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My plan for the main trip to Tokyo is finished

That's excellent. It will significantly increase your enjoyment and make your plan to graze at izakayas feasible.

about 6 hours ago
tigerjohn in Japan

My plan for the main trip to Tokyo is finished

One additional thing to consider is language. Ordering in an izakaya without speaking Japanese will be difficult as most places do not necessarily have an English speaker on hand and the vast majority have nothing in the way of an english menu (and even if they do it's not likely to include seasonal specials). you will want to make sure Kanemasu has someone who speaks English. For lunches and dinners, courses can be pre-booked via concierge or fixers and there is no need for english on the part of the restaurant. This is much harder at izakayas and single dish restaurants.

about 6 hours ago
tigerjohn in Japan

High End Indian restaurant in Tokyo

To add to Gargle's post above, because you are looking for a somewhat narrow set of dishes from one particular tradition in Indian cuisine adapted to the Western palate, the chances of getting a "high end" version of these dishes is less in a place like Tokyo which has a wider range of Indian cuisine than many places in Northern Europe. My advice to you is the same as for Thai: if you are really interested "high end or high quality", Japanese cuisine presents a sufficient variety to satisfy even for a month whereas you are unlikely to find this to the same extent with respect to Thai and Indian food. In terms of breaking up the "washoku/kaiseki/sushi" fatigue, you can explore other types of Japanese food with different flavor profiles like Soba, Yakitori, Ramen etc.

1 day ago
tigerjohn in Japan

High End Thai restaurant in Tokyo

Duck is not featured regularly in traditional thai cuisine outside of specific appearances, primarily red and orange curries, and chinese preparations (which is probably the one you had above). However, there are many "modern thai" restaurants that are using duck with other traditional thai flavors in new ways. I had a fantastic "Tom Kha Quail" (instead of chicken) at one such place on my last visit. Should you go to Bangkok, there are many places taking this approach, perhaps unsurprisingly.

Jul 26, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Sushi-yas offering something comparable to "The Sawada Experience"?

Is this an EU-wide regulation? It seems strange considering the allowable bacteria involved in some of the protected cheese and charcuterie products.

Jul 26, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

High End Thai restaurant in Tokyo

Get back in touch if you need Bangkok recs.

Jul 25, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

High End Thai restaurant in Tokyo

I don't have a different view of Italian restaurants in Japan vs. Northern Europe. Those in Japan are not as good as in Northern Europe from a quality and consistency standpoint. However, the quality of thai food in Japan for me is not worth your time, however bad thai food in Northern Europe is (and yes, it's really bad). Focus on Korean and Chinese given the relatively (for Japan) larger numbers of immigrants from those countries. When it comes to cuisines outside of North Asia, I feel that Japan is strongest in French and to a lesser extent Italian.

Jul 24, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

High End Thai restaurant in Tokyo

Even with your stated reason, I'd stick to French and Italian for contrast. Korean could be a good choice as well.

Jul 24, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

High End Thai restaurant in Tokyo

If you are trying to experience the best of what Japan has to offer, I would not recommend thai restaurants. Then again, I wouldn't recommend thai restaurants anywhere other than Thailand, Laos and some select enclaves in Los Angeles.

I haven't been to japan for longer than 14 days but in that I time I never tired of eating Japanese food. My thinking the end was that I could easily eat for another 14 days without needing another type of cuisine. But who knows what I would have actually felt by the end of it.

Jul 24, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Xiao Xiong Fan Dian

I find Michelin to be not very reliable outside of France. An amalgamation of other sources is more reliable. With respect to Tokyo, it's not so much that Michelin doesn't identify good restaurants, it's just that it doesn't begin to scratch the surface of what's available. Moreover, you are more likely to end up dining with non-residents, which for me changes the experience to some extent. I suggest delving into Tabelog a bit more. There is much less of a concern over "high end" in Tokyo given the focus on ingredient quality and atmosphere for even mid-priced (8,000-12,000) options.

If I had such a recommendation for Chinese in Tokyo I would provide one, but alas I never bother with anything other than Japanese when we are there.

Jul 07, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Taking this off my food list this summer

Got it. Might have to reduce my consumption down to 1 per year.

Jul 04, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Taking this off my food list this summer

I thought much of the unagi eaten was farmed (even at top unagi places) with wild unagi only available during certain times of the year (October to February). How will this designation affect the production and consumption of farmed eel?

Jul 03, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Trip Advice Pls! Madrid, Logrono, San Sebastian, Barcelona.... Mugaritz, Akelarre

We're going to try and find both and thus pick fewer temples during our 5 day stay. Looking forward to your blog posts. We have already booked Elkano and Extebarri. Planning on doing one other.

Jun 20, 2014
tigerjohn in Spain/Portugal

Trip Advice Pls! Madrid, Logrono, San Sebastian, Barcelona.... Mugaritz, Akelarre

I'm not as confident about Michelin's judgement outside of France but I do realize that these places have received other accolades. I am curious to discover just how much more "transcendent" these places might be compared to 1 and 2 (and no star) given that all of them have received tremendous praise but also disappointment here and elsewhere. In Japan I find the similar chowhound obsession with a relatively short list of sushi and washoku-kaiseki places to be not very represetntative of the depth of quality which tokyo has offer though I do imagine that given language issues, the chances of so many good places being overlooked is less in a country like Spain.

We were in San Seb for two days during our trip through SW France and ate tapas exclusively. I have to say I was underwhelmed by about half of the places I went to and amazed by the other half. Again, the list of places had received mulitple accolades from english and spanish sources, but not as many as expected delivered. The best places we went I had never seen mentioned here or during my other internet research and were recommended to us by servers at restaurants Hondarribia so i wonder if it's the same phenomenon.

In any case, I am sure we will enjoy it.

Jun 20, 2014
tigerjohn in Spain/Portugal

Trip Advice Pls! Madrid, Logrono, San Sebastian, Barcelona.... Mugaritz, Akelarre

Looking forward to the report as we are heading therein October. When you say that Etxebarri, Azurmendi, Mugaritz, do you mean "among the restaurants you visited"?

I sort of feel like everyone seems to eat and rank the same 6 restaurants and it's beginning to be a bit of an echo chamber.

Jun 19, 2014
tigerjohn in Spain/Portugal

Quick Trip Report - May 2014 Tokyo

Indeed. Food tourism from Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and increasingly China, relying to some extent on Michelin stars is now more of a factor, it seems than food tourists from other parts of the world. Hard to see how it changes in the near future.

Jun 15, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Trust tabelog.com ?

Further to point that without bigshot reviewers, restaurants don't move up in the rankings, we've been very successful searching for relatively new restaurants which have more than 5 stellar reviews and no bad reviews. These are invariably given a score of between 3.01-3.2. Over the years, some have climbed the rankings as more prominent reviewers discovered them and others languished, yet there remain excellent.

May 24, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Sushi Saito in Tokyo for lunch or other sushi places in Tokyo for $50-75pp?

I understand his sentiments. There are some restaurants where we don't invite our foreign friends along as we feel it would disrupt the atmosphere too much for other diners, no matter how courteous the foreign guests are (ourselves included) and even thought the chef would be welcoming and would never say anything.

May 15, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Sushi Saito in Tokyo for lunch or other sushi places in Tokyo for $50-75pp?

Ninisix,

I am curious about "foreigner management" as we've never had a problem anywhere despite speaking no Japanese (even visiting Sushi taichi awhile ago). Where do the problems occur: reservations, ordering menus, ordering drinks, ordering supplements, complaints, foreigner decorum, change in atmosphere for local diners?

We have our concierge book the time, seats and menu and order off of the drinks menu by pointing. No issues, sushi or otherwise.

Just wondering what the problems are which caused him to toward his current policy.

Thanks.

May 14, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Reservations using a hotel concierge

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.

May 12, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Sister's first trip to Japan

For ramen, I recommend going to Gonokami-seisakujo (shrimp base) and/or Fu'unji (chicken/pork) based as the former is very close to Times Square the latter is a 5-10 min walk away. Get the tsukemen style noodles.

I'd absolutely do eel. I like Ishibasi in Edogawabashi. Reservations required for tatami mat room.

May 07, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Sukiyabashi Jiro

I doubt any negociations were conducted as to do that, you need time. I am sure a few stern looks from Jiro on the pace of the president's eating ensured they were out of there in 30 minutes.

Apr 24, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Question re. multiple kaiseki dinners at ryokans

Well I certainly hope you enjoy the trip. Be sure to report back, particularly on the ryokan meals as I don't think there is a review of that many high end places in one trip on chowhound, or anywhere else for that matter.

Apr 23, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Question re. multiple kaiseki dinners at ryokans

One thing I would caution is that "the oldest and finest inns in Japan, with exceptional cuisine" may not be that fine and may not have exceptional cuisine. I've never found those oldest and finest places to have exceptional cuisine, based on their price and reputation, Hiiragiya being a prime example (but YMMV). It's all very very good of course, but there are other ryokans with less steallar reputations and price points which provide better food, IMO.

In addition, without ever being in Japan, it's hard for you to gauge whether you will really enjoy so many nights in these inns as it is quite different from standard hotels and resorts in terms of activities etc. Unless you really enjoy the view from your various rooms, there is little point in staying in a ryokan and going out for meals elsewhere, especially considering that in rural areas this may be difficult as options are limited. you might end up screaming by the time it's over.

As great as those formal dinners are, served in your room or a separate dining room, the best part of dining in Japan for me is sitting at a counter in a small restaurant watching a chef prepare your meals and serve you. that connection, however small given my lack of japanese language is hard to replicate in other countries and other settings.

Apr 23, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Tokyo help - family of four

Shrimp ramen near shinjuku:

chowhound.chow.com/topics/930471#8563281

Apr 08, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Recommendations near Meguro station, also Shibuya - budget recommendations welcome....vegetarian friendly even more so

I would expect to pay around 3,000-4,000 per person at the soba place, half that if you only get the noodles.

Apr 06, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Recommendations near Meguro station, also Shibuya - budget recommendations welcome....vegetarian friendly even more so

One mile west of Meguro on the north side of a park and a few blocks south of Meguro-dori is a good soba place, Shisensan with nice side dishes and a somewhat old rustic feel in a house with a little garden: http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1317/A13171...

This might be good for your situation as most of the noodle options and side dishes are meat free and in many cases seafood/fish free.

I recommend the duck soba, the yuba sashimi, the misoyaki (grilled miso), and one of the fish cakes. Assuming your son speaks and/or reads Japanese you should have no problem. But even if he doesn't, the staff with their extremely limited english tries very hard to help (they can identify "hot" vs. "cold" soba options etc).

They have an English website but pay no attention to the hours. They are now open only for dinner so I am not sure what changed with respect to course menu vs. a la carte but you might be able to figure this out from their Japanese language website: www.shisenan.com

The walk there is all up hill but going back to Meguro it would be a nice 20-30 min walk. It seems like the bus up Meguro-Dori would be easy and a taxi wouldn't be too expensive.

Apr 05, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Tokyo and Kyoto Honeymoon - Help! Totally Confused

I'd say very motivated if that's your only option. I find it very hard to walk in, particularly with no Japanese language ability.

Apr 03, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Are the following restaurants all okay for lunchtime walk-ins with assurance of seating?

You are correct that that can be frustrating. It's also frustrating when someone asks a general question that could be answered by doing some initial background research. However, I don't think the specificity needs to be neighborhood level geography, even if locals tend to think that way. It's more the extent to which the vastness can be defined in a way that makes recommendations easier and which doesn't cover ground that's available via search. I imagine it is equally frustrating to those who have done the research and attempt to be specific to receive no suggestions.

But perhaps I am being too optimistic and a little pedantic as I am also frustrated by the constant discussion and seeking of affirmation for of a very small number of supposed "go to" places which have gained notoriety and how they are not that well representative of the overall picture.

Apr 03, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan

Are the following restaurants all okay for lunchtime walk-ins with assurance of seating?

I'd clarify that the fact that we don't consider neighborhood much of a factor in selecting restaurants applies to Tokyo precisely because it is so easy to navigate and reach places by public transport. It's not about "willing to travel anywhere for the best." It just isn't a hassle for us, in fact it's a plus compared to other cities. It was in that vein that I said we might be the exception. I would not make the same statement about all cities. Los Angeles, for example.

I agree to some extent which is why I recommend a general approach to research and a more specific approach to requests. However, I don't understand why "the point myself and other regulars emphasize is that people experienced with Tokyo rarely discuss dining options on such a broad citywide level."

If you are specific enough in your request for the type of restaurant and experience you want, posters who have such advice, however local can volunteer that place in that neighborhood, while others can recommend appropriate places in other neighborhoods, with the OP then deciding what is feasible given his or her interests or constraints. the fact that "people experienced with Tokyo rarely discuss dining options on such a broad citywide level" shouldn't deter someone with sound advice from offering options as long as the set of restaurants one is considering is not too large. Certainly, some level of specificity is needed but it needn't always be neighborhood based. For example, I requested a lunch option with a private room and view of a garden within 60 minutes by train from the center of tokyo. It never occurred to me that I should ask for this in Arachiko or Yanaka specifically as that wasn't essential to what I was looking for.

Apr 03, 2014
tigerjohn in Japan