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Dec 11, 2013 03:36 PM

Tokyo trip report

I posted to this board for advice while making plans. We are here now and I will try to report back as we go.

Places we plan to go to are:
Kaikaya by the sea
Ginza kojyu
Iwasa (breakfast sushi at tsukiji)
Tofuya ukai (lunch)
New York bar (drinks and snacks)

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  1. Kaikaya by the Sea:

    I love this place. Very informal. We go here the first night of every trip because it is close to the hotel in shibuya. We first went on a chowhound tip and it has become a tradition.

    We always sit at the counter because it is fun to watch the 3 chefs (sushi, grill and stovetop) do their thing. Kaikaya is lively and welcomes foreigners; clients are mixed between locals and visitors. The staff is friendly but you need to be friendly first to get the ball rolling. There are two halves to the restaurant, smoking and non smoking. We have always sat in the smoking half.

    The menu lists "daily specials" but many were not available as they do not actually change them and many are actually summer dishes. With the help of the delightful sushi chef, Masa, we ordered some favorites and some recommended winter specials.

    Many of the dishes have an oddly Italian slant (through the use of garlic, Gorgonzola,, or risotto) which works well. The style is unique to this restaurant in my experience.

    We started with a simple green salad with scallion, sesame seeds, and a Japanese dressing. This is nothing special but after a long plane ride and as our first morsel in japan, it was delightfully refreshing.

    Next up a sashimi plate which, while not special by Tokyo Michelin standards, was great when compared to what we get at home.

    Cod fish roe with Gorgonzola: wow. This is a winter special here. One of those oddly Italian dishes, it had Gorgonzola, probably cream, and toasty bread crumbs on top. I am an adventurous eater, but in the past I have found cod fish roe's white snaky pieces rather unappetizing. This was delicious.

    Grilled fish-- simply fantastic. A whole small fish -- red in color, maybe a rockfish. Not sure. Perfectly grilled and with some garlic in the sauce that mde it bend toward Italian.

    Pea pods and garlic and peanuts. Yum.

    Tuna collar spare rib style. This is a house specialty. No Italian influence here. Glorious.

    Scallop and risotto pancake. We have had this every visit. It is one of the things we come back for. Totally unique, I start craving it about a week before the trip starts.

    Sakura gelato: I was not crazy about it but my companion liked it.
    Plum sorbet over wine jelly: fantastic. I could eat this every day. But you should know that sorbet is one of my two favorite desserts (the other being 'assorted cookie plate')

    1. Lunch at mitsukoshi nihonbashi's "Grill Manten Bashi" located on the 9th floor.

      Had a lovely ladies double box bento.
      This comes in a double decker box with 6 compartments in all plus a separate bowl of soup. The contents are mostly cozy takes on western dishes:
      -- tomato salad, a peeled and sectioned tomato and lettuce
      -- curry rice and pickles
      -- stuffed cabbage
      -- fried shrimp and crab croquette
      -- hamburger (more like a little Salisbury steak) and potatoes
      -- salmon and tamago and noodles gratin with a little shrimp on top

      A lovely very cozy set lunch and quite a good amount of food. We were the only non Japanese in the place. Lots of lunching ladies plus a couple of tables with moms and grandmas with well behaved little children. Reminds me of sweet childhood memories when my Mom would take me shopping in NYC at department stores and we would have finger sandwiches for lunch.