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10 days to eat our way through Japan: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo...Please help!

Hi Chowhounders, my fiancé and I are really excited about our first trip to Japan in two weeks. We are unusually late on the planning and would appreciate any input. Japanese cuisine is our favorite so we are not looking to explore Western cuisines during our trip. Also, we are not looking for Kaiseki meals as we are booked at two Ryokans. We love all types of Japanese food including tempura, yakitori, tonkatsu, eel, sushi, ramen, soba, udon etc. We would like to keep our meals under $100 USD (10,000 yen) per person and have tried to keep our pricier meals at lunch but may splurge if it's incredible. My fiancé does not drink any type of alcohol but I will drink some wine occasionally. We also enjoy Japanese sweets/pastries and I especially love mochi/pudding/ice cream!

Please help critique our food itinerary! Thank you in advance :)

Osaka:
Tuesday May 14
arrive at Kansai at 6:30pm, aim to arrive at Hotel Hankyu International (Umeda) by 9pm
Quick dinner at: Kiji (Okonomiyaki) if we are not too tired. any other suggestions for closer quick eats?

Wednesday May 15: Nara (stay overnight in Osaka)
Lunch: Hiraso or Sanshu-tei or Shizuka
Dinner: Udon-tei or Maguro Koya
Snack: Yomogimochi

Thursday May 16: Osaka
Lunch: Kiji (if haven't tried) otherwise maybe quick breakfast at Painduce
Snack: Mizuno/ Takoyaki Doraku Wanaka or Takoyaki-kun
Dinner: Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Houzenji Yokocho or Koyoshi Sushi or Kamatake Udon or Daruma (they're all so different but wasn't sure which is a must try and we don't want to eat at Kanidoraku Honten)
Sweets: Boulangerie Takeuchi (does anyone know the new address?) / boulangerie takagi

Friday May 17: Kyoto (stay overnight in Osaka)
Lunch: Tenyu or Yoshikawa (or skip tempura in Kyoto and try Isshin)
Dinner: Izuju or Wabiya Korekido (Yakitori) or Sumibi Torito
Snacks: Heianden

Saturday May 18: Hiroshima/Miyajima (overnight at Miyajima at Watanabe Ryokan)
Lunch: (still researching)
Dinner: ryokan

Sunday May 19: Kyoto (overnight at Shiraume ryokan)
Lunch: Omen Noodles or Yamamoto Menzo
dinner: ryokan
Snacks: Tsurujuan/ Gion Kinana Honten

Monday May 20 (take late train to Tokyo, staying at Southern Century Tower hotel in Shinjuku)
lunch: Tosuiro or Okutan Kiyomizu (or Yaoya no Nikai)
dinner: Katsukura Sanjohonten
Snacks: Honda Miso Honten (sweets/gifts) / Nikiniki

Tuesday May 21 Tokyo
Breakfast: Sushi Dai
Lunch: Narutomi
Dinner: Fuku (or Torishiki if I can get a reservation which I doubt?)

Wednesday May 22 (day trip to Nikko)
Breakfast/Lunch: Rokurinsha
Dinner: Tonkatsu Maisen (or Tonki?)

Thursday May 24 Tokyo
Lunch: Sushi Iwa (good choice for one more expensive sushi meal?)
Dinner: Nodaiwa or Obana? (or will our budget be blown for dinner?)

Friday May 25 Tokyo
Lunch: Ten Ichi or tsunahachi or tentei
(afternoon flight from Narita)

We will report back :)

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  1. Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nikko.. that's a great tour for the temples (tera, jinja, emperor temple in Nikko), park, montain, lively town, and for food..in Tokyo, i recommend you more sushi Taichi than sushi Dai, but if you want an early sushi just and don't want to wait 2-3 hours, just go to sushi sei honten outside the market. Sushi Iwa first lunch set is at 5000.-yens, choose one of the 'omakase(menu recommend of the chef), but avoid ordering supplement in sushi-yasan(sushi shops),.. Yakitori Fuku is outside Tokyo in Yoyogi-Uehara, but from Tokyo is 20mn by Odakyu train line. Tempura Ten Ichi is expensive, i will change it for a tonkatsu instead and on the night of your arrival i will do some shopping at Odakyu dept store food for some snacks, and go for sushi Sagane, the diner is at 8100.-yens and on your budget.. sushi is also a full enjoyment at night !!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ninisix

      Since the OP will stay in Shinjuku, Fuku would be quite convenient. Yoyogi Uehara is just a 5 minute train ride from Shinjuku on the Odakyu line, and the restaurant is a 5 minute walk from the station.

    2. Thursday, May 16th
      Snack: Takoyaki Wanaka next to Namba Grand Kagetsu is one of the best takoyaki you will try in Osaka!
      Dinner: Might I suggest "Wasabi" in Hozenji Yokocho <http://www.hozenji-wasabi.jp/en/> or Ayamuya Yakitori <http://japantourist.jp/view/yakitori-...> in Fukushima?

      Daruma is a disappointment, in my opinion. Everything else you have in Osaka and Kyoto is pretty much spot-on...

      Friday, May 17th - Sumibi Torito upstairs is nicer than downstairs IMHO and very reasonably-priced.

      Saturday, May 18 Hiroshima:
      Lunch: You gotta try Hiroshima-yaki (Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki with noodles

      )

      Sunday, May 19th Kyoto - You must visit the Omen Honten branch near Ginkakuji.

      14 Replies
      1. re: biwakobarry

        Thank you for your kind replies!

        biwakobarry: what do you think of Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Houzenji Yokocho or should I choose Ayamuya Yakitori for dinner? Are there any good, quick eats around my hotel Hankyu International (Umeda)?

        Ninisix, thank you for your helpful tips! I just read that Chef Iwa has left Sushi Iwa and the restaurant is now named Sushiya. I'm quite sad as I was looking forward to lunch there. Do you have another suggestion for a nice sushi lunch (around $100/person)? Would Sushi Tachi fill that spot?

        If I really want to try a nice (less than $100/person) tempura restaurant, which do you recommend? Is Tempura Tsunahachi at 3-31-8 Shinjuku a good choice? I read your posts recommending Tenmatsu. Or should we splurge for Yokota? Or skip tempura completely (we are having a tempura meal in Kyoto).

        Would you recommend Ramen Jiro or Fuunji in Shinjuku? Should we trek for Warito or Suzuran ramen?

        Are there any good places to grab a bite before 10am (prior to our flight)in Shinjuku?

        Thank you so much!

        1. re: arnage

          I've never been to Yakiniku M, but both the JPY 5000 and JPY 5800 sets certainly look compelling and worth trying. And, the Hozenji Yokocho area is kinda cool at night.

          http://www.matsusaka-projects.com/eng...

          Really depends whether you prefer beef or chicken. I just ate at Ayamuya again last week and it was great, as usual.

          I don't know the area around Hankyu International very well, but there are so many good places to eat, just ask your hotel's concierge. It's pretty hard to find a bad meal.

          1. re: biwakobarry

            Ask your hotel to call this number 03-3572-0955, sushi Iwa moved last August to a new location in Ginza near Shimbashi.

            1. re: Ninisix

              Thank you so much for all the helpful advice!

              biwakobarry, concierge tried to book Ayamuya for any lunch or dinner next week but was told they are completely full for May. we should have done our homework sooner :(

              We booked Sumibi Torito but was told there is no upstairs. Do we have the wrong restaurant 075 752 4144 ?

              In Hiroshima, we have decided to try Hassei for a quick lunch since it's near peace park.

              E Eto, thank you for all the tips! Unagi and mochi are two of my favorite things. I am definitely going to try to eat at Ueno and will look for nama-momiji.

              We may now replace the Nodaiwa dinner with unagi Kandagawa.

              Ninisix, this cleared up the confusion about Sushi Iwa. I went again and re-read your threads on Sushi Iwa. Would you recommend Sushi Taichi or Sushi Iwa if we are only having one sushi meal in Japan? Thanks again.

              It seems all the ramen places I have on my radar are tsukemen which we have never tried before so that should be fun. However one of our favorite ramen places in nyc is Ippudo (which I know is not well regarded in Japan) as we love ramens with a rich pork broth. Are there are good ramen places that have the same style? We don't want to visit Ippudo since we can do that in nyc or other parts of Asia.

              Thank you everyone! We can't believe we'll be in Japan next week :)

              1. re: arnage

                You should try Fu'unji. The broth is thick and rich and you'll swear it was made like tonkotsu. You can't taste the niboshi at all. The chashu is quite good as well....Ippudo is very popular in Japan. They keep expanding every year. Not sure who told you it was not well-regarded......Jiro is a pork ramen, but the soup is light and garlicky and they pile on the pork meat. If you want hardcore tonkotsu and don't want to wait in line or go out of your way, you can look into Kyushu Jangara chain or Ichiran. But Warito, Suzuran, and Fu'unji are all considerably better I think. And I like Rokurinsha best of the lot.

                1. re: arnage

                  Just a note that Ueno near Miyajima is anago (sea eel) not unagi (freshwater eel). It really is good though. I enjoyed it more than any of the unagi I ate.

                  1. re: arnage

                    Yes, sushi Iwa is better, just, it is more expensive, so better stick to the menu. The first set lunch menu is at 5000 yens, the second one at 8000yens. I recommend the second one. It is only nigiri set, but that is the way I like it.

                    1. re: Ninisix

                      Thank you so much everyone!

                      Silverjay, thanks so much for the in depth descriptions of the Ramen places. We had mentioned to some friends from Japan that we love Ippudo and have waited two hours to eat there. They looked at us like we were crazy. We definitely want to try Rokurinsha and Fu'unji, and hope to make it one more ramen place.

                      Killersmile, we can't wait to try the anago.

                      Ninisix, we will try Sushi Iwa. Concierge tried to reserve Kandagawa but they wouldn't accept a reservation from a party without a Japanese patron :(

                      We will report back :)

              2. re: arnage

                For ramen, in Shinjuku, as also breakfast, I would like to recommend some places where you can rest quietly before leaving. But actually, the only places open early in the morning are the station basement small food restaurants!! For ramen, I have a preference for old style ramen flavored with katsuo or niboshi. The only place near Shinjuju that serve this kind of hot bawl is in Takanobaba(2 stations from Shunjuju), a 10mn walk, it is ramen Yamaguchi. In general, soba/yasan(soba restaurants) are a good place for a quiet stop, no queue (well, most of times), usually better arranged spacially, and there is always some side dish. In fact, 'Soba Mae' (before, soba referred to sake) is to enjoy sake before soba and eat dashi maki tamagoyaki(omelet), anago(conger eel),.. and finish with a cold refreshing soba. Soba(only) are cheaper than ramen, hope you will stop to some of these places just for a try !! About tempura, I have a dinner booked soon at tempura Kondo, fist time there, a bit excited . Yes, tempura Tenmatsu is very affordable, and at lunch, the tempura set (choose it instead of donburi) is served piece after piece on the counter(1F of Mitsukoshi Mae shop), still hot, still crispy. But if you booked already one, you can free for a tour at Akihabara and have a unagi at a 100 y old house, unagi Kandagawa.
                Sushi Taichi, yes, the counter is small, the chef is friendly, and at lunch you will have different lunch set at 2520(week days only), 5250(my choice), and a recommendation of the chef from 8300yens. One important point is, when booking over by phone, ask the chef if it is possible to arrange for a menu at 10,000yens. It will help the chef that will ask you 'do you want to continue...', and it will be more relaxed for both of you, no risk with fixed price. Sushi Iwa, I had a very good value dinner there, and I promise myself to go again this year, will check that...
                Ramen Yamaguchi
                http://s.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1305/A130...
                Unagi Kandagawa
                http://s.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1310/A131...
                Tempura Ten Matsu
                http://www.tenmatsu.com/english/index...
                Sushi Taichi
                http://s.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1301/A130...

                1. re: Ninisix

                  Ramen Yamaguchi is 1km from Takadanobaba station and the soup there is made from chicken base and katsuo according to the explanation on their menu....If you want seafood only soup, try Kaijin in Shinjuku (http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1304/A13040...).

                  Fu'unji, which is made from chicken and niboshi, is like a 5 minute walk from Shinjuku Station and is great and very unique... Using katsuo and niboshi in ramen soups is a new thing, not old.

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    Well, ramen, there is many new varieties, as well there is many preference.. and the 'tsukemen(noodles served with a separate sauce)' style of Fuunji is not, I like hot bawl of soup, simple clear taste soup, taste of bamboo crunchy,., look at the link, niboshi ramen Yamaguchi :
                    http://ramendb.supleks.jp/review/7595...
                    There is so many places to try, than to give a new try to tsukemen that humm..

                    1. re: Ninisix

                      It says they only prepare 10 bowls of that item a day for lunch and it is a 1km walk from Takadanobaba Station. How practical is that for someone visiting the city for only 3 days? Humm...

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        After a breakfast at the Hotel, yes, a walk of 10mn before a ramen why not ? Google map reference it 11mn walk exactly, Popular demands are the tori soba(chicken), the oi katsuo chuuka soba,.. and the niboshi around 13:00 was not sold out ! Yes, I do recommend it. I recommend more soba while in Tokyo..

              3. re: biwakobarry

                Saturday, May 18 Hiroshima:
                Lunch: You gotta try Hiroshima-yaki (Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki with noodles

                Agree that you should try okonomiyaki in Hiroshima (but don't call it Hiroshima-yaki; no one around Hiroshima calls it that). It seems like a long way to go to Miyajima for one night from Osaka/Kyoto just to go back within 24 hours. I hope you get a chance to tour around Hiroshima a bit. Around Miyajima, look for anago-meshi as an option for lunch or even a bento. Ueno in Miyajima-guchi is the most famous place (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/491480 ). You will find a ton of places baking momiji-manju around Miyajima, and many can be good, especially when they're still fresh and warm, but the most interesting version is the nama-momiji from Nishiki-do. You'll be able to find these at most train station gift areas and department stores in town.

                As a general comment on the rest of your itinerary, it seems a bit micromanaged for you to make some interesting discoveries on your own. I think you'll eventually stray from it once you get accustomed to being in Japan.

              4. Sushi dai is the kinda place where you have to queue from 4 am in the morning. Good luck. If you were not able to enter Sushi dai, try Sushisei or Tsukiji Kagura. They are really good too.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Chowchowuser

                  yeah you need to line up REALLY early for Sushi Dai because it's extremely popular and lots of tourists go there for some breakfast sushi but we think it's totally worth the wait. 11 pieces of nigiri (omakase) for approximately $40 CDN is pretty unbeatable given the fresh quality of fish that you're getting. I don't know about getting there at 4am... I think getting there around 4:30 is okay too since it opens at 5am but come any later than 5 and you can expect a 2 hour wait....I've attached a picture from some sushi pieces I had there.

                  As for Kyoto, we definitely recommend Giro Giro Hitoshina. They serve modern Kaiseki food at a very valuable price. I attached a picture of one of the dishes we got there to give you an idea of how beautiful the dishes are presented there. Tastes great too! You get a set meal for approx $40 CDN as well. Very flavourful but a hidden location as well! You have to check out kaiseki food while in Kyoto :) As for touristy places, check out the Golden Pavillion and the Kiyomizu-dera. Typical tourist places (temples) but it's beautiful!

                  In Osaka, you can't go wrong at Doutombori street. Get some crab, okonomiyaki and takoyaki. The last two are found almost everywhere on the street and tastes awesome!

                  --Skinnychopsticks from skinnychopsticks.com

                   
                   
                  1. re: Skinnychopsticks

                    So, when you say this place in Kyoto offers food at a "very valuable price," does that mean valuable for the restaurant or the diner? Thanks for the heads up regarding food at Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion. I was there a month or so ago and all that was available there was was some soft cream ice cream.

                    1. re: edozanmai

                      Very valuable price for the diner because you get a set 10-course meal for about 3680 yen. So for quality and quantity of food, we think it's a great value. We go into detail about the dining experience as well along with additional photo on our blog if you're interested in reading more.

                      As for the Golden Pavillion, yeah the only cool thing we remember there was the soft serve ice cream which had super long line ups that day because it was super hot. Not much food for the foodies out there but it's definitely one of those tourist attractions most people want to see because the historical site itself is quite nice.

                      -- Skinnychopsticks from skinnychopsticks.com

                      1. re: edozanmai

                        I haven't been to Kinkakuji in a couple years, but there is a place to have matcha green tea and a traditional Japanese sweet along the path that goes through the gardens.

                        http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2605/A26050...

                      2. re: Skinnychopsticks

                        My one concern with Giro Giro is that it seems like its totally geared toward Western tourists. I tend to avoid restaurants where there are only foreign tourists because the food might veer too much from local tradition.

                        I am sorry, but when you say "hidden location as well" you make it sound like it's a secret find. Not only is it a short walk from the center of Kyoto, it's very well hyped on tripadvisor.

                    2. Now that you amassed all this info and completed your trip, how about a brief report on the hits and misses?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: E Eto

                        It's amazing how many people who are excited about planning their trip come here asking for help. When they return, they are never heard from again on CH or until they plan their next trip.

                        I myself need to do some posting from our last trip. Perhaps a a quick post-trip wrap-up.

                        1. re: Foodie_Phil

                          Hi Foodie_Phil, I did post an extensive review of our trip immediately afterwards: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904189
                          Please check previous postings before making any assumptions next time.

                          1. re: arnage

                            Thanks Arnage. That is very helpful.