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Oct 14, 2012 09:41 AM

Ultimate foodie trip TOKYO DEC 2012!!

Hey Guys,

Calling out all big time foodies!! I am planning a trip to Tokyo this December for 5 days, and am hoping some of you can help me decide which restaurants I should go to. I've been going to Tokyo almost every year the past 6-7 years and am quite familiar with the restaurants there. So I would like to get your opinion on the following restaurants and would appreciate if you could highly recommend me some of the best restaurants!

Am planning on having 3-4 sushi meals, 2-3 Japanese, 1 tempura, 1 Italian and 1 French.

For sushi I always go to Sushi Kanesaka, Sushi Matoi (#1 in my book, but super pricey) and Sushi Ko Honten. I thought about going to Jiro but I had a terrible experience at Mitzutani and I heard from my friends that Jiro is quite overrated. Would be great if you guys can help me out here. (below are 4 restaurants I have never been that I am considering along with Kanesaka and Matoi)

Sushi Araki
Sushi Sawada
Sushi Yoshitake (not quite sure as it went from 0-3 stars all of a sudden and I heard that there might be something fishy about it)
Sushi Saito (heard it is similar to Kanesaka as the chef used to work there)
Sushi Umi (cheapest out of the 4, but i hear its of a different style. not exactly super fine dining type of sushi restaurant)

Read many posts on the forum but still not sure which ones better as there are many mixed opinions.
Ryugin? (heard from friends and read from the forums that many people have mixed feelings regarding this place)
Ginza Okuda? (heard its opened by the chef at Koju and he is there for lunch)
Takazawa? (not sure if u can consider this japanese as its very contemporary but i heard its a must go?)

Always go to Ten Ichi main shop in Ginza. Also been to Rakutei.
Kondo? (heard its good but how does it compare to the other two? planning to go for lunch)

Argento Aso (been many times and never disappointed)

Went to Robuchon, while it was good, it didnt WOW me.
Quintessence? (went to San Pau from the same group with 2 stars but was quite disappointed)

also what are your views on Esaki, ishikawa and hamadaya?

Would appreciate if any foodie can kindly give their opinions on the restaurants I listed. Would also be great if any of you have better suggestions / recommendations. Thanks SO much guys!!

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  1. oops sorry just realized i forgot to include Sushi Mitani, Sushiso Masa and Sushi Araki to the list. Thanks again guys!!

    1. Like Sushi Araki, which debuted at 3***, the current Sushi Yoshitake opened in 2010, so it's natural that Michelin awarded its stars one year after.

      Sushi Saito's style might be similar to Kanesaka's in style, but the flavour is very different, imo. I like it much more than Kanesaka.

      Chef Okuda, of Koju, owns Ginza Okuda, not Ginza Toyoda. He also owns a sushi restaurant in ginza.

      L'Osier is closed for good. Chef Bruno Menard now works in Singapore.

      5 Replies
      1. re: babreu

        Thanks for the prompt reply. So which ones would you recommend me? coz there are sooo many mixed opinions, especially on sushi / japanese..

        1. re: jmui852

          I haven't been to Yoshitake or Umi yet. Maybe you should also consider Hatsunezushi (2**, my backup if I can't make a reservation at Mitani in november).

          Or Sushi Nakamura...

          Takazawa is more french than japanese. It's excellent, but... I'm bored with this kind of restaurant. If you want more ideas: Den (**, currently #1 restaurant in Tokyo on Tabelog), Seisoka (**, loved my meal there last year, going back in november), Koju, Ishikawa...

          1. re: babreu

            whats mitani? dont think i have heard about it? how does it compare to my list? i think im gonna do sawada, saito and 2 more.... so i guess its down to araki / yoshitake / mitani / umi? can u email me at so it would be easier to talk? thanks so much!!

            1. re: jmui852

              Sushi Mitani in Yotsuya. Probably the toughest reservation in Tokyo.

              1. re: babreu

                I will try to answer a little ... I did not try sushi Umi, sushi Mitani, sushi Hatsunezushi. As I heard, sushi Mitani is only through recommendation by customers, or else on waiting list, but at a despairing 6 months queue minimum. Hatsunezushi, I did not try either, its specialities are the zuke nigiri (lightly maritanated).  
                Edo period sushi is basically the root of all modern sushi, even if, at that time, there were different sushi styles, like the one on the stands or sushi for the daimyo. The taste, the way to eat, the status changed.  As for me, it took me time to realise it, but sashimi feels really better with some shari(rice), so that is why I focus on nigiris. Nigiris at sushi Araki are really good, but sushi Araki will close at the end of the year, and it is impossible to book. Saito-san loves to cook, he is an apprentice of sushi Kuybei and of sushi Kanesaka, and did work for Kanesaka before becoming independent. He is better than Kenasaka, but still not the best nigiri in my opinion. He is friendly and speaks English. Sushi Yoshitake is certainly not fishy! The nigiris are richer than at many other sushi, red vinegar is used and works on preparation is quiet elaborate, to marry with the taste of vinegar. The crab appetizer is served with its eggs and that might be the sea impact on the meal !

      2. Re Sushi:
        Sushi Araki was already full till January 2013 when i tried to book a month ago for Nov reservation. Sushi Mitani left me on waiting list for Nov when I tried to book in August. I gave up last month on Mitani when I checked again and they told me they are booked till Sept 2013 (yes, no typo error there). One Taiwanese blogger, who had tried most of the top rated sushi, raved so much about Umi but then they will accept reservation if only you speak Japanese language or a regular there. So that will probably leave you with Yoshitake and perhaps Umi (if you speak Japanese). You may want to consider Dai San Harumi (which many raved here) or Sushi Shio (which I like a lot for their different varieties).

        Re Japanese:
        You may want to elaborate the style of your preference. Ryugin and Takazawa tend to be more artistic than others. Are you looking for value for money? Traditional style? Modern style? Those that pay more attention to ingredients? Ishikawa is a no brainer; I think his apprentice has started Den, which is the hottest new restaurant now.

        My top choice is Yokota.

        May want to try Aroma Fresco for a change.

        My favorite is Quintessence, followed by Edition Koji Shimomura and Florilege.

        24 Replies
        1. re: FourSeasons

          Hey guys, thanks a lot for the suggestions! the following is a tentative list of restaurants we plan on going (btw we postponed our trip to jan 10-14.. so i guess reservation shouldnt be a problem?)

          ginza okuda
          sushi araki
          argento aso
          empty slot

          sushi saito
          sushi sawada
          sushi umi

          i am debating whether i should go with my current list of sushi restaurants.. because at the same time im quite tempted to try sushi yoshitake (they just opened up in hk but it is twice the price than the tokyo store with inferior ingredients.. its menus start at 25,000 yen - 45,000 yen). but im not sure if i were to try sushi yoshitake which one i should drop. also right now i have araki for lunch, do u guys think i should do saito / sawada for lunch instead? (umi only serves dinner... is there one out of the 3 that serves super quickly? id rather have a 1.5 hour lunch / 2 hour dinner as opposed to being rushed out within 20 mins as i did with mitzutani...)

          i also have 1 empty slot.. am thinking about tempura but then while i find it good it doesnt really wow me and id rather go to a place that would blow my mind. my friends said ryugin is overrated and they also have one in hk so im looking to find something really different and special to fill in that slot. do u guys have a suggestion? doesnt hv to be japanese but then i kinda already have aso and takazawa (italian and french/japanese i guess). i was thinking either a kaiseki / unagi restaurant... would u guys recommends obana or nodaiwa or kabuto (how do they compare to chukuyotei which i have been?)?

          just want something that really kicks ass! thanks so much guys!!!

          1. re: jmui852

            How long is dinner at Kabuto? 60-90 minutes? We have a reservation at 5 pm (right when it opens).

            Just trying to make sure we'll have enough time to get to Haneda Airport for a 11:55 PM flight.

            1. re: CJD2008

              Easy. Even if you eat for 3 hours you're still going to be at Haneda before 10pm.

          2. re: FourSeasons

            could u please kindly provide the link of that taiwanese bloggers blog? thanks so much!

            1. re: FourSeasons

              re: Den

              I called to try to make a reservation for the last week of December a while ago, and was told that they only take reservations up to two months in advance.

              1. re: akated

                Guys I just got off the phone with the hotel concierge and he basically said they won't be able to book yoshitake sawada until dec 1. And that saito is almost impossible for them even of they call the first day they accept reservations. So I am just wondering how u guys managed to secure ur booking at these three sushi restaurants. Should I try calling myself before dec 1? Would that work?

                1. re: jmui852

                  Better to remind your hotel a day before, and confirm your schedule, a day open is better to adjust the reservation, finalize and post if necessary.

                  1. re: Ninisix

                    I so far reserved
                    Sushi Kanesaka (Lunch)
                    Kyubey Ginza (Lunch)
                    and Maru Kaiseki
                    I want one sushi dinner that is not too expensive, perhaps under 15K per person because my parents are not sushi lovers like me.

                    How much Yen is Aoki, Umi? which one do you recommend Ninisix, or others?

                    1. re: rl123

                      Why don't at first invite them to a very good 'nigiri' sushi-yasan like sushi Iwa ? If they don't appreciate it, don't insist !! And try on your own, sushi like high end sushi Harutaka, Araki(until january),..

                  2. re: jmui852

                    Hi jmui852 I am travelling to Tokyo on january and have a question, on this depends my sushi choice, do kanesaka, matoi give you extra ponzu Sauce oy soy Sauce? Or you have to eat them with the small brushing they come. Thanks

                  3. re: akated

                    The concierge at the hotel where I will be staying informed me yesterday that they had managed to book Den for December 18 .So it is about 2 months in advance

                    1. re: Hanare

                      called saito myself and theyre fully booked for jan already.. omg..

                      guess ill swap saito with yoshitake... and hope i can secure a servation at araki for lunch... but just in case its fully booked as well, whats ur view on harutaka? hes my friends friend.. he highly recommended it but im not sure if hes biased..

                      also whats the best place for unagi? would u guys recommend nodaiwa / obana / chikuyotei (which i have been).. thanks guys!!

                      1. re: jmui852

                        not surprising that saito is fully booked for jan, since it's less than three months to your trip.

                        fyi, when i called three weeks ago, both daisan harumi and hashiguchi were available for the last week of december. maybe you can shortlist them as backups? haven't tried either, but the former is the darling of quite a few posters here, and the latter is ranked very highly in tabelog.

                        is nodaiwa good for winter? (not trying to be snarky; genuinely curious.)

                        1. re: akated

                          I see you mentioning tablelog quite a bit. What is it? And I can't seem to find it on google. thank you!

                          1. re: PorkGrind

                            It's a restaurant database / ranking site for Japan. But in Japanese only. You're spelling it wrongly btw, that's probably why you can't find it on google.

                          2. re: akated

                            Unagi Nodaiwa: wild unagi is from September to February, and the 'unaju (rice topped with unagi)' is an affordable 3000 to 5000 yen. For cheap cheap unagi, i go to the unagi local shop Unagi Inageya that has Osaka style unagi, Japanese style unagi (wafu unagi), and classic Tokyo style 'unaju'. The roots of unagi is at unagi Kandagawa, an old house, more difficult perhaps for beginners as it is difficult to pass orders. 

                            1. re: Ninisix

                              but where can i get the absolute BEST unagi.. if price isnt an issue.. coz there are so many michelin starred unagi restaurants and its really hard for me to find out which one is by far the best.. is there one that requires a reservations like 2-3 months in advanced?? since im going in jan i wont mind doing that...

                              1. re: Ninisix

                                so would u recommend chikuyote (which i have been) or nodaiwa or kandagawa? also on the first time we arrive the hotel in ginza at around 3.. is there anything amazing (but light) as we will be having dinner at around 8?

                                1. re: jmui852

                                  Unagi Nodaiwa has, I believe, correct for the price of ‘unaju’.  Now, if on your visit you are going to Akihabara, unagi Kandagawa is on the district, their unagi are cut on spot , roasted, then brushed with a home made sauce that is a bit salty so... put some ‘yuzu kosho(Japanese pepper)’ and you will have classic unagi. It takes about 45mn to prepare, so you will have to order appetizer..
                                  Ginza, at around 15:00 or 16:00, I will say, start your trip with a Japanese patisserie and tea, Kimuraya at front of the Mitsukoshi is easy to find..

                                  1. re: Ninisix

                                    which is the most famous patisserie / tea place? are there many places that require a booking weeks in advanced? thx

                                    1. re: jmui852

                                      Kimuraya is famous for their 'an pan' in front of the Mitsukoshi Ginza

                                      Henri Charpentier is a Kobe patisserie (2 blocks from Matsuya Deptstore): financiers, fruit macarons, crepe Suzette,..

                                      Japanese tea room Tsujiri at Tokyo station Daimaru bldg 10F : tea, matcha  ice parfait, ice warabi mochi(ask for ice!),.,

                                      Palet d'Or at Tokyo Station Marunouchi side, 1F Shin-Marunouchi Bldg : ice sparkling chocolate drink 'choco n'est ce pas?', lunch set with chocolate(until 14:00?) drink,..

                            2. re: jmui852

                              sushi Harutaka is apprentice to the famous Jiro-San... Sashimi are more traditional, but not less efficient. My recommendation is to book late, as the Ginza life get out. It used to have reservation till 23:00  - although I think he doesn't do if anymore - for ladies in kimono and their patrons...

                            3. re: Hanare

                              (re: den)

                              hanare: ah. i just checked their website, and they will be closed from 26th dec onwards, and i only reach tokyo on 25th night =(

                              1. re: akated

                                how is den in comparison to ginza okuda?

                        2. Hi jmui852, i believe you are from HK because Mui and 852. I am HK as well. I went to tokyo this summer with my girlfriend and I am going again this december with my parents!
                          I went to YOSHITAKE in the summer, the 21K Omakase, the appetizers were good but nothing mind blowing, and I am really a sushi lover, I love all the exotic fishes (aji, engawa, hirame, kuruma ebi, etc.) but the sushi in Yoshitake didn't impress me AT ALL, and I didn't like the red vinegared rice, its too sour.

                          I am going to Kanesaka this time, as well as Kyubey, I think you should give Kyubey a try.
                          I always wanted Saito but there are never seats.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: rl123

                            Hey guys,

                            Thanks so much for your messages.. so far i have secured the following:

                            Ginza Okuda
                            Sushiso Masa

                            Originally I really wanted to go to Sushi Umi (despite its low ranking on tabloelog all my friends who went absolutely loved it). However as I am not a native speaker I couldn't get a reservation. After reading some blogs on Sushiso Masa, I decided to give it a try as the head chef there used to work at Umi. However, last night I came across a few blogs on Sushi Sho (where the head chef of Masa also worked apart from Umi). Seems like there aren't too much information about him (he did compete in the Iron Chef and trained many successful chefs). Can someone please kindly provide me with some information regarding Sushi Sho? Should I choose it over Sushiso Masa? (I am kinda leaning towards it). Thanks!


                            1. re: jmui852

                              It is sushi Dokoro, sushi sho is in Yotsuya and is a reference for an alternative of sushi/sashimi. Sushi Dokoro Masa, I have heard about it, and did not have the chance to tried it, the counter is 4 seats. It is too difficult to book it, that is the reason of the Tabelog low rate 

                              1. re: Ninisix

                                what do u mean? i meant sushiso masa, not sushi dokoro masa. and the head chef at sushiso masa did work under keiji nakazawa of sushi sho in yotsuya. can anyone be kind enough to let me know what are their thoughts on sushi sho and also sushiso masa given that theres very little information on them (esp sushi sho)

                                1. re: jmui852

                                  More precisely, sushi-sho style is an alternance of nigiri/tsumami(appetizer)/sashimi, and 2 different shari(rice). The sushi-sho reference is also Sushi sho Saito, sushi sho Takumi(ex one star), this style depends on your drinks, it doesnt have my preference, so I recommend you to ask for the tsumami/sashimi at first, and finishing with the nigiri..  

                                  1. re: Ninisix

                                    so would u recommend it? how does it compare with the others in terms of the quality / overall experience? coz right now i hv sawada and yoshitake and desperately need to find a third one.. i also looked up miyako sushi but its at a lower price range (but has very good reviews on tablelog at no.2 right behind mitani which is impossbile to book). or do u hv other suggestions?

                                    1. re: jmui852

                                      No, personally, I don't really appreciate the style of sushi-sho, it is the reason why I recommend more to serve the tsumami/sashimi at start, then followed by the nigiri. I understand this style is working very well with persons who loves to have some alcohol.
                                      Recently, I enjoyed sushi Ookawahara for their long list of tsumami and sashimi, better that the sushi-so ones IMHO... So I won't continue to look at other sushi-sho.
                                      Mizako Sushi is classic sushi pieces, simple pieces, simple 'aji(horse mackerel)', simple 'uni(sea urchin)', ... This one I do recommend. But it is too izakaya like, so you should better go there with others, as you will have to order supplements to fully enjoy it. 
                                      My favorite are the nigiris of Sukiyabashi Jiro and Araki. Sushi Araki is open until January. The new one star sushi Ichikawa seems to be a sister of sushi Araki, and I am thinking to give it a try this month, even if it is a bit far from my place. Then, sushi Harutaka, on the Tabelog, it is having the same rates as sushi Mizutani right now, but will be easier to enjoy, unless you are an extreme sushi lover.. like me.

                                      1. re: Ninisix

                                        Ninesix, can you give some more info on the sister restaurant of Araki? Is that closed too or will it close?

                                        1. re: Roysen

                                          You are talking about the one star Michelin restaurant Ichikawa, right? By sister restaurant I assume you mean that the chef is an apprentice of Araki?

                                          1. re: Roysen

                                            Yes, this is sushi Ichikawa, one part is Araki San style, but still very different, here the full review :