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Jul 11, 2012 10:31 AM

Tokyo's Romantic Restaurants...

Hi Folks...

I'm interested to get your collective feedback on what are Tokyo's most romantic restaurants. Generally speaking, I'm thinking party of two, on a date, or a small group for an intimate occasion. To me, romantic may be a restaurant with a stunning view, a darker ambiance with candle lit lighting, fantastic service or private dining. Of course many other things would qualify as well.

I guess some of the choices which come to mind which I've experienced include:

NY Grill at the Park Hyatt - Especially with a table against the window. Splendid views, good service, live music in the evenings and a generally high class, classy ambiance.

XEX Atago Hills - Also for the views. There are Japanese and Italian venues plus the bar with live jazz. Not as classy as the NY Grill, and the food isn't quite up to snuff IMHO, but none the less, fairly romantic, candle lit and a nice experience.

Il Mulino - While not the favorite of many Japanese I've met, I find this restaurant with its classy NY ambiance, candles and roses on the table and great service to be incredibly romantic and a great experience. Despite how others may feel, I thoroughly enjoy the food here.

Ryugin - While not exceptionally exciting in terms of romance, there's something about the cozy interior and excellent service (not to mention the food!) which I think is still somehow romantic in a sense.

What other restaurants would you all recommend? I'm curious if folks would consider Les Creations de Narisawa and the Tapas Molecular bar to be romantic? I've also experienced Jiro and other high end sushi in Japan, but I wouldn't consider these places romantic despite the price and quality of food and service.

What do you all think?

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  1. It looks like you have simply picked places that are famous abroad (plus Il Mulino) even though there is nothing particularly romantic about them. There is nothing romantic about Ryugin (which restaurant I love, but romance = zero), and there is certainly nothing romantic about Les Creations de Narisawa or Molecular Tapas Bar.

    For cosy and romantic, I would try some of the very small and rustic French places, like for example A ta Geule in Ebisu, or perhaps Le Recamier in terebi Asahi doori. If you like it classy and more grand, Ristorante Aso (to mention one for which you will find many reviews in English) is good (although the food quality has declined considerably in recent years).

    I find many of the top Japanese places the exact opposite of romantic - first of all, they are very spartan and bare, plus in Japan you tend to have very bright lighting in many restaurants. This applies to pretty much all of the top kaiseki places and sushi places. I don't mind it, presentation is great here and I like to see what I eat (London is the exact opposite where often restaurants are so **** dark that you can't read the menu), but romantic it ain't. Places can be cosy because often they are small, just a few seats, and you get to form a relationship with the chef, which is really fantastic and unique, but I would not call it romantic.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Asomaniac

      Here's an update on A ta Gueule in Ebisu--they moved all the way out to Kiba. I liked it when they were in Ebisu; it was indeed romantic.

      1. re: filmnoirfan

        That is odd. From the pictures it looks like they have completely changed the concept (bright and modern?? Train-compartment-like...?). What a shame. So they have actually moved rather than opened a branch?

        1. re: Asomaniac

          I loved the food at the old A Ta Gueule, but wasn't very fond of their dining room. The room was so small that you were basically sharing your meal with whoever happened to be sitting at the other two tables, and the room would periodically fill up with smoke whenever the ventilation system was inadequate for something the chef was grilling.

          Apparently the chef always wanted a restaurant with an "Oriental Express" theme (I think he worked on the real Oriental Express at one point), so the new place sounds like it would be nicer.

          Too bad (for me anyway) that it's way out in Shin-Kiba.

          1. re: Robb S

            Fair enough - matter of personal preference. I really loved the little dining room, found it quite cosy (always on the assumption that there was no loud fellow diner, but that never happened to me). I guess I got lucky in terms of avoiding heavy smokers as well.

            The Orient Express theme may be quite interesting and worth trying (though the new location is probably too far for me to do so, given the abundance of other great restaurants closer to home), but from the pictures on the internet, the new place doesn't look particularly cosy.

    2. After your meal at Tapas Molecular Bar you can enjoy drinks at the Oriental Lounge, which is even cooler than the NY Bar at Park Hyatt and potentially romantic.

      Ukai Toriyama's private rooms are also potentially very romantic, if you don't mind a trip to Takao.

      But a dinner and a night in a fine ryokan is the most romantic thing one can experience in Japan, imo (specially anywhere outside Tokyo, like Miyajima).

      6 Replies
      1. re: babreu

        Sure, sushi yasan, for slurping your cockle, are not the most romantic places !! Now if you are for the gorgeous appeal, I recommend you 'il bulgari il restaurante' in Ginza. There, I had a risotto of sea urchin that was just perfect, rice was firm as i love it !! Really loved that one, and the view is Chanel building !! So you will need a glass of champagne with this view !
        But, if she prefers to eat Japanese, I recommend the Tofu Ukai tei near the Tokyo Tower :

        1. re: Ninisix

          Having my cockle slurped actually sounds pretty romantic to me.

          Other than that I have nothing of value to add to this thread.

          1. re: kamiosaki

            Not bad. i have never heard it called that.

            1. re: Asomaniac

              while we are on this topic(food right?), just some fun expérience to share ! Actually, In a sushi-yasan you will be strained(price, chat difficulty), so to have fun even you want to impress, the best way will be to invite her with an event with 'this is the season of 'ayu(truite), and I have always wanted to try the new tranded French Florilege, it is on there menu this summer, are you interested ?'., Girls just love the words new, season, trend !! Then after for the mood, just go for a drink or at a jazz bar like blue note, then walk on Omotedando ?! 
              Or if you want your night to be longer as possible, take a cruise on the bay of Tokyo with a beer(summer only), then eat some good French bistrot at Nougat (good choice of wine, recommend food = pâté de tete frit, salade meli melo, carre d'agneau), and to finish your night try a cocktail on the Il Bulgari Bar on the upstairs floor !! 
              The cost is not that important in my opinion, the most important is not to choose the usual bistrot where every one recognizes you or the under 3.0tabelog restaurant, or a non theme date !

              1. re: Ninisix

                Thanks for all the replies, folks. Spent the last week in Tokyo. Despite what normally constitutes "romantic", we felt Narisawa was indeed quite romantic in the way we experienced it, at a corner table in the back with delightful service.

                On the other hand, I'd say that Tapas Molecular at the MO was hardly romantic given the bar style seating with other couples. Aaron, the new chef from the UK, made the experience enjoyable and fun but I won't be returning. It was good, but not great, and not a great value for the money.

                The main Aso was closed for a private party on the night I had free, so we went to Ginza Aso which was so-so at best.

                1. re: ainternational

                  Unfortunately your assessment of Aso is unsurprising. As I said, the food quality at Aso has sadly declined considerably (at both Asos). The main Aso is in quite a spectacular setting though, while the other, Ginza-based Aso is in a very modern setting, not romantic at all.

                  Tapas Molecular was never going to be romantic, but glad to hear you had a good time at Narisawa. Not my cup of tea, but everyone enjoys something different.

      2. Hi there, I just came back from Tokyo and want to suggest a romantic restaurant. I had a posting on here about it but as it was linked to my blog, it was unfortunately taken down. Anyways, I want to recommend Pierre Gagnaire where it's at the 36th floor of the ANA Intercontinental hotel. It's a very fancy hotel and it views the entire city at that high of the level with an amazing view of the Tokyo Tower. As mentioned by others and yourself, the high-End Japanese restaurants aren't exactly the romantic type when it comes to atmosphere. At Pierre Gagnaire, the waiter thought I was being hasty and said it was alright to take your time and enjoy the meal. The service there is amazing and of course the food is too as well. I would recommend ordering the Apinac menu with the seasonal premium main course of the Japanese Beef Tenderloin topped with Uni. it's on their website if you google it. I hope this helps!