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May 9, 2014 07:45 AM

Tokyo / Izuhanto. Please review my trip.

First time poster. Thank you to the regulars who have provided such a wealth of information over the years, makes for some great reading.
May I have some opinions and suggestions about my upcoming trip.

Off to Japan on a 24 day family vacation for the first time, dividing our time equally between Tokyo, Izuhanto (Shuzenji ryokan) and Kyoto. I'll put my kyoto food itinerary in a separate post.
Possibly some day trips from Kyoto to Hiroshima/Nara etc.
I speak Japanese reasonably well though I am practically illiterate except for basic kanji.

Tokyo (actually staying in Shimokitazawa)


* Seika Kobayashi
* Kohaku (虎白)
* Gonpachi

I am joking about Gonpachi.


* Sushi Saito and Kyubey (久兵衛). And mid range Uoshin (Shimokitazawa)

I am most looking forward to a trip to Odawara with Japanese friends. Some nondescript 6000 yen per head hole in the wall Shyabu-shyabu/Sashimi place for Hirame, Maguro, Amaebi, Sazae, Ika, buri, Kinmedai.
I have only seen pictures, not sure what goes in the Shyabu-Shyabu and what's for sashimi :) I have also been promised some homemade Kamameshi.

That's all of my sushi budget, other than that sushi on the cheap:
* Standing only sushi: Sakaezushi,Taiyo, Tachizushi Aoi, Nihonbashi Nigi Nigi Ichi
* Kaiten: Kappa, Kura, Sujiro


* Jiro Honten
* Other than that, picking the top 3 on ramendb that are reasonably easy to get to

* Jindai-Ji, no particular place


* Shirube (Shimokita)


* Yakitori Shinka or Torishiki? Birdland? Friends have suggested some local places around Shimokita but they aren't particularly well reviewed.

Same friends insist that best tonkatsu is at Wako and best Udon/Sukiyaki at Mimiu Shibuya. Hmmm.

Izuhanto (Ryokan near Shuzenji):
* kaiseki at the ryokan
* Picking a taka ashi kani (long leg crab) place in Heda port at random. This looks promising:
* Numazu fish market

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  1. For reasonably priced sushi, I would consider going to Midori Sushi in Umegaoka in place of one of the standing sushi restaurants. Midori Sushi is an extremely popular sushi restaurant due to its strong cost vs performance ratio. Including drinks, the cost is usually no more than 4K-5K yen even for big eaters. The downside is that they do not take reservations and you may have to line up for up to an hour depending on the time of day. Umegaoka is just 2 stops from Shimo Kitazawa on the Odakyu line.

    As for yakitori, Fuku would be a good option. Fuku is located in Yoyogi Uehara, also just 2 stations away from Shimo Kitazawa on the Odakyu line, but in the opposite direction from Umegaoka. Fuku has been discussed often on this board and a search would come up with many hits.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ruprecht25

      Thank you very much. I read up on Fuku and I'll put it on my list!
      As far as waiting in line at Midori, is there a day of the week/time of day with the least wait? This may not be an easy question to answer.

      1. re: lederhosen

        I usually go to Midori Sushi around 8:45pm Tuesday - Friday. At that hour, there is usually little or no wait. However, the restaurant closes promptly at 10pm so you have to finish your meal by then.

        1. re: ruprecht25

          Slightly confused. Midori Sushi *in Umegaoka* ??? Yes Umegaoka is just 2 stops from Shimokita, however there doesn't appear to be a Midori Sushi there. The chain name is 梅丘寿司の美登利 or *Umegaoka* Sushi no Midori. Did you mean the honten in Shibuya?

          1. re: lederhosen

            There are actually 2 Midori Sushi restaurants in Umegaoka. Go to the original shop. Here is the link:

            1. re: lederhosen

              The main branch (honkan) is in Umegaoka:

              ("honten" is part of the name of the chain, which may be confusing.)

              1. re: Robb S

                Thanks guys, got it. 本館 / 本店 :)

      2. Do you have Saito already booked?

        16 Replies
        1. re: la2tokyo

          Yes.That was not an easy reservation!

          1. re: lederhosen

            And Seika Kobayashi? Nice

            I can't see a reason to choose Kohaku over Ishikawa.

            Why Kyubei?

            1. re: Gargle

              Yes, very excited about Seika Kobayashi and Saito. I planned for 4 über-expensive meals in Tokyo. Kyubei and Kohaku arre easy to get into and well reviewed.
              Ishikawa looks fantastic but I can't drop Kohaku at this point. Meeting friends there. At first they wanted to take me to Ginza Habsburg Veilchen because I am Austrian. No thank you - I am too much of a snob when it comes to Schnitzel and Gulasch.

              1. re: lederhosen

                Kyubei is not that well reviewed and there are easily 30 better options in that price range that you can get into. That's why I asked.

                1. re: Gargle

                  Thank you Gargle. I would consider going elsewhere, however the Japanese friend I am meeting there think it's the best place ever. Not sure I can get out of that one without offending him.

                  1. re: Gargle

                    I'm sure I'm not the only one here who'd love to hear about those thirty "better options in that price range"....

                    1. re: Robb S

                      I second that. Actually what is the price range? My Japanese friend seems to think dinner is 15,000 at Kyubei but tabelog says ¥20,000~¥29,999. For that I can go to Saito almost.

                      1. re: lederhosen

                        Kyubei has evening prix-fixe menus priced at Y10,000, Y15,000, Y20,000, Y25,000, and Y30,000.

                        Lunch starts at Y4000, which I think is good value for money, but as I said I'd love to hear about all the better options at that price point.

                      2. re: Robb S

                        From memory, Oono, Shingo, Ichiyanagi (and I don't even like it, still it's much better), Ichikawa, Namba, Daisan Harumi, Sho, Sho Masa (probably more expensive if you have a tendency to overeat), the other place in Yotsuya (Tero, Teru?)、Zoroku Yuzan (another one that really wasn't for me - heavy handed on the soy and salt), but still better than Kyubei. If you want another 20 then I'll need to be by my notes and a real keyboard. Hardly a challenge.

                        Michelin doesn't include Kyubei in their starred sushi places, so it's anyone's guess where they rank it. On tabelog I think it's somewhere between Zambia and Zimbabwe...

                        But in any event since it seems the OP's list of places is set in stone there's not much point in "reviewing" it.

                        1. re: Gargle

                          I suppose I can ask Saito Takashi himself since he used to work at Kyubei :) I hear he is really friendly and great to talk to.

                            1. re: lederhosen

                              Since you're going to all these places anyway so as not to offend various friends, and since they're all very good (and incredibly hard to get into, in some cases) I think the obvious thing to do is to just enjoy them :)

                            2. re: Gargle

                              Thanks very much for the list! I'm looking forward to some great Y4000 lunches that will put Kyubei to shame.

                              1. re: Robb S

                                Sorry, I didn't know the criteria was to compete with the cheapest lunch menu. :)

                                I don't do lunch.

                                1. re: Gargle

                                  I see. Do all of the places you list have a Y10,000 dinner menu then?

                                  1. re: Robb S

                                    The average diner at Kyubei spends 25000, based on a sample of 230 dinners, with a standard deviation of about 7500. I spend 14000 (nearly half as much!) at Namba for their full, and only, omakase and three glasses of sake, about 18000 at Shingo or Sho, etc. None of the places listed are substantially more expensive.

                                    Is there a theoretical possibility, in each and every one of them, to drink water and eat a cheaper course than what I usually take? I don't know. I think that any reasonable person would describe them as "in the same price range"

                                    eta: and because the internet has such phenomenal memory, I can tell you that ten years ago two of us spent 55,000 at Kyubei, so it's not just the average spend but also more or less my spend.

                2. I lived in the Mishima/Izu Hakone line area for 2 years - it's a wonderful part of the country and a great place to chow around.

                  Every return visit sees me eating double my body weight in the local fish, especially aji himono, kinmedai nitsuke and sakura ebi.

                  If you're interested in unagi, Sakaya is a local favourite for unadon. It's in Mishima Hirokoji, one stop from Mishima Station, or a short walk from nearby Mishima Taisha (worth a visit). Be warned: there are big lines on the weekend.

                  Uogashi Maruten, in Numazu Ichiba, is a local institution. It's cheap, cheerful (though the staff are pretty direct and to the point) and the portions are enormous.

                  Another great seafood option in Numazu is Yamasho.

                  If you're interested in microbrew, Baird Beer's Taproom is a great place to waste an afternoon. They are moving their brewery to Shuzenji this June, so you could try their range & do a tour of the brewery while you're staying in the area.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: wekabeka

                    I'm seconding Maruten in Numazu. Wrote up about it a few years ago- .

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      Haha, I read that article and it's part of the reason I am not dropping off the rental car back in Odawarato get on the shinkansen to Kyoto. Instead driving leasurly to Shizuoka-Shi, stopping in Numazu on the way.
                      Thanks for that and your many other contributions over the years, some of which have become part of my trip.

                      1. re: lederhosen

                        Cool. You're very welcome...If I recall, there are a bunch of small pay lots near Uogashi Maruten and also a larger parking structure. But that was a few years ago. It seems since I visited Numazu, they have also built a large market/ mall type of attraction with a whole floor of restaurants. It's called Numazu Fish Market INO.

                        Summer season in those parts you can look for iwa gaki, which are ginormous summer oysters. Like fork and knife eating sized. Also, as noted, kinmedai and sakura ebi. I like kinme sashimi myself...Shirasu are also big down there. If you are going with a small group, that is perfect for ordering a bunch of dishes.

                      2. re: Silverjay

                        Silverjay: Oh, great write up! Brings back fond memories of lazy Sundays in the 'Zu. Was there at least one a month between 2005-2007.

                        Lederhosen: Sadly, my favourite izakaya in the area closed down, but Neko has a great little sake selection (the owner always has a couple of bottles of Juyondai in the fridge) if you feel like a drink while in the Mishima Hirokoji area.

                      3. re: wekabeka

                        I have been querying myself silly on tablelog for good places in Numazu and Mishima. Thank you so much for these links. Looking at the tabelog pictures now. Just wow!
                        We should get there right at the beginning of rainy season so hopefully less hiking/biking, more eating.

                      4. Its almost 1 year on from your original post but just in case others are thinking of planning a similar trip, Hashiguchi for sushi in Tokyo might be easy to book and it is comparable to the top ones. Its rated top 10 in Tabelog. His style is lighter on rice whilst accentuating the natural flavours of the seafood.

                        There has been very little info on Seika Kobayashi but he is a master of umami and an entertaining place to dine whilst watching him doing his one man show. You can read about it here.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: NickLam79

                          Kobayashi was truly great. So was Saito. Totally different food of course, but similar near religious experiences. Being able to watch somebody so immersed and proficient at their craft is an inspiration.

                          The tabelog reviews on Hashiguchi look really good, but they do say that it isn't easy to get a reservation.

                          1. re: lederhosen

                            Yes....Japanese shokunin have that effect. When I see how serious they are in their craft and reflect on my own life...its embarrassing!

                            Anyway, Hashiguchi wasn't difficult to book at all. The concierge booked a pair of seats 3 weeks prior to the date. Easier to book than Saito for sure.

                            1. re: NickLam79

                              The wonderful thing is that one can have that experience all over Japan, in small villages or big cities. All one needs is a mode of transportation and tabelog.