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Tokyo for four days, help me fill in the blanks?

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Hi all,

I'm going to be in Tokyo for four nights in mid-January. I've been combing this board for specifics for weeks now, it's been very helpful, so thank you to everyone! On to my questions:

- We'll have four dinners. We're already doing yakitori (Birdland hopefully), omakase, and kaiseki, but I'm having trouble deciding on what our fourth meal should be. FYI, We'll be doing ramen, okonomiyaki, tempura, and depachika eating during the day, so those are covered.

Is it worth doing a second omakase? What other type of cuisine would you recommend we try? For reference, we live in Manhattan and are avid eaters, so we get to try a lot of fun things in the city.

- Our last night is a Sunday and I understand certain restaurants are closed, so what are our best bets?

- Secondly, are there any ramen/tempura/etc places that we would need to make a reservation for for lunch? My plan right now is to have a solid list to choose from and then see what makes sense depending on where we are in the city.

- Is it worth it to wait in line for Rokurinsha?

Thanks, all!

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  1. Omakase isn't a type of cuisine, just a method of service (chef's choice- often these days fixed). So it's not clear what type of food or restaurant you are talking about. Birdland, for example, serves omakase style yakitori as I understand it. And kaiseki is also a fixed menu.

    Why don't you eat sushi one night and also consider a night at a couple of izakaya or maybe oden, which will be nice in the winter.

    You should make a reservation at high end tempura places....Haha, reservations at a ramen shop. That's sounds so Manhattan....Rokurinsha is great.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      As you can see, my grasp of Japanese is limited at best :) In NYC, at least, omakase refers exclusively to sushi tastings.

      That being said, I've got a short list of about 10 sushi spots that I'm trying to get reservations at, ranging from Saito to Taichi (which seems to get a lot of love here.) I figure anything in Tokyo will be better than what we get here, so I'll be happy with whatever we land on.

      Kaiseki we're looking at Narisawa, Nihonyuri Ryugin, Ishikawa or Ginza Kojyu. If anyone recommends others or has opinions about those, let me know!

      I'm not familiar with oden, what do you recommend? And do you have favorite izakaya?

      High-end tempura places like Kondo are open for lunch, right?

      Thanks!

      1. re: JulesTei

        I'm in NYC and omakase def doesn't refer exclusively to sushi although now that you mention it I see people use it as such....You have a good attitude with regards to sushi places. Make a list and go down it and try to get reservations. A few small shops have unfortunately become darlings that are jammed up. Don't feel heartbroken if you can't get a rez as there are plenty of great options....Kaiseki, izakaya, and tempura have been covered pretty exclusively here. Plenty of time to dig around. Everyone has favs but it's a big city and specificity with regards to types and neighborhoods helps.

        1. re: Silverjay

          I think Omakase means something like "I trust you, Chef. " It often does refer to a platter of sushi, but can be whatever the restaurant or chef thinks is the best thing that day. I had the omakase at Morimoto last year and it was superlative, sublime...I wish I knew a word that goes beyond that.
          If you can, try to learn some kanji (Chinese characters) beyond the kana (hiragana and katakana). They are very descriptive visually and make reading Japanese menus easier even if you don't know how to pronounce them in Japanese.
          Top Sushi in Tokyo (Sadly, I have only read about these):
          Daiwa (at Tsukiji Fish Market) It opens before sunrise. Get in the line.
          Numakuzou (Shiju-ku eki, below the street at #6); Sukiyabashi Jiro ("Jiro Dreams Of Sushi" film) is Jiro Ono's own restaurant (in the Tsukamoto Sogyu Bldg.,Ginza) He is 88. He works here six days a week.;
          Sushi-Ko (6-3-8 Ginza);
          Sushishou (Shinzu-ku);
          Yamami (Eiwa Bldg,.upstairs.)

          1. re: jilkat25

            Omakase has nothing to do with food. It just means something akin to "I leave it to you" and can be used in many other situations. It's understood in context of dining to refer to chef's choice......Not sure where you're getting your info from on sushi. Many more highly regarded places than those- especially Daiwa and the other touristy (though fun) shops around Tsukiji.... Also, those addresses don't really make sense....Sounds like JulesTei is already on the right track wrt to sushi anyway....Excellent point about learning kanji!

            1. re: Silverjay

              I used say "Omakase" to my hair stylist when I didn't feel like making any decisions. definitely had nothing to do with food.

        2. re: JulesTei

          Narisawa is a French restaurant, not kaiseki. Here is their homepage:

          http://www.narisawa-yoshihiro.com/

          1. re: JulesTei

            Tempura Kondo lunch is around 6000yens for the first set, and at 8000yens for a tempura set with a kakiage served at the end with the rice(my choice!), or topped in the rice with sauce!!

        3. For what it's worth, I heard Mario Batali say that the best meal he has had in his life was at like 4:00 in the morning on the dock right next to the boats at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. I know if I had four days in Tokyo, I'd do anything to get there. In fact, if someone gave me a ticket to Tokyo and back with only a couple of hours in Japan, that's where I'd go!

          3 Replies
          1. re: jilkat25

            Haha, Mario Batali. That sounds so Manhattan too.

            1. re: Silverjay

              I will join the chorus of laughter here!

            2. re: jilkat25

              "..the dock right next to the boats at the Tsukiji Fish Market .."

              How, err...idyllic.

            3. Lunch first - ramen and tempura are good daytime choices. Personally if I had only eight meals in Tokyo, I definitely wouldn't waste one of them on okonomiyaki, but I might try another specialty cuisine like tonkatsu (Butagumi in Nishi-Azabu and Horaitei in Shibuya are two I'd recommend).

              A good way to experience depachika as a visitor is to explore the various stalls and pick out individual items that look appetizing, then bring it all back to your hotel and eat there. The actual eating places inside most depachika are just average in quality, and aren't worth spending one of your lunch slots on.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robb S

                Thanks, Robb! And yes, we're definitely not wasting a whole lunch on okonomiyaki or gyoza, those will be more snacks.

                Appreciate the advice on depachika. And I hear it's rude to eat in public in Tokyo, right? So we should wait until we're seated somewhere or at the hotel?

                I totally didn't realize Narisawa was French! Thank you guys for flagging that.

                1. re: JulesTei

                  Yes, I think eating your depachika finds at the hotel is the best bet. You might or might not find a bench somewhere nearby to sit on, but it won't be as comfortable.

              2. As for dinners, I would add a second izakaya to your list, in addition to your yakitori evening; someplace where you can try out a variety of dishes - sashimi, charcoal-grilled meats and vegetables, and sometimes even oden, along with good sake. I like the atmosphere and price performance of someplace like Kushiro in Marunouchi (http://bento.com/rev/4173.html ), but there are plenty of other options at all price levels.

                If for some reason you can't get into Birdland in Ginza, I highly recommend their newer branch in Marunouchi (http://bento.com/rev/4175.html ), which has the added advantage of being open, and uncrowded, on Sundays.

                You seem to have the sushi and kaiseki choices under control, although I think of Narisawa as more of a French restaurant.