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Which of these must go? Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka

Sekai no Yamachan is the most famous spot in Nagoya for tebasaki. They also have dozens of branches in Tokyo nowadays.

about 2 hours ago
Robb S in Japan

Name of Chewy Tofu in Japan?

Based on the description of the chewy texture, I'm going to take a wild guess and say maybe it was namafu. Maybe try an image search on (生麩) and see if it looks familiar.

Nov 18, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

I tried the venison burger yesterday at the Becker's at Akihabara station and it wasn't bad at all. The 100g meat patty was sufficiently juicy, and it was accompanied by a very big grilled onion slice and grilled awabitake mushrooms. Not exactly fast food though - it takes around ten minutes to arrive.

(Note to Tokyo people - don't go to the Becker's at Iidabashi station, as it's under construction at the moment. Don't go to the Becker's at Yotsuya station, as it's actually a Beck's, not a Becker's.)

Nov 17, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Best sake breweries in Kyoto

Let me add the bar called "Plus Sake Bar Plus Cafe" in Kyoto (located on the ground floor of a hostel) as my recommendation for an accessible sake bar that will pour you tasting sets of "serious sake" to try out. http://bento.com/kansai/rev/7178.html

Nov 12, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

New venison burgers at Becker's, the burger shop run by JR East!

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/20...

Nov 11, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

Apparently Odaiba Takoyaki Village sells (or sold) the Takoyaki flavored Ramune - that might be worth checking out. Or maybe someplace like Namja Town's souvenir shop would have the line-up. Or maybe even Don Quijote....

Nov 01, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Dessert Buffets & Zauo in Tokyo

Marble Lounge does a nice spread, and as I recall they had multiple chocolate fountains for different kinds of chocolate, but I don't know enough about Sweets Paradise to compare. I have a feeling that Marble Lounge is somewhat more expensive.....

Nov 01, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Good Value Tokyo/Kyoto eats?

>I'd avoid most of the restaurants on department store restaurant floors

Huh, I guess mileage does vary - I've generally found department store restaurants to be quite reliable for Japanese food, especially in the OP's price range. (Perhaps Kyoto is an exception though.) They're usually established shops (you don't open your first restaurant in a department store) with reasonable prices, and there's enough competition and turnover that bad places don't last that long.

They're also comfortable if you're dining alone, they're very accommodating with children, and there's usually someplace open and serving food at 4pm when other restaurants in Japan are closed for a break.

And they're especially handy for tourists who don't know a city well and might not want to wander the streets looking for a place to eat. Kyoto's Isetan in particular has a lot of reasonably priced branches of some of the town's well-known restaurants.

I think most branches of Katsukura around Japan (one of the places you just recommended) are located in department stores.

>is Hankyu still open? I don't even know

What was once Hankyu is now a Marui, but the restaurant floor complex on the seventh and eighth floors is still called Mosaic Dining. I quite like the Harvest natural foods buffet restaurant there.

Nov 01, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Good Value Tokyo/Kyoto eats?

>Our budget is about 3000yen per meal per person (4 of us) which limits a lot I think.

That's actually a very decent budget if you spend Y1000 on lunches and Y5000 on dinners, or thereabouts. (Even better if you were planning Y3000 breakfasts!) Y5000 with no drinks covers quite a lot of ground. (Note that if you visit an izakaya, you need to order at least one soft drink like an oolong tea if you're not drinking alcohol.)

>11/15 get into Tokyo probably around 11pm? (flights lands at 9pm)

The late hour (11pm) seriously limits your choices. You may be limited to your hotel or someplace in a nearby hotel - I don't offhand know anything open at that hour in that area.

>Steakhouse Satou in Kichijoji. There's one in Tsukiji but still hard to get to using a JR pass

You would be taking the train for an extra 30-40 minutes each way just to save a few hundred yen in subway fare (or taxi fare if there are four of you). Since you're not on an extreme backpacking budget, I'd suggest forget worrying about train vs. subway while you're in Tokyo.

>Nishiki market for breakfast/lunch or the department food basements

Note that department-store food basements aren't restaurants, they're mostly take-out stalls, so that would mean carrying food back to your hotel and eating it there. But there are plenty of other good lunch options in the area in the Y1000 range.

>Tenryuji temple for 3000 yen for vegetable fare (any backup suggestions in case for some reason they're full? Wanted to try tofu place since they're famous for it)

Call for reservations. Or have your hotel in Tokyo do it for you.

Oct 31, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

Sorry, not limited edition, they still make weird Ramune flavors (including kimchee) and you can buy cases from Amazon, so maybe some store carries them....

Oct 31, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Dessert Buffets & Zauo in Tokyo

Sweets Paradise might be the best bet - they have a lot of branches in Tokyo. Or you can check your favorite hotels - I know the Marble Lounge at the Hilton does an afternoon dessert buffet. Ventaglio at the Mandarin used to, but I think they stopped.

Oct 31, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

Takoyaki Ramune was fun, but one bottle was enough. I think it was only Shibuya T Hands, and probably limited edition, but maybe googling will turn something up.

Oct 31, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

Let's see, I recall a few years back Tokyu Hands in Shibuya had a weird collection of odd flavors of Ramune (e.g. takoyaki flavor), but I don't know if they still do.

And the Okinawan antenna shops can be counted on for various sodas, teas and juices made with exotic ingredients.

Oct 29, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Tokyo > Osaka > Kyoto > Nagoya Itinerary! Any Glaring Errors?

There are plenty of izakaya in Ebisu alone - no reason to travel 40 minutes to wait on line at Kanemasu during your short stay. I don't know Bakura, but Toki no Ma is always reliable, and has a pretty wide-ranging menu and a great sake list. Dedesuke (03-3444-5511) on the east side of the station specializes in charcoal-grilled meats, and Kushinobo (03-5475-8415) above the station does a good job at deep-fried kushiage skewers. Bakuro (03-5459-8348) on the west side has the best horsemeat in town, and Ebiton (03-3280-0017) is a pork specialist.

Oct 29, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Tokyo > Osaka > Kyoto > Nagoya Itinerary! Any Glaring Errors?

I agree about Silverjay's ramen recommendations - either go during the daytime, or maybe after an izakaya in the evening. Also, I think Ikaruga serves tonkotsu ramen, not tonkotsu (which is an entirely different dish).

Your second day sounds very noodle-centered, but if you want to keep those two choices I would reverse the order - Narutomi is an okay place for a somewhat leisurely evening meal, as you can order sake and appetizers, and nice tempura to go with your soba.

Oct 29, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Tokyo > Osaka > Kyoto > Nagoya Itinerary! Any Glaring Errors?

For your Kyoto lunch near Nishiki Market, Komameya (http://www.bento.com/kansai/rev/7012.... ) might be an interesting choice - they specialize in yuba dishes. Yaoya no Nikai (http://www.bento.com/kansai/rev/7006.... ) does a very good vegetable-centered prix-fixe menu at lunch for around Y2500. And I quite like the natural-foods buffet at Harvest (075-229-6101) on the 8th floor of Mosaic Dining.

For dinner I would skip okonomiyaki - pretty much anything else in Kyoto would be more interesting. Even if you just go to the 11th floor of Isetan at Kyoto Station and wander around you'll find someplace more interesting. I like the yakitori at Kokkekokko (075-365-3390) on Isetan 10F.

Oct 29, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Tokyo > Osaka > Kyoto > Nagoya Itinerary! Any Glaring Errors?

A few Osaka recommendations - Hakkakuan is a tofu and yuba specialist pretty close to Kitahama, and they do nice set meals consisting of lots of small dishes. http://www.bento.com/kansai/rev/8232....

Mimiu (06-6231-5770) specializes in sukiyaki udon, a local Osaka specialty, and they're also nearby.

Also near Kitahama I'd recommend Brooklyn Roasting Company for coffee in a very nice cafe overlooking the river, and Yellow Ape Craft if you like craft beers.

Oct 29, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

Oops, I'm wrong again, this time about Pepsi flavors being limited to summertime. Pepsi is (re)introducing Pepsi Pink Cola on December 9, for a limited run of 150,000 cases. It's strawberry-milk flavored.

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/20...

Oct 29, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Kushiro (Marunouchi) or Kaba (Kyobashi)

Thanks for the report! (And sorry to hear that your friend couldn't join in.) I do love the setting there, and the view of the new station building at night.

Oct 27, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Which of these must go? Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka

Silverjay, I think you'd have a different opinion of Nagoya if you explored the city a bit - they have a very strong local food culture that goes far beyond Nagoya cochin. Other than cochin and the famous unagi hitsumabushi shops, though, much of the locally beloved cuisine is B-kyu gourmet stuff - miso-katsu, ebi-fry, kishimen noodles, miso-nikomi udon, "Taiwan ramen," spicy chicken wings. And they have some very quirky dishes like ankake spaghetti and ogura toast.

Some nice local sake too, and a couple of craft-beer bars that are worth checking out.

That said though, Fukuoka is also a very good choice.

Oct 22, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Which of these must go? Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka

Based on your list, I'd say visit Nagoya for the unagi and the Nagoya cochin (chicken), both of which are very good local specialties. (Since it's an egg-based dish, you might also find chawanmushi in a cochin restaurant.)

Kyoto is of course famous for both kaiseki service and tofu cuisine, so that might be a logical second stop.

Osaka is a great dining city, but I'm not sure that it has that many visit-worthy specialties that you couldn't also find in Tokyo. Osaka is well known for kushiage, but you can find that in Tokyo too.

Oct 22, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Kushiro (Marunouchi) or Kaba (Kyobashi)

Thanks for the endorsement!

Personally I think Kushiro would be more relaxing if I were tired from an international flight - more comfortable seating, a more sophisticated setting, less raucous, less smoky (I think Kaba might allow smoking, I can't remember). Kaba is fun for when you want a down-to-earth, noisy, after-work izakaya experience with good value for money and some interesting regional sake.

At Kushiro definitely order one "hassan set" per person - it's a nice assortment of seasonal delicacies that changes every month. Other than that, a sashimi platter of the day to share is usually a good bet, or ask what sashimi they recommend if you have preferences. They might also have some interesting vegetables for grilling, so check the daily menu if there is one.

And I would strongly recommend a reservation - the last thing you want to be doing after a long flight is wandering around Marunouchi on a Friday night searching for someplace to eat.

Oct 21, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

Check again in 1.5 months. Limited-edition convenience-store items like soft drinks typically have a six-week run before they're replaced, so whatever is in the stores now might be gone by the time you get here.

Also the weird Pepsi flavors generally come out as summertime special items.

Oct 21, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Nagoya - Cochin Chicken shashimi

Actually all three of the places I mentioned have private tatami rooms as well as counters (as far as I recall); Torishige was probably the nicest in terms of decor.

Oct 20, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Nagoya - Cochin Chicken shashimi

Torishige (http://www.bento.com/rev/3850.html ) is my favorite, a smallish place with a nice comfortable counter. Alternatively, Torigin (052-973-3000) and Torisei (http://www.bento.com/rev/3843.html ) are both fairly famous, and much bigger, so you might be thinking of one of them.

Oct 20, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Sushi Bar Yasuda

(There are also 13 million of us who live here BTW.)

Oct 18, 2014
Robb S in Japan

6 days in Japan- Tokyo/Hakone/Kyoto

I compared a bunch of soba shops recently, and Narutomi in Ginza (03-5565-0055) came out on top (IMHO). Wherever you go, be sure to order some tempura along with your noodles....

Oct 15, 2014
Robb S in Japan

6 days in Japan- Tokyo/Hakone/Kyoto

As for izakaya in Shibuya:

1) Nana (east side of the station) serves nice Kyoto-style obanzai-ryori in an elegant setting, and they're fairly large, so you'll probably get a table if it's not a Friday night.

2) Tsukada Nojo (on Dogenzaka) is very lively and cheap, specializing in chicken from Miyazaki in Kyushu.

3) Gyossantei (near Tokyu Honten) is also a Miyazaki specialist, but with a bigger sake list and slightly more upscale menu. The menu is hard to navigate though, so I'd suggest going for a fixed menu or just asking for recommendations.

4) Unosato (at the far end of Center-gai) is probably the calmest and most relaxed spot on this list, with good grilled fish.

5) Nakamura (south east end of Shibuya) has nice food and sake, but you'll probably need a reservation.

(All the above are listed at http://www.bento.com/ra-shib.html )

Oct 14, 2014
Robb S in Japan

Tokyo and Kyoto on a budget

Your budget should be no problem - the vast majority of restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka fall well within your range. In fact Y3000 is an extremely generous budget for lunch - many, many restaurants serve lunches in the Y800-1200 price range.

Very few places require long waits (or any waits for that matter) - mostly only super-popular ramen shops and super-touristy Tsukiji sushi shops.

Many budget and mid-range restaurants, especially if they're part of a chain, will be closed only on January 1 or perhaps January 1-2. Hotel restaurants and some department store restaurants will be open on those days, so they're a good last resort. Certain ethnic restaurants (Chinese, Indian, Korean, etc.) might also be open on January 1.

For lunches, if you plan your meals at either 11:30am or after 1:15pm you should be able to get into almost any place without waiting. You might want to investigate restaurant complexes (located in office buildings, department stores, shopping complexes, etc.) to maximize your chance of finding a suitable spot.

There are tens of thousands of restaurants that fit your criteria, so I wouldn't worry too much. You might try scoping out some restaurant complexes during the daytime when you're sightseeing, and collect phone numbers of places where you notice an English menu so you can reserve for dinners.

Oct 13, 2014
Robb S in Japan

black burgers and other limited-edition and novelty items at fast-food establishments

Limited-edition pumpkin biscuits at KFC, for Halloween.

http://www.kfc.co.jp/campaign/hallowe...

Oct 07, 2014
Robb S in Japan