a

Asomaniac's Profile

Title Last Reply

Restaurant with private room around Akasaka?

Interesting - we also had an ankimo dish, totally different from what you describe (not nabe), but also pretty bad.

1 day ago
Asomaniac in Japan

Restaurant with private room around Akasaka?

That Shunju was a lot better than the Shibuya one (though I also did not enjoy the raging hangover). Unless I just had bad luck, the food quality between individual Shunju branches seems to differ hugely.

Feb 25, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Totoya in Osaka

With apologies for the lack of review (no time), just a quick post to say that Totoya is a very charming little kaiseki place in Osaka, counter and two tables for 4 (horigotatsu), very informal and cosy, excellent kinki, very good food in general, warm service and democratic prices. I think it had a relatively low tabelog scope (3.6?), which (on the basis of last night's meal at least) seems somewhat harsh.

Feb 25, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Arossa in Shibuya?

It sounds like one of those restaurants that would only exist in Tokyo.

Feb 23, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Restaurant with private room around Akasaka?

Indeed - always a good default, and I think that is where we will end up. The various Shunju branches can be quite variable in quality though - coincidentally I had a work dinner at the Shibuya Shunju last week and it was very poor. They even managed to mess up the beef (incredibly hard and flavourless pieces of wagyu - how is that even possible?!).

Feb 23, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Tepito in Shimokitazawa -- Good Mexican food?

Feb 23, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Restaurant with private room around Akasaka?

I am looking for a restaurant with a private room around Akasaka and surrounding areas (within a humane radius from Akasaka Sacas) for 6 people. The private room is unfortunately a must.

Ideal would be an upscale izakaya, but anything else (including any Western cuisine) would work as well. Completely ideal would be a place that does good wine to match Japanese food...

Thanks very much.

Feb 23, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Osaka: Totoya, La Cime, Pierre?

Has anybody been to Totoya, La Cime or Pierre in Osaka? If so, what were your impressions? Thank you.

Feb 22, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Arossa in Shibuya?

Indeed... I have had a few gut-busting evenings at Wakanui. Really lovely lamb, though the steaks tended to be fairly neutral-tasting.

It seems that Arossa in Ginza specialises in NZ wine and has a pretty impressive selection. Next time, after the Australian Arossa.

Feb 19, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Arossa in Shibuya?

If their attitude when you make a reservation is anything to go by, the service is still poor. Booking a table was quite a procedure, and the person I spoke to was mildly cold at best. I read some Japanese language reviews and it seems that this coldness extends beyond the gaijin caller.. But the food does get very good reviews, and the wine list is excellent, so I will give it a shot.

Feb 19, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Question for the Board: Should we stop talking about Old and New World wine?

zin1953, completely spot-on. Saves me writing a lengthy post, thank you!

Feb 19, 2015
Asomaniac in Wine

Arossa in Shibuya?

I was looking for a restaurant with an excellent Australian wine list, and Arossa in Shibuya seems to fit the bill (along with Salt in Marunouchi). Even though I have been aware of Arossa for a very long time, I have never been, possibly because a friend had a horrific time there a few years ago and it seems to have stayed in the back of my mind. I might give it a shot now though, and was wondering if anyone has anything good or bad to say about the food and atmosphere. I have read conflicting reviews.

Feb 19, 2015
Asomaniac in Japan

Authentic Sichuanese in Tokyo?

Thank you all very much! Will check out what's there.

Oct 10, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Authentic Sichuanese in Tokyo?

I am looking for an authentic Sichuanese restaurant in Tokyo. Not one of the various watered down Japanese versions which taste OK but have very little to do with the food I loved in Chengdu in Sichuan. Does anyone know of such a place in Tokyo?

Sep 30, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Tapas Molecular Bar

Yamada Chikara is a very poor recommendation in the context of molecular cuisine. The fact that it is owned by a chef who worked with Ferran Adria is largely irrelevant to the type of food served there. I am not a big fan of molecular cuisine so I am not trying to extol its virtues - I am just saying that by and large Yamada Chikara doesn't really specialise in molecular cuisine (unless something has radically changed there in the past few years, which may well be the case).

As for some of the other discussions here - Sant Pau in Tokyo is absolutely excellent. Dinner is eye-wateringly expensive, but genuinely excellent and worth it.

Uncle - you crack me up and you are right at the same time. Domo domo for the other day.

Sep 15, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Yakitori suggestions

p.s.: If you go for Fuku, take the Chiyoda line from Hibiya station (note: Hibiya station = the same as Yurakucho). It is quite a distance away by cab, but the train takes you there in 17 minutes (Yoyogi-Uehara station), and then it is a 4 minute walk from the station to the restaurant in a pleasant neighbourhood, walking along a single street with lots and lots of restaurants and bars on it.

You can also go from Shimbashi station (closer to your hotel), but then you would have to change trains once, at Omotesando).

Jun 10, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Yakitori suggestions

And note that Fuku is closed on Wednesdays. And on Saturdays and Sundays, you can only reserve for a start at 6pm (or 6:30pm, I forget) or earlier, while you can kick off at any time on the other days of the week.

I love Fuku. The yakitori is great, the atmosphere as well, and it happens to be remarkably cheap. Owner Suzuki-san is a very pleasant, cheerful man, as are all the staff at Fuku.

I have now been to a number of the high end yakitori places and I still prefer the much cheaper and much less up-itself Fuku. In fact, only yesterday I went to Yakitori Shinka, which is very highly rated on tabelog and is a kind of upmarket yakitori and wine place. 10 counter seats. No smoke from the grill at all. The setting is exactly like a sushi place, interestingly. My wife and I enjoyed it very much: they offer some cuts of chicken you do not see in many other places, some of the non-skewer dishes are excellent and imaginative, they are great at using spices (e.g., a sancho powder and honey mix to dip a particular cut of chicken into) and the wine list is very decent for a yakitori place. (I still prefer sake and beer with yakitori, but certain wines do work incredibly well, and it is a nice additional option to have.) The owner speaks very good English, which was great for my wife as she does not speak Japanese. BUT: while we loved it, at the end of the meal when we considered which yakitori place to book for a dinner next month with some friends, we both immmediately knew that we still prefer Fuku. Depends on what you're after, but if you want some honest, good quality yakitori in an informal atmosphere, Fuku remains my favourite.

While I find the notion of awarding Michelin stars to yakitori places absurd, I was curious and tried some of them out. I have found them quite disappointing. Ginza Birdland for instance is eye-wateringly expensive and rigid in its approach (set courses only, strict ahrerence to sittings so if you have the early sitting you have to be out by a certain time) while some other place in Gotanda whose name I have already forgotten was also unremarkable for the price and the way it took itlsef way too seriously. Give me Fuku any time.

The Yurakucho yakitori places under the railway tracks are really fun in terms of the atmosphere (and if you want to get into random conversations with drunk businessmen sitting next to you), and I would recommend it for the experience. But the quality of the actual food in most cases is really low.

Jun 10, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Takazawa or Tapas Molecular Bar

Indeed. And not weird in a good way. I will never forget how Narisawa managed to destroy perfectly good foie gras terrine by blasting it with liquid nitrogen. Gratuitous nonsense. Or how they drowned a dish in very concentrated squid ink sauce that killed off the delicate, subtly-flavoured ingredients in that dish.

The atmosphere was a bit stiff and formal. Perfectly polite service, but not warm. Not a place to relax. But because the wankerati from the international press rate it and some celebrity chefs endorsed it, it is now touted as one of the best restaurants in Asia. It's not even the best restaurant in Minami Aoyama.

Apr 30, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Takazawa or Tapas Molecular Bar

Narisawa - hugely overrated, overpriced and emperor's-new-clothesy. To be avoided at all costs, unless jumping on the international press bandwagon is something you would like to do.

Takazawa and Molecular Tapas Bar are two very different places. It's like asking if you should go to a Japanese or an Italian restaurant - the answer is go italian if you fancy Italian, and go Japanese if you fancy Japanese.

Takazawa is not really a molecular restaurant. They employ some of those methods (the occasional liquid nitrogen etc), but it is not at the forefront at all. It's basically quite innovative cuisine using Japanese ingredients to create Japanese dishes with a European slant (and some of the dishes happen to employ techniques you would associate with places like the Molecular Tapas Bar). What you get is a 7, 9 or 11 course menu of actual courses. Also, it is a proper restaurant with three tables and an all-evening experience.

The Molecular Tapas Bar is basically a gimmicky "meal" of 25 or so little molecular dishes, prepared in gimmicky fashion in front of 7 people looking at the chef as he does his thing and explains the process. There are two sittings (I think 6-8:30 and 8:30 - end, though I last went about 6 years ago so who knows if that has changed), and behind you is a huge space with many people as it is in the middle of a hotel (i.e., the set-up and atmosphere are also completely different from Takazawa).

I find the Molecular Tapas Bar quite fun (though going once or twice was enough, at least for me, though I did very much enjoy it) and if you are into that sort of thing, you should go and explore it.

In other words, either option is fine, but don't decide thinking that you are comparing like and like. Decide on the basis of whether you want a proper molecular experience (with a zero Japanese angle), or a full meal of innovative Japanese/French/European food that also features molecular techniques.

Kozue - I agree with pauliface.

Apr 30, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Yakitori Shinka - has anyone been?

Belated thank you for this. Made me want to go (I have always thought that my wife would appreciate a wine-decorated handbag), but whenever I want to book, I try to do so at fairly late notice, and it has been booked out every single time. Unless "manseki" is their way of saying that they don't like my telephone manner. Looks like it's now one of the highest rated yakitori places in Tokyo on tabelog.

Apr 30, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Japanese Kalbi: Different than korean?

Monica - but the meat quality differs often. I have found kalbi in Korea quite different from karubi in Japan because of the beef used. If you have wagyu vs Lorean beef then for me the wagyu wins. (of course, you might end up with Australian beef on both sides).

Apr 23, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Aquavit Tokyo?

Yes. I went last Tuesday. Changed a bit but still good. Worth visiting if you are in the mood for modern Scandinavian. No idea how they make money (it is huuuge, with lots of staff on prime real estate, and only half full) - maybe weddings on the weekends, a licence to print money in Japan, but in any event, if you liked it in 2009 you will still like it. The changes are minimal over theast 5 years, and quality is consistent.

Apr 12, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

How many months in advance for Michelin reservations?

Unless something has changed, Saito only takes reservations two months in advance.

By the way, while the sashimi starters are really incredible, the sushi is nothing that special at Saito. Very good but no better than elsewhere. He belongs to the Kamesaka chain (and apprenticed under Kanesaka), and I found out from a friend that the same fish is used for all of Kanesaka's restaurants, which maybe explains why the sushi is no better than at many other high end sushi places. If you are going for the sashimi part, then I agree that this is very special.

Mar 24, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

What do you think about the bar that's suing Tableog?

I don't know the position under Japanese law, but under other laws such as English law, if you are suing for damages, you need to prove loss. What is their loss here? I don't see how they could possibly prove loss.

They could ask for an injunction to get tabelog to remove the review, but that's quite different from damages.

Don't think rights to their decor comes into this claim, if the claim is as reported in the article.

Feb 25, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

What do you think about the bar that's suing Tableog?

from a legal perspective I don't see how they would have a case.

Feb 23, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Hedone [London]

Initially (after opening) there were hit and miss dishes and execution was flawed. Ingredient quality was the best in London though. Now execution is excellent and ingredient quality is still best in London. One of the very best the city has to offer, no question.

Feb 12, 2014
Asomaniac in U.K./Ireland

L'Osier (very short review)

I went to the reopened L'Osier last night. We had a very good meal, but I must say that I much preferred the old L'Osier in terms of food and ambience. Most dishes were executed very well last night, but there was no memorable standout that will remain with me a year from now (or even a month).

We had the Menu Degustation - lovely foie gras, interesting tandoori lobster, slightly overcooked duck, generous cheese platter, magnificent mont blanc. All good, but it does come at a price (JPY 28,000).

The wine list is quite good, but certainly not the best or most varied you'll find in this city. We limited ourselves to some boring old classics for red and white (a 2005 Meursault (Boillot) and a 1998 CdP (Beaucastel)). Started off with a 2008 Nyetimber sparkling, which was not only very good as Nyetimber tends to be, but it also flabbergasted Lionel, who had not tried it before and could not believe that the English can produce such a decent champagne look-alike.

Lionel was on form. Initially I did not recognise him - he lost about 20 kilos, is now very fit and incredibly thin. He was probably my favourite aspect of the evening.

Anyway - a very good night, but probably won't become a regular feature in my calendar at JPY 200,000 for four people.

Oh, and the decor: zero atmosphere, don't really like it. Very sterile. Our dining companions also remarked on how all other diners were basically a bunch of old rich Japanese men with either their clients or ‘nieces’. I didn't really care, but it did feel a little odd.

Feb 06, 2014
Asomaniac in Japan

Wine events in Hong Kong

Charles,

very kind, thank you very much for getting back to me. I will email you.

Wine events in Hong Kong

I will probably be in Hong Kong for 3 or 4 days at some point towards the end of March or beginning of April. I would be very grateful if anyone could let me know if there is any particularly good source on the internet informing of wine events / dinners being organised in Hong Kong (accessible to anyone, i.e., non-trade). Thanks in advance.

Sunday night inTokyo -- 7 choices...

I'd say it's a close-run thing, Uncle. Not many places do mediocre international quasi-tapas coupled with overpriced mediocre wine with as much dedication as Cicada. Then again, Gonpachi does have Koizumi's seal of approval.

Dec 11, 2013
Asomaniac in Japan