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VCB133's Profile

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Trip report!!

I am definitely trying the menchi katsu version the next time I go! Also agree with Gargle on Cul Noir and on cooking with iberico and other "artisanal" pork (one of my favorite tricks for a simple meal with guests is to order the bellota "steaks" via Rakuten, cut them into strips, give them a dry rub, and then rapidly cook when time to eat -- always creates a kind of wow response with really not much effort, and gives me more time to drink wine and less time in the kitchen prepping).

Jan 02, 2014
VCB133 in Japan

Trip report!!

Agree with your love of iberico pork -- I just think at Butagumi it seems like a great idea to try it out, but it ends up being too fatty for the preparation as tonkatsu. Having one piece as a shared option for the table is ok, but more than that is overwhelming.

Jan 02, 2014
VCB133 in Japan

Trip report!!

Let me do nothing useful, but just agree with what is written here -- I am an occasional tonkatsu eater (my next day is filled with stomach pain, but the actual night of eating is usually very enjoyable) and think Butagumi is great. But avoid the sampler, and avoid the Iberico except maybe to split among 4 people or so.

Jan 02, 2014
VCB133 in Japan

One lunch in Kanazawa...

I agree with Mr Smile -- I love Kanazawa, occasionally go there for work reasons, and have had 2 great meals at Otomezushi. So think this is the way to go!

Jan 02, 2014
VCB133 in Japan

First trip to Japan

Justxpete: for what it's worth, I have a daughter with a fin-fish allergy (she can eat shellfish without problems), and she lived in Tokyo for 5 years without issue. Other countries, different story. And she was surrounded by people who ranged from competent in Japanese to fluent. But again -- zero problems. As long as you explain it, and as long as you enjoy the ebi and so on while she looks on disapprovingly, should be ok. I would have someone write it out in Japanese for you, but most places will know the basic allergy profile (musician Mike Doughty told me the only Japanese he knows is "I have a shellfish allergy" and it works for him). Ok, now on the main question -- I have always loved Ryugin and highly recommend it. For tempura, I always direct people to Hatanaka, which for me is the right mix of neighborhood place and high end. As with all recommendations, YMMV, but I love that place and have gone maybe 20 times. And in Tsukiji, what I tell all visitors is to evaluate the line at Sushi Dai, and if longer than 20 people go to Ryu Zushi (this link explains I think http://www.tenkai-japan.com/2012/12/0...) and I generally get raves from visitors. On everything else, the others on the board are just plain better than me at directing and recommending.

Jan 02, 2014
VCB133 in Japan

Avoid Gonpachi (Azabu-Juban, Roppongi)

Well, if you are already headed in that direction, why not go alittle further and try 13 Aprile (next door to Butagumi)? Italian with 10% Japanese influence, amazingly charming. Agree on avoiding Gonpachi, and have enjoyed These (mostly for Euro style nibblings with wine and cocktails, I have never had the curry) and Butagumi.

Dec 22, 2013
VCB133 in Japan

35 Steps Bistro Question

I haven't been back in a couple of yrs, but this used to be a neighborhood standard for me. Great saba (flamed tableside using a burner -- kind of fun), great tofu-based "cheeses," pretty ok standard izakaya food (ebi mayo etc). No yakitori that I remember. But a good choice if izakaya with a few creative options are in the mix.

Dec 22, 2013
VCB133 in Japan

Japanese Italian restaurant Tokyo

As always, I may be wrong. But my memory is that the space in Azabu Juban used to be Aroma Fresca and Casa Vinitalia, side by side. And then Casa Vinitalia expanded into the whole floor, maybe 2.5 or 3 years ago? Same ownership, I think. Now with all this Casa Vinitalia discussion, I just made a reservation for later this month, so I can report back!

Apr 04, 2013
VCB133 in Japan

Japanese Italian restaurant Tokyo

Aso -- sorry for the delay in replying. I like Casa Vinitalia, but I should note it has been almost 3 years since the last time I ate there (I went several times in the first years I was in Tokyo, for work and for pleasure). I thought it was uniformly well done food. I like the seating, which was almost amusingly formal (comfortable chairs, small rooms, etc). Enough creativity here and there. Hopefully it hasn't changed -- I have been thinking I should go back soon, as I pass it almost every day on my way home from work!

Mar 31, 2013
VCB133 in Japan

Japanese Italian restaurant Tokyo

So, for what it's worth, I'm an actual Italian living in Tokyo. My favorite Italian with Japanese influences changes a bit from time to time, but right now it is Cucina 13 Aprile in Nishi Azabu (it is next door to Butagumi, definitely still in business, to reference an earlier thread). Not sure if they do Sunday lunch, but highly recommend. I think Robbie Swinnerton did an English review in the Japan Times a year or so ago.

I just checked and they are closed on Sundays. My #2, La Brianza in Azabu Juban, is also closed on Sunday! Italian influences apparently extend to vestigial Catholic-inspired days of rest. And so, I am useless for answering this question.

Mar 25, 2013
VCB133 in Japan

Sukiyabashi Jiro

So, I'll give you my take as a foreigner who has lived her for a few years. It was a pretty memorable experience, but I think it is kind of "binary" -- you either like it or you hate it. Very rapid and what I felt was alot of pressure to eat each nigiri piece immediately -- so I had just sort of finished one and was savoring the experience and the next one was down and Jiro was sort of staring at me waiting for me to eat it before the temperature went off perfect. 14 pieces, one after another, maybe 25 minutes or so from start to finish. Relaxing tea and melon at a booth afterwards.

Each piece was honestly the best of that type that I have ever had -- even awabi, which I am not a huge fan of, was fantastic at Sukiyabashi Jiro. And my friends and colleagues (both Japanese and now foreigners who have seen the movie) are always amused and entertained by the stories. And I have a photo of myself and wife and Ono-san that I am fond of. So, I am glad to have gone and it was truly excellent at every bite. But colleagues have not enjoyed the experience as much, and I can see the logic there. So, the summary of all this rambling: YMMV.

Feb 24, 2013
VCB133 in Japan

Tokyo Pizza

Agree on the menu at Da Isa -- I used to live near there, and I found it amazingly difficult to get a table without advance planning. But was always happy when I did. I haven't seen the pasta inside a crust entree, will look more closely next time. But, I can tell you this -- in Napoli, there is a famous pizza chef named Ernesto Cacialli, who makes a pasta-stuffed crust. And Da Isa has a "pizza fritta da Ernesto" and "da Ernestino" -- so this would logically seem to be likely 1 or 2 versions of what you are looking for.

On Savoy (which remains my favorite in Tokyo), the menu is definitely limited, but there is a hidden 3rd type of pizza that you can only order after you have eaten one of the 2 main options first. Pizza bianca. I remain a margherita fan, but there are friends who love the bianca and eat 2 pizzas to get one.

Jul 26, 2012
VCB133 in Japan

Tokyo Pizza

For what it's worth, having lived in Italy and in New York (and another pizza mecca in CT) before Tokyo, I do really like Pizza Strada. Also in Azabu Juban is my favorite in Tokyo -- Savoy. Both are similar -- smaller, wood-fired, simple, really flavorful and good. Savoy has better antipasti and other food options, but I liked the wine/coffee at Pizza Strada better. Good luck -- all options are better than Pizzakaya!

Jul 11, 2012
VCB133 in Japan

Has anyone been for dinner at L'Effervescence?

As it turns out, I was at L'Effervescence last week. First time under the new name and menu. We had a set course that I did not choose (the host chose), and it was overwhelmingly French. For what it's worth, I would call it 85% French food with 15% Japanese accents. So, the main was a really nice tenderloin of beef, cooked sous vide and with mushrooms. Great breads throughout the meal, all of the six courses were well prepared and very nice. Somewhat disappointing dessert course. Very nice setting -- amazingly similar to the old restaurant in that space, but remains a good option for a high end meal. Compared to Ryugin: Ryugin is a much more "Japanese" experience, and I found the cuisine much more inventive and the setting much more interesting (note that it has been a year since I have eaten at Ryugin). I've never been to Aroma Fresca, although I have been to their offshoot in Azabu Juban. So, the summary is that L'Effervescence was a very good French restaurant in a nice setting, and Ryugin is probably my favorite kaiseki style Japanese upper end restaurant, also in a nice setting. Not sure of the price difference -- I know Ryugin has been a big bill both times I have gone, but seemed worth it. I didn't pay last week at L'Effervescence. Hope this is helpful.

Jan 28, 2012
VCB133 in Japan

Opinions on New Japanese fine-diners in Tokyo

I have eaten at all of them, most more than once. For my money, I would go with Yamada Chikara. YMMV, but I love the small and casual ambience, I think the balance between "traditional" setting and food and inventive preparation is well done, and I like the small tea ceremony that ends the meal. Of the 4, it is hard to go wrong, they are all variations on great. But if someone asked me for my "favorite" higher end New Japanese, it would definitely be Yamada.

Jan 06, 2012
VCB133 in Japan

L.A. 'Hound reports back: Aronia de Takazawa, Tokyo [LONG REVIEW WITH PHOTOS]

Agree with JL and Dave here -- this is most definitely not French cuisine. The words on the menu may seem French, but it is not ratatouille at all, just a play on multiple vegetables (he could have just as easily called it futomaki). The wine list is French or Japanese, which is pretty common across most of the upscale restaurants in Tokyo. I have been here 3 times -- it is not French, not wholly Japanese, not entirely molecular, etc. It is a bit sui generis.

Dec 27, 2011
VCB133 in Japan

L.A. 'Hound reports back: Aronia de Takazawa, Tokyo [LONG REVIEW WITH PHOTOS]

My partner also does not eat onions, and Chef Takazawa simply did not use onion in her portions. I imagine it would be quite easy to do the same with pork (which is typically only an accent instead of a main course -- although the "bacon and egg" sounds amazing). I have been there 3 times over 3 years, and each time was life changing. Although we speak Japanese poorly, as noted Akiko is wonderfully bilingual.

Dec 09, 2011
VCB133 in Japan