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coldicott's Profile

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Cocktails in Tokyo

Sounds like High Five is your place. Fluent English, very friendly, intimate, and run by one of those people that really deserve to be called "master bartender".

Star Bar is probably the most respected bar in the country, and rightly so, though whether it's friendly depends on your behaviour. Definitely somewhere you should see.

Neither Albatross nor La Jetee are cocktail bars, though both are fun.

Ishinohana is really down to earth, Little Smith isn't always. Radio Bar is good for dates, but not so much for chatting to the bartender. Tender is good if you have far too much money and want to pay to see someone sort-of famous. Never been to Shoto Club.

If you don't need fluent English, the new spinoff from Star Bar is Land Bar, and it's very intimate, with first-rate cocktails. You'll see techniques there that you won't see anywhere beyond Star Bar or High Five. Open from 3am too.

You could also check out the Bar a Vin in the Park hotel in Shiodome. The bartenders all speak English, make some inventive cocktails and have an amazing whisky collection. The head bartender is one of the few in Japan to have trained in Tokyo and New York.

Apr 20, 2011
coldicott in Japan

High-end Tempura in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka

I'm not getting into rating meals I ate months apart, but I'll say that Tensei in Aoyama is bloody great and about half the price of all the usual names.

Dec 18, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Tokyo Bars

Though if you're in town looking for the best of Tokyo's bar scene and you order a Yebisu draft, I believe that local regulations dictate that you be taken outside and pummeled until you look like an umeboshi.

Dec 18, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Best romantic bar?

I'd say Radio bar and Kita Aoyama Salon set a pretty romantic mood. Didn't Le Cocon close about 8 years ago, or am I thinking of a different place?

Dec 18, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Thoughts on a Few Places in Kyoto ?

I've not eaten either of those ramen joints, but I've seen them both, and I'd go for Takaraya every time - their "sumashi" bowls look like something you'd want to put in your mouth. Dai-ichi, however, seems to be the local favorite. It looks like a truckstop canteen and is supposedly heavy, greasy and beloved of salarymen. When I went there, one of the punters asked, quite seriously, if I was a Michelin inspector. That's not relevant, but it still makes me laugh. In the end, would you rather eat on Pontocho (Takaraya) or a grotty bridge by Kyoto station (DA)?

Jul 17, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Noryo Yuka in Kyoto?

If the business pays expenses, this is the best one on Pontocho: http://www.misogui.jp/eng/index.html It's French meets kaiseki, with the chef tailoring the meal to every whim you might have.

For a cheaper meal, there's a new kushikatsu place from the people behind Wabiya Korekido - very nice grub and great wine: http://www.leafkyoto.net/shop/gourmet...

Jul 15, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Where to buy Tequila in Tokyo

Jun 03, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Where to buy Tequila in Tokyo

Big, on Sotobori Dori in Ginza, is even better - it usually stocks the big-name premium brands and a few new artisan names. Don't have a link, but walk from Sony Bldg towards Shinbashi, and it's about half way down on the left.

And the liquor store just off Center Gai in Shibuya currently has a special on Cuervo's Reserva de la Famila, selling for just under 10,000 yen.

Jun 02, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Best Kyoto restaurants

I've eaten in a few of the Kyoto kaiseki places, and it strikes me that the enormous price differences between them is down to things like age of the tableware (tap 5,000 yen on to eat from dishes handmade by some old bloke you've never heard of), quality of the calligraphy on the wall, and now, of course, Michelin stars. If it were me, I'd go to Nishiki in Arashiyama rather than Kitcho - it's just as beautiful, more fun, and a fifth of the price. Harise was pretty great value too: http://www.harise.com/
If you're trying to tick off the famous places, buy their bento lunches.

Jun 01, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Where to purchase tonic water and club soda in Tokyo

By the strictest definition, you can't buy tonic water in Japan. The rules on quinine mean that the domestic brands taste nothing like tonic water, and the Canada Dry / Schweppes are neutered here too. For tonic with a proper dose of quinine, try Guam.

Jun 01, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Pierre Gagnaire at the ANA

I had dinner a few weeks ago, and thought it was out of this world. As was the price (75,000 yen for two, with wine and port). My companion said the fish was a bit of a let down, and there was Gagnaire's usual emphasis on desserts, which means a diner with a sweet tooth will have a happier time, and I'm far too much of a Philistine to appreciate the sophistry of putting your food on the rim of the plate instead of the middle, but overall, the things they were doing with flavor combos there were a whole league above anything I've tried anywhere else. Liked the venue too - very classy. I think this will nab 2 stars in the next M guide. I'll head back there as soon as someone invites me.

Jun 01, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Robatayaki

Any thoughts on the best place for robatayaki in Tokyo? Robata? Inakaya? Some other place? Doesn't matter?

Apr 24, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Mid July Tokyo and Kyoto Trip

Kichisen is kaiseki, so the tofu is only a small part of a pricey meal. Better to go to Junsei (075-761-2311‎), near Nanzenji.

Apr 09, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Mid July Tokyo and Kyoto Trip

I would think Kyoto is a better place to eat tofu. Here's a good account of why, along with the pick of the places to eat it: http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/20...

Apr 07, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Breakfast in Tokyo

JT's Robbie Swinnerton reviews the new Bill's (or bills, though I don't think we should be indulging a chef's arrogant disregard for the conventions of our language.)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bi...

Apr 01, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Veggie restaurants in Tokyo

If you call this spot: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e358200 - they will do a vegetarian set menu at the budget you specify. It's not normally a veggie place, but the chef makes this great stock using dry turnip skins, and it's really first-class stuff - but if you want veggie, book a few days ahead.

Mar 31, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Breakfast in Tokyo

No - I'm British, so I'd sooner cut my tongue out than complain, but if a chef is gonna heckle me.... I'll still skulk off quietly, and then exact revenge at the bottom of thread on an Interweb site.

Mar 31, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Breakfast in Tokyo

Went to Good Honest Grub for brunch the other day - got a really bland wrap paired with shockingly dirty salad. I was planning to leave the salad and scuttle off without complaining, but the chef had other ideas and started haranguing us for not eating his "fresh, organic salad".

Mar 30, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Tokyo: Setagaya Ward- futako tamagawa station-any recommendation

I've only been to this joint for the umeshu and tofu, so can't properly vouch for it, but it was fun, atmospheric and the grub I had was good:

http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g822631/

They have themed 5-dosh sets - tofu or fish or can't remember what else.

Mar 23, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Good restaurant for a date

Why not take her to Jonathan's and draw a heart on her omelette with ketchup?

Mar 22, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Tokyo: Setagaya Ward- futako tamagawa station-any recommendation

This place is pretty good: http://r.tabelog.com/tokyo/A1317/A131...

Nagano pork, Karuizawa veggies and great coffee.

Mar 20, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Veggie restaurants in Tokyo

No bother. Daigo also uses onions - another shojin no-no.

Haven't heard of Amane, but will check it out. Ta.

Mar 16, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Veggie restaurants in Tokyo

Last I checked, Daigo on the Bento.com shojin ryori list wasn't vegetarian either - the chef told me that he uses katsuo stock, though that was many years ago. The best pure veggie shojin joint, in my always humble opinion, is Itosho in Azabu Juban: 3-4-7 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. 03-3454-6538.

Gaya, in Aoyama or Yoyogi Uehara, is great: http://vegetokyo.com/?p=189

And there's even a garish joint in Yokohama's Chinatown that has a pretty sizeable vegetarian menu. They like you to call ahead and warn them if you're going to order veggie so they can scrub all the pots and pans clear of the meaty oils: http://r.tabelog.com/kanagawa/A1401/A140105/14009294/dtlmap/

Meanwhile, there's a site listing most of the city's veggie spots: www.vege-navi.jp

Mar 15, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Best Indian Lunch Buffet in Tokyo??

Blimey - an Indian restaurant for which "bland is an understatement". Did you forget to order a curry with your rice? But seriously, the bhurj paneer is a great way to serve paneer (and very rich), the sag with lentils is brilliant - and makes you wonder why that's not the way everyone makes spinach curries. Organic genmai with curries is a great option, and the rotis there taste a lot more 3-dimensional than the efforts most places can muster. Even in comparison to Dhaba, Gurgaon and wherever else the Indian afficionados love, Nataraj is top notch.

Mar 07, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Best Indian Lunch Buffet in Tokyo??

No idea. Is that what makes them so mellow? I find that food always tastes better when served by flowery, commune-dwelling, new-age peaceniks.

Mar 05, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Best Indian Lunch Buffet in Tokyo??

Blimey - there must be two Natarajs in Gaienmae. The one I went to had really fresh veggies in the curries, thick, rich sauces and was anything but bland. Didn't notice the charge for adding heat, which sounds a bit crap. The Ginza branch is a similar menu, and the buffet has chili powder, so you can have it however you like it.

Mar 05, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Best Indian Lunch Buffet in Tokyo??

I would think that Nirvana is the best for carnivores (even their vegetable curry is listed as "non-veg"): http://www.nirvana-newyork.jp/menus/lunch.html (¥2,000

)

And Nataraj in Ginza would be best for veggies: http://www.nataraj.co.jp/en/ginza/E_G... (¥1,100

)

I thought Rasoi was pretty good for lunch - the dal was thick and fiery when I used to go - many years ago. They treated me as though I was a nuisance, but so would I if I had to shove nan breads under strangers' noses every day.

Mar 04, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Falafel, Baba Ghanoush & other Middle Eastern delights

Didn't know that. Thanks Uncle Yabai. In that case, David's Deli is fantastic. Not only does it do impressive hummus and tabbouli, but it has a brilliantly awful atmosphere. You'll love, love, love the stick-on stained glass windows. You'll be wowed by the gazillion security cameras covering every millimeter of the place. You'll be dazzled by the oversize TV screens which might be playing a violent Hollywood movie, a Britney video, or if you're really lucky, the 10 second loop of a DVD title screen, with the same catchy jingle playing until you stick a fork into your eyeball just to take your mind off things. Try to get a seat on the second floor, where you will be alone and left alone.

Mar 04, 2010
coldicott in Japan

Falafel, Baba Ghanoush & other Middle Eastern delights

Hate to be argumentative, but that's what the Internet's for innit? I wouldn't agree that Pita the Great is the best place. The falafel is the cumin kind, and fairly light on the seasoning since cumin-rich food doesn't seem to go down too well here. That's why most falafel in Tokyo is the herbal kind. PtG sandwiches are rammed with sauce, but skimpy on the veg. I'll agree that the pita breads are great though.

For me, the best falafel by far is Kuumba du Falafel, a newish place near Shibuya: http://metropolis.co.jp/dining/dining-diary/kuumba-du-falafel/ - lots of quality veg, nice herbal falafel, and in the evening they do some great salads.

The best place for an all-round falafel, hummus, baba g nosh-up is Shamaim's in Ekoda - all-you-can-eat, great quality and still only ¥2,100. http://r.gnavi.co.jp/fl/en/g868500/

Close to Shinagawa there are two places for Israeli grub - David's Deli, which does fantastic hummus and tabbouli, but the pitas aren't always fresh and the atmosphere is rubbish; or King Falafel, a take-out stand that serves falafel and shakshouka either as pita sandwiches or as bento (which make much more sense than you might think.

)

www.davidsdeli.co.jp
http://veg.tokyogigguide.com/index.ph...

Mar 04, 2010
coldicott in Japan

4 dinners in Kyoto

Tenyou is great. So is the price. I thought Yoshikawa was better value, if not necessarily better.

Il Ghiottone is also great, but not sure it's worth all the fuss.

Kanga-an blew me away, and it's by far the best food and vibe I've found for that price - and don't miss the hidden bar.

Harise is a good choice for kaiseki - it's not one of the most high-profile joints, so it's good value (if there is such a thing as good value when you measure the meal in ichi-man notes).

Misoguigawa is unforgettable - especially if you go in summer and sit outside. It seems to capture everything that's great about Kyoto (the ingredients, the architecture, the craftmanship) without the snootiness that so often accompanies it. They pull off the French-Japanese thing brilliantly.

And if you can't afford Misoguigawa, Tamaki will do.

Nakahigashi sounds great, but getting a seat there is borderline impossible.

Mar 01, 2010
coldicott in Japan