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Jun 9, 2014 07:43 PM

Tokyo, July 2014: Feedback on my foodie plans so far and suggestions still needed


First post so please be kind.

My wife and I are heading to Tokyo for 7 days this summer. Trying to plan out several different places for lunch and dinner to get a taste of the city. We also have one dinner in Kyoto as well.

Ginza Kyubey Sushi (Lunch)
Dons de la nature (Dinner)
Shiraume Ryokan - Kaiseki (Dinner)
Sushi Sawada (Dinner)
Kondo Tempura (Lunch)
Aronia de Takazawa (Dinner)

I'm still trying for either Sushi Saito or Jiro but won't know until July.

Basically, if you have recomendations for any replacements for the above, I'm open to suggestions especially places for steak as I've heard mixed things about Dons de la nature and know there has to be other options for Kobe steak that might be a little less expensive.

I also would love suggestions for the following cuisine: an Izakaya, a Ramen shop, and a place to try some good tonkatsu.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Err.., in your list of sushi yasan, they are all difficult to book - except sushi Kyubei, but then I am not sure you intend to spend more than 20,000yens there !
    For steak, try 'a la carte' Shima, the other side menu is certainly not worth it, better stick to steak !

    15 Replies
    1. re: Ninisix

      I have reservations at all the places except Jiro and Saito. Thanks!

      1. re: CJD2008

        Glad to see that you succeeded reservations at sushi Sawada, as it can be pretty difficult. Sushi Saito apparently do not accept reservations from new comers, only in between his group of regulars. Sushi Jiroo Ginza, oh well, after Obama's dinner there, no surpise, it is way more difficult to reserve. Even the phone is not reaching !

        1. re: Ninisix

          FWIW: Sushi Saito and Jiro will start taking reservations for August 1 reservations beginning July 1 - at least that's what I've been told my by hotel concierge who have booked all the reservations above (except for Takazawa which I did using their online system which is amazing)

          1. re: CJD2008

            Well, if your hotel concierge manages it, excellent for you! You should advertise that hotel, there may be people interested.
            I have had very different experience, and no luck with some reservations (granted, I do not spend my time trying over and over again). But some sushi seems happy (and successful enough) to run in their traditional way, including favoring recurrent patrons over occasional visitors. Jiroo San did not even change his menu for Obama's visit, and won't afterwards !

            1. re: CJD2008

              My friend went to Sukibayashi back in April and he just called in a month ahead of time. The person who answered the phone spoke broken English but it wasn't difficult to make it.

            2. re: Ninisix

              Usually when Obama dines at a restaurant here in the US, the quality goes down even though the popularity goes up. Hope that's not the case with Jiro!

              I also saw that Obama didn't even eat half of his courses. What a shame!

          2. re: Ninisix

            Hi All. This board has been so helpful in planning my trip. I have managed to skinny down my super long list, thanks to you all. I am down to only two choices per category, which is also the hardest part of decision-making. Would really help to know which restaurants you would choose.

            Sushi - Sawada or Yoshitake (have reservations at both places on same day so need to cancel one)
            Sukiyaki - Imahan or Hiyama
            Teppanyaki - Ukai-tei or Kawamura
            Yakitori - Fuku or Birdland

            Thank you!

            1. re:

              My idea would be to mix high ends and local eats. So I recommend you to choose Yakitori Fuku, and Imahan branch in Asakusa. Then, after your beef shabu shabu, if you still have empty space, you can have nihon shu and some 2 pieces Kyoto style 'oshisushi' at Yoropa. That is 2-3 streets from Imahan.
              Sushi Sawada, if you didn't try it yet, I recommend it for their full course. Their tsumami are fantastic, big pieces to taste fully for their nice texture. I still have a preference for sushi Yoshitake, as their omakase is a good 10,000yens cheaper... but remember that sushi can be copious, so if you want to have nigiri made smaller, you can go ahead and just ask. Both counters are very small. Yoshitake San seems to me easier to approach, Sawada San is a over 2 hours show !

              1. re: Ninisix

                I was just going to ask someone that - how long is dinner at Sawada?

                2.5-3 hours?

                If we are beginning dinner at 6:30, will we be done by 9:30?

                1. re: CJD2008

                  My lunches at Sawada take 3+ hours. This is lunch.

                  1. re: CJD2008

                    I had dinner there, and a lunch one year after, each one was about 2:30h. Yes, even the lunch. I actually did not see the time fly, pace seemed just right.

                    1. re: Ninisix

                      I agree, Ninisix-san. The pacing is excellent. Sawada-san is the consummate sushi master.

                  2. re: Ninisix

                    Thank you so much, Ninisix! Fuku, Imahan, and Yoshitake it is! I will be going to the Imahan branch at the Odakyu Daiichi Life Building in Shinjuku as I will be in that area the whole day. Hopefully the quality is at par with its original branch in Asakusa.

                    I only have one last decision to make and will appreciate your thoughts:

                    For tonkatsu - Butagumi or Katsuzen or Katsukura?

                    1. re:

                      Tonkatsu, yes, I prefer Butagumi, more expensive than the other two, but still, served with 'akamiso(red miso based soup)' is the perfect combination with tonkatsu ! Katsukura, the goma sauce is nice, but you will have to choose the most up grade pork, the base one was, well, not that juicy

                      1. re: Ninisix

                        Second on the butagumi. Their Iberico is divine if available.

              2. There are a ton of suggestions already posted for izakaya, ramen, and tonkatsu. Do a search and come up with options, then ask more specific questions to determine which places might best suit you.

                1. Also, for future reference, Dons de la nature does not charge a corkage fee for bringing a bottle of your own wine. I have a special bottle that I wanted to bring and confirmed with the restaurant for those that may be interested in the future it's a helpful tip!

                  1. L.A. 'Hound here, but I do go to Japan for tabe aruki every now and then...

                    Chef Takazawa and Akiko-san are a very sweet couple. They spend time to talk to diners at the end of the meal.

                    Ramen: ラーメン二郎 Ramen Jiro (no, not THAT Jiro) in Minato-ku. Hey, in case you don't get into Sukiyabashi Jiro after all, you can still tell people you ate at Jiro in Tokyo.

                    Tonkatsu: Try Maisen in Omotesando.

                    Japanese Fruit: Sembikiya

                    My 2 yen: If you are having sushi at Sawada, then there is no need for Jiro.

                    Please don't just concentrate only on the high-end stuff in your 7 days. Do try a casual neighborhood eatery (washoku). Go to Lawson and buy an onigiri or two. Get a bento at the train station for your train ride with a salaryman beer.

                    Enjoy your Chowing!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: J.L.

                      Yeah we have several "open" days in terms of lunch and dinner but before I knew it I had many days filled up with the hard to get stuff :)

                      Thank you for the tips!!

                    2. just a few comments from my side..

                      for tempura i wouldnt go to kondo, i MUCH prefer mikawa zezankyo (slightly more oily / crispier batter) or tempura hayashi (which is imo at the same level as rakutei)... both are superior to kondo which is too commercial these days.

                      sushi: i believe u should skip kyubey as it is also very commercial these days.. sawada is an excellent choice as it is my favorite along with saito.. i would suggest going to sushi umi (fun atmosphere but very high quality as well) or miyakozushi (bigger pieces, bolder flavors and are more in your face). if you are unable to book either one, maybe you can try sushi sho masa (worked at both umi and sho under keiji nakazawa but i enjoy sho masa more).

                      takazawa is a good dining experience but dont expect to get blown away by the food.

                      kaiseki: i would suggest trying your luck at matsukawa or kyoaji.. which are 2 of the best in tokyo. if you're unable to get a booking i would try ishikawa (do not go to koju / kanda as i think while theyre good theyre slightly overrated). for contemporary style kaiseki go to jimbocho den.

                      i would suggest throwing in an unagi dinner. go to unagi kabuto (better than nodaiwa, obana and chikuyotei). and make sure u get the wild unagi!

                      pls feel free to let me know if you have any questions. hope i managed to make ur decisions easier!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jmui852

                        Great suggestions! Thank you for your honesty as well.

                        Does unagi kabuto serve lunch?

                        We are doing a kaiseki while in Kyoto

                        1. re: CJD2008

                          If unagi kabuto doesn't serve lunch, do you have a suggestion for wild unagi for lunch at another place?

                          Our Sunday is wide-open as well but I know many restaurants seem to be closed on Sundays.