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Regional Japanese Cuisine in Tokyo #2

Aug 17, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Michelin vs Tabelog - Tokyo Edition

I really don't think it's going to be a productive discussion, so let's just agree that you can embrace the grey (unless it's meatloaf!) and move on.

Aug 17, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Gyoza

I've got just the thing for you:

http://injapan.gaijinpot.com/live/res...

Other than that, the most popular form by far is the yaki gyoza/jiaozi that you're familiar with, but there are variations in preparation (steamed, boiled, tetsunabe), presentation, fillings, etc. with some interesting takes like mochi gyoza, gyoza filled with mentaiko, etc. as well as the version at white gyoza. There's also a gyoza stadium unless it already closed.

I don't think of gyoza as something to travel for, so I just get them at the pub, where they make their own filling. Not a terrific version, but it works when needed.

Aug 17, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Michelin vs Tabelog - Tokyo Edition

That is exactly being dismissive of the idea of critical analysis :)

Aug 16, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Thai restaurants in Tokyo

Ok, we went. It's very good Isan food. Not in a high end kind of way, but in the way that Sripraphai in nyc was good when it opened. Honest, homemade, correctly spiced if you ask for it (I'm burning on the inside). The fish described as Tai seems to be Tilapia, but no biggie.

Koiwa seems to have a lot of Chow-ish potential - we walked past several Shanghai style, Korean, and various other regional Chinese places that seemed promising.

Aug 16, 2014
Gargle in Japan

MATSUMOTO & GIFU - Hikariya Nishi + Ishii Miso + Michiya-Zushi Okimuraya + Yamatake-Shōten

http://www.kanazawatakasaki.com

P.s. Japanese curry often goes hand in hand with fried items, so it's not an unlikely combo.

Aug 16, 2014
Gargle in Japan
1

MATSUMOTO & GIFU - Hikariya Nishi + Ishii Miso + Michiya-Zushi Okimuraya + Yamatake-Shōten

Aug 15, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Sushi Kanesaka - Lunch or Dinner?

Brunch, surely.

Aug 15, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Michelin vs Tabelog - Tokyo Edition

Well, yes and no. You see on this board the height of emotions that not being able to get into *** restaurants is evoking in some, and provably an additional star is worth $70pp in Tokyo, so the guide's subjective proclamations are having objective (and it seems generally harmful to diners) effects.

eta: and of course to say "taste is subjective" seems dismissive of an entire category of reviewing and criticism applied to anything outside the realm of science.

Aug 14, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Matsukawa - Probably (the current) Tokyo's greatest restaurant

The "kaiseki" at Kyo Ya is very different from what you'll have in Kyoto, even if prima facie the ingredients and preparations would seem similar.

Aug 13, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Thai restaurants in Tokyo

Has anyone been to Inakamura?

Aug 12, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Michelin vs Tabelog - Tokyo Edition

And what about coverage?

There are 120 restaurants on tabelog that receive food scores above the michelin average for a three star restaurant. There are only 13 three star restaurants listed in the guide.

What then, does michelin offer?

1. Higher prices.

2. A listing of about 10% of the restaurants that are very highly regarded. (***)

3. Another listing of restaurants that are good, but overall indistinguishable in terms of quality except if they are ** they cost more than if they're *.

4. A list of Bib gourmand restaurants that seem to be generally above average for their price level.

I would say using michelin as a guide in Tokyo seems certainly counterproductive (and as described on the board, leads to undue focus on a small set of establishments in each category), except for the fact that restaurants scoring highly will generally tend to be better at dealing with tourists.

Aug 12, 2014
Gargle in Japan
1

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

True. But the Sushi Sho family by now has... who knows how many shops, and many of them are like that.

One more point - that many of these restaurants are tiny means more than just that it's hard to get in. Rather it means there's almost no staff overturn (or almost no staff), that the regulars' preferences are well known, and that the restaurant (if it's very good about managing its book) can even make sure to create a good mix of diners on a given night based on what it knows.

Aug 12, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Bear steak in Tokyo or Kyoto

Thanks, looks like a great place!

Aug 12, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

I doubt very much Sushi Sho wanted to stay off michelin because it's "exclusive" (and little help did it do them in terms of fending off tourists...)

To add to tj's points - I think other than the extreme tendency of tourists (esp. from the US) to try and impose all kinds of random seeming restrictions on the restaurant and their inability to communicate, there are various fears - many of them, but not all of them based on stereotype for lack of any other information. These may be that foreigners will speak loudly, do all kinds of impolite deeds, not drink in a place that makes most of its money on drinks and lives off everyone being drunk enough to be really friendly, etc. It doesn't matter that drunk Japanese (and even more so, drunk rich Japansese) can be as obnoxious as the best of us - the fear is there. So it's not just exclusivity as you describe (there are certainly places like that, many of them), but also the idea that by having a very predictably behaved set of diners, you can achieve a much more efficient, pleasant, and high functioning dining environment.

Aug 12, 2014
Gargle in Japan
1

Matsukawa - Probably (the current) Tokyo's greatest restaurant

No, Aronia is far more laid back and fun in the sense that you're probably using the words (and they'll be more than happy to chat with you in very good English). Matsukawa is a quiet environment that is all about doing the very deliberate work required to take priceless ingredients and making them shine.

Mesubim offers a glimpse into a typical moment of fun at Matsukawa:

http://mesubim.com/2014/03/20/matsuka...

Which I personally much prefer to too much talk and flashy presentations.

Many of the places you visit will share that spirit, but each will have its own interpretation, its own style, and certainly its own take on service. I can't tell you which one it's the most similar to.

Aug 12, 2014
Gargle in Japan
1

Bear steak in Tokyo or Kyoto

I haven't been to Takajo K. (tried a couple of times, couldn't get in) but I believe their specialty is wild duck in season (with Shamo and some other fowl out of season) and not other game, maybe someone else here knows better.

Aug 11, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Matsukawa - Probably (the current) Tokyo's greatest restaurant

I had a relatively disappointing meal at Aronia recently. It was not as good as before and they seem to have adjusted their prices to what michelin tourists expect to pay (both by menu price inflation and by the addition of substantial service charges) so that with a typical bottle from their list you'll end up spending $1000+ for two (compared to $450 we spent in 2011). The reformulation into a somewhat more kaiseki-like structure is also doing them no favors as it highlights how much better it is to treat pristine ingredients with very slight intervention as opposed to all sorts of Francomulecular (sorry) trickery.

So personally I'd go to Matsukawa (or many other proper Japanese places) before Aronia.

But for some reason I have a slightly difficult time imagining you (I mean the you that is reflected in your posts) in a place like Matsukawa. Maybe go there but get a room. (and please don't make special requests unless you're allergic to something)

Aug 11, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Bear steak in Tokyo or Kyoto

You can sometimes get bear at La Chasse, Du Buppa, Matagi, Deco, etc.

However, steak is a relatively unusual preparation - usually it'll be nabe, thinly sliced meat for grilling (closest to a steak I guess), or in a terrine. You can try and ask for it in advance, but keep in mind that game season for most areas and species opens in mid-November, so anything you have before that (and probably much of what you have after) has probably spent a very long time in a (hopefully excellent) freezer.

Aug 11, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Hokkaido suggestions

I'd keep Bras. Toya is a pretty place, and that beached cruise ship of a hotel is worth a stop.

There are various forms of local color you can add, like uni/ikura don for breakfast at the (touristy, but hey, you're a tourist) market, a stop at a Gingis Khan place, etc. also I think Oshidori (which I mentioned here on some thread) could be a replacement for one of the sushi places.

p.s. there are several good ramen shops. I particularly liked this one that serves various versions of tan tan men http://tabelog.com/hokkaido/A0101/A01... but the highly rated ones serving ramen in the local style aren't bad either.

eta: I agree with Silverjay that it's probably a good idea to drop all the other French / Italian places - they're fine but at that point in your trip I suspect you'll enjoy some diversification into other forms of dining. The only reason to keep Bras is the location (so if a few days in advance you see the weather is not going to cooperate maybe you can then cancel it and stay in Sapporo or go elsewhere more interesting from a gastronomic perspective).

Aug 11, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

There was no atmosphere or decor to speak of (including the lack of Okuda's 16 ton personality), the cooking had inaccuracies that I'm willing to forgive in a fairly priced mom & pop shop but not at an Okuda priced place, and that would never happen at Yukimura, Ishikawa, etc.. I've seen that the mothership has also been getting some bad reviews recently but I don't know how much weight to assign to them - perhaps with his many projects in Japan and elsewhere he's stretched a bit thin.

Aug 10, 2014
Gargle in Japan
1

Matsukawa - Probably (the current) Tokyo's greatest restaurant

Another way of looking at this is that you don't have a reservation at Matsukawa and that you should ask your concierge to release the seats back to the restaurant.

Aug 10, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Michelin vs Tabelog - Tokyo Edition

For people who are interested in this sort of thing.

http://pastebin.com/hhgbvjiA

***
---

It seems like michelin three stars are, on average, significantly favored on tabelog over one or two stars with an average score of 4.22 but also a sticker price of $320pp.

* - **
------

One and two star restaurants are indistinguishable - tabelog rating wise - with both categories scoring approximately 3.89. However, two starred restaurants cost $250pp while one star restaurants cost only $166pp, which should teach us that each michelin star is worth about $70-$80 but that you get nothing in terms of quality with the second star.

Bibs
----

Finally, in line with this observation, Bib Gourmand places cost an average of $75 and score 3.6 on tabelog.

In each category there are some clear errors by michelin, and the standard deviation is high enough that you can safely make the statement that:

Michelin agrees with Tabelog voters when it comes to the best and most expensive restaurants, but below that level it seems to generally offer mostly the assurance of higher prices for additional stars.

p.s. The high spend is just arbitrarily set to 50000 in the high end places.

Aug 09, 2014
Gargle in Japan

michelin-starred izakaya

Funny to learn here that they have a michelin star. My impression from a first visit tonight was that the ingredients were top notch. The various katsuo preparations and the suzuki with karasumi in particular would not be out of place in any kaiseki place. It's not as ambitious as Kirakutei (nor as expensive), but I preferred it to other highly rated places like wasosaku-ta (which I liked overall) where the wasabi comed out of the food service squeeze tube,and some of the fish could be more fresh.

Aug 09, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

Yes, but then they don't come here asking for advice (unless they have some weird dietary restrictions).

I think most people coming here from places like nyc, SF, Oslo (or wherever Roysen is from), etc. and staying at expensive hotels don't think $100 is a lot. In fact on the nyc boards you see the claim made often enough that any proper meal at a modestly ambitious sit down restaurant in Manhattan will cost you that. (Zagat places the average at $50, but that's with one glass of cheap wine and before tip, and include many restaurants of no ambition)

So it's natural for people to assume if they don't spend enough they're not going to eat good food, and just as natural to think that the opportunity cost is high (they are paying for an expensive flight, hotels, etc.) and not to be that interested in eating at a place like this at 1am, as terrific as that might be.

https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=%E9...

Aug 08, 2014
Gargle in Japan

MATSUMOTO & GIFU - Hikariya Nishi + Ishii Miso + Michiya-Zushi Okimuraya + Yamatake-Shōten

I don't know Otomezushi but it's a 9 seat restaurant with 4+ on tabelog, so I'd bet a reservation is recommended. Komatsu Yasuke same story (lunch only, mind you). Maguro Koya and Hiraso probably no need to reserve.

Aug 07, 2014
Gargle in Japan
1

MATSUMOTO & GIFU - Hikariya Nishi + Ishii Miso + Michiya-Zushi Okimuraya + Yamatake-Shōten

Hikariya Nishi takes reservations online, right now until the end of October. Looks like there are seats available for every service, but it can't hurt to book.

Ishii miso no need.

Michiyazushi and Yamatake I dunno.

Aug 07, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

Well, there are some 5000 sushi restaurants in Tokyo. That's over 5% of all restaurants, a good 12% of all Japanese restaurants, and 40% of all Japanese restaurants where dinner is over $100pp, which is the range where moneyed visitors are looking at.

So it is pretty much wall to wall if you're looking for expensive Japanese food.

Aug 07, 2014
Gargle in Japan

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

"Hatsunezushi for lunch as well - not necessarily for quality but the experience."

I'll tell the chef you're just there for the experience.

Aug 07, 2014
Gargle in Japan
1

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

Sure, but you're the exception.

Aug 07, 2014
Gargle in Japan