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6 Hours in Tokyo, Sushi, Shopping, and more food!

Hello everyone. I'm looking for some good advice for an upcoming trip. My girlfriend and I have an 11 hour layover at Narita airport in late February. Our flight gets in at 7:35am and I figure with customs, train times, and airport security on the way back we probably have 5-6 hours to spend in Tokyo. This will be our first time to Japan.

Most importantly we want to eat lunch at an amazing sushi restaurant. We are willing to spend at most $200 USD each. I speak very little Japanese. I'm considering Sushi Saito, Sushi Taichi, and Sushi Kanesaka. Some other factors: Despite being fairly small people we both pig out at sushi restaurants and we'll be wanting to consume a significant amount of food and hopefully sake. We will want to do some shopping and maybe hit up another restaurant in the area without having to travel too far. We both love pretty much everything sushi-wise except maybe aoyagi D: What do you think?

I am intent on buying a couple bags of 'Kin sho bai'? That spelling is probably very bad. It's the stuff that's basically high end furikake with pine nuts and bonito that's more moist and has the texture of ground beef jerky. I'm told it's usually purchased in Japanese department stores as a gift. Any idea what to actually ask for and where I could find it?

After shopping I'd like to enjoy some more food. I'm down for noodles, tempura, etc. Probably more of a hole in the wall, good food, even more fun type of place. My girlfriend and I are pescatarians, so no chicken, pork or beef. Ideas?

Thanks for reading, cheers!

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  1. Begin your morning with a coffee/tea with 'anpan(bread with anpaste)' at Toraya cafe in Ginza corner, then when Mitsukoshi open you might have your first shopping around the Japanese confectionary you might find the 'furikake kinshobai' usually sold in Mitsukoshi or Takashimaya dept store...then if you have time before lunch, take a stop at the big stationery Ito-Ya... then progress to have lunch at Sushi Taichi, choose the expensive 'omakase' at 14,000.-yens, the chef knows how to do it without the risk on price...
    And the last one, just for a fun bite, not more, an Osaka snack..at the Osaka Antenna shop in the first floor of the Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan, in front of Yurakucho Metro Station.. 

    18 Replies
    1. re: Ninisix

      You're amazing Ninisix! Thank you tons, that sounds like a perfect plan. How do I go about making a reservation for Sushi Taichi? Do they speak decent English there?

      1. re: DamienV

        A precision Toraya bakery is open from 9:30, but not the cafe on the 2nd floor, sorry..
        Sushi Taichi, you can send a fax to (81)3-3572-7222..  or just call him (basic English)
        ... from Sukiyabashi Crossing, take the Sotobori Avenue on the opposite side of the Sony Bldg, then on a coin parking lot, take the very small alley.. it is just on a building after a snack bar, in kanji is 太一... 
        http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1301/A130...

        1. re: Ninisix

          No need to be sorry, thank you.

          I am curious, why Sushi Taichi over Kanesaka and Saito? I've found lots of info and press on both but pretty much nothing on Sushi Taichi. I also see that both chefs seem to be very friendly to Gaijin.

          1. re: DamienV

            Sushi Taichi, I have found it last year, and do still like it... 'omakase' is both at lunch and diner not so expensive, easy to follow...Passing an order in a sushi-yasan is tricky, and can not be handle as a simple menu.. Sushi Kanesaka and Sushi Saitou are not the easier ones..  Lunch at Kanesaka-san, extra pieces increased the lunch price from 5,000.-yens to 12,000.-yens with just 3 little 3 additional pieces... And,Sushi Saitou the upper speed omakase, including 'tsumami + nigiri', is at lunch 20,000.-yens... There are both sushi-yasan on the same 'Kanesaka-san' group, as also Sushi Iwa in Ginza... If price is concerned, especially, at sushi Taichi, you won't have to slow down on quantity due to price, usually making you full...and he is particularly friendly also..

            1. re: Ninisix

              I wasn't able to get a reservation at Sushi Taichi so I made one at Sushi Kanesaka instead. Thank you for the advice.

              I'm kind of confused on how to get there though. Are there people in the airport that can help me find the right train that speak English?

              Also, are they any good shops, department stores or breakfast places in the area?

              1. re: DamienV

                I think that sushi Iwa in Ginza also, and, being in the Kanesaka group, will be better value... Print the maps, and ask at the 'koban(=police station box)' in the corner of Da map in English 
                SUSHI IWA link :
                http://r.gnavi.co.jp/gafa800/
                http://www.sunnypages.jp/travel_guide...
                SUSHI KANESAKA link :
                http://www.sunnypages.jp/travel_guide...
                In the morning, take the Narita Express to Tokyo station, then change to the Yamanote Line direction Shibuya, it will be the next stop Yurakucho.. In taxi, also it will be less than 1000.-yens.. For breakfast, try the bakery Kobeya, open from 7:30, in the 1st floor of the Kokusai Forum :
                http://www.t-i-forum.co.jp/english/ho... in english fo the Kokusai Forum
                )Ginza is an aera full of dept stores,... so you will find hours short. It will your first quest of Tokyo ! It is fun to round around !

                1. re: DamienV

                  Had dinner at Kanesaka my last trip - it was extraordinary.

                  When you exit immigration/customs at NRT, there is a JR / Narita Expess desk directly across in the arrivals lobby and they speak english well - they will direct you to the train downstairs.

                  If it was me, i would get a taxi from tokyo station - print out the name and address from the web to show to the taxi driver. The restuarant is not obvioulsy marked. I'd print out the picture of the entrance from those posted on the web and then its pretty obvious
                  Have fun

                  1. re: rswanson2

                    Thanks for the advice guys. Do you happen to know of any good bars where we could get a good cocktail before our flight back? Probably around 3pm.

                    1. re: DamienV

                      at 3:00PM, it will be more limonade than Coktail ! But Il Bulgari Il Bar will be open ... Japanese whiskey, might it be ? They won top awards ...

            2. re: Ninisix

              Does Sushi Taichi take lunch reservations for weekends? I just called for a February 16 lunch reservation and they said no reservations for lunch but dinner was ok. I wasn't sure if he was saying they don't take reservations for lunch on weekends or if they were already booked.

              On another note, is Sushi Taichi still recommended? I haven't seen anyone recommend it in a while.

              1. re: miltronix

                I know!! I am feeling like a 'donor's fatigue', as I had no report back, except from one fellow Chowhounder...
                Sushi Taichi is now more famous than ever, and diner is becoming difficult to book (grr!!!). Lunch on week ends is at 5000yens, without reservation, but better to get up early to that rather dark alley full of bars(under a parking lot!)

                1. re: Ninisix

                  Thanks for the information Ninisix!

                  1. re: Ninisix

                    Ninisix - Can you confirm that Sushi Taichi does also serve the lunch menu on Sundays? I can't tell from tabelog since google translate is mixing up the last section:

                    [平日]
                    11:30~13:30
                    18:00~23:00
                    [土日]
                    11:30~14:30
                    17:00~21:00
                    ランチ営業、夜10時以降入店可、日曜営業

                    1. re: miltronix

                      Yes, sushi Taichi is open on Saturday/Sunday at lunch, from 11:30 to 14:30. First lunch set is at 5,000yens, and the 'omakase' is beginning at 8,400yens..

                      1. re: Ninisix

                        Thanks so much Ninisix. It'd be great to meet you for a sushi meal when I'm in Tokyo since you seem like a true sushi lover.

                        1. re: miltronix

                          I would like to be able to, but am pretty tied up for the time being. Too bad, enjoy! And report on your sushi meals ...

                          1. re: Ninisix

                            That's too bad. I'm in Tokyo 2/15-2/18 if you do find some free time.

                            1. re: miltronix

                              OK I ll take note of the date, but as mentionned, unfortunately, I am pretty tied up.
                              If I manage to free myself on this date, I ll let you know. Dont hold your breath though ...

          2. first time in Tokyo ? six hours to spend ? id definitively wouldnt spend it in Ginza ! and you dont need to spend 200 $ to have amazing sushi ! if i were you id head to quintessential area for a first Japan experience : Shibuya. You can easily spend 6 hours walking around from Shibuya to Harajuku sampling all kind of shopping from cool japanese stuff to high fashion stores on omotesando-dori. You get department stores and all. Make sure you check out the department stores basement, thats where all the good food is :) hope you have a great time !

            1 Reply
            1. re: nekojita1980

              "Make sure you check out the department stores basement, thats where all the good food is" I think you're posting on the wrong board...

            2. uncle yabai, i know my food. and yes in the basements of the big department stores in japan you can get excellent food especially japanese sweets and specialties from all across the country. and what makes you an expert on food ? especially japanese food ?

              1 Reply
              1. re: nekojita1980

                I wasn't aware of any "amazing sushi restaurants" at any depachika, but maybe I missed one. As for what makes me an expert on Japanese food, gee, I don't know. Having lived in Japan over a decade in total over the last 25 years, being fluent in the language, and being very particular about my food, especially Japanese food, I think would qualify.

              2. and yabai jiji for your info i didnt say to have lunch in the depachika, i recommended it because the poster is looking for furikake... and let the "taidou" at the door btw.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nekojita1980

                  It's taido, not taidou. But I'm sure you knew that.

                2. Probably a little over your budget would be Sawada in Ginza, which is my favorite, though if I recall it was around 25,000 JPY pp for sushi only lunch.

                  When I arrive on an early am flight I tend to head to Sushi Dai in Tsukiji, but since you are arriving to NRT, by the time you would get there there would probably be a bit of a line, but at ~$60 USD pp, it is great value, though the ambiance leaves a bit to be desired.

                  I find ginza to be austere and not nearly as much fun as other areas, but it does have good sushi and tempura.

                  For tempure I enjoy Dote no Iseya, but it is kind of out of the way.

                  Any chance to re-route your trip through HND - this would give you much more time in Tokyo?