HOME > Chowhound > Japan >

Discussion

Japan help?

  • 3
  • Share

My friend and I are going to Japan soon. We don't really have any specific destination or plans beyond landing at Narita and spending at least one day in Tokyo.
We both have JR passes and will really go anywhere we can to get great food.

I'm hoping that most of our meals will be under ¥1300 per person (is this reasonable?), but I'm willing to splurge on things that are really really good.
I've searched the board for a little while and also looked at bento and ramendb, but there is so much and our trip is so directionless, that it has been kind of overwhelming.
Also, I don't speak any japanese and my traveling companion speaks a very limited amount. How hard will this make eating at some of these places?

Here is what I know I want so far (I realize that most of the places I've listed are higher than my price point, but it sounds like they are worth it):

I want to go to Tsukiji. Is Sushi Dai far and away the best choice? I know I have to wake up early and wait in a line, but I'm ok with that.

Tonkatsu: Butagumi sounds incredible, but that's really all I have.

Ramen: I really want to try all different styles. In tokyo I've seen recommendations for Ramen Jiro and Warito. Ramendb's number 1 is translated as "a light ramen shop" (麺屋 一燈) how would I transliterate this? Is it worthy of being number one?
Also, the description of Mamezen Ramen in Kyoto sounds really interesting.
I'm really interested in finding a place with great shio ramen, also where in Hokkaido can I find the best miso butter ramen? Other regional recommendations?

Curry: Is it even worthwhile looking for curry? In Los Angeles, most curry places seem to use a packaged mix, (i.e. vermont curry) is it the same way in Japan?

Kobe beef: Do I actually need to go to Kobe to enjoy authentic incredible beef? (this is also something I'm willing to pay for) A couple of people recommend A-1, but my friend came back not too long ago and said that the meal he had at Mouriya was the best he ever had, yet I see no mention of it around here.

Traditional Japanese: Where can I go without having to spend ¥17000-20000 on a Kaiseki but still get traditional simple cooking/ingredients?

What else?
We will be staying in hostels, and as I said are willing to travel anywhere.
What do you love to eat in Japan?

Thank you in advance for anything

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Y1300 is a bit tight for dinner, but I'm guessing most lunches will be under Y1000 and certainly you can get breakfast at the convenience store for a few hundred yen. Of course you can always find something to eat for dinner for Y1300, but if you up it to around Y2000-2500 you'll have far more options, since it sounds like you're interested in food.

    For tonkatsu I'd recommend Katsukura - they're based in Kyoto but have branches in several cities, and they provide good value for money. In Tokyo Horaitei is a favorite of mine. Both are substantially cheaper than Butagumi (which is also very good).

    I will leave ramen and Tsukiji discussions for the experts here.

    Curry sounds like it would be much better here than in LA - every shop seems to have their own recipe. There's a long Tokyo curry thread in this forum somewhere, if you do a search.

    Kobe beef is just one brand name among many types of premium beef in Japan. However when you're in Kobe (and probably in other beef-producing districts too) it's much easier to find a shop where they don't make a huge deal out of the meal. In Tokyo a Kobe-beef-centered meal is typically rather luxurious, whereas you can find local shops in Kobe where you get a very nice cut of beef served as an ordinary meal, with a glass of cheap red wine, an iceberg-lettuce salad with French dressing, miso soup and rice.

    In Tokyo, Tanta Bocca is an Italian restaurant run by a meat company, and they do very nice A5-quality steaks at (relatively) reasonable prices (with very nice side dishes).

    Kaiseki is anything but simple cooking. If you want to experience kaiseki you can look for places that do lunches or "mini-kaiseki" service for under Y6000 - I've had lunch at Kikunoi Roan in Kyoto for around Y4000. Kyoto also has a local cuisine called banzai-ryori - lots of simple, home-style dishes made from good ingredients.

    What else? Go to inexpensive or mid-priced izakaya at dinnertime and sample lots of dishes. Himonoya is a chain that serves good grilled fish, and they have teishoku sets in the evening that are very cheap (like in the Y1200 range), to which you can add on a few interesting side dishes if you like. Tsunahachi is a chain of tempura restaurants with good value for money, especially at lunchtime. And be sure to try some regional cuisines, especially from Okinawa and Kyushu, which you might have trouble finding outside Japan.

    1. As usual, Robb is on the spot with specific recs. I can offer some general advice in [brackets] below...

      We both have JR passes and will really go anywhere we can to get great food.
      [The passes are a great deal if you use them effectively- i.e. travel to Kansai and beyond. You should reserve seats for each leg... And station bento boxes for long trips are kind of a culinary thing to look into.]

      I'm hoping that most of our meals will be under ¥1300 per person (is this reasonable?), but I'm willing to splurge on things that are really really good.
      [You can feed yourself for that amount but that is shoestring, budget territory for dinner. Probably need Japanese ability to navigate to really good stuff. We have done cheap eats threads (mostly for Tokyo). Do a search and set parameters to 5 years or more. You're probably looking at a lot of chain restaurants.]

      I've searched the board for a little while and also looked at bento and ramendb, but there is so much and our trip is so directionless, that it has been kind of overwhelming.
      [Everyone says this but the burden is on you to do the research. If you post itineraries, it's easier for the board to critique and provide support. Build a travel plan first and then a rough eating itinerary based on research and we can go from there. The more open you present your plan to the board (i.e. anything, anywhere type of requests) the less feedback you will get.]

      Also, I don't speak any japanese and my traveling companion speaks a very limited amount. How hard will this make eating at some of these places?
      [Most places do not have English menus nor English speaking staff, so it will be challenging. Do research, be polite, use some standard phrases. A little goes a long way in terms of language.]

      I want to go to Tsukiji. Is Sushi Dai far and away the best choice? I know I have to wake up early and wait in a line, but I'm ok with that.
      [There are a handful of tourist sushi destinations like Sushi Dai. Pick the one with the shortest line.]

      Ramen: I really want to try all different styles. In tokyo I've seen recommendations for Ramen Jiro and Warito. Ramendb's number 1 is translated as "a light ramen shop" (麺屋 一燈) how would I transliterate this? Is it worthy of being number one?
      [Ramen DB gets updated all the time. Pick any in the top 50 and they are probably very good to great. We have covered a lot of ramen shops here. Do a search. The popular places require queuing up and some are off the beaten path. So you may want to target shops near your touring destinations.]

      I'm really interested in finding a place with great shio ramen, also where in Hokkaido can I find the best miso butter ramen? Other regional recommendations?
      [The city of Hakodate in Hokkaido is known for shio-ramen. Sapporo is known for miso. Hokkaido stuff is well-covered on the internet.]

      Curry: Is it even worthwhile looking for curry? In Los Angeles, most curry places seem to use a packaged mix, (i.e. vermont curry) is it the same way in Japan?
      [Curry and Yoshoku have been covered here before. There is also a CurryDB site.]

      Kobe beef: Do I actually need to go to Kobe to enjoy authentic incredible beef? (this is also something I'm willing to pay for) A couple of people recommend A-1, but my friend came back not too long ago and said that the meal he had at Mouriya was the best he ever had, yet I see no mention of it around here.
      [Kobe is a nice city and if you have a rail pass, it's easy to get to. But I'm not sure it would be on the top of my go to recommendation list for foreign tourists. You might want to explore Takayama, which is interesting to visit and has equally as famous fatty Hida beef.]

      We will be staying in hostels, and as I said are willing to travel anywhere.
      [There are nice inexpensive business hotels that are probably of similar value as some hostels and have better locations and amenities. Might want to look into that. I often stay at the Dormy Inn chain. They are almost all brand new and many have a (free) onsen on the top floor. If you can book on the Japanese site, it is cheaper than the English in some cases.]

      1 Reply
      1. re: Silverjay

        Robb just published another handbook that i liked better !! Nice tips Robb ! And there is topic on all different eat in !
        So for sushi, I realised that Ginza has some better prepared sushi than Tsukiji for the same price. Sushi seems simple enough, but actually everything is thought carefully ! So try the lunchs at Ginza sushi-yasan, for exemple sushi Taichi lunch at 2500yens, you won't regret your 10mn walk !!
        For dinner, at 1300yens, just try the bukake udon Ne no Zu at Nezu, then the ogura ice nearby (ice of beans).

        SUSHI TAICHI - GINZA 
        http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1301/A13010...

        UDON NE NO ZU -NEZU (5-10 mn walk from near Ueno Pnzu
        )http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A13110...

        MONAKA ICE IMOJIN -NEZU (5-10mn walk from near Ueno
        )http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A13110...