pen museum, which is good for half an hour, and also the Bridgestone art museum (which I haven't been to). It depends on what you want to do, I think.

                Personally I'd avoid Odaiba altogether, and skip Namja Town / Gyoza Stadium too. I only had three different types of gyoza, but none of them were worth going for. The ice cream part was good for maybe 5 minutes of looking at the funny flavors. Again, if it was your first time, the environment might well be mind-blowing.

                1. re: jem589

                  You'd make an excellent Ginza tour guide!...although doing Tsukiji early, then waiting in line in Kyobashi, while seeing just some of those sights first day after arriving from west coast is a pretty aggressive course...

                  Agree on avoiding Odaiba and really, Ikebukuro in general- especially since staying in Shinjuku makes day trips to Kamakura, Hakone, and Nikko pretty easy.

              3. If you get to Gyoza Stadium, seek out the place that has the shredded garlic gyoza. it will take some doing, but will be worth the effort. Many other snack items aside from gyoza too. At Ice cream city, go for the wasabi ice cream. Some of the fabulous looking sundaes look better than they taste.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Steve

                  Gyoza stadium is fun but I would be careful about visiting there after unagi and before Aronia. After I ate at Gyoza stadium I was full for two days. Granted, I made a pact with my friend to try all the gyoza there, but even if you don't stuff your face it's not much fun to just walk around without trying anything. I think it's very hard to go there and eat less than twelve pieces of gyoza. I think I ate about 120. The last thing I would want to do is kill my appetite before Aronia.

                  1. re: la2tokyo

                    Really? Namjatown is a very fun place to walk around. Some of the portions in Gyoza town are small -especially if you share- so you never feel like you have to fill up. But if you eat 120 gyoza, I could see where you'd have a problem....

                    Check out the Toyota showroom in Ikebukuro, it even has its own amusement ride.....

                    1. re: la2tokyo

                      I would agree with that. It would be a waste of Aronia to be full before you even get there. I would eat lunch as early as possible, and then eat nothing before my dinner. I think that's what I did when we went to Aronia, and even there, I was full fairly early during our meal, so I did not appreciate many of the dishes as much as I should have.

                  2. Kudos on your planning :)

                    Ginza area for unagi lunch selection you may want to try Hitsumabushi Nagoya Bincho:
                    and here's the japanese webpage:
                    They serve lunch up until 3pm and you can even watch them grill your unagi. attached are some photos.

                    if you desire to try a charred ramen. The same folks that bring you Ippudo have Gogyo.

                    Odaiba Aqua City complex has the Ramen Museum

                    Harajuku for ramen, you can hit up Jangara Ramen right near the JR Harajuku station.

                    and for soba, Chef Morimoto took Anthony Bourdain to Sarashina soba:
                    I'll attach a soba photo.

                    if you like sushi/fish and you are in Tsukiji jyogai:
                    you may want to try hitsumabushi, WSJ 72hours in Tokyo article:
                    and the J link: