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Is sushi kiyoda (ginza) recommended

I'm envy about your dining experience and I agree on Matsukawa being the best in kaiseki in tokyo in my opinion. Below are the report of the rest of my trip
1) Japanese soba ramen--1st vist. Insanely long queue and we waited for 2hrs and we were the 2nd last person to be served for the day. The shop is famous for its house made noodles and it's shoyu broth. It was a good bowl and I particular like their noodles and the truffle topping on top of the soup. However, I prefer hototogisu and fuunji over this shop especially consider the super long line to get into.
2) Yakitori Imai--1st visit. It's has a lot of non chicken variety on the grill such as unagi, pork, beef, etc. I found their grilled veggies are better than meats. The most memorable pieces to me is the zuccini and matsuzake jidori. We ordered extra dish of chicken soup somen with black truffle ( the latter a special service from the chef) . I also found their drink selection is pretty good and I particular like the hida takayama malt beer which is so refreshing especially in these killing hot summer.
3) Yorozuya Izakaya--1st visit. The portion of the dishes were really small and the set menu contained about 10 course which left us still hungry. Their sashimi is a tad better than kotaro and their sake list is quite impressive. Overall pretty good in terms of food but the value is not as comparable as kotaro.
4) Sushi-Ya--2nd visit. It was subpar compare to my first visit. There were no memorable pieces on this visit and it might have to do the visit was on a sunday. It just reinforced my impression that the chef is still not able to get top grade quality neta like other sushi temple in ginza. I would give this a pass in future.
5) Shima--1st vist. Chef is nice and welcoming. I however had better steak at Dons de la nature than here. There was no OMG mind blowing experience on the first bite like Dons. Their cheesecake is however pretty good and you didn't feel sick of eating it.
6) Tempura Kaneko-Hannasuke--1st visit. I wanted to try this tempura shop as I saw a huge line up on my last trip to Japan when I passed by it. Hopefully the line was quite short when we came and moved rapidly and we were in within 15 mintues. I guess the line up was because it was a good value tempura restaurant where for less than 1k yen, one can have a large bowl of tendon including shrimp, tamago, vegetable, and anago. However, it was no where close to the tempura temple talked among here such as Kondo, Fukamachi, Sezanko and the Seiju that I visited later on this trip. I would treat it as a snack but would definitely not line up for it.
7) Sushi mizutani--8th visit. I knew mizutani is hated or at least not loved in this board. However, we were fond of his sushi at least his neta is superior to Iwa, Tokami and Sushi-Ya alike on a consistent basis. He was surely in a good mode today and was a lot more chatty than usual. Memorable pieces today was torigai, katsuo, mushi awabi and mirugai.
8) Yakitori Toriki-2nd visit. I liked toriki better than Imai as former seems to focus on eating chicken while Imai seems to me more like a grill place. The chicken at Toriki also taste better despite Imai use more expensive chicken. I am fond of toriki concin, tsukune, and kawa. I like the chicken gizzard better at Imai.
9) Kaiseki Akasaka eigetsu --1st visit. This was rated highly on tabelog as the top 5 kaiseki in tokyo and hence we were interested to try. I have a mixed feeling about this restaurant. For the price which is 15k yen per person for a 13 course meal, it is exceptional value but food wise it is still not comparable to tomura , matsukawa or even hirosaku that I had later on. The highlight are yuba, hamo, corn and the juicy peach. Having said that, it was still way better than seika kobayashi. I would give this restaurant a second try to see if it got any better.
10) Hirosaku--1st visit. I am always fond of the mom and pop store like in Hirosaku. The nice couple turned out some gorgeous dish for lunch. The highlight include the unagi yuba, their famous soba, roasted duck and grilled anago. The food here taste and present better than Eigetsu and the value is also very good for lunch at 13k yen per head. Will surely return.
11) Ramen Kakou--1st visit. I headed to this ramen joint as suggested by the blogger of ramen adventures which I trust his recommendation. Their ramen is miso based and very rich indeed. It was a awesome bowl but I think Kururi is a tad better for miso based ramen. The good thing is they have no break in between and hence there is no line when we went at 4pm.
12) Kagari ramen @ Echika ginza station branch-- I wasn't sure if I was biased but I didn't think it was the same either the soup or the noodles as the original store at ginza ( close to the apple store) and hence I was disappointed. Kagari is one of the top ramen-ya I liked a lot and their branch is subpar not only to their original store and even to ramen Kakou.
13) Tempura Seiru--1st visit. We wanted to visit rakutei but since the master unfortunately passed away and hence we decided to visit his disciple located in tsukiji. The tempura batter is of lighter version than sezanko and the ingredient is nonetheless top notch. It was the best tempura I had on this trip and all the food came out piping hot. There was nice break with sashimi and otsumami in between fried dish for refreshing your taste such as mazuko zu. I considered it at least on par with Fukamachi and Kondo.
14) Orchid room at hotel okura--1st visit. I have long heard that their french toast at the orchid room in hotel okura is one of the best in tokyo and since the original hotel okura will be demolised by September and hence we decided to pay a visit for their breakfast and the hotel itself before it was gone for good in future.
The french toast is not bad but I clearly had better in tokyo including at the new french restaurant Motif at FS tokyo hotel. The interior design of the hotel is however timeless and I like the hanging lantern.

This is the end of my trip report and hopefully I could embark on a new trip very soon. Thanks for reading toward the end.

For palatism, I hope you have a wonderful trip coming in November. If possible, could I pm you about question of restaurant recommendation in tokyo?

Jul 29, 2015
silverlim in Japan
1

Is sushi kiyoda (ginza) recommended

I am also glad that you enjoyed Kiyota as many chowhounder on this board doesn't seem to think of same way. Anyway, I am back in Japan( tokyo and kyoto) for a 2 week long stuff myself silly gastronomy trip. Below are the restaurant I have visited on this trip so far, some are returning visit and other are new
1) Sushi Hashiguchi--4th visit, their hikarimono is still one of the best out there among the sushi ya. We have the best shinko in this trip and the fish/neta on this visit was much better than last visit.
2) Sushi Jiro Honten--2nd visit, not as mind blowing as the first visit but Jiro san didn't seem to age at all. I forgot about the dress code that one have to wear collard shirt to visit Jiro despite that day was very hot and humid at 34c and I have to frantically rush back to hotel and get changed.
3) Sushisho Takumi Shingo-1st vist , overall i liked it better than orignal sushi sho but i think the aged fish is still better at the original sushi sho restaurant. The highlights are aji, iwashi, and ankimo. The sequence and flow of otsumami and nigiri is much more cohesive than the original sushi sho. Their Futomaki looked very appetizing which I ought to try next time but we were too full. I especially like their tsukemono like the mitsu natsu from osaka . It was so juicy and unbelievable good
4) Sushi ichikawa--1st visit, long trek to get to from Ginza especially on a hot summer day. We were soaked in sweat by the time we got to the restaurant from the station. I liked this restaurant a lot , the style is very similar to kiyota since he is a disciple of Araki and araki san used to train under the previous generation chef at kiyota. The neta here is good quality. The highlight is the awabi, aka uni, notoguro. The shari is similiar to kiyota style. The price is comparable to other michelin 1 star sushiya in ginza.
5) Kaieseki seika kobayashi--1st vist. A one man show restaurant as he is the sole person cooking , cleaning and serving guest. He only accept two booking per day which the restaurant can seat a maximum of 6 person; 2 in counter and 4 in the table behind the counter. I had high hopes for this restaurant after reading rave review from other but we were sorely disappointed. The sashimi has bones on it and it was cut in a way the tendon is so hard to chewed. All dishes came out bland and the only redeeming point is the portion is huge. The ayu was one of the worst ayu i had eaten on this trip. I guess you could not fault him given he has to do everything by himself. One interesting point though, is I have the hottest oshibori ( towel) in the world as literally there were steams coming out from the towel which lasted a good 2 minutes before it cooled down.
6) Izakaya Kotaro--1st vist. we went the same night after seika so we were stuffed to our neck. The chef is really nice and make us chisai (mini) version of their signature dish. We have 4-5 dishes all together and the most memorable one are the udon.Their sake list is impressive but we only tried one from Nara and it was really good. The value is so much better than Yorozuya and it cost us 9k for two including the sake. Well surely return.
7) Kyoto miyamasou--1st vist , again a long drive to get to from kyoto. You have go through many twisted narrow mountain road to get to but once you are there, the place is so serene and immediately cooled off from the intense heat in kyoto. The food is all source from the local area and the highlight is their vegetable. The setting is beautiful and much nicer than arashiyama kitcho. The service is excelletn. I particularly like their mountain potato and local torigai which is only available for a week in July. The torigai is so motherf*king huge and it was so good. There is a temple called 頂峰寺just behind the miyamasou which we strolled and hike up. It was a mystical experience as we have the entire temple to ourself with the miyasu mountain as back drop. Apparently, the famous kyoto kiyomisudera architect got the idea from this temple. Since it is such a long drive to get to, i suggest people staying overnight for a day or two ( as the place is actually a ryokan) rather like us to drive back to city which is very tiring. We originally have the intention to stay overnight but we have to scrap that plan to fit in other restaurant
8) Kyoto Ifuki--1st visit. One of the highlight of our trip in Kyoto. I love every single dish that was served there especially the hasun. Since we were the last customer in the restaurant, we have additional grilled dish ( including pork, beef, supon and kamo). The torigai is served warmed which is so good and better than eating raw. The grilled hamo is just so divine. The server and master wife are so friendly and chatty. We have a wonderful 3hr meals there and will surely return
9) Kyoto Sojiki Nagahigashi--1st visit. Interesting experience again the theme here is mountain sourced vegetable. The master chef like to make jokes. The highlight is supposed to be their rice course and it was serve many different way. He called one of them Paris adn the other new york sun set. I actually find their vegetable is better than their rice but by no mean their rice is poor but i don't have the wow effect. The value can't be beat though as for a 12 course lunch menu for two, it cost less than 18k yen.
10) Kyoto Mizai--1st visit. We made the reservation well over 8 months ahead and so we have high hopes. In summary, it wasn't better than other kaiseki restaurant we have visited in kyoto such as Ifuki, Mitsuyasu and Ogata. The portion here is huge and there are too many food being served. The master chef is very strict but he seems to have a lot of follower. We were the only foreigner there. The theme was supposed to be charyori but i didn't get it at all. The food flavor is on the heavy side and the matcha he served is only so so. I don't get it why he need to use toro from boston where local tuna from Japan is so much better. His signature dessert is supposedly famous where he bland 45 different kind of fruits into a bowl but it turns out a disaster at least for me as I am not sure what i am eating. You were be sure that you are fed well on this restaurant as it is just too much food and i find many japaneese leave their food untouch toward the ends.
11) Kyoto Shoraian-- 1st vist. Again highly recommended on this board and I found it was one of my worst meal in kyoto. I have better tofu elsewhere in kyoto and tokyo. The food is served cold. Their suppose famous tempura yuba is no match to what you can find in hong kong or south east asia. Very disappointed.
12) Kyoto Mitsuyasu--1st vist. One of the highlight of our meals in kyoto. Although it is label as kaiseki restaurant, it has a lot of modern touch. The best vegetables i have in this trip to japan is here. Their natsu, corn, potato are so delicious and mind blowing good. I sense that the chef theme here is to bring out the original flavour of the ingredient to its max. The porcelain and glassware used here is also very pretty and apparently the chef is also an artist himself. You eat at the chef house whom served two party at night in your own private tatami room. Will surely return.
13) Kyoto Jiki Miyazawa-- 1st visit. It's located near the nishiki market. The chef is very young and i sees a lot of potential in him. The food is great and the value is good. The signature dish is supposed to be goma tofu serve with goma paste and the seed itself. For 10 course menu, the charge is 15k for two person.
14) Kyoto Ogata--1st visit, one of our highlight on this trip to kyoto. It's my no 1 restaurant in kyoto and mitsuyasu is no 1for my wife. We both agreed ifuki is no 2 on our list. The ayu here is the best i have so far in japan. They also serve the giant torigai from miyasu and it was served live and the entire piece including the himo and kimo. The style is very similar to matsukawa but the ingredient is not as luxurious. The chef is really nice and we connected really well despite my really poor japanese. It was the night before gion matsuri and the chef is painstakingly everything about gion matsuri to us. We will surely return.
14) Kyoto Tempura Matsu-- 1st visit. I understand it is not a tempura restaurant but I was sorely disappointed that their tempura dishes is so bad but there non tempura dishes are nicely done. The highlight including sakuraebi owan, morisoba, toro and steam sticky rice. I also suspect the owner overcharge us as we order the 10k yen course with green tea but the final bill came to 28k yen which I don't know how it's add up even if you added taxes and service charge.
15) Tokyo Floriledge--1st vist. The only french meal we have in this trip. I again have high hopes on this restaurant after reading rave review but was somewhat disappointed after dining here. Quintessence is still the best french restaurant i have tried so far in tokyo. The memorable dishes here is actually their dessert instead of their appetizers. Their non -alcoholic pairing here is also a highlight. I was amazed by their beansprout juice and black sesame juice. The value here is much better than Losier or Robuchon.
16) Matsukawa--6th visit. Same as before but we finally get to try his famous grilled supon which i think is better than his grilled unagi and ayu. The highlight of this meal beside supon is the awabi with caviar. I met a diner from San Francisco in Matsukawa that there is a restaurant at Kobe that is two times better than Matsukawa and the chef there is apparently a friend of Matsukawa which make me so unease that i have to tried it on my next trip to Japan.

To be continue

Jul 26, 2015
silverlim in Japan

Trip report--toyama, Karuizawa, Tokyo

We just finish the Japanese alpine trip recently including the famous tateyama-kurobine crossing. Just to share some of the highlight of our trip

Toyama-- to my surprise I love this city and the food offering Vast selection of great seafood. I want to recommend river retreat garaku - which is a modern ryokan and they have two excellent restaurant. One is kaiseki place and the other is levtro French restaurant. The kaiseki place is actually a branch of a Michelin two star kaiseki in Kyoto. The French restaurant is better than lefferessence and takazawa but the portion is really small.We also did a sushi place in Toyama called sushi Jin which is comparable to high end sushi-ya at ginza but at fraction of price. Their shiroebi is the best I have eaten.En route to the tateyama station . we also stop by the famous nearby shiroebi tempura kiosk and it was delicious

For the rest of the trip, we mainly stay at different ryokan in the Japan alpine country but I like kamikochi the best. The place felt really mystic to me and the serene taisho pond is a marvellous sight to behold. I should mention a lovely family run ryokan at sawando called keiryo suirukan also serve wonderful river fish call Iwanai

We have a brief stop at kairuzawa before heading back to Tokyo. I just want to mention this pudding place called pamu at the entrance of kyukairuzawa. It was the best Japanese pudding I have ever tried .

Tokyo- we tried 3 new place on this trip
Sushi-ya-- I prefer his otsumami over nigiri. Very similar to iwa and chef spoke English well. I do not particular like his Shari which is on the colder end and mild on vinegar. Compare to miyaha we have the day after, I prefer miyaha better. FYI, the taisho of miyaha is sick again and recently re admitted to hospital according to assistant and likely won't be able to return to work for a long while

Kaiseki kadowaki-- we absolutely adore this place. It's somewhat fusion and heavier on taste profile. His is famous in using truffle in his dish and we have sashimi, meat course , gohan and dessert that were served with truffle and the combination work really well. We are eager to return on our next trip

Tomura--I was let down by this place. It is known for it's awabi during summer but the one we have is not what I have expected. It was too hard to chew and the flavour is just not there. The highlight of the meal is grilled hamo, torigai and Kare sashimi, cold somen and the desert that look like konyaku but not and I forgot the name. I undestand the chef principle in his cuisine which is simplistic but I don't think he does it as well as matsukawa and for the price he charge, which is even more expensive than during matsutake season at matsukawa, it does feel being ripped off

Hototogisu - we have the shio ramen and I think it was good. The broth is light but I still prefer tonkotsu based ramen. They serve different ramen on Thursday and Friday where the name of store than change to ura-hototogisu.

FYI- kagari ramen at ginza is moving to a new location on May 29. The new location is now at the ginza subway underground station closer to the c- gate.

As well for any itoya fan, the new flagship store at ginza will be reopen on June and it will consist of 12th floor which include a cafe

May 28, 2015
silverlim in Japan

Tokyo Trip report 2015

Mizutani--7th visit for lunch. Master was really grumpy that day but sushi fortunately did not suffer. His senior apprentice is not around and two new apprentice is helping out. Highlight of the meal is mirugai and kohada with oboro. The latter is a brand new combination for us even in mizutani as we could not recall him doing so in the past and it turn out really good and refreshing. We ask for 2 more supplement infact. The tamagoyaki had return to the usual version and pale in comparison to our last visit in Dec.

Miyaha-3rd visit for lunch. Still very good, particular stand out piece is the chutoro , uni, anago, mekaimaguro and hamaguri. Lunch value is better compare to the dinner and the place is still pack with japanese client. We were served by another chef and with the three visit so far, we had conclude the taisho ( master chef) that only served at night made the best nigiri among the three.

Haschiguchi-3rd visit dinner. Not as good as our last 2 visit. I like his otsumami better than the nigiri this time around. In particular, he served us a mixed bowl of chopped toro, kohada, uni , sesame and rice. The mirugai is the best on this trip, it was really crunchy ( not sure if I use the right word to describe) and taste so fresh.

Yakitori Ogawa--1st visit, we ordered the tasting menu, which include 3 meat skewer and 1 vegetable skewer ( shisito). I liked the vegetable skewer better than the meat skewer which include heart, tsukune and sasara. Overall ok but pale in comparison to Toriki.

Kiyota-2nd visit for lunch. Lunch is served by the 4th generation chef rather than 3rd generation chef whom only served at dinner. Lunch is much more cheaper though compare to dinner in term of cost ~18k yen but the quality of the nigiri is not as good as our last dinner visit. The highlight is however kohada ( true traditional edomae style) and according to the chef, it took 3 day to prepare the fish. Other highlight is the shirouo and hirame. The tuna which is suppose the specialty here is unfortunately not as good compare to our last visit and pale in comparison to sushi Oono we had later on despite it comes from Wakayama.

Oono-1st visit, dinner, I would rate it the best sushi experience we had on this trip. We were the only guest during the entire time we were there so there might help. It's a really small sushi ya with the chef and a helper. The nigiri has nice balance with the shari and the neta. The toro is surprisingly the best on this trip and it was also came from wakayama but it was night and day difference compare to the one we had at Kiyota. We had no doubt asked for supplement toro pieces. The otsumami here also stand out in particular the chawan mushi which i have to admit is the best I had so far ( better than Namba) , tako, kekani and awabi. The meal has a nice flow without dragging and we still able to interact with the chef. Overall would surely return . Case in point, there is another Oono restaurant ( in Kanji) just a block away from the real sushi Oono which we first stumbled into and had mistaken it was the same restaurant.

Ishikawa--3rd visit. It was not as good compared to our last 2 visit. It was to heavy on the seasoning side to the point, some food turn out to be oily and salty. I was very disappointed but the two foreign guest from LA sitting beside us kept yelping how great their food was and I was truly puzzled by it. I was hoping to get redemption from the rice course which is rice cooked with scallop but again was disappointed.

Tokami-2nd visit, lunch. My previous impression still stand for this place. What it really shine in here is the maguro especially the maguro maki but the rest is just so so. I only ordered the nigiri set this time around and not particular impressed with the shari.

Seizan--1st visit, dinner. The chef is very young and really talented. The kaiseki here is consider top notch for the value but the cooking method is still as not refine as the league like Matsukawa. The highlight of the meal is the shirako with lotus root mochi as well pork meat wrapped with bamboo shoot which is the best meat dish I had in this tirp. The hamaguri soup and anago sushi however isn't appetizing. I would rate this better than ishikawa and with time, the chef would surely become the next bright star in kaiseki ryori like the like of Matsukawa san. Interestingly, it is the kaiseki that I have been too with an open kitchen.

Toriki-- 1st visit. Best yakitori we had so far in tokyo albeit we hadn't tried torishki yet which is really hard to get in. We initially just started with 3 skewer but ended up adding 4 more skewer each. The highlight is the chicken salad, coccin, tsukune, tebayaki , and quail eggs. It was so flavorful and once again reminded me what chicken taste like it should. Would surely return on our future visit.

Matsukawa--5th visit. It's our regular go to kaiseki place in Tokyo. Food is as good as before but nothing really stand out since a few of the dishes is the same we had before in our previous visit. I must say that there is so far no kaiseki place does clear soup better than Matsukawa san and I am a die hard fan for his clear soup. As per usual, the rice course remain the same but the dish before the rice course also contain rice but added karasumi and grilled vegetable. Again lunch course has better value compare to dinner.

Umi--1st visit. Dinner. It's the longest sushi eating experience I had ever had in tokyo. It lasted for 31/2 hour. The chef is very passionate about putting on a show and entertain his guest. The entire kitchen team is "shouting" all the time which could be off putting for some. There is ton of pieces being served and the style is very similiar to sushi sho but nigiri pieces is actually bigger than sho. The variety of fish is diverse but quality might not be the best . Particular highlight is the fresh oyster ( kaki) in a shell, tokyo bay maguro, tora fugu shirako and akagai. It's a highly regarded restaurant among the HKer and Taiwanese as 90% of the clientele there were from either Hong Kong or Taiwan. It was an interesting experience but not sure we would return as I found the sushi meal was being dragged too far long because of the "acting".

Aria di Tacubo--1st visit. Lunch. The kitchen is very accommodating and agree to serve our lunch course in an hour which usually take 2hr to complete. The meals is really great overall as good as our last meal in la barrique. The ingredient here is simple and i find the grilled dish here fare better than their pasta versus the opposite is true for la barrique. Nothing to fault about except the amuse bouche of cauliflower soup is fairly bland and did not match well with the shrimp. It's a great value for 5k yen per person that consist of 6 course.

Mar 03, 2015
silverlim in Japan

tokyo trip report feb2015

"the chef has got heavy breathing."
Totally agree----but namba otsumami is so good that I keep returning.

Feb 26, 2015
silverlim in Japan

The "remarkable value" special lunch spot

Florilege is closed for the time being as they are relocating to new location. It still unknown when will they reopen but was told expecting to be late april
I suggest la barrique or aria di tacubo for Italian flare and course is between 3k-8k depending on the course u order great value for lunch

Feb 20, 2015
silverlim in Japan
1

Trip Report

I had only tried tokami once at lunch, we did order the ok amaze dinner course. The most memorable piece is his Maguro temaki and I agree their maguro is really good ( still a notch below what I had at kiyota) . I didn't find their anago and Shari particularly great but not bad either. I have wanted to try their dinner on this trip but were fully booked.in my opinion , tokami is at least on par if not better than iwa or taku, and hence you should keep it. Interested in jmul852 thought as well.

Jan 02, 2015
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

By the way, I read that you have dine at Maitosushi before. It's looked like it's even more expensive than Kiyota (the most expensive sushiya --i had ever been to) which really intrigued me . Could you share your experience there and the tabelog link, as i noticed that were quite a few sushi ya on tabelog with same name. Thanks in advance.

Jan 02, 2015
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

It's unfortunate that i have never tried the 3 sushi ya that you brought up. Please share your experience if you ended up dine there. Based on past review here and chowhound, I am probably more interested in trying Nakamura than the other two.

Jan 02, 2015
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Namba--For his otsumami, unique shari and great value
Kiyota-For his maguro ( in my opinion better than Sawada)
Miyaha-For his diversity of fish selection( top quality) and fun atmosphere
Haschiguchi--For his hikarimono and right balance of shari with net
Mizutani--Fof his sayori and his new version of tamago

I don't have "the best" sushiya in my mind however just like you there are a couple sushi-ya that I frequent a lot where they are consistently good. I choose to go to certain sushiya when I craved for certain things. I also make sure to keep exploring new shop whenever we return to tokyo.

Jan 02, 2015
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Neither the server and the chef speak any English. However their menu comes with picture so you could just point and they will understand. My Japanese is also at early beginner level so you will be just fine

Dec 29, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

It would be a trek from ginza where I typically stay ( 30 min by subway tozai line) . I should have mentioned that. Thanks for correcting the Japanese name of the restaurant as I only remembered the kanji characters. I didn't know they change meat source since this is our first visit, another reason to try them again in the future

Dec 29, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Tonkatsu narikurou成蔵--first visit at lunch. Rated as no 1 tonkatsu place in Tokyo on tabelog. Be prepared to que up as no reservation is allowed. We went at 1030am half an hour before the shop is open and already 18 people ahead of us. Finally got seated but took another half an hour before food is served as we ordered special thick cut version which required additional time which meant by the time we started eating the rest of the customer in round 1 had left. They had regular menu and lunch menu which I believed the meat is different and the portion is smaller. I ordered the 250g special thick cut which cooked really well and the meat is moist juicy and tender. The batter is crispy and in my opinion better than butagumi. The salad , cabbage, rice were all good. The special cut is the thickest cut I had ever eaten even more so compared to butagumi. Their soup is different as it was broiled pork soup with potato onion and vege instead of regular miso soup you had elsewhere in tonkatsu restaurant including butagumi. All meat came from nigaata prefecture and the only down side is you don't have vast selection of meat compare to butagumi. The meat will certainly can't compare to butagumi top selected meats such as iberico but the most expensive dish on the menu is only 3700 and its very filling. They also have shrimp , oyster that you could order a la carte as well . It's a hike to get to as it is located in takadanobaba. We were surely return should we craved for tonkatsu in the future.

Above is the last meal of our trip to Japan and hopefully will return soon.

Wish everyone have a happy new year.

Dec 28, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Afuri roppongi- I had the yuzu spicy ramen maroaji version while my wife had Yusuf ramen tarei version. My bowl is just plain sour taste as I couldn't tell any chicken taste at al as the broth is made with chicken stock. My wife's bowl is better but no where near as good as kagare or other ramen joint I have been to.

Daigo--2nd visit dinner. My wife specifically request to rerun to this restaurant as she liked it the last time we were here. I found it was good but not great compare to other shojin ryori I had tried before like the one we had in koyasan. The highlights are the winter melon with yuzu miso and grilled bamboo shot.

Dec 27, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Yagyu no sho- breakfast and dinner did indeed improve today. The breakfast was a feast with 13 course and we were fed really well. I particularly liked their somen. Dinner today used more luxurious ingredient such as zuwai gani , awabi, matzusaka wagyu...etc but the flavour and cooking method remain subpar to high end ryotei in kyoto or kappo ryori in Tokyo. The presentation is lovely though especially the amagou ( local river fish) that was broiled over bamboo stick. The rice also grown locally called kerukoshihikari and is cooked unami.

Dec 26, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Sorry for the typo as I was replying on a tiny smartphone. Niboshi is dry baby sardine and kagare offer both toripaitan and niboshi stock ramen. I meant myoga Japanese ginger bud instead of myoagi ( lol, I think I liked aoyagi too much).

My Japanese is still at the newbie level and hence I apologize if I offended anyone by using inappropriate word . I didn't mean any negative tone at all.

Dec 25, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Kagare Ramen--2nd visit. We learned our lesson last time so we reached there 45 minutes before it open. There was already 6 people ahead of us but we were lucky to get in as the first batch which seated 6 in a U shape counter. They could only make 2 bowls of ramen at any given time, so there is quite a wait if you don't get in early on. I had the nibotsu ramen last time and opted for toripaitan ( chicken broth) this time around and my wife had the same, it was actually hers favourite and she wouldn't mind getting up early and lined up for a ramen. The toripaitan is so flavorful and rich that I licked the bowl cleaned. The topping was also interesting as they changed with season as last time was asparagus , myoagi and chicken versus ikura, lotus root and some unamed vegetabels. We again left satisfied.

Sushi Iwa--3rd visit at lunch. It was packed with gaijin. The taisho ( Iwa ) served japanese customer and the sous chef serves the gaijin as he speaks english and probably the best english spoken sushi chef I have ever encountered in tokyo. After eaten at so many great sushi ya, sushi iwa seems to be mediocre in terms of fish quality and their shari compared to the other and isn't as wowed as the first time we went. they didn't seem to be able to get as good quality fish as compared to jiro style school including masuda. it's a great value though for their 13 pieces nigiri course at lunch. We ordered 4 more supplement pieces and it came to total of 22k plus drink for 2 pax.

Ryokan Yagyu-nosho---After our lunch we drove from tokyo to shuzenji in izu peninsula to stay in this ryokan. It was only weekdays but the traffic were already bad. I heard that their meals is highly regarded by many blogger as the owner of the ryokan who also happened to be the chef used to run a well known ryotei in tokyo in the 80's . However the meals is rather disappointing except the aperitif which we were served unrefined sake before the course started. Hopefully the breakfast and dinner tomorrow will be better. I had better ryokan food while I was in kyushu, kyoto and hokkaido. The onsen here is however divine and you were surrounded by mountains and bamboo forest.

Dec 25, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

I have been to all four season. Spring highlight is ayu, summer is Awabi and anago. Fall is matsutake and winter is zuwai gani and karasumi.

I wouldn't consider myself as regular yet as I'm sure there are more chowhounder here that have dined at matsukawa more often than me but the chef, his sous chef and head waitstaff do recognize us well.

I dare not to alter his mind about how one should prepare the rice as I believe it does flow really well for somebody who just dine there once. I might suggest to his head wait staff the next time I go visit as she is more approachable and by the way her husband also own a reputable crab ryori restaurant in Tokyo called kitafuku which we will try next time we visit Japan.

Dec 25, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

I haven't tried but was recommended by Aman concierge but I have no interest in trying as even matsukawa da agreed with me ajiman served the best fugu in Tokyo

Dec 25, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

It all depend on what you want to order , I.e a la carte or omakase course which I recommend. When Shirako is in season, it's about 40k yen for omakase course per pax and when Shirako is not available it is around 33-35k per pax. Of note Ajiman is closed for the summer as fugu season is only from October to April and shirako is only from late November till early February but now is the best

Dec 25, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

I didn't have any problem with booking on our first visit but then when we asked our hotel to book for this visit , we were told they were full than we used another hotel concierge to pull some weight and stressed that we were returning customer , we were able to get a reservation instead. When we left this time we specifically asked if we were allowed to book againa be they said yes but through hotel concierge. We only speak minimal Japanese and we were the only gaijin there that doesn't have Japanese companion

Dec 25, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Sushi mizutani--6th visit at lunch. I understood mizutani wasn't particularly favoured in this board but we do like it and frequent this sushi ya a lot. As our nihongo improved slightly, we could actually communicated a little bit better with the chef this time around. He clearly was in a cheerful mode today. Of all the customer seated that day including Japanese, we were actually the "regular" there. The shari was better this time around than previous visit. The highlight of the meal is tairagai, sayori( probably the best we have ever eaten in japan), and chutoro. Interesting enough, we were the only one that was served with tamagoyaki, and the tamago had changed compare to our last five visit. It was the best tamago I had so far in this trip,i.e better than the one served at Namba. We asked for a second serving despite they still had good portion left but they said it was reserved for dinner. No wonder the rest of the customer weren't served the tamago. I wasn't sure if it was because of new year is coming, they do not stock extra pieces of fish as we also asked for second serving of sayori and again ran out. Overall, we were satisfied with the meal.

Ajiman--2nd visit ( dinner). It was the best fugu meal we had ever had in tokyo and still as good as the first time we went. The fugu shirako is in season and it was the best shirako we had ever eaten before. It was also the biggest shirako I had ever eaten. Their karage is also excellent and we ordered for a second serving. Our most anticipated meal is actually their zosui and it was so so soon much better than Fukuji. I really like the homey feels of this restaurant . It was run by the entire family from father to granddaughter. They were always busy. I highly recommend anyone interested in Fugu to go to Ajiman instead of Fukuji and you get the best bang of the buck here. However, little to no english is spoken here and it's a little tricky to make reservation here if you don't speak japanese.

Dec 24, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Sorry for the typo, yes it indeed Oitmatsu ( meaning old pine tree in english). I am not sure if they allow walk in but it certainly allow foreign guest. We booked in advance through our hotel concierge. As well, it's cash only but not a huge problem given that it's not expensive at all.

Dec 23, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Thanks you for your support. Will certainly keep posting. Merry X'mas and happy new year to you too.

Dec 23, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Oitmasu Kitagawa--First visit and we went for lunch. We were quite happy as we finished the eight course kaiseki menu within an hour rather than 3-4 hrs long meal the day before. In my opinion , it was much better than taian although only seafood was served throughout the course. There were no expensive ingredients like zuwai kani, toro..etc but the quality of the seafood is nonetheless top notch. It was the best value of all the meals we had so far as it only cost 5k yen per person for a good kaiseki meal which I doubt you can find anything like that in tokyo and also doesn't leave you hungry afterward. The highlight were their hassun ( which consist of ika, hotate, potato, negi served with shiromiso and komatsu). We also liked their soup dish and steamed notogurou. The gohan is rice with sawara. It was ok as I didn't get to taste the fish and the rice isn't cooked till they were umami. The chef is very friendly but doesn't speak english. It is a small shop that only seat 9 people at the counter. We were more likely to returned to this place than Taian. We went to stroll around Donbori river after lunch and found the giant yellow rubber duck was back on display. We then flew back to tokyo.

Fukuji--First visit(Dinner). It doesn't compare to Ajiman at all. We order the omakase (matsu) course and their fugu sashimi doesn't come with ankimo sauce. Their ponzu sauce is overly spicy and sour. We asked for ankimo sauce and willing to pay for it but they said they ran out. Their karage is again not as good as Ajiman but at least there was lots of meat rather last time we were at Ajiman, it was mainly bones. Their nabe is good but not great like Ajiman. Their zosui is terrible as the stew was overcooked as Chef is more interesting chatting with us ( which kind of annoying to me) than making sure he cooked the rice stew perfectly. When we were finally served the zosui, it was dried and mushy and tasteless. Their fruits (melon) is however really good and the only redeeming point of the meals. It was the quickest fugu meal we have finished in japan as from walked in till walked out was less than an hour. It was the exact opposite of yesterday evening meal. I understand it's famous among tourist as we saw large group of tourist came and went . It's highly unlikely we would return given that Ajiman to us were so much better. I preferred the family run shop ( Ajiman) and the attentiveness. Since we finished early, we went to Tokyo Midtown to see the christmas light show which is a sight to behold.

Dec 23, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Fujiya 1935-- First visit for lunch. According to table, it was spanish and japaneese fusion restaurant but I found it was more italian influence than spanish. They only served christmas course from Dec 21-25 . The lunch consisted of 9 course. The dish was simple yet burst with flavour. The highlight include the steam grouper with mushroom, and tagliatelle with blue crab. I also like their bread which has a nice crust on the outside and soft inside. The service is however too slow even though the restaurant isn't full. To me, the experience was comfort food that executed exceptionally well rather than true fine dining experience but we really liked it and the value was a steal at 24k yen for 2. It's much better than l'efferversence and losier in my opinion.

Creo-ru takoyaki-- We went to Dontobori for a quick snack and spotted the long line at this takoyaki stall. We decided to give it a try and it turned out to be tourist trap. The takoyaki was mushy but the sauce is not too bad. Had better takoyaki last time I was there ( albeit 6 years ago) but I couldn't remember which stall.

Hajime-- First visit. We went for the dinner. Used to allow photography but no longer do. It was an exceptional french food just like any haute french cuisine. In my opinion better than Quintessence which up to this point, Quintessence is the best french restaurant in japan that we had visited thus far . It incorporated local Japanese ingredient much better than Quintessence. It's food is mile ahead of compare to takazawa, losier , esquisse, edition koji and l'efferversence. There was total 11 course and again only christmas menu is available. The highlight include suppon consume, deer meat, uni, ebi and a dish called earth which consisted of 60 different vegetables and the presentation is an art in itself. Every dish is cooked perfectly and the flavour is just umami without being too rich or too foamy. The service is however far too slow as it took close to 4hr to finish the whole course which i was half asleep by the time the meal was finish. Their drink is however very expensive . We went for the non alcoholic pairing which I thought was good pairing ( total of 7 different beverages were provided include sparkling water from spain, hinoki infused water, gokyucoro, kodaima cha, apple cider, tomato essence, and herbal tea but way overpriced at 8600 yen per pax ( still cheaper than the alcoholic pairing which is 26k yen). It was the most expensive meal we had spent on this trip so far, much more so than kiyota. Should I return in the future, I would just come for the food itself which is priced more reasonably. Guest would get a tea leaf jam as a gift from the chef after the meal. I don't really know why this one is rated at 2 star compared to Fujiya which is a 3 star michelin restaurant ( LOL probably due to very slow service )but nonetheless , it's rated as No.1 at tabelog and I believed it was once 3 star when michelin kansai is first published.

Dec 22, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Tamawarai--First visit and we went for lunch. We arrived about an hour earlier before the door was open just to make sure we would get in as they would not accept reservation from foreign guest ( they do take reservation from local). For reason that beats me, the server told me that everything else on the menu is sold out ( the shop has just literally open and we were the 2nd persons being seated) except the plain soba and egg soup soba. They also have omakase menu which has to be order in advance which we foreign guest might never ever get to try since they would accept reservation. I ordered the seirusoba with bonito flake and daikon while my wife had the egg soup soba. The soba was thick slices, al dante and great texture. It was the best soba we had ever had in japan. It's beat naurotomi and matsukawa by a mile. The portion was however tiny which left me hungry. The soba cha was also excellent. I wasn't sure we were allowed to order any more as there was long line outside the shop and we decided to leave. We will probably returned when it is not busy and not everything is sold out. LOL. By the way, they seemed to limit how many patrons is seated at any given time as there are plenty of empty seats and yet made other wait for their turn. It was a strange experience.

On the corner No 8 espresso-- 2nd visit, we went straight there for coffee and snack as we were still left hungry at Tamawarai. It was only 5 min walk from one shop to the other. We had latte and cappuccino , it was the best coffee i had so far on this trip but if memory served me correct, I had better coffee the last time I was here.

Taian- We then flew to Osaka It's been 6 years ago l since we last visit the city. We were focusing on fine and high end dining on this trip. It's one of the michelin 3 star restaurant in kansai. The highlight of this restaurant is supposed to be their grill dish which in my opinion is only so so. I had better wage steak at Dons de la nature. My wife has the notogurou which again we had better grilled notogurou in sushi namba. Other dish was again mediocre except the yoba. The one dish that in my opinion failed miserably was the grated daikon soup cooked with shirako. There were far too much daikon which made it inedible and the daikon had bitter taste. The shirako was overcooked as well. After having dined at Matsukawa the day before, it was like falling off from heaven. ( Matsukawa had the same dish but it used his home made karasumi instead of shirako , and the soup, grated daikon and the karasumi are well balanced). The gohan was also pretty bland even though it sound fancy as it came with fugu roe and fugu soup. I agree with other poster that the fine dining restaurant in Osaka is just not at par with tokyo offering.

Dec 21, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Prasantrin--This is a somewhat live trip report, as we haven't finish the trip yet. I am updating the trip report on a daily basis i.e. for meals that we had dined the day before when my memories of the food and experience is still fresh. If you and others feel irritated by my daily post than I would stop posting.
Here are the list of restaurant that we have booked for the remaining of the trip ( not fixed)
1. Taian Osaka
2. Fujiya 1935 Osaka
3. Hajime Osaka
4. Oitmatsu Kitagawa Osaka
5. Fukuji
6. Ajiman
7. Tamawarai
8. Mizutani
9. Daigo
10. Iwa.

Dec 20, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

Matsukawa--Fourth visit and the very first time we did lunch. It's as divine as before. It's the suwai kani season especially the female that are filled with yummy roes. Nothing to be fault about except i hope matsukawa san can be a little bit creative on their gohan which is always white rice with jako,ikura and nori. You basically have the same course at lunch as dinner with one less dessert course but cheaper by about 10k yen which is a steal. Other highlight of the day are the wild duck from niigata, home made karasumi, shirako and fugu. By the way, matsukawa is closed for 2 week for the new year starting on Dec 27. They also make osechi for regular customer too.
Matsuda--First visit at dinner. Located at the basement of a building in ometosando. Counter only seats six and has a small private room at the back. The decor is modern. The chef is very young and looks slightly nervous but the food is still very good and much more so than harutaka when come to reminiscent of Jiro style. I actually like his shari much better than harutaka. They serve interesting otsumami but not on par with Harutaka. Their nigiri is balance with the neta and neta is also top quality. Highlight being uni, kissu, buri and anago. I think they have great potential to become the next harutaka. He seems to have a lot of helper with such a small shop and I believe I met some of the helper in sukiyabashi jiro ginza before. Price wise is similar to any 2nd tier sushi ya in ginza would cost for dinner at 24k yen which I think is slightly overpriced..

Dec 20, 2014
silverlim in Japan

Trip Report

La baroque- First visit and ours first experience in Italian fine dining in Tokyo. It's an unique experience. The building itself is traditional sukiyabaki but the food is nothing but Italian. We have chef's menu. Overall good but not as good as what I experience a hole in the wall Italian restaurant in Sapporo. Their pasta dish and dessert is better than their main dish. At 7.5k yen, its a much better value than losier we had the night before.
Sushi miyaha--2nd visit and this time we sat in front of taisho--miyaba. He only served at dinner. We have the omakase. We preferred the nigiri over the otsumami but they have interesting choice like fugu Anago , zuwai gani and shirako for otsumami. Nigiri is better compared to the one his assistant made on our previous visit. The style is similar to jiro. They have the best variety of fish compared to all sushiya we have been. The chef even mention that he got the only box of ezibafun uni in whole Japan that day. The highlight are kaki , Akagai , buri , uni , aoyagi, and katsugo. Will surely return. We were so full when we left.

Dec 19, 2014
silverlim in Japan