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Jun 1, 2011 06:00 PM

Restaurants in Japan

I will be visiting Tokyo in two weeks, and would like to go to a fine dining restaurant during my time there. My sights are currently set on Chateau restaurant Joel Robuchon due to its proximity to my hotel, though really any restaurant that is considered one of the best in the city will do. I am looking to spend no more than 200 dollars per person excluding beverages, tax and tip (by the way, i have never visited the city before, and what is considered a "good tip" at a fine dining restaurant in tokyo?) Are there any recommendations? I do not speak japanese, so if anybody could recommend a restaurant where atleast somebody speaks english, that would be wonderful.

Thank you!

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  1. There is no tipping in Japan. Any 'tip' fees are built into the cost of the meal.

    1. presuming you are talking about the 3 star restaurant (there is more than one restaurant in the Ebisu chateau) the 'grand' menu is way over $200 pp, and even the simpler menu would come out over your budget if I remember correctly.

      16 Replies
      1. re: shekamoo

        Yes I am talking about the 3 star restaurant in the Ebisu garden. I suppose i wouldn't mind spending over 200, but i really dont want to go further than 300. How is the l'atelier? Is the La tour D'argent in tokyo worth it? Are there any other 3 michelin star restaurants that I would be able to dine at (given that i am a westerner that cannot speak a word of japanese)? I also heard that Michelin's tokyo ratings were not so accurate, so really any of the top restaurants, 3 michelin or not, would be fine.

        1. re: mjm1218

          I have not been to these other French restaurants in Tokyo, so I could not help you there. The grand menu at the 3 star Chateau, ca. 400 pp, is majestic, and the smaller menu would definitely be good as well.

          having said that, why not try something that is unique to Tokyo or Japan more generally? I am not a resident expert here, but, say, Ryugin would be under 300 pp and it is sublime, and there are others discussed on this board as well

          1. re: shekamoo

            Thank you all for your responses. Has anyone been to or hear good things about Les Creations de Narisawa?

            1. re: mjm1218

              'there is some Narisawa in that Picasso', the creations are to be the must on the menu. For more specific information on that subject, here below a link :
              In the Chateau Joel Robuchon, there is also the restaurant 'La Table' that is more affordable.

              1. re: Ninisix

                Did you enjoy Les Creations de Narisawa? How does it compare to Chateau Joel Robuchon?

                1. re: mjm1218

                  I found Creations vastly overrated. It's fine, but certainly does not come close to justifying the considerable hype surrounding it.

                  Robuchon is traditional, standard French, Creations is more innovative. That does not necessarily mean better though - I thought with some of the dishes the emperor was definitely underdressed, if not stark bollock naked. And liquid nitrogen as a novelty? Really?

                  Robuchon gives you a solid, if way too massively huge French meal. It is not particuarly memorable though, and would taste pretty much exactly the same anywhere in the world (apart from maybe the occasional nod to a specifically Japanese ingredient). I am not saying that that's a bad thing - if French food that is completely neutral as to location is what you are after, then why not go? On the other hand, if you want to take advantage of the fact that you are specifically in Tokyo which offers a lot of unique culinary gems, Robuchon is not the place to go.

                  1. re: Asomaniac

                    Are there any restaurants of similar caliber that you would reccomend?

                    1. re: mjm1218

                      And perhaps, your choice is on French high class restaurants to get closer to the French bibundum heart star system . There is nothing to compare, the products of the 3 stars in France are really good as the 3 stars of Japan, but the way to prepare them are radically different, nothing wrong concerning the both method. The diners way change and move to a more light way...
                      The kaiseki 'waketokuyama', one station in subway from Ebisu, is in a district surrounded by embassy, so they might have English spoken staff.
                      And on another hand, what is the occasion ?     

                      1. re: Ninisix

                        There is no special occasion, I will just be traveling to Tokyo and during my time there would like to visit one of the top restaurants.

                      2. re: mjm1218

                        Of similar caliber in what way? If you mean generic high end French, your choice is fine. Another good one is Gagnaire. For totally over-the-top formal, grand setting L'Auberge de l'll is very good (maybe a tad overpriced, but great food and top notch Alsatian wine list).

                        Again, nothing wrong with your initial choice of Robuchon. Just saying that the category of anywhere-in-the-world French would not be my choice if I was visiting Tokyo for a short trip only - I'd go for something more Japanese. But it's your trip!

                        1. re: Asomaniac

                          I meant similar caliber in the level of cooking, and the restaurant does not have to be french. I didn't know Gagnaire had a restaurant in tokyo, is it good and would you recommend it? Is it michelin rated (even though i know how controversial the tokyo michelin guide is)?
                          Your input has been very helpful and I really appreciate it. Thank you!

                          1. re: mjm1218

                            Gagnaire in the old location in Omotesando had two Michelin stars. Then Gagnaire decided to leave and I thought he had abandoned the Japanese venture completely.

                            However, he now has reopened in another location in Tokyo. I have not been to the new location, but given that Pierre Gagnaire has given his name to it, I would be amazed if the new place was not up to scratch - the only change should be the location. However, I don't have the guide to hand so I don't know if he got the same number of stars (or indeed if he had the chance to get stars - I am not sure when he reopened - best to check on the internet).

                            The old place was very good, especially when there was an ingredient theme month, like when a 7 course meal, plus 7 desserts, was truffle-dominated. The truffle menu still sticks out to me as one of the truly memorable French meals I have had in Tokyo - and over the years I have lived here I have eaten at most of the French restaurants that are regarded as excellent in Tokyo, either by the Michelin guide, tabelog or otherwise.

                            BTW, while the Michelin Guide has very many faults (and there is to much of a focus on, and even obsession about, it on chowhound), I don't think it is particularly off when it comes to the French restaurants in Tokyo. After all, it is a French guide and they do know a thing or two about French food. Certainly a hell of a lot more than the much lauded tabelog, a wonderful Japanese foodie website that is a Zagat-like resource in Japan but in my view most of its contributors are not exactly French food connoisseurs. Their Japanese restaurant ratings are often good and educational in my view, but when it comes to French or Italian food - much less so.

                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              I believe the new location is in the Intercontinental. What are some of the high end japanese places in tokyo?

                              1. re: mjm1218

                                Pierre Gagnaire is in the ANA Intercontinental Hotel. (There's another Intercontinental Hotel in Tokyo that's had the name for much longer.) It opened in 2009 and it has two stars in the Michelin Guide.

                                  1. re: mjm1218

                                    On a quick resume, a sommary step to mutate your taste bud :
                                    - the kaiseki is a traditional that used to follow strict principles like the order 'sakizuke (=appetizers)', 'otsukuri (=sashimi raw fish)', 'yakimono (=usually grilled fish)',  'nimono (=soy base or soup base ragout)'.. and adapted to the season with ceramics. In the style kappo(=counter) you will have the senses of kaiseki with an open counter. My preference is for Waketokuyama in Hiroo.
                                    - the Izakaya is at first a drink, and a 2-3plates to begin and after is on the atmosphere. The menu is monthly renewed and elaborated at the Izakaya Shinsuke in Okachimachi and in English. 
                                    - the last step is sushi with his fresh ika (=squid), lightly smoke katsuo (=bonito), fondant and decadent toro (=tuna), soy sauce boiled hamaguri (=clam), ...and many more on the program.  
                                    Presentation is important in japan, and French high cuisine in Tokyo has also nice and beautiful dish-up, French restaurant tendance stayed in the 'nouvelle cuisine' wave if I compare it to Paris.
                                    Hope it will help to choose