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First time in Japan. Any suggestions?

s
setsuna22 Feb 19, 2013 12:29 AM

Hello! My husband and I are going to Japan in April for our honeymoon and I am trying to find some great places to eat!

We will be in Tokyo for 3 days, Hakone for 1, Kyoto for 3 days and Osaka for 2 days.

These are the types of foods that I know for a fact that I want to eat:
Soba
Ramen
Mochi
Sushi/Seafood
Yakitori
Takoyaki

But really, we are up for anything that's good and not too horribly priced! (I think around or under 3710 yen per person will be fine) So, if anyone has some suggestions, I would be happy to hear them!

Thanks!

  1. m
    mirdreams Mar 10, 2013 08:13 AM

    We went to Kyoto just before Christmas and I'm happy to share some highlights. We really enjoyed both Guilo Guilo (Y3900 pp) and Grotto (Y4500 pp) for dinner (they're both very reasonably priced modern takes on Kaiseki, multi course traditional Japanese meals, high end versions of which can run you $200-300 pp). At Guilo Guilo they don't have a lot of English, but enough so you can make a reservation and they can explain most of the dishes. At Grotto the chef worked in NY so he's happy to explain the dishes fully to you, though he's very modest about his language skills.

    We only went to Kanga-an (a Buddhist temple turned restaurant) to visit their speakeasish bar, which was written up in the Japan Times: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2009/01/30/food/an-intoxicating-temple-in-kyoto-2/#.UTyXDVeOVew. We went right when they opened and were the only people there, but make sure you go after dark as the lights are amazing. Next time I think we'll stay for a meal, I got the sense it would be amazing as well and not too pricy for Kyoto, though at Y5000 for lunch or Y9000 for dinner not cheap. Drinks were a bit pricey ($12? I think) but the view of the tranquil garden was completely worth it. The bartender at least had pretty good English.

    For a very different sushi experience I would check out Izuju (you can read about it here: http://kyotofoodie.com/izuju-best-kyoto-style-sushi/). Kyoto style sushi is different then the sushi we know, which originated around Tokyo. We went for lunch and ate a ton for about $35 total (in fact our waitress warned we were ordering too much food) but it would be a good dinner option as well. They have an English menu with pictures which helps.

    Izuju is the only one of these places I would recommend going to without a reservation. It seemed like it is very hard to go to a restaurant in Kyoto (or Japan in general) without having a reservation. Sometimes you'll even be asked what you will order before you go (this is usually in the case where there is several set menus from which to chose).

    For Ramen we didn't get a chance to go but I wanted to check out Gogyo Ramen, it's just off the covered market area and looked really cool, we just got there too late for lunch. We ate elsewhere in the market and it was good but I don't remember the name of the shop.

    Remember that there are lots of cool little opportunities to check things out and to discover things on your own. For example, there was a distinctive smoky tea we were served our first night in Kyoto at Guilo Guilo that my husband really loved so we asked the waiter about it. He said it was a Kyoto style of tea so we looked the name up online and found a local tea shop (http://www.ippodo-tea.co.jp) that had been around for 3 centuries where we could buy more (http://shop.ippodo-tea.co.jp/kyoto/sh...) and learn more about it (they have a great tea room, a little pricey and be prepared for a wait, but it's a real education). You may want to make your lunches more impromptu and just plan your dinners.

    For Tokyo I know a number of good places but I think they're going to be a bit beyond what you wanted to spend. You should definitely find one of the many 100 yen sushi go rounds, they're much nicer than in the States, you don't have to worry about the language barrier much as you just take looks good, they're a lot of fun, and you can both eat your full for about Y2000! (And usually that includes all the green tea you can drink).

    1 Reply
    1. re: mirdreams
      s
      setsuna22 Mar 10, 2013 02:28 PM

      Thank you SO much for the detailed suggestions! I have actually started going the route you suggested and started looking more into dinners than lunches. Or maybe only planning one place a day and letting the other just come as we find things. :)

      My hotel in Hakone is offering us a kaiseki dinner during our stay for about Y3500 so I will get an idea of that from my hotel. But, atleast if I want to try it again, I will have a few more choices to choose from! :) I'll also keep an eye out for Gogyo! I am planning on checking out the market actually so I will be in the area.

      Again, thanks for the suggestions!

    2. p
      PAO Feb 19, 2013 01:15 PM

      In Kyoto, you can get grilled mochi, filled with an, off the street in Nishiki Market. Otherwise, Japanese sweets shops are EVERYWHERE! (did you mean to include wagashi when you say "mochi"?) Ippudo ramen is very good, close to Nishiki. I also recommend in Kyoto Katsu Kura, for tonkatsu, which I've hated anywhere else I've had it in the US, but here it's wonderful and reasonably priced. It's in the Sanjo shopping arcade. All of these places are downtown.

      For izakaya, I strongly recommend Bamboo. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/kan... Tell them how much you want to spend and let them give you omakase! Bamboo is in Higashiyama, a district in Kyoto, close to the entrance of an old shopping arcade. There's a McDonald's close by.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PAO
        s
        setsuna22 Feb 19, 2013 01:27 PM

        I did not know about wagashi! I will definitely try it! The type of mochi I was thinking is the dumpling/rice cake type, not the ice cream type that you get here in the states. (Not that I am against that either, but its so hard to get the normal type here that I am really wanting to try some in Japan)

        Thanks for the other suggestions! I will definitely check them out, especially the tonkatsu place :)

      2. Robb S Feb 19, 2013 08:00 AM

        A few suggestions:

        1) Y3710 is a reasonable per-meal cost (I'm glad you're not limiting yourself to only Y3700!), especially if you aim for Y1000 at lunchtime and Y5710 for dinner. Or you might just want to up it a bit since it's your honeymoon and all. Stay in cheaper hotels if you have to and spend it on food!

        2) Skip your two days in Osaka and spend them in Tokyo instead.

        3) Widen your choices of cuisine. Check out some tempura, tonkatsu, unagi, and other specialty and regional cuisines, and visit several izakaya. Mochi isn't really a cuisine, just a snack you can pick up somewhere between meals. (Ditto takoyaki.)

        4) Tokyo has over 100,000 restaurants, so maybe narrow it down a bit by telling us where you're staying.

        5) Try the search function on this site; your questions have come up, and been answered, over and over.

        6) Gyoza Stadium is a lot of fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robb S
          s
          setsuna22 Feb 19, 2013 08:49 AM

          Robb:

          I am down for all food in Japan, really. That list is just certain things that I MUST try while there. I am open for any and all cuisine there.

          As far as Osaka goes, I have already booked my hotels and I am actually quite interested in going to Osaka. :)

          I will be staying at the following places:

          Tokyo Prince Hotel: Shibakoen Minato
          Lodge Fujimien: Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi
          Kyoto Kokusai Hotel: (dont know exactly which district this is, but it's right next to Nijo castle)
          Chisun Inn Osaka Hommachi: Chuo-ku

        2. s
          Steve Feb 19, 2013 07:24 AM

          I really enjoyed going to Gyoza Stadium inside Namjatown, a two-story indoor theme park in Ikebukuro. So many different kinds/styles of gyoza from all around Japan, plus other snack and light meals as well. I think stall #13 had a more extensive selection of food plus some seats behind a beaded curtain. Really delicious stuff all in one place. If you can find the gyoza with shredded garlic, that was my favorite. Base rate entry to the theme park is cheap.

          Namjatown is inside Sunshine City, a multi-building skyscraper complex that includes a zoo, aquarium, shopping center, planetarium, and a 60th floor observation room - all indoors. Only in Tokyo.

          http://jin.jcic.or.jp/en/travel/ikebu...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve
            Silverjay Feb 19, 2013 07:37 AM

            ...and also the site of the former Sugamo Prison, where Tojo and Tokyo Rose were held.

            1. re: Steve
              s
              setsuna22 Feb 19, 2013 01:27 PM

              I have put it in my itinerary, thanks! :)

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