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two days in shibuya looking for sushi. ramen and yakatori

Hi Chowhounders,

We're visiting Chowhounds from San Francisco looking for great sushi (omakase) with an emphasis on nigiri/sashimi, and the best ramen and yakatori you can suggest. we're staying at the Cerulean Tower, Shibuya. This is our first time in Tokyo, and I see from looking at the boards that we've ended up in the equivalent of Times Square NYC.

That being said, we're adventurous and happy to jump on a train to find great food. Our main aim is to eat our way around Tokyo, so if you can help us out we'd be most grateful!

Also, any recommendations within walking distance, if the food is great would be wonderful.

Thanks so much for your help!

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  1. Well, this isn't a small provincial town like San Francisco and there are hundreds of good options within walking distance of Shibuya (although there are better parts of town for sushi), and thousands a subway ride away.

    It'd be more effective if you told us how long you're in town for, what's your budget, and where you like to eat in SF, for example.

    1. Hi Gargle,
      I love that you describe San Francisco as "a small provincial town" :)

      We'll be in Tokyo for two full days only. Our budget is flexible, but we're not experienced enough sushi eaters to need to break the bank to go to Sukiyabashi Jiro. My favorite Japanese restaurant in SF is actually outside the city--Sushi Ran in Sausalito. I love sushi, but my husband is more interested in ramen--the best we've had in the US is at Momofuku in NYC.

      Thanks again for your help.

      8 Replies
      1. re: sportcat

        For Ramen, I quite enjoy tsukemen style. I suggest Fu-unji in Shinjuku and Tetsu (several locations around tokyo).

        1. re: tigerjohn

          Nice -- tigerjohn! Fu-unji and Tetsu are literally my favorite tsukemen places in Tokyo.

          However I have had limited success with foreigners at Fu-unji (supercrowded, soup too fishy for them) and Tetsu is way up in the north. So I recommended Warito which is next doors to Cerulean Tower.

          1. re: Scharn

            I second Warito, which consistently gets rave reviews from friends. However, it's more like a 15 minute walk from the Cerulean, than next door.

            1. re: wekabeka

              You're actually "thirding" it as I mentioned it on 11/26...Suzuran is very good and closer to the action in Shibuya.

              1. re: wekabeka

                Actually you are fourthing or fifting it, as *I* have mentioned it 3 years ago, only to be ridiculed for my excellent review ;)

                1. re: Scharn

                  Yikes! Wrong choice of words. I've been taking visitors there since it was recommended to me by the staff at Kotaro. I only commented because of your slightly misleading info about its location. I'll tap out and let you boys fight it out for who has proprietorship of the recommendation.

                  1. re: wekabeka

                    Warito is a shop that is featured prominently in the ramen media sphere...I agree, walking there and waiting in line will be a bit of an expedition. It's too bad they don't have late night hours as it would be a nice final stop after sake adventures in the Ikejiri/ Sangenjaya environs....at least for carnivores.

              2. re: Scharn

                Maybe this is the wrong approach but I never recommend "foreigner-friendly" restaurants in Tokyo as I don't know what it would mean exactly for different people. As to the hassle at Fuunji, it is supercrowded, but they speak enough english to guide people. I've always found someone in line who is willing (usually with the expectation of such line moving faster) to help with the ticket machine assuming the non-japanese speaking person in question has a basic understanding of what they want ("tsukemen" for example).

          2. I just returned from Tokyo and in terms of food, what amazed me most, is that every place is delicious. I'm not exaggerating. I don't think they have bad restaurants in Tokyo.

            Before I left I tried doing some restaurant research. However, I was coming up short. In all my fussing around the Internet I failed to find much by way of specific places, and if I did, I generally couldn't find multiple people commenting about the same place. My travel companion, who lived in japan for close to a decade, told me "it's not like that". I didn't understand until I was there. Now I get it.

            First of all, there are so many places. Especially in an area like Shinjuku or shibuya, there are literally hundreds of places to eat. Multiple restaurants per floor of each building. I have a feeling that even if someone found the most delicious xxxxxx, at yyyyyyyy restaurant, finding that restaurant again would be a difficult task.

            Additionally, everything is good. Literally. Every single restaurant is delicious. In 9 days, I did not have one bad meal. Japan knows how to eat. You cannot go wrong. Literally. (Note: I only ate japanese food while in Tokyo. Not sure if you'd have much success in western restaurants).

            My advice is to decide on what you want to eat. Walk around, shop, take in some sights. While walking, when you find yourself hungry, find a place that has what you're looking for and go for it. You just can't go wrong. Have so much fun. I wish I was back there with you!!

            5 Replies
            1. re: BaconBits

              I completely agree. Yes, there are destination restaurants in Tokyo, and if you want to go that route there are plenty of suggestions on CHOW and elsewhere. But the walk around, pick a place strategy will let you eat well and sometimes very well, if not blow your mind (and budget) well.

              1. re: BaconBits

                Thanks for your advice; it'll be hard to let go, but probably quite liberating too! I usually spend vast amounts of time researching restaurants, so just showing up and wandering around requires the control freak in me to relax my hold.

                A Japanese friend of mine, who now lives in the States, basically said much the same to me a few weeks ago; she told me that all the sushi she had eaten in Tokyo on her numerous visits was good however fancy or basic the restaurant.

                I'm sure we'll have fun; thanks for your good wishes!

                1. re: sportcat

                  This is your list, your desires, your preference.. If you want to have a good sushi diner, without being nervous about the price, I recommend you sushi Sagane :
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/897175
                  This sushi is located 3 stations from JR Shibuya, you can even take a taxi back to the hotel for around 3000yens..

                  1. re: Ninisix

                    Ninisix, thank you so much for the recommendation complete with directions; you are most kind.

                    We're planning on eating Ramen and yakatori for lunch and sushi for dinner during our two day visit. Is it also a good idea to go the fish market area for sushi?

                    1. re: sportcat

                      Tsukiji market, I do believe, is a place to visit, not only for shopping. It is a pleasure to look at all these impossible fish never seen before, and even when you check the fish name's translation, you are likely still lost... If you're doing 2 sushi places , I recommend you to have breakfast at sushi Sei, open from 9:00. If not, you'd better go to sushi Sagane, special chef menu, and special service also.

              2. For ramen in the Shibuya area, I love Santoka (for salt, soy and miso ramen, plus their awesome pork cheek 'char siu' — it sounds boring, but go for the salt broth. So good.), Kyushu Jangara Ramen (for thick or thin tonkotsu ramen), and Ippudo (also for tonkotsu ramen).

                Santoka is on Meji street (3-13-7 Shibuya) http://gmap.jp/shop-8065.html
                (They also have a location on an alley off Omotesando street, parallel to Cat Street — by the way, Harajuku Gyoza, across the alley, is also a favourite!

                )

                Kyushu Jangara is on Omotesando street (1-13-21 Jingu-mae) http://www.sunnypages.jp/travel_guide...

                Ippudo (Ebisu) is also on Meji street (1−3−13 Hiroo)https://maps.google.com/maps?q=恵比寿一風堂...

                There are literally hundreds more fantastic ramen shops, but these three are places that have been around for a while, and my guests always enjoy them.

                2 Replies
                1. re: marcus68

                  Marcus68 thank you for the recommendations! Pork cheek "char siu' sounds delicious. Thanks for all the links too; I really appreciate your helpfulness. I'm sure we are going to have a fabulous time.!

                  1. re: sportcat

                    From your hotel, you're also an easy half mile (10 mins) walk to the Shibuya branch of Ichiran ramen:

                    http://www.ichiran.co.jp/english/html...

                2. Dear sportcat,

                  you certainly picked the right hotel! It is my base when I am in town and there is plenty of incredibly good food just within walking distance. Just too much to mention, really, all sorts.

                  Two outlets of upmarket restaurant chains of very reputable and classy cooking are nearby - Shunju and Uoshin. One block south of the hotel is a place called Kotaro. The concierge can get you a reservation and give you a slip of paper with a magic formula.

                  As for bespoke sushi, I did not find one within walking distance from the tower, so please report back if you did.