8 Night Tokyo/Kyoto/Hiroshima Itinerary - Feedback Greatly Appreciated
The wife and I will be making our first trip to Japan at the end of March - have done a lot of research and pulled together a starter itinerary, would greatly appreciate any thoughts/feedback/suggestions: We are staying in the Peninsula in Tokyo but obviously want to explore as much as possible.
Saturday - Arrive late afternoon Tokyo
Dinner: Birdland (wanted something nearby/lower key given we will probably be pretty jetlagged)
Sunday - Tokyo
Lunch: Isetan (Depachika/Restaurants)
Dinner: Sushisho Masa
Monday - Tokyo
Dinner: Tempura Kondo
Tuesday - Tokyo
Breakfast: Tour/eat at Tsukiji (not sushi)
Lunch: Sushi Saito
Dinner: Ryugin (also considering Den/Takazawa/other thoughts?)
Wednesday - Travel to Kyoto
Breakfast: Tokyo Ramen Street (Rokurinsha)
Lunch: Omen Udon
Dinner: Hiiragyia Kaiseki (our hotel)
Thursday - Kyoto
Dinner: Ryokan or Gogyo Ramen
Friday - Travel to Hiroshima
Lunch: Mitchan Okonomiyaki
Dinner: Tempura Tenko
Saturday: Return to Tokyo
Breakfast/Lunch: Likely at station/on train
Sunday: Depart Tokyo in the evening
Besides those planned meals, will probably work in some additional pastry stops, cocktail bars, and late night Izakaya visits. Thanks in advance for any feedback.
Your itinerary is heavy on meat and fried things...and carbs. I would definitely dump one of the tempura meals- the one in Hiroshima specifically. Try oyster hot pot or some kind of anago meal or something regional.....On Wednesday you're planning to eat ramen in the morning and udon for lunch. If you are running a marathon the next day, I guess that is a way to go. Otherwise, I would suggest a lighter lunch.
The depachika are great but you will need to find a place to eat anything you purchase because they are not set up for dine-in. The restaurant floor is a separate operation upstairs. They will have one of everything. Personally, I would recommend eating at whatever tempura place they have there and then use your Monday dinner for something more adventuresome then Kondo. But that's just me perhaps...
If you are coming from NYC, I would suggest dumping Jumbo yakiniku in favor of a seafood izakaya.
Thank you Silverjay and Shirang.
Thinking about dropping Kondo and Tempura Tenko, and trying TenYou in Kyoto the second night. That would open up a spot in Tokyo for a Seafood Izakaya as well as something different in Hiroshima. Any specific recs on the Izakaya?
Thought on Jumbo is we'd like to try Wagyu in Japan, open to other thoughts on best place to do it?
Maybe on the first day in Kyoto we'll just do snacks at the Nishiki Market for lunch instead of the Udon.
Snacking at Nishiki is a good idea...Wagyu just means Japanese beef so any place will serve that. If you want to try the highend stuff like Matsuzaka, etc., I would suggest picking out one of those fancy beef places and going all out. They have been discussed here. We've also covered all kinds of izakaya.
I agree with Shirang about your course meals. Less so about how full you will get and more so about how much time you will spend sitting with your hands in your lap waiting to be served. You have excellent restaurants planned but at same time, you might want to open yourself up to more spontaneity to balance out the preciousness of omakase style dining.
Also, I don't mean the spontaneity of walking off the street into a place because quite frankly, if you don't read Japanese, you will probably walk into a chain restaurant. I mean spontaneity of ordering a la carte or having a local recommend a dish for you or some such experience like that.
Maybe I'm not a worthy chowhounder, but for an overseas visitor to Japan, I'm not sure there's a big reason to avoid all chains just because they are chains, surely?
Katsukura has a number of branches, but I liked their tonkatsu more than Maisen's, which is sometimes recommended here, though I guess it's a chain too.
Also found it fun to try Japanese chain fast food, it's part of the japanese food scene and a fascinating contrast to UK fast food.
Meh, clearly my mileage varies! ;-)
Yes I guess so. I think the idea of mapping out every single meal for an entire trip concerns me a little, as it leaves no room for spontaneity, and for some of the uniquely Japanese experiences that are, perhaps, only exciting to a first time visitor.
For example, ordering via a vending machine and giving in our ticket for a quick and tasty katsu curry at a train station, remains a highlight. We just don't have those machines at home!
Nipping in to a local ramen place by our hotel, avoiding the rain, cramming in with other locals, peering at what they ordered, feeling a little more part of everyday Japan, another highlight. And actually, the ramen there was one of my favourites, though I couldn't tell you whether it's 1st or 1000th on tablelog.
I just think that when visiting a country that's so different to one's own, not just in cuisine but culture and so many little details, it's nice to leave a little to chance, and also deliberately include some meals at the lower end.
But as I said, it's all down to travelling style and YMMV! :-D
All well and fine but the easiest thing to do here is to tell people to wing it and that their mileage may vary. We've got a forum to help people find something good and interesting to eat. Not everyone wants to settle for train station food.
I see Tsukiji and Nishiki markets, depachika, and a train station meal in this itinerary. That seems to already capture the freewheeling aspect you are talking about.
I think telling people who are obviously interested in dining to be spontaneous about dining in Tokyo or Kyoto is seriously bad advice :) Do you really want to dine in restaurant number 5000+ in Tabelog on a short trip when you can do much better with a small amount of planning?
That said, it does seem like a huge amount of relatively heavy food and I agree that getting to and from all those meals is going to be pretty much what the OP will be doing. But maybe that's what they're after?
Too many back to back multi course meals. If you appetite can handle it, its fine. Maybe skip Tempura in Hiroshima(seems like its Kanto style tempura and you're already going to Kondo, and sub in a Tempura in Kyoto instead.
Although it makes sense to do research and plan the key highlight meals, there's a lot of joy to be had in simply choosing a small local place as you come across it, and your itinerary doesn't seem to leave much room for impulse or mood.
Have you already worked out which sights you might like to visit in Tokyo and Kyoto and found restaurants in those locations, as both cities are large and if you're sightseeing elsewhere, you probably won't feel inclined to cross the cities to get to your chosen restaurants, if they're not close by. Apologies if you've already taken that into account with all the meal planning.
Thanks to everyone for the great thoughts. Have re-cut a bit; thinking I will drop Kondo for a seafood Izakaya (thinking Uoshin?) and do TenYou in Kyoto.
Also will drop tempura in Hiroshima - any suggestions on something local to do for dinner? Will have Okonomiyaki for lunch and wife is not an oyster fan. Was thinking about Anago Meshi, but it looks like its a bit of a hike from Hiroshima center. Another option would be to do beef there, any recommendations (that would free up another dinner in Tokyo in place of Jumbo).
Any strong thoughts for the one high end, non-sushi dinner in Tokyo? Not totally sold on Ryugin, seems like reviews are either very hot or very cold.
Takazawa is a long and heavy meal. I think tempura dinner after that may be too much.
As for a replacement for Ryugin -- I would try Ishikawa (established 3-star kaiseki, more traditional than Ryugin but quite sublime) or Nagazumi (younger 1-star maverick with his own counter). These were the standouts on my last trip.
Here's what I had to say about Nagazumi: