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Nov 1, 2010 01:30 PM

My Tokyo Food Trip for 11/18-11/24: Need suggestions!

This will be my 3rd trip to Tokyo in the past 6 months in order to complete my dream of eating at all the Michelin starred restaurants in Japan.

I still cannot get reservations at Quintessence, Ristorante Aso, and currently waitlisted for L'Osier.

Hopefully, this trip will be the most memorable as it will be 25th birthday on 11/21.

Thursday - 11/18

Lunch: ???

Dinner: Hamadaya

Friday - 11/19

Lunch: 7chome Kyoboshi

Dessert: Hidemi Sugino (hopefully will be able to make it!)

Dinner: Kanda

Saturday - 11/20

Lunch: Sushi Mizutani

Dinner: Sushi Saito

Sunday - 11/21

Lunch: Sant Pau

Dinner: Chateau Joel Robuchon

Monday - 11/22

Lunch: Aimee Vibert

Dinner: Ishikawa

Tuesday - 11/23

Lunch: Ten-Ichi Ginza

Dinner: Le Creations de Narisawa

Wednesday - 11/24

Lunch: ???

Dinner: Koju

Is there anything I should change? Took me 2 months to get all these reservations in order.

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  1. Hamadaya is a very bad idea. Nobody knows what drugs the Michelin inspectors were on when they awarded it three stars in the first editions. They are now down to two stars (the only three star place to lose a star if I remember correctly), presumably because Michelin would lose face taking all the stars away, having recognised their crazy error.

    Tabelog, the Japanese foodie website, rates Hamadaya 106th of kaiseki places in Tokyo when I last looked at the site (maybe two weeks ago). That is more realistic, though probably still too charitable. I had been to Hamadaya before the guide came out (business dinner, not my choice) and almost fell of my chair when I heard its mediocre food had been rewarded with some regognition. Many people here had the same reaction. Awarding a place like that stars is the sort of thing that makes many Japanese not take Michelin seriously at all.

    Rant over. Sorry to vent, but in a place like Tokyo which has so very many world class kaiseki options, the travesty of Hamadaya being singled out for praise is mindblowing. I see you are saying that you want to eat at all Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan, but unless the goal in itself is the most important thing (rather than the prime motivation being to just enjoy some world class food), I'd skip this place and have an enjoyable evening somewhere else.

    While I appreciate that you are opting for the full Michelin treatment, rather than mixing it up with some less expensive, but more representative places (representative of Japan I mean), I would nevertheless suggest that you explore some ramen, oden, yakitori, etc. places. They are much more unique to Japan than many of the Michelin starred establishments (especially the foreign ones - quite frankly, some of the French places would find it much harder to get the same number of stars in the France or Germany Michelin guide), and it's fun to mix it up. I'm not presuming to tell you what to do - if the Michelin-only thing is what you like, you should do that - but it would definitely not be my choice if I visited Tokyo for a short time. Aimee Vibert and Robuchon could be absolutely anywhere in the world. Why not immerse yourself into Tokyo instead and have some oden on a cold November evening, with some good sake?

    It is difficult to tell you what else to change about your list since your goal is to eat at all Michelin starred places and we don't know which places you have already eaten at on your previous trips.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Asomaniac

      You're very oden-focused recently!

      1. re: jem589

        Guilty! Partially it is the time of year - it's getting colder and more oden-appropriate, partially I am going through one of my phases where I am really into one particular type of food. I occasionally get that with food I particualrly enjoy (I have had two weeks with ten visits to yakitori places, etc.). After a few weeks it tends to pass and I am back eating that particular food at less obsessively small intervals.

        The oden place I went to on Saturday was incredibly good. Lots of great stuff, but what particularly blew my mind was renkon mochi, a mix of lotus root and surimi (no actual mochi involved). Unbelievable. Grainy polenta texture, beautiful lotus root flavour with some subtle slightly fishy surimi undertone. Very good broth and daikon as well. Better than average sake list.

      2. re: Asomaniac

        Thanks and regarding to Hamadaya I will take it into serious consideration. Do you recommend another kaiseki in its place?

        I admit I am a michelin whore. But I also see it as Japan's amazing ability to mimic food from other countries as a way of appreciating their skill. I am going to Aimee Vibert and Robuchon, not just for food, but for ambiance. It is just mind blowing to go to these restaurants and feel u got instantly transported to France.

        I've been to and in no particular order:
        Argento Aso
        Monnalisa Marounuchi
        China Blue
        Masa's KItchen 47
        Jiro san Honten & Roppongi
        Ukaitei Ginza
        CoCo curry
        45 @ Ritz
        China Blue
        Sushi Musashi

        1. re: AWESOMEKETCHUP

          I agree with Aso that you should add non-Michelin places as well, but if you insist just on Michelin rated, these are places you may want to try that are not on your list: Hirosaku, Tomura, Aroma Fresca, Kadowaki.

          1. re: FourSeasons

            FourSeasons, what do yuo know about Kyoaji? I have heard good things and I know you tried to book there, but it was booked out. It seems that there is no review of the place on chowhound.

        2. re: Asomaniac

          For what it's worth, Hamadaya regained its third star in the 2011 Michelin guide.

          1. re: ruprecht25

            Unless they massively changed how they do things, that is perverse. Tabelog's ranking of 106th still seems most sensible.