Kojyu or Kikunoi - first time visitor with reservations for both, time/budget for only one
On an upcoming visit to Tokyo, I snagged a reservation for Kojyu myself before my hotel finally got back to me about an earlier request for Kikunoi. I now have resys at both for the same date and time, and beyond that, have only the budget for one such expensive meal. I've read of the available posts on the two, but am having a hard time making the decision short of a coin toss. Can anyone familiar with both weigh in on which is "better," and also which would be a more representative kaiseki experience for a first time visitor to Japan.
Appreciate any input, you all on this board have been invaluable in our planning for this trip.
You can't go wrong with these 2 choices. In my experience, I think the food at Kojyu is more tasty, it's grilled wagyu, sashimi (ika, tai and otoro) are to die for, but Kikunoi is definitely a more representative kaiseki experience.
Kikunoi lives off its parent restaurant's reputation I think. Found the food at Kojyu better.
Just out of curiosity, did you consider other kaiseki restaurants of comparable quality / price range? I don't think either of the two you mention would make it into my top three in Tokyo, though they are very good.
I prefer Ishikawa and Ryugin to Kikunoi and Kyoju. (Kanda as well, but you say that they are booked out. I think the weakest of them all is Kikunoi.)
Not sure what Ryugin's 'former molecular leanings' have to do with Ryugin's actual food, which by now has evolved into fairly traditional kaseki (OK, not as orthodox as some, but pretty traditional), and in my view is better than either of your choices (unless Yamamoto has an off night, which has happened before). The physical setting at Ryugin is not traditional, that is absolutely correct, but the food is top notch kaiseki.
The sake selection at Ryugin is better than at any of the other places listed (by quite a margin, actually, plus you can get them to pair your courses with sake). The only exception may or may not be Kojyu. I am not sure - it has been a long time since I went, and I went with a friend who wanted wine throughout the meal (which I went along with as it was his birthday). The owner-chef at Kojyu is a certified sommelier and loves pairing kaiseki with wine, so was actually a great experience as the combinations work very well. But he is also a certified sake sommelier so may have a few treasures up his sleeve.