Some recent meals - Kusumoto, Cocoro, Kyoushizuku, Den, Tirpse,...
Kusumoto is a membership based dinner club that now offers a limited number of dinner seats to the general public. There's a range of courses offered, from which we (expectedly) chose the expensive one, priced around 12,000 at the moment. Almost everything was excellent, including a terrific dish of horse nigiri, a sublime serving of noresore in citrus jelly, a sashimi platter with correctly crunchy madai and okay tuna, four hour cooked abalone, sharkfin rice... the only dud was dessert, which included a ball of freezer-flavored strawberry sorbet. Highly recommended.
Cocoro - I've mentioned it here before, and I'll mention it again as they need and deserve your business. Unreasonably located in Harajuku with pancakes and burgers all around, and operating out of a room that looks like it was supposed to serve an Italian restaurant, they serve modern-Izakaya fare with a handful of western dishes. The ingredients are always excellent, sashimi plates are artfully presented (and a steal), and the chef and hostess are charming (and English enabled). I don't know much about sake but many of the bottles I tried there seemed very good to me. Someone with tabelog cred should vote them up:
Kyoushizuku - what a dud of a Kyoryouri place. I think the chef operates this as a cooking school, or at least that's the only way I can explain the two employees/students snickering in the kitchen. The chef himself didn't seem particularly committed to the fact that the restaurant was open, occasionally coming out to grill this or finish that, but spending the evening talking to a lady friend (not a dinner customer) in a private room. One hour start to finish for a 12 course meal, many items too sweet or otherwise off flavored. Stay away.
Den - I can no longer recommend it at all. I think the turnover in the kitchen brought them to a point where they can no longer control the place. The vegetable dish has reverted to a cheap Italian cafe style salad, over dressed and featuring very sweet/sour components. The chicken was very greasy. Other items had various problems... and the service (I know they think they are being friendly and helpful) is seriously overbearing.
Tirpse - the service is still rough around the edges, and the style is far more Japanese-inflected than at Quintessence, but if you don't go crazy with the wine I think it's not at all a bad place to have dinner at the current price. Everything is perfectly executed, clever, and clean, from the earl grey flavored onion "crisps" at the beginning of the meal, to the gorgeous pigeon, but maybe an unexpected highlight for me was a dish that included mountain vegetables that were magically without any bitterness, but sitting on campari infused couscous. Recommended.
I've been going to yearly ＯＢ会 at Kusomoto last few years. Food has been great. We've been doing buri shabu as our main. So buttery good...My friend went to undergrad with Kusumoto I think... Afterwards, we have been getting drinks at Bunon, an interesting wine bar in a rustic old Japanese building tucked into the neighborhood on the other side of Gaien Nishi Dori. The place is run by a kinomo clad matron who will give you several recs based on a short "sodan" discussion with her. I don't believe they have an actual wine menu. So you probably need to known your stuff and how to communicate in Japanese. Food for a second stop in the evening, is good for tsumami. I don't know if it's worth it for a full on meal.
I've been to more than a couple she's recommended, and I don't think it's a dig at all, just a stylistic comment. Anyway, it's not very well known although it's been around for almost 15 years and doesn't require references or invitations. They taught me how to make my own absinthe, and this Monday their customers sported a total of six michelin stars (and it wasn't the first time). It's less than 5 minutes walk from the place that serves bear claws (actual ones, not the pastry) in Roppongi 3. I think you can find it using these clues.
"I'm going to pull a wekabeka and not post the name here." !?(･_･;?
It was one intro-only place! And, FYI, I took the person who enquired about it there for lunch a few weeks ago. Don't be such a meany!
Why the reluctance to name 'the wine bar' near Matagi (aka the bear claw place)? It's well known by most on this board.
Silverjay: Bunon is great! The owner is best friends with Shonzui's Katsuyama-san. Hence the exclusively natural wine selection. Their nihonshu selection has shrunk recently, but I'll try not to hold that against them. (^_−)−☆