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Top Japanese restaurants in Tokyo

Hi,

My girlfriend and I plan a gastronomic trip to Tokyo. We want to try the very best. We know some restaurants will not allow non-Japanese speaking customers. I hoped to work around that by hiring a local English speaking guide to accopany us to these places.

Would that be a workable solution do you think.

How long in advance is it required to reserve in advance on the best places like Sukiyabashi Jiro and Kuybey (both Ginza)?

Thanks,
Roysen

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  1. Just out of curiosity, why Sukiyabashi Jiro?

    Given the two restaurants you mention, you are obviously interested in sushi. You do not seem to have any very specific requirements that would require a response beyond the zillions of sushi related discussions on the board. Have you searched the Japan board for "sushi"? That will give you all the information you need, and a lot more.

    31 Replies
    1. re: Asomaniac

      Thanks for your advice but if you read my post carefully you will realise that what I am asking for is not the actual restaurants to visit but some practicalities like how long in advance to make reservations and the possiblity of hiring guided company.

      Having said that I have searched this board and found some restaurants I want to visit.. These two are among them. We will howeverl also be looking for a top notch Fugu restaurant where I would like to sample Fugu while she doesn't dare and wants to have something else. Suggestions on that would be appriciated.

      Its our first trip to Japan so forgive our lack of knowledge. We have been to sushi restaurants around Europe and Sao Paulo (largest population of Japanese in a city outside Japan) but wouldn't know what we prefer in terms of sushi specialites of the specific restaurants and chefs.

      Thanks,
      Roysen

      1. re: Roysen

        I can't help re: guides but I don't see why you should need them. If this is your first trip to Japan, there are many, many restaurants (in fact, the vast majority) to choose from where you will not need a guide.

        That is why I asked you why you want to try Jiro. There are better sushi restaurants around purely from a quality perspective which do not require guides (again, this is something that has been discussed a lot on this board - the whole 'I don't speak Japanese' thing with respect to sushi restaurants is for understandable reasons brought up frequently on this board).

        Mr Jiro does not particularly like foreigners. There are many restaurants in Tokyo where the requirement to bring a Japanese speaker along is not motivated by a dislike of foreigners but by genuine worry that they won't be able to serve a foreign guest properly without being able to communicate. Jiro is not one of those places - it is more of a fig leaf for saying 'I would prefer not to have foreigners come to my place'. i am therefore always surprised at the masochism of visitors to Japan who feel they want to subject themselves to this, while they can get better sushi from nicer sushi masters.

        But if you want the Jiro name, go and eat at his son's place in Roppongi Hills. He speaks English, the sushi is very good and the place is gaijin-friendly. Wouldn't be my first choice for sushi, but it certainly is good (Michelin-starred, if that is your thing), and it is an 'easy' environment. Mr Kanesaka also speaks English so that is another place you may wish to try (again, would not be my first choice, but it is good).

        I would save the money for a guide (which would also involve paying for his meal) and splash out the difference on better food. if you feel you really want a guide (perhaps you would like to have someone explain ingredients and individual food items in detail, which I agree would be helpful and interesting), ask your concierge well in advance.

        As for reservations at Jiro, try 2 months in advance. i don't know if he accepts anything before that.

        If you have only had sushi in Europe and Sao Paolo, then I am not sure if the subtle differences between the top end places in Tokyo would be significant enough not to just go for whichever top place sounds comfortable to you. It is not a question of one top end sushi place being obviously better than another. Some are better when it comes to certain shellfish, others are famed for their shin ika, others do amazing saba or kohada, yet others are respected for their uni or whatever. unless you have tried a few of those to compare, you may not have the same eureka type experience when you try a particularly good ootoro or whatever. So any of the top places will be good. Just pick somewhere that feels comfortable allround on the basis of the information you can find.

        regarding fugu, given the part of fugu that is poisonous and the qualifications a fugu chef has to have in Japan, your gf has nothing to worry about. The most frightening thing about a fugu meal is the price.

        1. re: Asomaniac

          BTW, in case it is ambiguous, the 2 month Jiro reservation period is in reference to Sukiyabashi Jiro - if you go for his son's place, much less advance notice is required.

          1. re: Asomaniac

            What's your basis for saying that Jiro doesn't like foreigners? He serves Robuchon all the time among many other foreigners. I guess you must know something they don't to say he doesn't like them but calls them friends to their face.

            I'm a foreigner, and I happen to speak good Japanese. Will he not serve me? It's one thing to say someone doesn't like foreigners due to the language issue, it's quite another to make a claim like yours that Jiro happens to be a racist hiding behind this excuse.

            I've met many others who made the same insinuations about establishments in Japan using language merely as a mask for blatant racism. If I stuck with them long enough, I observed that without fail they spoke in ear wrenching Japanese expecting to be perfectly understood without further effort and it all became clear what was happening. It's no different than some people on the net speaking half English and getting angry about it.

            The simple truth is, there are far more people who just can't stand your bastardized Japanese than actual racists, of which there also are like any other country. No restaurant here in the States would want to serve someone who couldn't speak an intelligible sentence of English but expected otherwise.

            Foreigners in Japan, it's their fault. Foreigners in the US, it's also their fault. It's quite an astonishing form of hypocrisy.

            1. re: royaljester

              Asomaniac's Japanese is almost as good as mine, and that's a high compliment. I don't think Asomaniac's issue is that his Japanese is sub-par. Jiro just doesn't like foreigners, of that I'm pretty much convinced. As for Robuchon, well, even Mishima had Western heros. Doesn't mean Mishima liked foreigners much. And his English was fluent. And in the end, money doesn't stink, even if it is foreign money.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                I would rather consider Jiro as a traditionalist, possibly sometimes rigid. Seriously, I do not expect Jiro, at 80something, to embrace with enthusiasm attitudes he does not expect from a "traditional" customer of a high class sushi. 
                Jiro just have been filmed by a foreigner that followed his every moves as a chef. Do you think that he will let someone film if he didn't stand him ? A foreigner that, I am sure, respects his sushi... I personally think he is sweet, he made jokes that are always good. For my birthday, Jiro and his son served me as if I was their sole customer... I felt so happy for the 1:30hours spent there. I never felt any 'anti-foreigner' attitude there.

              2. re: royaljester

                You obviously have not experienced Miami.

                1. re: Kreutzer

                  Miami? Why would anyone consider a US sushi restaurant compared to a top sushi yasan in Tokyo?

                  Maybe I misunderstand you and you really are trying to say something else?

                  1. re: Roysen

                    Roysen, my apologies. I was attempting to respond to another post and am puzzled as to why it was placed below your comment. That said, I am fascinated by this thread.

                    1. re: Kreutzer

                      No problem at all. The thread is very old though and a new thread has been created because the planned trip back then is becoming a reality just now.

                      1. re: Roysen

                        Terrific! I am a waiter in Miami and will be starting work at Morimoto here soon. I have been researching Tokyo restaurants and have gathered a wonderful amount of information from the folks here. I hope to read about your trip soon. Cheers

                        1. re: Kreutzer

                          "I hope to read about your trip soon."

                          You're in luck then, as there's some mention of it in nearly every single topic here!

                          (I keed, I keed.)

                          1. re: Robb S

                            Do you think that was called for? Have I done something wrong to you, Robb? I actually even tried to be friendly to you by inviting you for a meal. I really don't understand what I did to you to provoce this reaction.

                            1. re: Roysen

                              Hey, just joking Roy! Your postings have started a lot of interesting discussions here, and I wouldn't have it any other way....

                              1. re: Robb S

                                I am sorry Robb. I am seeing hhosts in clear daylight on this forum now. I need to adjust my attitude and don't expect the worst of everyone even though I have had my fair share of negativity. You certainly have nit contributed to that negativity, so I shiuld have known it was a joke.

                                The meal offer still stands and if you prefer Thai food (seems like you are on a roll in terms of Thai) I have Siam Heritage Tokyo on my list. I want to try their Massa Man curry which comes recomended and is served in a hollowed out pineapple shell.

                                You can join me anywhere you like besides Thai too. Just let me know what you'd like. I have had so much use for the information on your website, I certainly would like to pay you back with a meal and also hope it turns into a nice social get to know each other where we can share each others passion for food and restaurant dining.

                                1. re: Roysen

                                  Roysen, when does your trip kick off again? I wonder if we'll have any overlap; especially since we have a number of the same spots booked.

                                  1. re: OliverB

                                    The dates are not set yet. They will be adjusted according to when I can get the actual reservations. The plan is to go from mid October to mid/end decenber.

                                    1. re: Roysen

                                      We may run into one another in that case!

                                      If you hear a white guy shouting out your name across the garden in Arashiyama, that'll be me! :)

                                      We leave Oct. 28 and return Dec. 03. Be sure to post when you have your dates fixed and everything's booked.

                                      1. re: OliverB

                                        Ha-ha-ha.

                                        I will keep my ears on alert for that shout and post the dates when they are ready.

            2. re: Roysen

              If you want a little variety, I would also suggest trying out some top-class restaurants with other, non-sushi specialties such as unagi, tempura, shojin-ryori, and kaiseki. And of course you should try some upscale izakaya and more humble cuisines like tonkatsu - you might find that those turn out to be your favorite meals in Japan.

              You didn't say when this planned trip was to take place, but I'll mention that wild fugu isn't in season in the summer, and some traditional top-level places don't even serve fugu outside of the six-month cold-weather traditional fugu season.

              (And if you want to hire a guide to help you appreciate the food that you're eating, by all means do so - it sounds like a nice idea actually, especially for kaiseki or shojin-ryori places where there's a lot to say about the food.)

              1. re: Robb S

                Hei, Robb.

                We definetly want to try some other specialities also, but only Japanese food. Kaiseki is high up on the list.

                BTW, I managed to get a reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten through my travel agents local Tokyo agent.. The reason why this restaurant doesn't accept overseas reservations is due to the fact that many no-shows and late cancellations have been a regularity from the overseas bookings. We will however try to get a translator to go with us anyway to get the most out of the meal. This was also no problem for the local Tokyo agent to arrange. We did however need to give our credit card information to the local Tokyo agent because the restaurant would charge the agent a fee if we did not show up.

                1. re: Roysen

                  Wonderful. Distinction of products will implicate you more, and the guide will enjoy with you the succeding 'nigiri' acts in Sukiyabashi Jiro that differs one to another. Payment is in cash only!!! And please please don't cancel, you have to try it.

                  1. re: Roysen

                    haha, unintended consequences for the left-handed master?! the harder he tries to keep us out, the harder we try to get in by any means and at any cost possible!! if this was actually a marketing scheme on Jiro's part, I would say it was ingenious!

                2. re: Roysen

                  Are you from Sao Paulo? I know Kyubey and Sukiyabashi Jiro enjoy some reputation among sushi chefs in Sao Paulo, but honestly, they're not the best options for sushi in Tokyo. If it's your first time, why not go with the best? Sushi Saito has 3 Michelin Stars, better prices than old Jiro, can speak enough english to serve you and he's a nice guy. Sushi Kanesaka is also gaijin-friendly and quite good.

                  I've never been to Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten, but as said here, he's not very fond of the idea of foreigners in his restaurant, and his sushi is often ranked pretty low among the high-end places.

                  Kyubey is good, but far from my favorite. I reserved one day in advance the last time I was there. It's a big restaurant.

                  1. re: babreu

                    No, I am not from Sao Paulo. I have however travelled to SP a lot of times and had my share of dinners at Jun Sakamoto, Kinoshita and other top SP Japanese spots.

                    Kuybey and Sukiyabashi Jiro are only two of the sushi places we plan to visit. On the list is also Sushi Mizutani, Sushi Saito, Sushi Kanesaka and Sawaba.

                    We would also like to try som non-sushi places like Morimoto XEX, Ukai Tei, Aragawa, Usukifugu Yamadaya, 7 chome Koyabashi, Hamadaya and Yukimura.

                    We might also try Joel Robuchon and Pierre Gagnaire.

                    We also wanted to include a top notch Italian restaurant. Having read that Marco Molinari had a restaurant called Museo in Roppongi we initially wanted to see if would could go there but now we don't know if it still is in existance.

                    My wife also really likes Dim Sum, so we will be looking for a nice alternative for Dim Sum too. So if some have recomendations they would be highly valued.

                    Some of these choices will be for lunch and others for dinner.

                    1. re: Roysen

                      Morimoto XEX is no longer. It's now Omae XEX.

                      1. re: kersizm

                        Thanks! Anything else different than the name?

                        1. re: Roysen

                          Well, if you were hoping to see Iron Chef Morimoto, you won't!

                          1. re: kersizm

                            Omae XEX is nice but for teppan cuisine, but I probably prefer Kurodaya in Roppongi - it is a bit more traditional. For shojin ryori (buddhist temple food), strongly recommend Izusen in Setagaya ward - Itosho in Azabu-juban is a small shojin place that is really really nice, not so well known. For sushi, I think the best value is still Tsukiji market at 6:30am.

                            1. re: krishs

                              For me, I think lunch at Kyubeh for Y4000 is a better value than breakfast at Tsukiji Market for Y3500 plus two hours of your life that you will never get back waiting in line and then twenty minutes sitting at a crowded counter. But YMMV.

                              1. re: Robb S

                                i think it depends on where in tsukiji you go to, i NEVER go to the place(s) mentioned in the guidebooks... in fact, i go to the place right next door to one of them - zero lines, great sashimi/sushi, and i dont recall having ever paid more than 2,600. never been to kyubeh, but its on my list now.

              2. It looks like our schedule for the elven days in Tokyo will look like this. If you have any recomendations that you would prefer over these, feel free to comment:

                Lunch:
                Hamadaya
                Fukudaya
                Nadaman Sazanka So
                Yonemura
                7 chome Koyabashi
                Aragawa
                Ukai Tei
                Araki
                Sawaba
                Sushi Kanesaka
                Sushi Saito

                Dinner:
                Joel Robuchon
                Pierre Gagnaire
                Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
                Sushi Mizutani
                Kyubey
                Ryugin
                Kanda
                Koju
                Yukimura
                Omae XEX
                Usukifugu Yamadaya
                Dazzle

                33 Replies
                1. re: Roysen

                  Include: Aronia de Takazawa

                  You also have waaaay too much sushi

                  1. re: shekamoo

                    I will look into Aronia de Takazawa. Sushi is a personal favourit for both of us, so even if we plan ahead or not a lot of the meals will surely be sushi.

                    1. re: Roysen

                      It will be a HUGE shame to miss Aronia. as for sushi, we love it too, but once in Japan, there was just so much else to try and so I found I had overdone my sushi bookings and cancelled a few. I can guarantee the same will happen to you as well!!

                      1. re: shekamoo

                        Aronia will be closed for August because of building restaurantions. I am hoping for Septemer reservation (we will go last week August and first week September). , but its too early for them to receive a reservataion for September yet.

                        1. re: Roysen

                          Highly reccomend Aronia ...

                          Quite an experience, Fantastic food, and actually really nice people as well ! :)

                          Highlight of my trip to Tokyo, and will go straight back (well try to get a booking anyway) next time I visit the country

                          Cheers

                  2. re: Roysen

                    This is all personal preference obviously.. but a lot of my favourite Japan dining experiences have been places I have just stumbled upon. My advice would be not to plan so heavily and go with the flow.

                    My 2c.

                    1. re: kersizm

                      It's not so easy to go with the flow when you don't know the language. Otherwise I would agree with you.

                      1. re: Roysen

                        I'd suggest you reserve two or three meals for simple things as yakitori, kushikatsu, ramen or a good izakaya. There're amazing restaurants that aren't in the Michelin guide but will give you a better overall impression of Tokyo. Find Tatsukichi in Shinjuku, Yakitori Akira or Kushiwakamaru in Nakameguro. You won't regret it.

                        I also recommend Aronia de Takazawa. One of the best meals I had last year.

                        1. re: babreu

                          Sshhh on Tatsukichi... Let's not make it more secretly popular than it already is...

                    2. re: Roysen

                      How come all the restaurants in your list are in the Michelin Guide ? What a tourist list. Funny, you don't even consider a place for ramen, oh well.

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        Ramen? Why does ramen have to be on anybody's list? I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to eat it, or make it a destination. I do like it, but not enough to make a fetish out of it. Same for okonomiyaki.

                        1. re: Uncle Yabai

                          Simple, because Japanese is good at Ramen and there is no other country which you can find something quite like it in term of food and atmosphere !

                          1. re: skylineR33

                            I thought Ramen was Chinese and Soba was Japanese. If so, Ramen would probably be a better choice in China. Soba is not one of our fåvourites.

                            We will try to get a reservation at Arionia instead of one of the sushi restaurants.

                            Just to clarify - this list is not made based on the Michelin guide. It is based on Internet research for recomendations on our preferances.

                            We have tried to avoid a couple of things being first timers in Japan:
                            - Sitting on the floor. It would be very uncomfortable since we are not used to it. The legs would be numb within minutes and we would need wheelchairs to get back to the hotel -:)

                            - Hard to locate restaurants or restaurants a long ride outside the centre. We don't know our way around town and don't want to use a lot of times searching.

                            One more thing I thought I should ask which will impact the list and the trip in general is if you guys have any experience with how the radiation levels in Japan have affected the availability of healthy, fresh ingredients in the top restaurants? Is this even something the restaurants and their suppliers take seriously/consider?

                            1. re: Roysen

                              Ramen in China is horrible. Even though it originates from China, japanese ramen is totally different and every region has its specialities (Miso with butter in Hokkaido, hakata tonkotsu from Fukuoka etc). Ramen is the most popular food in Tokyo with good reason and you should definitely try it (Ippudo is easy to find and excellent).

                              Many restaurants on your list are hard to locate (Sushi Saito is hidden inside a garage), so you shouldn't worry too much about this. Just print a map, write down their phone number and the taxi driver will help you. Don't be afraid to get lost in Tokyo. It's the safest city in the world, people are nice and train/metro stations are ubiquitous.

                              1. re: Roysen

                                There are many different kinds of noodle soup, Ramen is the kind of noodle soup that is uniquely found in Japan (in term of food quality and atmosphere). China has other than of noodle soup than they are good at. I remember it took us lots of time to locate restaurant in Tokyo in our first visit to Tokyo even with google map printout and advance research. The address system in Tokyo is complicated and many of the restaurant has small sign. So just bare that in mind. You may want to set aside some more time for that. It is better now as you can use 'street view' google map to locate the restaurant and the surrounding area to get an idea how to locate them. Hope you will have a nice trip.

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  Our google map print outs, enhanced by extensive use of street view and detailed directions, were so useless in Tokyo that we soon stopped relying on them. Our strategy instead was to get to the nearest subway station, and cab it from there. Just make sure you have good and clear instructions for the driver.

                                2. re: Roysen

                                  I have to chime here and agree with others who commented on the short sightedness of your posting. You can get sushi EVERYWHERE. When in Japan you should try being open minded about the things that are truly Japanese that you can not get anywhere else in the world. It's also silly to avoid the unavoidable.

                                  1. re: precogpunk

                                    And as counterpoint to your comment, I don't eat sushi outside of Japan, at least not by choice. I find it not worth my time, even at the "bestest finest" places in a given city. If it comes close to something you could get in Japan, it usually carries a premium to the equivalent in Japan.

                          2. re: Roysen

                            Hamadaya is absolutely crap. Not even ranked in the top 100 kaiseki places in Tokyo last time I checked on tabelog, but because some idiots on the Michelin committee decided to give it stars, people actually go there. Total waste of time.

                            1. re: Asomaniac

                              Okay, thanks. Can you recomend a better alternative?

                              1. re: Roysen

                                Absolutely any other kaiseki place. Your above list of restaurants suggests a very heavy focus on the Michelin guide, so just pick any from there. (Not all serve lunch, but many certainly do.)

                                1. re: Asomaniac

                                  Asomaniac,

                                  How can I be sure you just don't want to protect your favourites when you don't want to give any alternative recomendations?

                                  1. re: Roysen

                                    A lingering doubt will always remain...

                                    Nah, no favourites to protect from the Michelin Guide. If you want something interesting, an option is Banrekiryukodo in Azabu-Juban. Modern kaiseki sometimes using quite non-Japanese ingredients - they like to experiment. Don't know if they do lunch though (I think they do, but I almost never have kaiseki lunch so am not 100% sure).

                                    1. re: Asomaniac

                                      Thank you! We will look into it.

                                      1. re: Roysen

                                        I'm a fan of Hamadaya in Tokyo Midtown, which isn't even on the Michelin Guide. (but it's ranked better than the Honten on Tabelog).

                                        Maybe you should go to Hamadaya and try it yourself. There're either very positive or very negative opinions on this restaurant.

                                        1. re: babreu

                                          Okay, I didn't know there were two branches.

                                          1. re: babreu

                                            I have not been to that one so what I wrote only relates to the one in the guide. Branches of the same restaurant in Tokyo often offer very different food so you often cannot judge the quality of one by the quality of the other.

                                            There are different opinions on Hamadaya like there are different opinions on anything, but the vast majority of the foodie community in Japan commenting on Hamadaya seems to have a negative opinion. It takes some effort for a kaiseki place not to even make the top hundred in its category in Tokyo on tabelog. The topic has also come up in my conversations with various of the top kaiseki chefs in Tokyo (e.g. from other 3 Michelin star places), plus with the master at Daisan Harumi. While they are often complimentary about their competition, in Hamadaya's case they all said that it being awarded by the Michelin guide was a travesty.

                                            The setting is great and the service incredibly friendly - you want to like the place. Sadly the quality of the food is not good enough. Maybe they have improved - I have not been back for two years, and they had lost a Michelin star that they subsequently regained. But when I went, it was poor. Poor quality ingredients in a kaiseki restaurant - probably the worst sin a place like that could commit.

                                            1. re: Asomaniac

                                              Since there are mixed opinions about Hamadaya and its not on the top list on tablelog, does anyone have experiences from any of these which I might include instead:

                                              Tomura
                                              Nabura
                                              Hanamura
                                              Kikunoi
                                              Kohaku
                                              Kurogi
                                              Hirosaku

                                              1. re: Roysen

                                                I heard amazing things about Tomura from various reliable sources but have not been myself.

                              2. re: Roysen

                                Maybe I should add somwhere to have a top level Matsuzaka steak (I already have a couple of Teppan restaurants planned so I would prefer something a bit more western style charcoal grilled perhaps). I am not sure if Aragawa might fit that description already.

                                Edit: I can now see that Aragawa only serves Kobe steak and not Matsuzaka.

                                1. re: Roysen

                                  Aragawa is also mind-numbingly expensive, would suggest swapping with Dons de la Nature

                                  1. re: shekamoo

                                    Okay, but price really is not an object. If the steak at Aragawa is over higher quality we would prefer to go there.

                                    1. re: Roysen

                                      I would let others speak to the possible difference in quality between the places, but I sincerely doubt that the difference if any would be at all discernible even to those who have experienced their fair share of wagyu

                              3. Okay after much back and forth this is the resteaurants we decided on:

                                Lunch:
                                Hamadaya
                                Fukudaya
                                Nadaman Sazanka So
                                Yonemura
                                7chome Kyoboshi
                                Aragawa
                                Ukai Tei
                                Araki
                                Sawaba
                                Sushi Kanesaka
                                Sushi Saito
                                Esaki
                                Ishikawa
                                L'Atelier Joel Robuchon

                                Dinner:
                                Joel Robuchon
                                Pierre Gagnaire
                                Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
                                Sushi Mizutani
                                Kyubey
                                Ryugin
                                Kanda
                                Koju
                                Yukimura
                                Omae XEX
                                Usukifugu Yamadaya
                                Dazzle
                                Aronia de Takazawa
                                Kyoaji

                                I which Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal would open something in Tokyo.

                                21 Replies
                                1. re: Roysen

                                  Are you going to Tokyo for 30 days or more ? If you are going to Tokyo for less days, I hope you won't hate High End Japanese food after your trip. If it is me, I think I will lose the interest and appetite way before going through half of the restaurant in this list if I am only going to visit Tokyo for 10 days or so in the trip. Japanese cuisine has much more width than just High end and this is what make Japanese food interesting. Good luck.

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    i'd also be very interested to hear how you fare, and would at least suggest prioritizing and arranging meals you consider most important, in case you get sick of the high end dining at some point.

                                    after only 3 days of planned lunch / dinners in shanghai / beijing, the only thing my girlfriend and i could stomach was room service smoothies and spaghetti for a couple days...

                                    regardless, hope you report back on your favorites, and how your trip goes!

                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                      Thanks for the warning, but this is how we usually plan our "gourmet" trips.

                                      1. re: Roysen

                                        nice -- guess i just need to work on building up my stomach :-)

                                        1. re: Dustin_E

                                          My health is glad we don't do this more than one trip each year :-)

                                          1. re: Roysen

                                            People mentionned that your plan is overloaded : additional comment, a proper kaiseki take easily 2 hours, do you fancy ?

                                            1. re: Ninisix

                                              No problem unless we have to sit directly on the floor. We have also delayed our trip to October/November and we will stay for three weeks. Additional research on the restaurants has at the moment brought the Tokyo list to this:

                                              LUNCH:
                                              Kitcho
                                              Tsukiji Yamamoto
                                              Kocho
                                              Hamadaya
                                              Sawada
                                              Sushi Saito
                                              Fukudaya
                                              7 chome Kyoboshi
                                              Araki
                                              Sushi Kanesaka
                                              Yonemura
                                              Esaki
                                              Ukai-tei Ginza
                                              Aragawa
                                              Nadaman Honten Sazanka-so

                                              DINNER:
                                              Dazzle
                                              Omae XEX
                                              Kyubey Ginza
                                              Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
                                              Sushi Mizutani
                                              Ryugin
                                              Ishikawa
                                              Aronia de Takazawa
                                              Joel Robuchon
                                              Les Creations de Narizawa
                                              Koju
                                              Sushiso Masa
                                              Kanda
                                              Kyo Aji
                                              Kadowaki
                                              Yukimura

                                              1. re: Roysen

                                                price is no object: check!
                                                you are used to having 2 important meals in one day: check!

                                                but still I am thinking that you are bound to feel overloaded midway through this ca. $20,000 food marathon. Please do report back on how this all went down

                                                  1. re: Roysen

                                                    if you're staying for three weeks, your list is missing almost a full weeks worth of lunches and dinners. :-)

                                                    i do hope you report back, both on the meals, and which were the most challenging reservations to score.

                                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                                      Yes, someone mentioned that we should not plan every meal every day ahead. I thought that was a good idea and it would leave some meals in between for nothing fancy which might be a releif. It also leaves possibilities from the hotels concierge.

                                                      1. re: Roysen

                                                        There's this little place we love near shirokane name au gamin du tokio. I think that's how it's spelled. You may want to take a look at it. Really good food. Not that hard on the wallet.

                                                        1. re: dingaling

                                                          Thank you for that tip. We will look into it.

                                                    2. re: Roysen

                                                      Some of these restaurants are obviously hard to reserve, some require the company of a Japanese speaking person. As I mentioned earlier we are trying to solve this be starting early, spend a lot of time trying and don't give up. Our travel agent uses a local agent who can arrange both reservations and a local guide to meet the language requirements of some of these restaurants.

                                                      I did however read in a thread here about the Tokyo Fixer www.tokyofixer.com Shinji Nohara. I wonder if he might be a better choice than the travel agent and the local agent. I will contact him and ask but do you guys here think that he would be ideal for a trip like this where we have pretty much decided the places we want to go ourselves or do you think he prefers to take his customers to the restaurants he might be sponsored by?

                                                      1. re: Roysen

                                                        Is Shunju Toriizaka a restaurant we need to have on this list?

                                                        1. re: Roysen

                                                          Kawamura is now on the list instead of Dazzle.

                                                            1. re: babreu

                                                              Yes, that is what I meant. It is now corrected. Thank you!

                                                              Does anyone know details about this restaurant. I am thinking about prices. Payment method (cash/credit cards), openng hours, opinions about the food?

                                                              BTW, Mr. Tokyofixer Shinji Nohara has agreed to help us trying to get the reservations and helping as the guide/translator where needed.

                                                              1. re: Roysen

                                                                According to Tabelog, price is above ¥ 30,000 and it's open from 18h00 to 22h00 http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1301/A130...

                                                                If price is not an object, you are into sushi and curious about the best, you might want to check out Sushi Mitani as well. It's ranked #1 on Tabelog, right above Saito. I tried to go there last year but they were fully booked for the next 3 weeks. I'm quite curious about it, so you might want to try and share your impressions here. ;)

                                                                1. re: babreu

                                                                  Thank you! We really appriciate tips like this. We will certainly put Sushi Mitani on the list and we will report back from every restaurant visit - possible right after our meal in Tokyo. However I don't want to upset anyone in Tokyo so pictures will probably not be part of the write-ups.

                                                                  I have trouble reading r.tablelog.com though, so I hoped someone here could provide the address and opening hours of Sushi Mitani. I did find another forum where someone wrote that Sushi Mitani was booked six solid months in advance, so it might be too late.

                                                                  1. re: Roysen

                                                                    The address is 1-22-1 Yotsuya. But don't tell this to the taxi driver. He'll need a map. Put 1-22-1 Yotsuya on Google Maps, print the map or put it on your phone and hand it over to the taxi driver. It's not that difficult to find. The restaurant is near Yotsuya station, right in the middle of Tokyo. For your concierge: 鮨 三谷 - 03-5366-0132.

                                                                    As someone said, checking out the place on Google's Street View can help a lot.

                                        2. http://www.blogger.com/profile/180586...

                                          You may want to consult Yukari Sakamoto.
                                          Born in Tokyo and raised on the shores of Lake Wobegon. Yukari is married to Shinji Sakamoto who was a buyer at Tsukiji Market, the world's largest seafood market. Yukari trained as a baker and chef at the French Culinary Institute and as a sommelier with the American Sommelier Assocation. Food and travel writer based in Tokyo and New York City. Her first book, "Food Sake Tokyo" is published by The Little Bookroom. She posts that she is available for consulting projects related to Japanese cuisine and culture. She also worked at Takashimaya’s flagship store in Nihonbashi as a sommelier in the sake department of the depachika.

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: tokyolo

                                            Thank you for that advice! We will look into this too.

                                            1. re: Roysen

                                              The top ranked kaiseki is Kyouaji. They apparently refused 3 Michelin stars so you won't find them in the Guide. You can only book if one of your party is a Japanese speaker (ie hired guide), and even then only for lunch I think if you are not a regular. (It's a very regulars focused place so they tend to not take on 'new' customers.) Price is around 40,000 yen.

                                              1. re: Asomaniac

                                                Kyouaji is already on the list, but I thought the name was Kyo Aji or might that be a different restaurant? Its also a Kaiseki restaurant not in the Michelinguide but highly regarded on several other Tokyo guides and blogs.

                                                1. re: Roysen

                                                  Same place.

                                                  It's one word and the "o" is a long one, hence "Kyouaji" ("ou" being the transcription of a long "o") rather than Kyo Aji (which simply separates the two Chinese characters, Kyou and Aji).

                                                  I didn't study your list in detail so hadn't realised the restaurant was already there.

                                                  1. re: Asomaniac

                                                    Thanks for the insight. I have corrected the list.

                                                  2. re: Roysen

                                                    I thought it was Michelin Guide, or is Michelinguide something different hoydy-toydy restaurant guide?

                                                    1. re: E Eto

                                                      What do you think? My iPhone is not the best tool to write posts on forums on the internet. BTW, hoydy-toydy? Are you writing on an iPhone too?

                                                  3. re: Asomaniac

                                                    The Michelin Guide does not accept refusals for listings. Check the Kyoto guide for restaurants that have no interior pictures, or read the press about the same. A restaurant might refuse to cooperate with the guide, but they will be listed anyway.

                                                    I have no particular knowledge, but I would guess that Kyouaji was not included due to its strict reservation requirements. It's possible though they simply didn't measure up according to Michelin's standards, which are mostly but not strictly about food.

                                                2. re: tokyolo

                                                  I'm available for consulting projects through mid-August.

                                                  1. re: jem589

                                                    Thanks for the offer, but we have already hired Shinji Nohara. Maybe someone else here are intersted.

                                                    Cheers!

                                                    1. re: jem589

                                                      I'll be in Tokyo with my wife between march 28-April 6 and would love a food guide for a day....please email me about yyourself! Thanks

                                                  2. So the list now looks like this:

                                                    LUNCH:
                                                    Yonemura
                                                    Tsukiji Yamamoto
                                                    Kocho
                                                    Hamadaya
                                                    Sushi Mitani
                                                    Sushi Saito
                                                    7 chome Kyoboshi
                                                    Kitcho Arashiyama (Kyoto)
                                                    Araki
                                                    Sushi Kanesaka
                                                    Sawada
                                                    Esaki
                                                    Ukai-tei Ginza
                                                    Aragawa
                                                    Nadaman Honten Sazanka-so

                                                    DINNER:
                                                    Omae XEX
                                                    Les Creations de Narizawa
                                                    Kyubey Ginza
                                                    Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
                                                    Sushi Mizutani
                                                    Ryugin
                                                    Ishikawa
                                                    Aronia de Takazawa
                                                    Joel Robuchon
                                                    Kawamura
                                                    Koju
                                                    Kanda
                                                    Sushiso Masa
                                                    Kyouaji
                                                    Kadowaki
                                                    Yukimura

                                                    To fit in Sushi Mitani I left Fukudaya out. Was that a mistake maybe. Should I replace something else? Maybe I should have replaced Sushiso Masa instead?

                                                    I would also like to fit in Sushi Hashiguchi here somewhere. They are only open for dinner. Any suggestions on how to work that in. I thought about maybe moving Kyubey Ginza or Joel Robuchon for lunch and remove Kocho from the list.

                                                    Does anyone know what the top steakhouse and teppan restaurants are on tablelog as well as fugu and tempura restaurants which serve lunch?

                                                    14 Replies
                                                    1. re: Roysen

                                                      Top steak in Tabelog is Gorio. I don't know it but it looks like a cheaper spin-off of Aragawa http://aragawa.jp/gorio/. It's followed by expensive Kawamura, Shima, Dons de la Nature and Aragawa at #5. Teppan is ranked as steak, I believe.

                                                      Top 3 tempura on Tabelog don't serve lunch (Yokota, Seiju and Yokoyama). Fukamachi (#4) and Iwai (#5) do. Can't find a top 50 for Fugu, but if you search, best ones in Tokyo would be Fukuji, Sakurada and Usukifugu Yamadaya. None serve lunch though.

                                                      1. re: babreu

                                                        Sounds like a good list. Although: Aragawa is insanely overpriced for steak no better than Dons. Araki is regarded by many as very, very overrated, so I will be interested to hear your view after you have eaten there. Kanesaka and Jiro seem odd choices if daisan harumi is not on the list (esp. given that the master at sushi saito trained at kanesaka, does his good stuff in the same way (raw prawn with yuzu especially) while doing far better on many other things and costing less).

                                                        1. re: Asomaniac

                                                          Okay - thanks. Some changes are probably in order.

                                                          1. re: Roysen

                                                            Sushi at Saito and Sushi at Araki have the same price for the 'nigiri' set. Sushi Araki impact image is 'maguro(=tuna)', it shows that not only the blue tuna is appreciable. There is more maguro 'nigiri' than on other set. The only thing is, I feel I will enjoyed way more if he will serve one or two pieces of young maguro and the other two pieces classic honmaguro. On the menu there was also 'shirako sushi(=milt)'. If you want to enjoy his 'tamagoyaki(=omelet)', you will have to change your reservation for a weekend. 
                                                            In my opinion a 3 stars sushi has to serve 
                                                            the same products consistently to all the clients, and sushi Saitou did not. The sushi Sawada, sushi Sukiyabashi have same price. They are both enjoyable, one hand for his marriage of uni like eggs and the other for his so juicy 'nigiri' pieces . Unfortunately, the sushi Sawada served me in winter season (end of February) the smoked bonito 
                                                            (=katsuo)?? I still can' t figure why ...

                                                          2. re: Asomaniac

                                                            So you would replace Sushi Kanesaka with Daisan Harumi? What would you think if I instead replaced Sushi Kanesaka with Sushi Hashiguchi? Does that make sense to you?

                                                            The reason why I chose Aragawa over Dons is that I read somwhere on the net that the chef at Dons chose his meat a bit leaner than the average Japanese steakhouse.

                                                            1. re: Roysen

                                                              I am afraid I have not been to Sushi Hashiguchi so can't comment.

                                                              I would be surprised if the thing you read about Dons is true, at least not with respect to all cuts. One of the sirloins was so fatty that - while it was the best steak I have ever had - I felt I might actually drop dead of a heart attack there and then. Literally. I felt the fat for days after, and I love fatty wagyu. I had several cognacs afetrwards to try to cut through the fat, but it was impossible. I cannot imagine a piece of wagyu being fattier... If it was, it would literally kill you on the spot. The taste was unbelievably great though (and we had a fillet steak with it as well to have a leaner balance).

                                                              1. re: Asomaniac

                                                                I d really like to continue the discussions about the steak!! After having checked the 
                                                                net, the steak at 'Aragawa' is grilled on charcoal that will harden the meat and add a crust, and at 'Dons de la nature' will be cook on a frying pan that will soften the meat. Did someone tried both ?

                                                                1. re: Ninisix

                                                                  From what I hear anyone interested in grilled Wagyu steak at a restaurant should check out Kawagura. Its probably the hardest reservationin Tokyo but from what I hear also the best steakhouse.

                                                                  From what I have learned so far the top ones are:
                                                                  Kawagura
                                                                  Don's de la nature
                                                                  Aragawa
                                                                  Gorio

                                                                  Cheaper and easier to reserve alteratives could be:
                                                                  511 - http://www.tokyotimes.jp/post/en/1479...
                                                                  Hanezu - http://www.hanezu.jp/

                                                                  1. re: Ninisix

                                                                    From what Shinji Nohara has told me now this is not correct. Both Aragawa and Dons de la nature grill their steaks on charcoal. In fact the chef at Dons did his training at Aragawa. The reason why the steak is so expensive at Aragawa is that their beef is only sourced from champion prized cattle. Gorio is the sister restaurant of Aragawa where they source the beef from the same supplier but there is no restriction on champion prized cattle only. Because of this Gorio is also less expensive than Aragawa. Shinji recomends Shima as his favourite steakhouse because they use their own special designed owen and the chef Oshima sources the cattle from his independant network outside Kyoto.

                                                                    Of the steakhouses on my prospect list only Satou Steakhouse is using a frying pan to cook their steak. The other restaurants are either teppanyaki or sumiyaki (charcoal grilled). The prospects were:

                                                                    Aragawa (Sumiyaki)
                                                                    Kawamura (Sumiyaki)
                                                                    Ukai-tei Ginza (Teppanyaki)
                                                                    Dons de la nature (Sumiyaki)
                                                                    Gorio (Sumiyaki)
                                                                    Shima (Sumiyaki)
                                                                    Sernya Ginza/Sernya Honten (Sumiyaki)
                                                                    511 (Sumiyaki)
                                                                    Hanezu (Teppanyaki)
                                                                    Satou Steakhouse (Frying pan)
                                                                    Omae XEX (Teppanyaki)

                                                                    1. re: Roysen

                                                                      Thank-you ! Great information on the steak choice in Tokyo.
                                                                      My eyes were tired whne finishing the 'Dons de la Nature' description page of the 2008 edition of Michelin Guide. The Guide now has improved, with shorter description. Also, they seem to perceive better the interest of Japanese consumers.

                                                            2. re: babreu

                                                              Thanks I will have a look at those you have mentioned.

                                                              1. re: babreu

                                                                I have tried to find the opening hours and days of Sushi Mitani on the web without any luck. Does anyone know?

                                                                1. re: Roysen

                                                                  According to Time Out Tokyo: Open 12:00 - 14:00、17:00 - 21:30 http://www.timeout.jp/en/tokyo/venue/...

                                                              2. re: Roysen

                                                                I do post on my Iphone, and it is not multi-task... Your idea to change your diner by a lunch at Robuchon is good as the place is more business like, cold ambiance!!!

                                                              3. If you havent already planned it, make a visit to the fish Market.....

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. The final list became like this:

                                                                  LUNCH
                                                                  L'effervescence
                                                                  Kondo
                                                                  Kitcho (Tokyo branch)
                                                                  Hamadaya
                                                                  Esaki
                                                                  Yonemura
                                                                  Fukudaya
                                                                  Ukai-tei Ginza
                                                                  Aragawa
                                                                  Kyubey Ginza
                                                                  Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten^
                                                                  Araki
                                                                  Sushi Mitani
                                                                  Sawada
                                                                  Sushi Saito
                                                                  Sushi Mizutani
                                                                  Sushi Kanesaka

                                                                  DINNER
                                                                  Joel Robuchon
                                                                  Aronia de Takazawa
                                                                  Les Creations de Narizawa
                                                                  Fugu Fukuji
                                                                  Kawamura
                                                                  Ishikawa
                                                                  Koju
                                                                  Kanda
                                                                  Ryugin
                                                                  Kyouaji
                                                                  Yukimura
                                                                  Morikawa
                                                                  Kanesada
                                                                  Sushisho Saito
                                                                  Harutaka
                                                                  Sushiso Masi
                                                                  Umi
                                                                  Sushi Hashiguchi

                                                                  Then we have left a few spots open for Shinji Nohara to surprise us. If some of these reservations prove too hard to get we also consider these as replacements:

                                                                  L'Atelier Joel Robuchon
                                                                  Pierre Gagnaire
                                                                  Namadan Honten Sazanka-so
                                                                  Daisan Harumi
                                                                  Shushiko Honten
                                                                  Ristorante Aso
                                                                  Sense
                                                                  Gorio
                                                                  Omae XEX
                                                                  Dazzle
                                                                  7 chome Kyoboshi
                                                                  Usukifugu Yamadaya
                                                                  Kadowaki
                                                                  Apicius
                                                                  Don's de la nature
                                                                  Shima
                                                                  511
                                                                  Hanezu

                                                                  If someone can recomend a really great Italian restaurant I am intersted.

                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Roysen

                                                                    If you don't die of a coronary, I am really looking forward to your trip report!

                                                                    When does all this start?

                                                                    1. re: kersizm

                                                                      Yes, lets hope I manage to stay alive. It seems like a lot, but its really only lunch and dinner every day and the meal doesn't really have to be that big.

                                                                      It starts October 21st.

                                                                      1. re: Roysen

                                                                        The time has come! Looking forward to what is sure to be an amazing report! (no pressure!)

                                                                        1. re: szw

                                                                          I am both surprised and disappointed Roysen has not updated us. I look forward to reading even capsule reviews of any of these places.

                                                                          1. re: itwillmakeaturd

                                                                            I am truy sorry for not updating you as I promised. Due to a cancer diagnosis I had to go through a stomach surgery and now midway through a chemo therapy. As you can proberly undersand my trip was postponed until further notice. My hope is to go through the same plan again exactly one year later than originally planned. We will have to see what the future brings though.

                                                                            1. re: Roysen

                                                                              i'm sorry to hear that. wish you get well soon. best of luck.

                                                                              1. re: Roysen

                                                                                that is terrible! best of luck.

                                                                                1. re: Roysen

                                                                                  looking forward to reading your review in a year

                                                                                  1. re: shekamoo

                                                                                    Your health is first, and hope to be a help again...
                                                                                    Tokyo kisses... and best wishes for a prompt recovery.

                                                                        2. re: Roysen

                                                                          Roysen, why the hat^ near my dearest sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro ?

                                                                          1. re: Ninisix

                                                                            Sorry, it is a typing mistake. I will correct it.

                                                                            Add - Sorry the post is too old to edit.

                                                                          2. re: Roysen

                                                                            Hmmm personally I'd just skip all the rest and go to Aronia De Takazawa.... (nice list though)

                                                                            I'm still hold Aronia up on pedastal like lunch at Momofuku Ko

                                                                            Cheers

                                                                          3. Hire Shinji Nohara - he is the best to get you into the kinds of palces you desire in Tokyo and Kyoto

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: porkchampnc

                                                                              He's already said, at least four times, that he's hired Shinji Nohara.

                                                                            2. Sorry if I insulted anyone. The whole need to plan every meal just seems excessive. Sometimes, the best food and experience is the unplanned pop in to a hole in the wall found while wandering the back streets.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: the cookie girl

                                                                                that's true, but those meals can also be disappointing, so it sometimes becomes a question of how many meals you have to trial and error. It can also frustrating to go on a gourmet vacation and think to yourself "we have better [whatever] back at home."

                                                                                1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                                  also, i think "excessive" might be some of the appeal of this sort of trip.