Reservations using a hotel concierge
Hi, I am sorry if someone has already answered this but I could not find a recent answer using the search function.
I am heading to Tokyo in November for the first time (very excited) and i would like to use my hotel concierge to try and make bookings for me. I know some of the places I would like to dine in are very hard to get reservations in e.g. Sushi Saito, Quintessence etc.
How soon do you think I should contact the hotel? Is now too early? For example I think at least one of the places only takes reservations a month in advance anyway...
Lucky you, November is for foodies one of the tastier months. Fish is fatter, plenty mushrooms, crab, monk fish liver, yellowtail collar and cheek, new harvest rice and new sake.
The concierges of reputable upper tier hotels can be very effective. However, be aware that some restaurants will ask you to choose a set formula (or at least commit to a price range) right away when making the booking.
It also serves to understand the actual size of Tokyo. Honestly, it does.
Give us a hint of where your hotel is. CH is more fun when you use it to find things not yet endorsed by Michelin. We prefer to have you report back on a yet unidentified izakaya of 8000 yen, rather than tell us Saito would not have you for three times that.
I am not familiar with Tokyo station area, but Shinjuku is paradise. Specially there you need to rely on inside knowledge, as the market is very competitive.
If I were dining solo and not entertaining guests, I would tell the concierge my favorite ingredients plus a maximum budget, and request places within walking distance from the hotel.
Strolling through Shinjuku at dusk with the neons taking over from the daylight and enjoying those two or three beers before your dinner. Man, you are making nervous with envy!
My suggestion is that you begin a conversation with your hotel 3-4 months ahead of time so that they can advise on when some of your top target needs to be booked. For all but a handful of restaurants, one month should be sufficient for the vast vast majority 2 weeks. However, once the concierge knows your needs and preferences ahead of time, the process goes much more smoothly as you make additional requests close to the date. Much harder if you dump several reservation at once on them a few weeks before your trip. In many cases there will be a few back and forth questions related to course menu price selection, seat selection and alternatives if places aren't open or happen to be fully booked.
I'd echo hbink's comment that the list 20 or so places which are regularly brought up by new posters that have a high correlation with michelin stars, FOMO foodies and food-related blogs tends to only scratch the surface of the "best" that tokyo has to offer. Morever, the only bad restaurant experiences I have had in Japan (strictly related to service and atmosphere) have been just such places that the international "foodie" community recycles through.