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Review of my trip to Japan (thanks to all the tips here)

This past Christmas, I made my first trip to Japan and it was unbelievable. In all honesty, it was the best food trip of my life and a lot of it was thanks to you guys and girls. Great threads and trips to get ideas from. So I thought I would give back somehow by posting our reviews:

Japan Overview (http://www.lespetiteschoses.ca/blog/j...) - An overall blog post on our thoughts of Japan including a list of our top 10 notable meals.

Daisan Harumi (http://www.lespetiteschoses.ca/blog/d...) - Our first high end sushi meal on our trip to Japan. We were left somewhat underwhelmed but it was better than most that we have had in North America.

Sushi Iwa (http://www.lespetiteschoses.ca/blog/s...) - Honestly, the best meal of our lives to date. It was mind blowing... and we're not exaggerating.

Shorain (http://www.lespetiteschoses.ca/blog/s...) - Amazing tofu in a hidden location in Kyoto. So glad we came here!

I am working on more blog posts for the tonkatsu that we had here along with Sushi Dai and other memorable spots. It was a great trip and it was thanks to you guys.

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  1. I wouldn't exactly call Daisan Harumi a high-end sushi place, though it is excellent for the price.

    Good you had a great food trip in Japan. That part is not surprising.

    Looking forward to your other posts.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      Haha fair enough - it may not have been by high end by everyone's standards but I'm not accustomed to spending $150 pp for a meal too often ;)

      1. re: kelvenng

        Wow, that's really a lot to spend for Daisan Harumi. You probably got lots of the best stuff. In any case, I think you likely did well, so it was too bad you left a big underwhelmed.

        1. re: Tripeler

          $150 per person for dinner is the price for the dinner omakase without drinks, and it goes up from there. You are probably confusing DSH for some other place.

          1. re: Uncle Yabai

            Well, it HAS been years and years since I have been there, but likely you are right, I am confusing it with someplace else.

          2. re: Tripeler

            My last trip to Daisan Harumi in Jan was slightly less(22000yen) than Mizutani.

            1. re: Shirang

              Mine was less than 10,000 yen per person, but that was well over 10 or 15 years ago.

              1. re: Tripeler

                When I first started going there you could get a lunch set for JPY 2,500. That was also around 10 years ago. So things have changed.

      2. "You walk around the city, eating snacks to keep up your energy and then you wonder, "Where can I throw away my garbage?""

        The answer is of course that you don't walk around eating snacks. But since Japan is good at... err... picking stuff up from foreigners, who are in turn more plentiful than they once were, it's become somewhat acceptable recently to nibble on the go. As a result, the streets in young people neighborhoods aren't as clean and the big electronic sign at the Omo/Hara intersection has to show all kinds of passive aggressive strips about keeping it clean. :)

        Sorry for the off topic post, thanks for the trip report!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gargle

          Haha now that you mention it, it does make sense. We did not see too many people eating on the go at all. Most took the time to sit in the restaurants, have their meal and wander afterwards. Anyway, we ended up keeping all our rubbish in our backpacks until we got back to the hotel.

        2. Your Japan overview is very nicely done, great photos, delicious food pics. Planning a trip around Christmas of 2014, so very timely. Thanks.

          1 Reply
          1. re: curiousgeo

            Thanks for the compliments. I look forward to adding more posts soon so I'll post here when those are up and also add more context to my posts to help you guys out as well. I know I leaned heavily on this forum for help when I went to Japan so it's time to return the favor.

          2. The blog posts on Les Petites Choses were great and fun to read. I recently tried to book reservation at Sawada , where I had been before , but unfortunately they were booked. I also tried Saito, and no luck there either. I will be in Tokyo next week and am trying to get some excellent sushi. Sushi Iwa I had not heard about and hopefully I can get in there. Otherwise any suggestions are welcome.
            Shorain in Kyoto , looks fantastic , and I had read other recommendations for this place. I will try to get there for lunch, I hope I get lucky.
            Thanks for posting.

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodwhisperer

              I highly recommend Sushi Iwa if you get the chance. The chef is fairly young but doesn't mean that his sushi isn't refined. It was honestly the best meal we had in Japan bar none. I was ecstatic to get a reservation 2 weeks before our trip... probably lucky in that regard.

            2. Sushi Dai (http://www.lespetiteschoses.ca/blog/s...) - Blog updated with pictures now.

              To be honest, the omakase at Sushi Dai impressed us. The meal included 12 pieces of nigiri which were definitely bigger in quantity (both in rice and in fish) than most other traditional spots. No, it was not as refined as Daisan Harumi or Sushi Iwa which we had the previous 2 nights but the quality of fish was there. We came here with a bit of skepticism. This was a touristy spot after all. But we were left satisfied and honestly feeling like our 3 hour wait was worth it. I personally loved the horse mackeral and o-toro. So impressive and fatty, the o-toro just melts in your mouth. It really is unlike any tuna you get in North America where its texture just doesn't hold and disintegrates rather than melts if that makes sense. The uni, while it wasn't the best we had in Japan, was delicious, had a super creamy texture that was rich and sweet. Of all the sushi restaurants we have been to, the only one in North America that we could definitely say is better than Sushi Dai may be Sushi Yasuda in New York. But then you're looking at a price difference of $40 USD versus $200 USD per person. So, to conclude, would we come back? Definitely! I just hope we don't have to wait in line for 3 hours again next time...

              1. A couple of other thoughts on places we went to include two fantastic beef restaurants in Japan: http://www.lespetiteschoses.ca/blog/j... (with photos)

                1. Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku in Osaka: This was one restaurant that we did not plan on eating in (like so many of the other meals we had in Japan). We simply wandered the old streets of Osaka and came across this one. A classy yakiniku joint along the cobblestone street that was clean but lit in a way that reminded you of movies of olden day Japan where lanterns lit the way, Matsuzakagyu specializes in Matsusaka beef (a form of wagyu). We were seated in our private booth which had drapes to separate you from the rest of the restaurant. There are English speaking waiters and waitresses and in any case, they are very polite and helpful.

                We settled for the beef platter which worked out to be around $120-130 USD per person. For that price, you get a variety of cuts of beef, each with a different form and varying marbling. Like any yakiniku, the food is grilled at your table. The cuts of meat varied and were written in Japanese as you can see below but all tasted delicious. You can use the house sauce as well but the meat tasted great on its own. The beef was tender and flavourful. Was it the best steak I’ve had in my life? Probably not but it was pretty close. The next place we went to though, took that prize.

                2. Yoroniku, Tokyo: When we got in, we were surprised that this was a smoking restaurant but such is Japan in some cases. We’re not smokers and we don’t like the smell but it is part of their dining culture in izakaya’s and the like so it is just something we had to deal with. We once again ordered the fixed price menu of $70 USD per person which comes with 10 different dishes. The difference here though is that a server is assigned to cook the beef for you. Might as well because they know exactly how it is done. They literally let the beef sit for no longer than 2 seconds in some cases! The beef came in varying sizes and cuts but I tell you, I haven’t seen beef look this good before. Starting with the perfectly seasoned raw beef tar tar, we eventually made our way to the thin cuts of beef. The beef was cut so thin, the cook called it “silk”. It was marbled thoroughly as you would expect but it was marinated as well. The beef was actually sweet and savoury at the same time and just melted in your mouth. The house sauce was delicious and the cook tells you how to eat each slice (with sauce, with no sauce, with lemon, etc). One of the more memorable pieces was a thin, thin cut of beautiful beef that was cooked then mixed with a raw egg yolk. It sounds risky but it was incredible. We also had the sirloin steak but honestly, the thinner slices were the highlights.

                By the time the cook said that it was the last meat dish, I was sad. For me, this was the best beef that I have ever had – which is saying a lot because I love steak. I was full but almost did not want the goodness to end. Yoroniku easily ranks up there as one of the top three meals we had in Japan (better than Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku in Osaka).

                1. We had lunch at Iwa last summer. It was, as well, superb. The four of us had two of the JPY 8000 sets and two of the JPY 5000 sets, and it was plenty. It looks like you had significantly more food, so you likely had dinner. Could I ask how much your course cost?


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: angler

                    We had the omakase with some sake. By the end of the meal we were absolutely stuffed haha.. can't say I remember how many pieces (around 20) we were given but our meal came out to around $235-240 USD per person.