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May 30, 2012 01:47 PM

Starting with Tokyo.

I have been reading the posts for days, translating menus and websites am soooo frustrated-- need help!!! Starting with Tokyo.
3 days in Tokyo - 2 in days Kyoto- 2 days in Osaka in July.
Starting with Tokyo.
Our hotel is in Maranouchi but we use public transporation. We are sophisticated, foodies, love really good food and have been to some of the best restaurants in the world. We like adult-like places but will go to a “hole in the wall” for really good food. We do not like sake, so drink is not an issue. We are willing to spend $100-150 per person for dinner, are not large eaters and usually grab something small for lunch (even pastry or ice cream). We are going to Japan for a total experience not just food BUT food is very important.
Tsukiiji breakfast: We eat sushi but do not have a conoisseur's palate. Where should we go? Sushi Dai, Daiwa Sushi or Takahashi? Dinner that night udon-soba etc? Where?
Ryugin has al a carte menu after 9PM. How does it work? What does it cost? Is it worth doing? If we don’t go here what suggestions do you have?
Does anyone know anything about Hortenisa (recent NY Times review) or Quintessence for dinner?
Yakatori for dinner- Birdland?
Will post other cities separately.

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  1. Sounds like you just want us to tell you where to eat among the standard tourist places we've covered a million times- Ryugin, Birdland, Tsukiji sushi. You're claiming to be sophisticated, willing to do hole in the wall places, and looking for the whole Japan experience, but then you cave into these touristy standards and a couple of French restaurants. Why don't you actually do some research and post an annotated itinerary? We can work off of that and help you from there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      Thank you for your comments. I am still a bit intimidated as I do not speak any Japanese and have not travelled in Asia.
      I did go back and look at yakatori reviews and particularly liked yours from a while ago about
      the sumptous chicken momo-yaki that is grilled with sea salt, over a cheap metal plate. Unfortunately there was no name for the restaurant. I am hoping you might share it with us.

      1. re: chowchap

        Toriei in front of Denenchofu Station ( but it seems to have taken a dive since the family patriarch passed away and the son took over.

    2. When you say you don't like sake - are you sure you have ever had any really good sake? Lots of sake sold in even quite decent restaurants outside of japan is pretty shocking, and I wouldn't like sake, either, if my experience was limited to that.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Asomaniac

        Actually, good sake is pretty easy to find outside of Japan, depending on where you are from. Maybe not the really fresh seasonal nama stuff, but it's come a long long way from the days where I had to heat the sake to make it palatable.

        1. re: killersmile

          Exactly, "depending where you are from". It's pretty easy to find if you are based in the right places, but it's not easy to find if you are based in the wrong place. The vast majority of places outside of Japan are still the wrong places. Hence my question if he has had really good sake. If he is based somewhere like San Francisco or New York, the answer may well be 'yes'. There are lots of places in the US where you can find good sake, but also lots of places where you will struggle. In Europe, sadly the situation is substantially worse than in the US. There are some decent places in London, but it is much harder in Continental European countries. Or, in the UK, anywhere outside of London.

          You can order good sake via the internet these days pretty much wherever you are based in Europe or the US (or Australia for that matter), but lots of people would not bother unless they have a specific interest in finding out more about sake. Many will just drink sake if they happen to be in a Japanese restaurant, and the offerings in such places can be pretty dire. And massively overpriced.

      2. For adult-like places, go to Kabukicho.

        1 Reply
        1. re: babreu

          That depends on your level of sophistication.

        2. Other than Hortenisa every restaurant you mention is extensively discused on the board. You say you have read those posts for days so I am not sure what additional information you are looking for about those places you mention.

          The sushi places have been discussed here so on the basis of what people have said you can make up your mind which of them seems most appealing to you. Birdland has been discussed extensively, as have other yakitori places so again, you should be able to decide which yakitori place of those discussed here sounds most interesting to you. People on this board seem to agree that Birdland does a lot of less than run-of-the-mill skewers (lots of organs etc) as part of a set meal - do you like that or do you prefer more conventional pieces of chicken you select individually yourself? Quintessence has been discussed extensively. Some people on this board absolutely love it, others think it's vastly overrated, and many say that the staff are quite arrogant. Again, all the information is here for you to make up your mind about the place, so I am not sure what additional info you are looking for when you ask, "do you know anything about Quintessence for dinner".

          The Ryugin website explains how the a-la-carte thing works (ie from 9pm as you say, bookings only on the same day, selection of 50 dishes etc). Not sure what individual items cost as it is not posted on the website.