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Apr 30, 2013 06:00 PM

7 nights in Tokyo - Please help me chose and refine my list!

I'll be spending 7 nights in Tokyo this coming October.

In fact, I'll be spending 30-days travelling all across Japan for my honeymoon - but I'd prefer to start with Tokyo as it's our first destination, so that's the focus of the thread! ;)

I would like to do 2 sushi restaurants.

I've been planning for Seito and Araki.

Kanesaka and Yoshitake are also on my radar, but from reading through this forum, it seems as though Seito and Araki are the most interesting and distinctive. Am I off to a good start so far?

That leaves 5 more nights.

I was planning 3 of those at RyuGin, Ginza Okuda, and Ishikawa.

I'm worried that these choices may be too similar however. They all serve modern kaiseki style meals and I would appreciate your advice and suggestions as to whether any of these choices should be altered or swapped out as I don't want things to get boring. Kanda was also on my radar, but the above 3 seemed most interesting. Again, your opinions on this would be very helpful.

That leaves 2 mire nights.

Aronia de Takazawa is a must for me. I've been following feedback both here and through travel blogs, review sites, etc. and I'm very much looking forward to our meal at this restaurant; it seems like a unique dining experience!

I would like to do 1 high-end tempura meal.

I have the following on my radar and am undecided as to which would be best: Seiju, Konda, Yokota, Raku-tei.

I'm leaning towards either Seiju or Konda (though one CH poster seems to feel Yokota is the way to go) - what do you think?
Please help me decide!

Other restaurants we have considered, yet did not make the cut due to time restraints, were Tofuya Ukain and Argento Aso.

We decided that if we were to eat a single meal on our trip that was not Japanese, it should be Italian! Afterall, pasta originated in the East and I'd be curious to see how a modern Asian kitchen translates their version of Italy, which culinarily is so deeply rooted in Eastern heritage yet imported to Europe and the West and has since become such a strong and symbolic cultural trait of their cuisine. I think we'll probably give Argento a pass however, as we could eat this sort of food elsewhere.

On to lunches now...

Nodaiwa for unagi seems a must.

Butagumi for tonkatsu as well, although Maisen was also a consideration.

If you had to chose between a single tonkatsu lunch in Tokyo, which of the two would it be and why - Butagumi or Maisen?

Tempura Tsunahachi Honten is on the short list for lunchtime tempura and a contrast to the more refined Michelin dining selections above. A good call?

For ramen, I have Gogyo and Rokurinsha Tokyo Ramen Station. Gogyo seems a must. What about Rokurinsha? Are these good choices? Ichiran was also recommended to me, but seemes less interesting from what research I've done. Again, I put the discerning vote to you knowledgable CH'ers!

For soba, I'm told that Hirosaku is divine, however it seems more of a kaiseki restaurant with soba as a side. Am I correct in this observation and is it worthy of a lunch meal?

Sarashina-Horii was also on the short list. Of the two (Sarashina-Horii and Hirosaku) which would you recommend for soba, and should Hirosaku be on the list regardless, soba or not? Feel free to make other suggestions as well!

For breakfasts, brunches and snacks, we'll be wandering the Shinjuku Takashimaya, Iseta and Takashimaya courts, as well as the stalls at Tsukiji Market.

Omusubi Gonbei also seems like a good breakfast option.

That should cover all 7 days and nights... I think a second thread would be required for cocktails alone as my list is triple the size of our eating & dining file! :)

Please post your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and any other bits of advice or recommendations you might have!

I should briefly mention that we will be travelling a lot to many smaller and more rural towns over the course of 30 days, and will be sampling many of the more rustic regional cuisines, as well as plenty of bento meals from the countless ryokans we have booked. We'll also be spending 5 nights in Kyoto, 4 nights in Osaka and 3 nights in Nagasaki - of the major cities! I will start a separate thread for each, as I'm not entirely familiar with the many districts in each city and I do not want this thread to get too complicated or confusing, where people end up recommending places in different cities and it gets too difficult to follow. I'll also start one inclusive thread in future to cover all of the small towns and villages we'll be passing through between big cities. I only mention this so that you view this thread and it's content in proper context and to take these considerations of regional dining, bentos, market stalls and street food in contrast to our more refined dining itinerary in Tokyo. Hope that makes sense! :)

Thanks so much for any help, advice and tips you can offer!

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  1. I've just read that Sushi Araki is no more; is that true??

    If so, would Sukiyabashi Jiro be a worthy replacement?

    How would it hold up to Kanesaka or Yoshitake?

    Sushi Saito is an absolute must but I would like to add a second sushi dinner and cannot seem to chose between the above three. I'm really disappointed that Araki has closed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: OliverB

      Just note that you might want to have a backup in case you can't get reservations at sushi saito. Now, more than ever it is an extremely difficult reservation. I would operate under the assumption that you won't be able to get the reservation, but might luck out.

    2. I'm not knocking your choices as you've picked some of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in the city by Michelin/international standards or whatever. But gotta say that you're setting yourself up for a lot of precious, solemn, hands in lap pre-fixe experience type meals. This seems to be the trend now on the Japan board by foreign visitors. How exquisite can we get? And the answer is none. None more exquisite.....Also just a heads up that the depachika, where a lot of the good stuff is, are not food courts really. They are retail counters. But you can buy and then need find places to eat- the roofs are often good spots. There are of course decent restaurant floors. Not sure how destination-worthy any of them are though...Tsukiji stalls are not snacking type of operations. However the outer market has various types of places to eat....I'm interesting in learning which small towns you will be visiting.

      1. Ramen wise: I don't like Gogyo. I don't think it's that well done. I believe I went there with Asomaniac a ways back and neither of us thought it was worth a return trip.

        Rokurinsha IS good, but the line is massive most of the time. I'd head to Ramen Street and if the line is too long -- just try out Honda or Shichisai for something light and delicious. Alternatively, you can get something heavy and delicious at Junkadelic or Mutsumiya.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lost squirrel

          Think you mean Junk Garage ! Junkadelic is the burrito joint.

          1. re: ninnikuramen

            Oops! that's correct. Thanks for catching my mistake

        2. Thank you both!

          Silverjay, could you please offer some suggestions or recommendations since you feel our food itinerary is a bit too delicate or high end?

          We'll be spending 2 nights in Hakone-machi, 1 night in Yamanouchi and Matsumoto, 3 nights in Kaga-shi and Kanazawa, 5 nights in Kyoto, 1 night in Nara, 4 nights in Osaka, 3 nights in Matsue, 1 night in either Miyajima or Okanawa, and 3 nights in Nagasaki. Originally we were to spend more time in Takayama, Toyooka, Chikushino-shi and Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Aso-gun, Beppu, Kirishima, and Yakoshima... but our trip was way too long and exhaustive so we had to trim it down.

          If you feel we should eat a bit more "down to earth" and have suggestions for some not-to-miss places - please let me know!

          We've tried to plan our more casual meals for lunchtime and so I had thought that we'd included a number of less fancy omakase, tempura, soba, ramen, etc. places but please feel free to offer alternative suggestions.

          As this is a honeymoon, we want to splurge a bit and so we're sor tof using Tokyo as an excuse to do so. We won't be eating like this everywhere. I think our itinerary for Osaka is a bit more balanced in terms of fancy Michelin starred restaurants and street level counter type places. I would not want to miss any great restaurants in Tokyo because they aren't formal dining though - that's not a factor in our chosing. As mentioned, Tokyo in all it's excesses, is our big splurge but we're still open to all of your suggestions!

          Lost squirrel, thanks for the tip on Gogyo! I've scratched it off the list and we'll save our ramen for Rokurinsha. I usually don't mind lines (within reason) if it's worth the wait... Do you have any alternative suggestions for Ramen Street?


          1. I've dropped Gogyo and added Chukasoba Suzuran instead! :)

            Silverjay, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the sushi and tempura choices, as well as your thoughts on the many keiseki restaurants. And my question re. tonkatsu!

            Do you have any recommendations for excellent izakaya bars that should not be missed while in Tokyo?


            3 Replies
            1. re: OliverB

              Sushi has been covered thoroughly here. It's not Michelin starred or anything, but I enjoyed my time at Kozasa in Shibuya because it was surprisingly a good value and the chef is a really nice guy and it's in a convenient location for when I'm in Japan... If you are looking for like the total beginner, narrated "experience" and top end quality Michelin stars etc., you can look into Hatsune Sushi in Kamata. It's location makes it a little easier to get a reservation. The room is classic Japanese loveliness, the setting is very intimate and personal, and the chef is very sweet and chatty and loves teaching. Might be an ideal part of a honeymoon trip.

              I don't particularly enjoy full-on tempura meals, the kaiseki experience, or even tonkatsu all that much. So I defer to the information on these that has been posted on the board a millions times.

              For izakaya, myself and others have posted a myriad of options over the last few years. You need to put in some due diligence. There are more restaurants in Tokyo than the state of California. If you want specific custom recs, suggest mentioning a type of experience/food/drink and a neighborhood.

              Report back if you get to Suzuran. I posted it on it years ago but haven't made it back in a while. It's located directly behind the police station in Shibuya.

              Outside of Tokyo, my two favorite eating cities in Japan are Kanazawa and Fukuoka.

              1. re: Silverjay

                I make it back to Suzuran at least once a year when I'm in town and was last there in December 2012. It has been remarkably consistent for years if you have the standard tsukemen (dense chewy hand-made noodles, oily sauce, wok-seared cabbage and bean-sprouts to mop up the grease) and the side order of pork belly. But they seem to have more seasonal specials which come on and off the menu, like a chilled summer noodle that's much more delicate than the house style.

              2. re: OliverB

                Suzuran is really pretty good. I like it. I don't think they have an English menu, but you'll wait in line inside and a worker will come around and ask what you want. If I remember correctly, there are some pictures up on the wall and you can point. Also, there are ordering guides for Suzuran somewhere else on the web. Enjoy!

                Sometimes there can be hefty lines there too. If so, there is a new Nagi location about a block away, it's up the hill from Suzuran. They do a VERY fishy broth - it's pretty good too.