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Need Sushi help traveling with non-fish eater

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roonross Mar 25, 2014 11:03 AM

I will be traveling to Tokyo for the first time with my wife (aka Culinary Ball & Chain). She does not eat anything that ever swam in the ocean. I would very much like to experience a first class sushi meal. Can anyone recommend such a sushi restaurant that also offers cooked meat dishes?

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  1. j
    jjcha314 RE: roonross Mar 25, 2014 02:02 PM

    Leave her at the hotel. You don't take a Japanese guy who only eats rice and fish to a bbq place.

    To be helpful, some of the chains like Itamae do serve other dishes, like grilled beef or tenpura. But selection will be limited and the sushi, while much much better than just about any you can get in the States, wouldn't be close to top notch in Tokyo.

    Maybe someone will know of some random shop that does better. But none of the high end places or great neighborhood places I've been to would work.

    1. Robb S RE: roonross Mar 25, 2014 04:12 PM

      A good hotel restaurant with its own sushi counter might be your best bet. For example there's a branch of Kyubei inside one of the Japanese restaurants at the Okura.

      13 Replies
      1. re: Robb S
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        jjcha314 RE: Robb S Mar 25, 2014 04:41 PM

        I'd call in advance and tell them first. I've been many times and as far as I can remember it was always cooked fish... maybe one small beef plate in the omakase

        1. re: jjcha314
          Robb S RE: jjcha314 Mar 25, 2014 06:32 PM

          Hi Jason!

          I just called and asked actually, and they said no problem.

          OP, the restaurant I had in mind is Yamazato (+81-3-3505-6070) inside the Okura Hotel Tokyo, and inside that restaurant is a sushi counter from Kyubei, a quite respectable high-end (although not super-super-high-end) sushi restaurant in Ginza. If you sit at a table (not the sushi counter), one person can have shabu-shabu or sukiyaki or some other meat-centered meal while the other has sushi.

          The "sushi kaiseki" menu there is Y12,600-24,150, and shabu-shabu starts at Y12,600.

          1. re: Robb S
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            jjcha314 RE: Robb S Mar 25, 2014 06:43 PM

            Score! Then assuming those dishes are ok, this has to be among the best of options. Kyubey is an awesome choice.

            1. re: jjcha314
              Tripeler RE: jjcha314 Mar 25, 2014 07:13 PM

              "sushi kaiseki" -- why does that expression make my head hurt?

              1. re: Tripeler
                Robb S RE: Tripeler Mar 25, 2014 07:49 PM

                It's 'kaiseki' as in deluxe menu, not 'kaiseki' as in 'kaiseki-ryori.'

            2. re: Robb S
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              Ninisix RE: Robb S Mar 25, 2014 08:06 PM

              I have been to Kyubei of the Hotel Okura, and well, unfortunately, I did not find it worth it at all: cold sushi, big prices, no ambiance... And I wasn't alone to have the same opinion, as others rated their nigiri as just average. I would definitely not consider them as "high end sushi".
              Maybe a matter of taste ? Well, try, and let us know your experience.

              1. re: Ninisix
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                jjcha314 RE: Ninisix Mar 26, 2014 10:13 PM

                I don't know if it's a matter of taste. Maybe it's a matter of perspective? I don't think of Kyubey as being "high end" sushi in Tokyo either, but I feel more comfortable recommending there to visitors seeking high end sushi than places like Mizutani or Jiro.

                All I know is that I've always enjoyed my meals at Kyubey (whether Ginza location, Okura or Shinjuku). It's just so much better than even the best sushi NYC has to offer. It's very familiar and accessible.

                Sometimes when I go to the ultra high end places like the ones named above, which I've only been to a few times, I feel a little pressure. Like because it's so top tier, if a dish doesn't taste amazing to me, it's because I'm lacking experience. But Kyubey doesn't have that issue for me. It's just so much better than any of the sushi I've eaten in the US, or any of my favorite neighborhood place in Tokyo. So I can relax and enjoy.

                I dunno, maybe after I become a regular at the top tier places, I won't think this way. I've learned it takes time to educate a palate. But for people I know who are the biggest food snobs in NYC and want mind blowing sushi, I recommend Kyubey to them.

                Well, unless they're a prestige snob, then I let them go to Jiro. And when they tell me they can't get reservations to Ginza but got ones for Roppongi, I don't tell them the Roppongi location is disappointing. At least to me.

                Best,

                -Jason

                1. re: jjcha314
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                  Gargle RE: jjcha314 Mar 26, 2014 11:03 PM

                  Dropping the wife still seems like the practical option.

                  1. re: Gargle
                    Tripeler RE: Gargle Mar 27, 2014 12:38 AM

                    Or, perhaps, finding Japanese foods both the OP and his wife really like. That would be the easiest and most fun for both of them.

                    1. re: Tripeler
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                      Gargle RE: Tripeler Mar 27, 2014 04:57 AM

                      "Culinary Ball & Chain" makes me think otherwise.

                      On the other hand, maybe the need for non-fish sushi can be combined with other needs:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/787887

                    2. re: Gargle
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                      Shirang RE: Gargle Mar 27, 2014 07:55 AM

                      Plenty of options in Tokyo...... for a new wife

                    3. re: jjcha314
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                      Shirang RE: jjcha314 Mar 27, 2014 07:57 AM

                      Why not Mizutani? He's pretty funny and straight shooter.

                      1. re: jjcha314
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                        Ninisix RE: jjcha314 Apr 2, 2014 02:43 PM

                        Well, I'm far from being a foodie or sushi snob, but I suppose that after more than 20 years being in Japan, and trying various places, I did educate my palate. Which is why I enjoy so much such top sushis, and am happy to have others try them... I understand about the unease at some high ends restaurants (not only sushi), and the risk of missing the boat due to lack of palate education. A bit similar issue with kaiseki.
                        But still, why would you prefer foreigners to completely miss authentic high end sushis ? Some might seriously enjoy it ...

              2. daislander RE: roonross Mar 25, 2014 04:14 PM

                she could have vegetable options.

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                  Ninisix RE: roonross Mar 25, 2014 04:59 PM

                  I confirm eating good sushi and meat in a same restaurant is basically not to be expected, except perhaps in hotel restaurants like Four Season restaurant. But in my opinion, it is not what you want to do if you want to experience high end sushi. One possibility is to go to Ginza, your wife can have lunch at for exemple some affordable steak shabu shabu near Matsuya Zakuro, and you have lunch at sushi Iwa... then after, go together at cafe de l'Ambre for a nice showa ambiance cafe

                  1. t
                    Tokyoite RE: roonross Mar 25, 2014 05:25 PM

                    Probably best not to eat together unless she is up for a meal of cucumber rolls, dried radish rolls, natto rolls, egg and pickled ginger.

                    Is dashi ok? Because that is usually made from dried fish and it goes in almost everything.

                    Restaurants that do both sushi and meat are not generally well known for sushi...or meat.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Tokyoite
                      Tripeler RE: Tokyoite Mar 27, 2014 06:27 PM

                      Natto rolls? Heck, if she doesn't eat fish, I wouldn't imagine she'd eat natto.

                      1. re: Tripeler
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                        Tokyoite RE: Tripeler Mar 30, 2014 05:56 PM

                        Was just trying to think of some non-fish things in a sushi place :) But you are absolutely correct!

                    2. r
                      roonross RE: roonross Mar 27, 2014 02:10 PM

                      Thanks much for all of the replies. Much appreciated.

                      The Culinary Ball & Chain has already gained notoriety during our travels through North and South America, Europe, Africa and Australia for her "picky" eating habits. You can imagine her delight when I informed her that her reputation as a culinary loser has now reached Asia. I also shared with her that the majority vote by the Chowhounds was that I dump her. She didn't seem amused.

                      Although dumping her is clearly the only rational choice, after investing over thirty years in this relationship, I'm inclined to pursue a compromise. The Kyubei suggestion sounds perfect, and I greatly appreciate it.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: roonross
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                        Uncle Yabai RE: roonross Mar 27, 2014 05:55 PM

                        Aha! You've fallen for the sunk-cost fallacy...

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