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My impressions of Koju, Seisouka, Ishikawa, Sakurada etc

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babreu Oct 5, 2011 07:46 AM

Here's a write up of some of the highlights of a 4 week long gastronomic tour in Japan. These are the most relevant meals I had.

Sakurada (Kyoto) - The owner-chef, his daughter and wife were incredibly kind (they even gave me presents!). I'm used to japanese hospitality, but sometimes it blows your mind and makes you enjoy it more than the food itself. And this was the case here. Flavors were as subtle as they get (I guess it is the essence of kyo-ryouri). Unfortunately, I still prefer a bit more flavor. 2/5

Ishikawa - Some superb dishes, like unagi with miso sauce, fried unagi with some kind of yuzu jelly, but overall not very surprising. Excellent service, as expected. 3/5

Kyubei - My second visit to the main restaurant. I think their tuna is fantastic, one of the best, if not the best, I've ever eaten. It's a shame they squeeze too many seats by the counter on 1st floor. My arm even touched another diner's glass of tea twice when reaching out the sushi. Staff is always very nice here and Imada-san is a great guy. 4/5

Sushi Saito - My third visit. Flawless. 5/5

Sushi Kanesaka - Very good sushi but my preference is for rice with a bit more vinegar or salt. Very easy to get a seat, so it's a nice alternative when you want high end sushi without planning in advance. 3/5

Seisouka - A pleasant surprise. I had the lunch menu, and it was a flawless kaiseki with modern touches, like a dish that came with a piece of roquefort cheese and no sashimi course (not a bad idea for me, as this is always the least favorite stage of a kaiseki). Highly recommend. 5/5

Lugdnum Bouchon Lyonnais - One of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo. Cheap lunch menu. The salad with cake of pig's ears is insanely good, and the baba au rhum is the best I've ever had. 4/5

Ukai Tei Omotesando - The wagyu (had it as teppan yaki, not the "french style" with sauce) was very good, but no better than others I had at cheaper teppan restaurants. Good marinated salmon, zucchini with cheese and noodle. Desert was boring. Service was very good, but I'm not very fond of the art-deco interior. 2/5

Koju - My first visit to this restaurant. Truly impressive dishes and overall the best japanese food I've had. Highlights were the eggplant jelly with edamame and abalone, and the grilled, yakitori style, wagyu wrapped on matsutake mushrooms. 3 stars are fully deserved, imo. 5/5

La Table de Joel Robuchon and L'Atelier - I always eat at at least one of them whenever I come to Japan. Love them equally. 4/5

Hachinoki - A japanese vegetarian restaurant in Kamakura with a Michelin star. Though the food was good enough, I have no idea why this is worth a star. 1/5

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    Ninisix RE: babreu Oct 10, 2011 06:07 AM

    Thanks for your report !
    Some are news, others like Lugdunum are now well-known,  enter in your report there is the number of times referred to your visits... As you have multiplied your visit, have you tried other mythic places on previous visits ?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ninisix
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      babreu RE: Ninisix Oct 12, 2011 02:35 PM

      Hi Ninisix. Yes, I've tried many famous restaurants that are often discussed on this boards. I've been going to Japan regularly, sometimes 2 or 3 times a year, since 2005. Just recently I decided taking notes of the best meals. :)

      1. re: babreu
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        Ninisix RE: babreu Nov 15, 2011 08:19 PM

        Sorry for the delay. Hope it will help others to have a better image of these places :
        -Joel Robuchon Ebisu, agreed, this restaurant La Table is not perfect. Even the taste is good the dishes have a touch of Japanese... My main dish, carrying a surplus for the lobster, offers about the same quantity as the appetizer, so I had to order another plate of risotto.. Just a glance at the wine list and you want to ask for a good 30% off !! The bakery seduced me for some bread, but not all (croissant not good imho).
        -Restaurant Lugdunum, good charcuterie, pork ear, boudin and Lyonnaise specialities, and this is the jewel of chef Pacaud, a good exemple of a restaurant you go for the food, not for the chat with the strong tempered chef.. Menu course is cheaper even than a yakitori.
        -Sushi Kanesaka : for a lunch at 5000.-yens in Ginza, I prefer to go to other places... Kanesaka-San did understand i wasn't happy with his pieces.. too small and light seasoning, not my preference, that's all.
        -Sushi Saito : agreed that Saito-san is an easy talk, but heh, I tried and told him about the 'uni' he served me last time, that wasn't the same as for other customers ... big blank. I think he might remember me even 1 1/2 year after ^^... 
        IMO, the big french chef clan of "precieuses", like the wold famous chef Ducasse, Robuchon,... does indeed offer good food but, they forget to tap into the gorgeous exciting abundance of French cuisine...too bad their representation is just a tiny part of it..

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