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Jun 27, 2014 05:22 PM

Top 10 Izakayas in Tokyo - whats your suggestions


If we were to gather sugestions for the top 10 Izakayas in Tokyo only based on the quality of their food, what would be your suggestions?

I guess Kanemasu is a must. Any others of the same quality?

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  1. I read somewhere that when Ferran Adria visited Tokyo he had all high end restaurants on his schedule except two Izakayas. One of them was Kanemasu. Does anyone know which one the other was?

    1. I guess people want to protect their info.

      13 Replies
      1. re: Roysen

        >I guess people want to protect their info.

        I don't think that's it. It just seems like it's missing the point to try to figure out the "best ten" out of the tens of thousands of izakaya that you can choose from. People who live in Tokyo tend to have their own favorites - maybe it's for the sake selection, or the ambience, or the grilled meats or fresh seafood or original dishes. And value for money is generally an important factor in choosing someplace you go to regularly.

        I've certainly shared some of my favorite places here (and, um, elsewhere), but I doubt that they'd be of interest to someone looking for a "top ten." (And they'd probably be most interesting to sake drinkers.)

        1. re: Robb S

          I understand. My approach should maybe have been better and more to the point. I know of course that what is best is a matter of preferance and individual opinion and that to make something generaly "best" is not possible.

          So lets change the scope of the thread to - What is your 10 favourite Izakayas.

          Then everyone can form their own opinion based on those recomendations.

          As you point out because people go to an Izakaya to entertain different needs they will also choose their favourite Izakaya based on differnt qualities.

          I guess what I mean is that what I am interested in would be just tips for Izakayas that could be a hangout for someone going to Tokyo for about a month like i will on my next trip.

          To be able to choose my own favourite it is very difficult to try my way around having so little time to try and fault. So I will be foriced to rely on recomendations and those recomendations will need to be made based on what I am looking for.

          So maybe what I should do is to tell you a little bit about what I am looking for. To me it is actually a mix over everything. A great ambience is important. Either by a friendly environment made by the customers or by a especially enthusiastic staff. The sake is important too. There should be a wide selection of high quality sake. Then there is the food which probably is the most important aspect for me. I am looking for something close to a high end restaurant - like Kanemasu or Toki no ma. Price is not that important since I am only going to be around for a month and its not going to be my every day hang out for a life time.

          PS! I really enjoy your writings on your blog and in Japan Times. I also certanily have picked up many intersting Izakaya tips there too which I have noted down for future trial.

          1. re: Roysen

            Well, favorite izakayas is a more interesting question. Here are some of my favorites off the top of my head. I'm not sure they'll match your interests, but some of them might (and they might be of interest to others here).

            - Bakuro in Ebisu for the fantastic grilled horsemeat and pleasant old-fashioned decor

            - Dachibin in Koenji for the lively atmosphere, great Okinawan food and cheap prices

            - HaruKor in Okubo for the many venison and mountain-vegetable dishes and the dirt-cheap prices

            - Kushibeh in Koenji for the excellent yakitori and sake selection

            - Lo in Sangenjaya for the heirloom-breed grilled pork and the creative vegetable dishes

            - Mondo in Nihonbashi for the Shimane cuisine and sake

            - Souten Minami-guchi in Otsuka for the grilled game birds and the excellent sake selection

            - Teppen in Otemachi because it's noisy and fun, with good food and reasonable prices

            - Toki no Ma in Ebisu, despite its flaws, for the balance of a wide-ranging menu (from horse sushi to multiple varieties of satsuma-age), extensive limited-edition sake list, convenient late-night hours and reasonable prices

            - Wattaribozu in Gotanda for the unusual Akita cuisine and sake

            - Yuian in Nishi-Shinjuku for the reliable food, great view, gorgeous decor and good value for money

            (PS. Robbie Swinnerton writes for the Japan Times and maintains a blog called Tokyo Food File, which indeed has many good izakaya tips. I'm not him though.)

            1. re: Robb S

              Also note that the list above lists a few of my favorites, not necessarily recommendations for you. Some of them use beer crates for seats, and many have no English-speaking staff or menus.

              1. re: Robb S

                Sorry for the mistaken identity. I seemed to remember that you once wrote on this forum that you were him. I was obviously mistaken. Again truly sorry for that.

                ....and thank you so much for you Izakaya tips.

                Have you ever tried Kanemasu? If so what do yu think? Are there other similar in food style and quality that you know of?

                Thanks again!

                PS! I certanly hope others also have value from the information in this thread. That is like to imply the main issue with writing on a forum.

                1. re: Roysen

                  No problem at all, people get us mixed up all the time. (Because I also write about restaurants, but on a website, not for a newspaper or a blog.)

                  Sorry, I don't know Kanemasu - as I said there are tens of thousands of izakaya out there....

                  1. re: Roysen

                    Robb S is the man behind, which is an excellent English resource for dining and drinking in Tokyo. Highly recommend you check it out. He lists many more izakaya throughout the city...The link is in his profile, but I'm sure modesty and forum etiquette prevent him from mentioning it in posts all the time...

                    Blanket "best" requests for the entire city just aren't appealing to respond to, especially when you stipulate "something close to a high end restaurant", which is kind of a new fangled type of izakaya that has emerged in recent times and not always particularly endearing on the charm scale.

                    I haven't been to Kanemasu, but have had it on my radar last couple of visits. If you go, please report back. It's one of those places with wacky business hours and random days that it is shuttered. So I've been reluctant to plan around dealing with that myself.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      Ah, thats what I remember. Thanks for that clarification.

                      To RobbS. Excellent work on that website too. I have used it a lot.

                      I just tried to explain that blanket was more of a bad phrasing rather than seriously intended. I am looking for what you yourself think of as your favourites and why. I also tried to explain what I am looking for in case some knows something that matches those preferanses.

                      I certainly plan to visit Kanemasu and will most defineatly report from that visit.

                  2. re: Robb S

                    I always thought you were Robbie Swinnerton. I knew you posted at though. :)

                    Glad to see you still contributing to CH.

                    1. re: quddous

                      Thanks. Robbie also posts here occasionally, as "Tokyo Food File" I believe.

                  3. re: Roysen

                    "I am looking for something close to a high end restaurant - like Kanemasu..." You do know it's a tachinomiya, right? The food is of a higher calibre than your average shitamachi tachinomi, but you need to keep in mind that you have to tackle a full, rich meal on your feet, and it's very cramped.
                    The menu is written in impenetrable text, peppered with Kansai-ben expressions, so do some research before you go (the menu doesn't change much) or point to what others are having. That said, I think everyone just goes to take photos of one particular dish...

                    Like other locals, I've written countless izakaya recommendations on these boards, so I suggest taking advantage of search box at the top of the page. Good luck!

                    1. re: wekabeka

                      Ok, now several has metioned this so I need to point out what I actually wrote. It was this:

                      "Then there is the food which probably is the most important aspect for me. I am looking for something close to a high end restaurant - like Kanemasu or Toki no ma."

                      So the relation to "something close to a high end restaurant" was only in relation to the quality of the food served.

                      I know that Kanemasu is a tachinomiya.

                      I am going there with a Tokyo native. So language will be no problem.

                      I have used this board a lot and have of course used the search functionality both for this issue and all others before posting any questions. What I haven't found is the kind of Izakaya that focus on food with a quality like Kanemasu, and that is what I am mostly looking for.

                      1. re: Roysen

                        One thing that works well, assuming you have the capacity for it, is starting early at Kanemasu and then when you're done loving their pristine ingredients, strolling to one of the other excellent Izakaya in the vicinity.