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Sep 4, 2012 09:21 AM

Tokyo Itinerary – Food and Drink Input, Please

I’ve been working on my itinerary for Tokyo. I don’t usually pin things down on a day by day basis but with so many, many different things to see and do, I wanted to try and group things by area in advance, rather than wasting time backtracking across the city or dithering about what to do next.

I’ve indicated initial food and drink decision points with *** and wonder if you have any general or specific thoughts?

I know there are many with "no idea" but am finding myself stuck, so pointers on taking this forward would be helpful. Suggestions may be for specific places, but could equally be that "X area has a lot of decent tempura places, you can pick one on arrival" type...

My intended food / drinks budget per person per day is 6,000 Yen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So I guess dinner budget is maybe 3,000 Yen per person.

I’m hoping I can work with that as an average, and go over and under on various days. I know many of the restaurants often discussed here are vastly over my budget, even as high as 25,000 Yen per person. Obviously, I am not even looking at those. I do have lee way to include a couple of splurges, but I’m talking of a few thousand extra Yen per person for a meal.

The couple of bars I’ve listed, I can probably pull budget from the sightseeing budget for those, not that it’s very high!

Day 1
-- Land Narita 7pm
-- Travel to hotel Tokyu Stay Higashi Ginza(2 nights)
*** -- Dinner: ?? Near hotel so in Tsukiji outer market, maybe soba or ramen?

Day 2
-- AM Tsukiji market (tour, breakfast sushi, browse of outer market, photos)
*** -- Breakfast: ?? Sushi Zanmai or other
*** -- Lunch: ?? Like look of Miyagawa Honten but husband won’t eat eel so may have to skip it.
-- Afternoon: plans not set yet, perhaps a walk in Hama Rikyu, or head out further afield in Tokyo
*** -- Dinner: ?? Monja Hazama or Tsukiji outer market area again?

Day 3
*** -- Breakfast: ?? In Tsukiji or at Tokyo Station
-- Early departure to Takayama
*** -- Could stop at Liquors Hasegawa en route to Tokyo Station?

Day 14
-- Arrive back in Tokyo approximately 6 pm, staying in Dormy Inn Asakusa (4 nights)
-- Evening walk around Asakusa
*** -- Dinner: ?? In Asakusa, near hotel

Day 15 (Sunday)
Either a day trip to Nikko OR as follows:
*** -- Breakfast: ?? Near hotel in Asakusa or on arrival at Harijuku?
-- Harijuku (cos-play teens)
-- Omotesando Hills - Daiso Harajuku (large 100 Yen shop), Oriental bazaar souvenir shop
*** -- Lunch: Maisen Jingumae branch (Luiz/ Meemalee recommended tonkatsu, in ex bath house)
-- Yoyogi Park (one of largest city parks, ginko tree forest pretty in Autumn)
-- Shibuya (see iconic Hachiko and Hachiko's crossing)
*** -- Drinks: Craftheads Brewers
*** -- Drinks: Nikka’s Blenders Bar
*** -- Dinner: ?? No idea at all

Day 16
*** -- Breakfast: ??
-- In / near Shinjuku
-- Morning shopping/ browsing especially in department stores and maybe a 100 yen place
*** -- Lunch ?? No idea at all
-- Tocho Tower
-- Afternoon XXXXXXXXX
*** -- Drinks at Zoetrope whisky bar
*** -- Dinner in Piss Alley

Day 17
*** -- Breakfast: ??
-- Skytree + shopping centre
-- Asakusa (have spent some time already)
*** -- Lunch: ??
-- Kappabashi dori
-- Possibly Akihabara but scheduled last so can skip if too late/ tired
*** -- Dinner: ??

Day 18
*** -- Breakfast: ??
-- Early morning, leave for Narita airport

I know people usually list specific restaurants in their itinerary when asking for feedback, but as I'm on a lower budget, I am struggling to get to that.

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  1. Darn, spent ages on and that and missed a question:

    Have also noted down Patisserie Potager and Ebisu as potential food experiences, would appreciate feedback on both as well as ideas on where they might best fit into itinerary.

    19 Replies
    1. re: Kavey

      Patisserie Potager is fun; don't know if it's worth a special trip (although Sushi Potager might be).

      Ebisu is the name of a neighborhood. There are probably dozens of Tokyo restaurants with that name as well, but it might help to include a location, description or phone number.

      1. re: Kavey

        Tokyo isn't much of a breakfast town, but there are a few new trendy cafes that have recently opened. Is your breakfast goal to eat Japanese breakfast every day, or Western, egg-focused breakfast, or a European-style pastry-centered snack, or a quick onigiri from the convenience store? Japanese breakfasts are served in hotels and in family restaurants for the most part.

        *** -- Dinner: ?? Near hotel so in Tsukiji outer market, maybe soba or ramen?

        Narutomi is a nice choice for soba.

        *** -- Dinner: ?? Monja Hazama or Tsukiji outer market area again?

        YMMV, but I wouldn't waste one of my 17 dinners in Japan on monjayaki. Pretty much anything else would be a better choice, IMHO.

        *** -- Could stop at Liquors Hasegawa en route to Tokyo Station?

        To buy whiskey? For a tasting?

        *** -- Drinks: Craftheads Brewers

        Just called Craftheads - an excellent choice!

        1. re: Robb S

          Hey Robb
          Thanks for your help! :-)

          Breakfast: we'll probably look for a mix.
          Elsewhere in the itinerary (at Takayama, Nara, Koya, Miyajima and first two days in Kyoto, we have breakfast included at the ryokans and some offer choice of Japanese and Western, so we'll probably go for Japanese most of the time there).
          I'd say a European-style pastry snack would be great, as we're not heavy breakfast eaters. I'd eat onigiri any time anywhere but fairly confident that's a step too far for breakfast, for my other half!
          Is it easy to find patisseries/ coffee shops serving pastries and coffee for breakfast? I.e. there are enough of them that I don't need to note down specific places and we can just look around local area, wherever we happen to be?

          I'll look for Narutomi, or do you have handy link by any chance? Any other recommendations for soba, udon or ramen in or near Tsukiji outer market?

          Good to know on monjayaki, we're not fixed on that, just read about it for first time here on Chowhound recently. So, other ideas for dinner? Again preferably right within the Tsukiji outer market, if possible.

          Liquors Hasegawa would be for tastings with view to buying. Need to find out their opening hours and what kind of tastings they do, can you help?

          Craftheads, good to know. Husband is a home brewer as well as (hobby) beer/whisky blogger so I know he'd enjoy the visit.

          Re Patisserie Potager, that's my query too - looks great, but out of way from other sites I've listed to visit, can't quite work out whether worth a trip out. Not come across Sushi Potager, can you tell me any more? Same address?

          Ebisu, yes know it's a neighbourhood, was under impression was a little along lines of Piss Alley, not in terms of what it looks like or size/ design of the places but that there are roads there that are chock block of small and inexpensive eateries. That said, I'm going off the idea as I find stools rather than chairs hard on the back and hate eating standing up too.

          Also looking for:

          Dinner recos in Asakusa, nearer Dormy Inn by the station, the better.
          Dinner reco near Craftheads and Nikka Blenders Bar.
          Lunch reco in Shinjuku.
          Lunch in SkyTree mall or in Asakusa

          Thanks again,

          1. re: Kavey

            Kavey, you're welcome!

            Breakfast can be hit or miss - you can usually find a coffee shop with some sort of pastries, but often they're not very good. Here are some recommended places:

            Here's the data for Narutomi:

            As for other dinner ideas, I'm always in favor of visiting a nice izakaya and choosing lots of little dishes. While you're in Higashi-Ginza I'd suggest walking northwest a few blocks towards Ginza, where you'll run into a bigger variety of restaurants compared to Tsukiji (i.e. not mostly sushi). Or others here might have suggestions. I always like Nagamine ( ), although at Y5000 it's a bit over budget. Perhaps balance that with a ramen night at the special branch of Ippudo ( ).

            Here's some data for Hasegawa: (not to be confused with the sake-specialty Hasegawa inside the station).

            Here's the info for Potager sushi shop, which serves vegetable sushi: . I'd recommend lunch, not dinner.

            Nearish to Craftheads, you might like the simple grilled dishes at Nana: file:///c:/web/sites/tfpnew/rev/2518.html

            About ten minutes from Nikka Blender's Bar is the excellent chicken specialist Torimikura:

            1. re: Robb S

              You sir, are full of magic. Thanks x

              1. re: Robb S

                I thought Craftheads was a nice place to catch up on American craft beer but not necessarily on the Japanese craft beer scene. Maybe it's worth tossing Popeye Club into the mix. Could be combined with a trip to Edo Museum.?.?... Also, isn't there a new place in Shibuya called Good Beer Faucets? Any thoughts on that place?

                1. re: Silverjay

                  Oh, that's a good point actually - I appreciate Craftheads for the US beers, but I guess they have only around four or five Japanese varieties (all well chosen though). For exploring Japanese craft beers, Watering Hole in Yoyogi might be a better bet.

                  I like Good Beer Faucets for their enthusiasm, but I've had some very mediocre beers there - it's pretty hit or miss IMO.

                  1. re: Robb S

                    4 or 5 Japanese varieties is interesting too - are they regular ones you can buy anywhere, or self-brew, microbrewery style, do you know?

                    Not sure we'll get to Yoyogi but will look it up.

                    Any other beer recos within our main areas (as above) very welcome.


                    1. re: Kavey

                      I recommend Craft beer BAR Ant 'n Bee in Roppongi, it's not too far from Tsukiji; they specialize in Japanese micro brews.

                      六本木5-1-5, Minato-ku, Tokyo
                      +81 3-3478-1250

                      1. re: Kavey

                        "4 or 5 Japanese varieties is interesting too - are they regular ones you can buy anywhere, or self-brew, microbrewery style, do you know?"

                        Neither. They're unusual craft beers from small breweries around Japan - sometimes Craftheads is the only place in Tokyo where you'll see them, or they might be in one or two other bars around town.

                        As far as I know, there's only one place in Tokyo that serves beers that are brewed on-premises (TY Harbor in Tennoz Isle), although Watering Hole is planning to start sometime early next year.

                        Devil Craft in Kanda is another good place to try several different Japanese and US craft beers in the same place:

                        1. re: Robb S

                          Years ago I went to a Tengu that had it's own brewing operation. I can't recall where it was though. Might have even been in Kanagawa somewhere. This was many years ago.

                    2. re: Silverjay

                      Aah, that's good to know. I think Pete would enjoy American beers to (we're Brits, we can get many American beers here but perhaps it'll be a different selection) but had hit upon Craftheads as had impression they brew their own beer too?

                      Will look up Good Beer Faucets (or please let me know if you have a link).

                      Any other Japanese beer recos welcome.

                      1. re: Kavey

                        Generally places that brew their own beer on premises aren't particularly brewing anything of distinction...Not sure if Craftheads does their own thing or not...

                        Baird Beer, which is the best or one of the best craft brewers in Japan, has a couple of taprooms in Harajuku and Naka-Meguro. Might have opened others as well. They have a good variety of beers and also usually offer some one-offs.

                        I would consider looking into sake bars as well. I don't think any of the beer in Japan is going to be better than what you can get in England or the US, but I understand the interest in trying some.

                        1. re: Silverjay

                          Thanks Silverjay!

                          And now you mention Baird Beer, I realise I've come across that name before, in my reading. May be on a drinks blog that was recommended here on chowhound...

                          Neither of us a huge fan of Sake but understand there are some sake brewers worth visiting in Takayama, so will likely do so during our stay there.

                          Thanks again

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Silveryjay! I dont see you posting on the NYC forum lately. I thought you disappeared.

                      2. re: Robb S

                        I agree about breakfast. It is best just to get some small pastries or bread to just fill you until you can have lunch. Our hotels include breakfast but we just eat something small and save our appetites for better food at lunch.

                        1. re: quddous

                          Thanks, I think most of my hotel bookings (with exception of ryokans) don't include breakfast. A pastry would be perfect.

                      3. re: Kavey

                        I wouldn't dismiss monjayaki so easily. It is, after all, one of the true local Tokyo cuisines that you don't find anywhere else in Japan. It was a standard of dagashi (candy) shops (kind of an equivalent of the soda fountain counters in the US, like at the old Woolworth's) in the Shitamachi neighborhoods and still carry on that tradition, and then some. On my most recent trip to Tokyo, I was accompanied by a chef's family who grew up in the Shitamachi area, and got a great monjayaki tour. For a first time visitor, the drawback is the obstacle of finding a good place and then preparing it right yourself, since it is do-it-yourself style cooking. I would advise against it for that reason. But if you're looking for an authentic and unique local blue-collar style eating experience, then I say go for it.

                        1. re: E Eto

                          It's difficult though, as some places are just as easy to get a good experience on own, and others really need that local expert guidance!

                          I wouldn't have a clue how to prepare it myself.

                          Would it be best to find somewhere that does it for you ... or muddle through myself?

                  2. I would really try to visit the Shinjuku Isetan Food Level (Basement) where they have branches of some of the best pastry masters in the world.

                    I would also include ramen somewhere in the itinerary. You can search the board for suggestions. I personally love Mutekiya in Ikebukuro and have been to a few others I like but whose names I do not know. Komen is good too but Mutekiya is much better.

                    We also enjoy Soup Stock and Matsuya quite a bit for quick meals. I have them at least once each on every trip.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: quddous

                      I have Isetan food level on my list already, one of the places we're definitely going to visit on our Shijuku shopping day. Good to have further corroboration of that.

                      I like ramen, so will definitely have some during the trip, but OH doesn't love noodle soup so will likely prioritise noodles served without soup...

                      Will check the places you've named, too, thank you. If you have links for them would be grateful, if not will google.

                      1. re: Kavey

                        There are versions of ramen where the noodles are served separately - Tsukemen. My wife did not like ramen until she tried it in Japan. Now she wont stop making me go eat it everyday (we had ramen for dinner last night actually)

                        1. re: quddous

                          Here two links for breakfast in Ginza-Yurakucho (one station from Tsukiji) :  
                          GINZA - KIMURAYA CAFÉ 2nd Floor (openfrom 10:00 to 21:00)
                          YURAKUCHO KOKUSAI FORUM KOBEYA (open from 7:30 to 21:00
                          Soba, my reference is Hosokawa. And, recently I have had a great dessert made from fig compote and topped with soba seeds !! Recommended !!
                          RYOGOKU near Edo Museum  -SOBA HOSOKAWA (open from 11:45 to 15:00/17:30 to 20:45
                          ..And my favorite beer is the Beard Rose Amber Ale. 
                          HARAJUKU access from Takeshita Street - BAIRD BEER (open from 17:00 to 24:00
                          As you are a connoisseur, here a link with some reviews in English :

                          1. re: Ninisix

                            Brilliant, thanks. Love figs so that sounds good.
                            And thanks for the beer reco too.

                          2. re: quddous

                            Aah, thanks, I can look out for that. :-)