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epicuriousdeb's Profile

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Amazing Peruvian in Daikanyama

Yeah I'm really hoping it doesn't have to close its doors! I've only been for dinner, and the menu might be different. If you have a chance to go for dinner, the arrozes (one with chicken, one with seafood) are the best dishes, very similar to paella, brimming with delicious spices!

Apr 01, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Veggie restaurants in Tokyo

Ah, you're totally right, there was a sashimi course in ours. I'm not sure if they would be able to prepare a meal without any fish/meat...I think the course i had at Ume no Hana (the Aoyama branch) was all tofu and veggies, not meat/fish.

Mar 31, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Veggie restaurants in Tokyo

Is she vegan or vegetarian? It's hard to find vegan restaurants in Tokyo, although my friend has been to Manna (http://www.mannafest.jp/intro_eng/) and recommended it.

If your sister eats eggs/dairy, it will be slightly easier. I really like Vegematto (http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/20...). There are also a number of tofu kaiseki restaurants, such as Ume no Hana and Tofuya Ukai.

Mar 31, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Veggie restaurants in Tokyo

I recently discovered Vegematto, a tiny 14 person bar/restaurant in an alleyway in Roppongi - for 3500 yen per person, we were served 6 courses of vegetables, delicious, fresh and perfectly executed! Courses include mushroom consomme, salad, a variety of marinated veggies, pan-roasted veggies and veggie fondue or bagna cruda (the bagna cruda was awesome!). The final course is rice with egg and miso soup. Everything was delicious and we felt very healthy (and full!) afterward!

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Help needed for 2 Japanese food novices. 7 days, 24th May, Tokyo! Really appreciated!

Skyline - I agree with you that at high-end sushi places such as Saito and Kyubey, the overall service and care put into each piece of sushi is higher than Sushi Dai, which is quite honestly a hole-in-the-wall! So it's hard to compare (and I think in my blog review of Sushi Dai, I note that the term "best sushi" really depends on what you are looking for - ambience, interaction with the chef, creativity, etc.), but when judging purely on freshness of fish, texture and taste of rice, and overall taste/texture/happiness in my mouth, my pick is Sushi Dai. That being said, i ABHOR the 3 hour waits and each time wonder whether it's really worth it to waste 3 hours of my life waiting in line to eat sushi!

The ability to make a reservation at Saito, the interaction with the chef, the joy of watching him put so much care and thought into each piece - Saito is definitely one of my top choices, if price was not an issue. However, since I believe Mark is looking for more reasonably priced choices, I think Dai is the best bang-for-buck sushi in Tokyo.

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Amazing Peruvian in Daikanyama

I think they moved to the Daikanyama location - I'll definitely check the others out!

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Amazing Peruvian in Daikanyama

One of my favorite restaurants in Tokyo is Miraflores, a Peruvian restaurant located between Daikanyama and Ebisu stations. It's a bit out of the way and hard to find, which may be why it always seems to be empty when I visit, but the food is AWESOME and authentic! I'd be really disappointed if this place failed, so I hope people will help keep it open!

Peru boasts the largest population of Chinese people of any Latin American country and the Asian influence can be found in one of Peru's most ubiquitous dishes, Lomo Saltado - a stir fried combination of sirloin steak, french fries, onions and tomatoes in a soy-based sauce. My friend Judith, a Peruvian national, after taking me to my first Peruvian restaurant declared that I had to order Lomo Saltado to experience real Peruvian food, because according to her, it was what every Peruvian person ate. And my first experience was truly delicious - who would have ever thought to stir fry steak and fries together? In soy sauce? Hmm, must have been an industrious housewife/mother trying to use leftovers from the previous night's dinner. In any case, it's quite delicious.

My limited experience with Latin American cuisine in Tokyo has been fairly disappointing in terms of authenticity - generally "Japanified," meaning that strong flavors or greasiness get stripped out to produce Japanese-palate friendly clean, bland food. But Miraflores in Daikanyama delivered in authenticity and flavor. First off, the decor is the requisite kitschy hole-in-the-wall, complete with loud Spanish-language music playing in the background. The cooks in the kitchen are Latin American, not Japanese. The dipping sauces range from mildly hot, medium hot to very hot, and actually delivers in real heat. And the food is delicious, packed with authentic Peruvian flavors (true, I'm not a connoisseur of Peruvian food, but to my credit, I have traveled and eaten in Peru, and mi madre used to own a Peruvian restaurant with my ex-stepfather). In fact, I'm already thinking about when I can go back to have some arroz con mariscos drenched in their yellow spicy sauce.

For photos: http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/se...

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Help needed for 2 Japanese food novices. 7 days, 24th May, Tokyo! Really appreciated!

Sure, I'm happy to answer - I realize taste is all subjective and I only offer my own opinions. As a disclaimer, I am a food critic/writer for Tokyo Weekender, one of Tokyo's biggest English magazines, but I have no affiliation or interest in the restaurants I suggested.
I have been to Sushi Saito as well as Kyubey (albeit the Hotel Okura location, which a few Japanese friends recommended over the Ginza location) and I think they are also good. Kyubey is the "creator" of gunkan sushi (the kind with nori wrapped around the rice, as in uni or ikura), and it had long been on the top of my go-to list. However, I found the rice really disappointing - to my taste, it was not well seasoned and lacked adequate vinegar. The fish was very fresh however. But when you consider that the sushi at Kyubey is only about 60% of the size of any of the shops in Tsukiji, and is 12,000 for the chef's omakase course for almost the exact same number of dishes as Sushi Dai, whose omakase is only 3,900 yen, I think Sushi Dai is clearly the better between the two. But price aside, I still like Sushi Dai's sushi better than Kyubey based on taste alone.
I have also been to Sushi Saito and am a huge fan. It is a 3-Michelin starred sushi restaurant across from the US embassy. I think their lunch course is an amazing deal for such a highly rated restaurant - 5000 yen for ten pieces - only about $10 more than Sushi Dai, but instead of waiting in line for 3 hours and eating at the market, you get a classy sushi joint with a world class chef preparing the sushi for you! I really enjoyed my meal at Sushi Saito and would highly recommend it as well - however, in terms of taste and quality, I STILL think Sushi Dai is superior. Also, Sushi Saito's prices go way up at dinner, you can expect to pay at least 15,000.
Thus, with the caveat that taste is entirely subjective, Sushi Dai is my pick for the best sushi in Tokyo, but I am always happy to be proved wrong and continue to try to find better sushi out there!
Here's my review of Sushi Dai and Kyubey, unfortunately I haven't gotten around to writing up Sushi Saito yet: http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/se...

Regarding Ippudo - I have not been to the Ebisu location (or others, if there are any), although I have been to the NY one. So perhaps the quality is the same or even better at other locations, but I've been told by friends and colleagues that Roppongi's is the best, and to be honest, the Roppongi Ippudo's ramen is pretty much PERFECT, so I can't imagine anywhere doing better than perfect.
My Ippudo review: http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/20...

Joy - hope you enjoy your visit to Tokyo - there are SO many delicious restaurants, your taste buds and stomach will be very content here!

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Best Bang for the Buck in SF

Gordo's Taqueria - less than $5 for a gigantic, mouthwatering burrito
Golden Star - my favorite Vietnamese joint in Chinatown - the grilled shrimp and pork bun (vermicelli) is especially delicious and about $10 with tip
Humphry Slocombe - the most unique and amazing ice cream ever!
Tartine Bakery - their frangipane croissants are heavenly
Koh Samui & the Monkey - atmospheric, great service and delicious food - dinner for two will be less than $50 - the sesame crushed scallops and pumpkin curry are especially delicious, and their corn fritters should not be missed!

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Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in San Francisco Bay Area

One night in San Francisco: Gary Danko or Chez Panisse?

Although I know you're looking for an answer between those two, I would say neither - both are overrated, although Gary Danko is at least good! I was very very disappointed by Chez Panisse on a recent visit. My choice for the best meal in the bay area is La Folie, followed very closely by Luce!

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La Folie
2316 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in San Francisco Bay Area

Help needed for 2 Japanese food novices. 7 days, 24th May, Tokyo! Really appreciated!

As a general rule of thumb, you should try to splurge at lunch because most restaurants have great deals for lunch - the dichotomy in price between lunch and dinner is huge, and often times not that justifiable! For lunch, you can easily do a 1000 yen set lunch in most non-fancy restaurants, and 2000-3000 yen for even the top notch ones.

Here are some of my favorites in three of the areas listed:

Shibuya: Kaikaya by the Sea - an izakaya with a creative and extensive menu of fresh seafood, with a great set dinner value of 4000 yen per person with about 9-10 courses!

Ginza/Tsukiji: Sushi Dai in Tsukiji market is the best, but if you're not keen on waiting 3 hours, Sushi Daiwa 2 doors down is also delicious!

Roppongi:
Ramen - Ippudo (about 900 yen per person at all times)
Udon - Tsurutontan (about 1100 yen per person at all times)
Tempura - Yotaro (dinner only - be warned, it's pricey! Michelin starred, husband and wife run - about 14,000 yen per person)

For cheap but good sushi in pretty much any neighborhood, seek out Sushi Zanmai - they have a couple in Tsukiji, as well as two locations in Roppongi.

For reviews of all of the above, see www.epicurious-deb.blogspot.com

Hope you enjoy Tokyo!

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

5 days in Tokyo - first time to Japan

I respectfully stand by my enthusiastic support for Tapas Molecular Bar. I've also been to Ryugin and thought it was one of the most overpriced meals I'd ever had, and was slightly underwhelmed (I had high expectations of both Tapas and Ryugin to start with). Ryugin will set you back about 30,000 yen per person whereas Tapas will set you back only 16,000 - bang for buck, as well as overall experience, Tapas is my choice!

Mar 30, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

Ten days in Tokyo

Molecular gastronomy - YES! Tapas Molecular Bar - it's amazing! (http://weekenderjapan.com/?p=14568

)

Some "must-eat" recommendations:
Sushi: Sushi Dai in Tsukiji market (http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/20...
)Kaiseki: Ryugin for modern kaiseki, Kikunoi for traditional kaiseki
Ramen: Ippudo in Roppongi
Udon: Tsurontan in Roppongi (traditional udon, as well as lots of creative modern ones - I love their creamy mentaiko!)

Mar 29, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan

5 days in Tokyo - first time to Japan

The New Otani is in Akasaka, so you are near some great areas for food - here are some of my favorites (I currently live in Tokyo and am a food writer for the Weekender, as well as their food blogger):
Ramen - Ippudo in Roppongi
Sushi - Sushi Dai, inside Tsukiji market (about a 2-3 hour wait) (http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/20...
)Udon - Tsurutontan in Roppongi (http://epicurious-deb.blogspot.com/se...

)

If you want an amazing Japanese-influenced molecular gastronomy experience, dinner at Tapas Molecular Bar is highly recommended (http://weekenderjapan.com/?p=14568) - make sure to make reservations as soon as possible!
Hope you enjoy your visit to Tokyo!

Mar 29, 2010
epicuriousdeb in Japan