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Aug 23, 2012 11:31 AM

No Raw Fish Please, Looking for Tokyo Recomendations

I will be visiting Tokyo for the first time October 24-28 and I do not eat raw fish so sushi, even the vegetarian kind, and sashimi are out for me. I have to admit I am a bit overwhelmed by Japanese food in general especially since I don’t speak the language. Although I enjoy food from all over the world, I am concerned about eating in Tokyo, although I know I should not be. That is why I need your help! I need restaurant recommendations for tonkatsu, tepenyaki, noodle places (udon, ramen or yakisoba), shabu-shabu yakitori tempuram and any other Japanese food that is cooked and that you would recommend. Mid to high range prices would be fine, but I am also willing to visit hole in the wall places. We will be staying in Chiyoda but plan to travel around the city so if there is a food find, I am willing to travel to it. I hope my preconceived ideas about eating in Tokyo change once I return from my trip. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. I highly recommend visiting Gyoza Stadium which is located in Namjatown, a two-story indoor amusement park in Sunshine City, Ikebukuro. Most of Gyoza Stadium is filled with small counters offering gyoza. In addition, there is a sit-down place squeezed into the corner that has a larger menu with many Japanese comfort foods you are looking for. Namjatown itself is something to see, you are thrown into a world quite different than what you could find at home.

    This a decent blog post about it:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Steve

      Not only do they have a few types of gyouza (pot stickers) for you to try, but there's also a whole ice cream section with some flavors that the average consumer may posit are a bit "out there." ...for example, viper ice cream: . BUT, the ice cream does come from Japanese creameries, so there are wasabi/yuzu (a citrus fruit)/a slew of other flavors to try that aren't just there to say you've tried it.

      To keep in the theme of buildings where you can try a variety of "one" thing, the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum ( lets you partake in regional variants of the noodle soup. Though, that's a whole separate city, depending on where you are in Tokyo, it is most likely under an hour's train ride away.

    2. There are all you can eat shabu-shabu and sukiyaki restaurants which are always fun. There is one in Shibuya, on the 8th floor in the building next to the Disney Store. It's called Nabezo and they do take reservations, which may be needed. They are also open only for dinner. There is an English menu so no worries. It's also very reasonably priced for the deal you're getting.

      If you are looking for traditional Japanese style bar food/atmosphere, try Gonpachi. It's an izakaya restaurant in Nishi Azabu, right near Roppongi. They have grilled sticks of yakitori and really good soba. It's pretty famous and they were in the movie Kill Bill. It's pretty pricey but it's worth the visit.

      If you're looking for a really good ramen, I recommend Jangara in Harajuku. There are other locations but I have been to the one in Harajuku only. They have a really good Tonkotsu/veggie broth mix which is very rich and tasty. The taste is very clean, which you will not find at cheaper ramen places. (There is no porky after taste) It's on the more expensive side for ramen but it's still only in the 1000yen price range. fo

      There are lots of small eateries and restaurants skattered all around Tokyo. It's fun just exploring around and choosing a place that seems good. Good luck!

      9 Replies
      1. re: mylord

        "If you are looking for traditional Japanese style bar food/atmosphere, try Gonpachi." Or better yet, don't. "It's pretty famous and they were in the movie Kill Bill" and "that's where Koizumi took Bill for dinner" are polite Japanese for "stay away."

        1. re: Uncle Yabai

          While I agree that it isn't somewhere that is truly Japanese, the food is pretty good and is a little more gaijin friendly, especially for a visitor who can't speak or read Japanese.

          1. re: mylord

            "that it isn't somewhere that is truly Japanese"

            I'm really confused - what does that even mean? What about Gompachi do you think makes it not "truly Japanese"? If it's not truly Japanese, then what is it?

            1. re: Robb S

              Sorry if I'm not expressing myself clearly. Gonpachi is a Japanese restaurant, truly Japanese (poor choice of words there on my part), but it is more tourist friendly, as opposed to a hole in the wall place that might not cater to foreigners.

            2. re: mylord

              Actually, the food is noticeably mediocre, the service stinks, and just too much attitude to deal with the place at those prices and with that food quality.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                To me, Gompachi is the Crappy Trinket Souvenir Store of restaurants in Tokyo.

                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  No one goes there anymore... it's crowded with tourists.

                  1. re: E Eto

                    So I guess...(English-speaking) tourists go there? Maybe some of those tourists have found themselves sifting through pages of chowhound as well?
                    I have never been though (no need to), but the fact that it's near a falafel place and an Italian restaurant that once served AYCE blueberry waffles is less of a reason to check it out.

                    1. re: BuildingMyBento

                      Actually, those that sifted through pages of Chowhound would not be found at Gonpachi. It is pretty much crapped on in this forum, and for good reason.

          2. 1) Not sure why your dislike for raw fish should rule out "even the vegetarian kind".... The vegetarian sushi lunch at Potager is quite good:

            2) Butagumi in Nishi-Azabu for tonkatsu.

            3) It's spelled "teppanyaki". I'd suggest Hamayu in Daiba, or Yebisu in the Westin Hotel in Ebisu.

            4) Noodle places are udon, ramen and soba. Yakisoba isn't really a restaurant thing. Udon isn't so much a Tokyo dish, but Konaya is amusing.

            5) Ippudo in Ebisu for ramen. Or, a thousand other places.

            6) Narutomi in Ginza for soba.

            7) Banyou in Nishi-Shinjuku for shabu-shabu.

            8) Bird Land in Ginza for yakitori if you like raw chicken and weird chicken parts; otherwise Kokekokko in Nishi-Shinjuku.

            9) It's "tempura", not "tempuram". Motoyoshi in Gaienmae.

            10) for other Japanese food, most people go to izakaya far more often than they go to specialty shops like teppanyaki or tempura. Do a search on Chowhound for izakaya....

            1. Somehow, seeing this thread makes me recall the ads for Benihana in fancy U.S. magazines during the early 70s. The headline said it all.

              "Raw Fish? It's Not Even On The Menu!"

              I am sure the collective sigh of relief from middle America was deafening.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Tripeler

                My recollection is that Benihana is owned by a Japanese guy who doesn't like Japanese food.

                1. re: PAO

                  Well, the guy who started Benihana in the U.S., Rocky Aoki, passed away a few years ago.

                  1. re: Tripeler

                    Rocky Aoki was from Ninhonbashi. There is still a Benihana restaurant where I believe his family's shop was before and after the war. During the early post-war era, when he was still a teenager, Aoki was popular with the local kids because he could get meat (beef) from his father's shop.

                    As for the food, I don't l know: I do not eat beef.

              2. Worrying about eating in Japan because you don't do raw fish or sushi is like worrying about visiting US because you don't eat steak. I don't mean to knock people who ask these questions, because obviously they haven't been to Japan and they have no idea. But sushi, tenpura, tonkatsu, yakitori and ramen comprise a small fraction of the eating experience in Japan. Now that the OP is back from Japan, I'm curious to hear his new perceptions of eating in Tokyo.