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Ice cream and gelato season 2013

We had gelato here 2 nights during our trip:

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/10/161764...

Close to hotel (Yorkville). Two thumbs up. And the espresso at $2/serving was excellent too. Can't compare it to any other place in Toronto (have never been). But it's worth a stop if you're in the neighborhood. Robyn

Jun 24, 2013
pvgirl in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Dim Sum in Downtown Toronto

We just got back from Toronto. Had dim sum at Crown Princess and Rol San (I picked the first and concierge recommended the second). Crown Princess is definitely a winner. Make sure to order the dessert that is labeled something like (IIRC) sesame balls (3 different desserts in order). Rol San was merely ok. But it's at a much cheaper price point - and is in a totally different part of town. If I could only do one - no question I'd pick Crown Princess.

I've never been to Hong Kong - but the dim sum at Crown Princess compared quite favorably to good dim sum we've had elsewhere in north America. Robyn

Jun 23, 2013
pvgirl in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Japanese-style European patisserie in Tokyo and environs?

Don't know what a "Japanese version" of a European patisserie is - but you might take a look here:

http://www.ladyironchef.com/2013/03/5...

Robyn

May 11, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Reservations to 3 Star Sushi Restaurants in Tokyo and Sunday dinner recommendation?

Sunday - Robuchon for French - Mikawa Z. for Tempura - perhaps others?

FWIW - I would recommend buying a copy of the Michelin Guide (English last published in 2012). Perhaps everyone doesn't agree on this restaurant versus that one when it comes to the Michelin Guide - but it does give you lists of restaurants sorted by certain variables - including all restaurants open on Sunday.

Note - in case you don't know - that Sushi Mizutani is cash only. Robyn

May 10, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Can't Miss

And the wedding we'll be going to is in Ann Arbor Michigan. Small world :).

FWIW - I'm 65 and my husband is 68 - but we're not old farts when it comes to dining. OTOH - with decades of fine dining under our belts - we don't appreciate new only for the sake of novelty either.

In terms of comments about Scaramouche above - I don't mind eating thing I've eaten before - assuming they're delicious :). Robyn

May 08, 2013
pvgirl in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Can't Miss

We're in your boat (4 nights in Toronto on our way to a wedding in June).

Have been doing a little research. Definitely have to try Shoto - if for no other reason than I haven't dined at a David Chang place before.

Your Truly also looks interesting.

Am also looking for good Chinese somewhere near Yorkville (no ideas yet).

Fourth night. ???? Scaramouche?

What do you like to eat?

Perhaps this might help you out:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/...

Robyn

May 07, 2013
pvgirl in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nice Leisurely Higher End Lunches in Tokyo

Thank you very much for your reply.

This was my original list of "possibles":

Esaki
Ginza Okuda
Hishinuma
Ichirin
Joel Robuchon
Kikunoi
Kondo
Kyoraku-tei
Les Creations de Narisawa
Raku-tei
Sushi Saito

As of today - I have ruled out Joel Robuchon and Narisawa. Not because they aren't good. But - because - where we live - it is impossible to get even ok Japanese food. A trip to Japan is - to us - all about Japanese food.

Esaki and Kikunoi are definitely on our list.

I had not noticed Daigo before - but it is on our list now. We are not vegetarians - but like to eat vegetables. A question about Daigo. There are pictures in the Michelin guide showing "traditional seating" without details. Is this the seating where your feet are "in a well" - so you sit kind of normally - or is it really traditional seating (where you sit on the floor). My husband wears a big leg brace and can't dine in a place with real traditional seating (where you have to cross your legs).

Sushi Saito is our preferred sushi restaurant (some friends have recommended it). The concierge at our hotel has told us that it's a difficult reservation. If we can't get a reservation there - we will look at other sushi places.

We will have 6 lunches in Tokyo - and our goal is to eat at 6 very different but all excellent places that specialize in Japanese cuisine.

For dinner - assuming we are still awake at 7 pm :) - we will explore lesser places near our hotel. Robyn

Apr 05, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Dress code for Mizutani, Jiro, Aragawa, Ukaitei ?

Sparkerly - I am probably not the best person to answer you - but I'm probably better than no one.

Reading some of your other messages - I've concluded that you are a young woman from the west coast of the United States. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I am a 65 year old woman from the east coast of the United States.

Tokyo is a somewhat formal business oriented city. And no tourist from anywhere should dress like a slob there.

I think business casual is always ok. Especially for a woman. A nice pair of pants and a nice top. Dresses would not be out of place - but I'm not especially comfortable sitting on counter stools in a dress (dresses aren't exactly my style either).

If you're going to a place that is younger and not traditional - jeans might work - but only if you are young and stylish enough and have a good enough body to pull off a great expensive jeans look (complete with leather jacket). I'm afraid that at my age - that look simply doesn't work for me. Your mileage may vary :). I don't think the restaurants you mentioned are in that category. Other people here who know more than I do can correct me if I'm wrong.

One thing that I noted on my first trip to Japan (second will be this year) is that Japanese women - especially younger women but older ones too - are *very* stylish - and very big into designer labels. So whatever style you can personally pull off the best - go with it. For me - that's nice black pants with (usually) black tops. And my best shoes and handbags (Japanese women never buy fakes :)).

Have fun - Robyn

Apr 05, 2013
pvgirl in Japan
1

ISO Knife Shop - Osaka

I wouldn't mind going to this knife store myself:

http://www.overlander.tv/japanese-kni...

http://www.towerknives.com/

Robyn

Mar 30, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

NY/Austin Hound travelling to Tokyo for sushi overload

The market seems to be closed on 4/24 (I can't read Kanji either but I can read a calendar and I assume "red" means "closed"):

http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/etc/c...

I thought the frozen tuna auction was interesting and can't recall whether we went to the fresh tuna auction. More interesting than the tuna auction IMO were all the little stalls selling all manner of seafood and other items. I know what a tuna looks like - but was totally unfamiliar with much of the more local seafood. And I got a kick seeing things like the cartons of oranges from my home state of Florida :).

We went to the market when there weren't any limits on visitors - and you were still allowed to wander around unescorted (and at your potential peril). If I were doing things today - I would in all probability sign up for a tour given by a local guide if that would allow me to avoid waiting on lines. Robyn

Mar 30, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

First Avenue Tokyo Station

My husband and I love noodles. Although we are much more familiar with western than Asian varieties. We hardly know anything about soba - udon - ramen - pho - etc. But are certainly willing to try things and learn. Only thing I won't try again is Japanese style spaghetti with a mayonnaise based sauce <I don't mean to offend anyone - but yuck!>. Our hotel is Four Seasons Marunouchi - a few blocks away from Tokyo Station. Are Shichisai or Honda anywhere near there?

I've already run across Rokurinsha in Tokyo Station in a couple of food blogs and made a note of it. It seems to be legendary. Is it as great as some people seem to think? Are the lines as long as people say they are <grin>? Note that our room rate at the hotel includes breakfast - so we'll be having breakfast there (if we want to eat breakfast). Robyn

Mar 29, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Nice Leisurely Higher End Lunches in Tokyo

You're right on all counts :). FWIW - the only l'atelier I've ever dined at was the one that used to be in the Four Seasons New York. Only because we were staying at the hotel - and the hotel would deal with the restaurant to accommodate us if our flight was delayed.

I've been working up a list of possible places to dine. So far I have - in alphabetical order:

Esaki
Ginza Okuda
Hishinuma
Ichirin
Joel Robuchon
Kikunoi
Kondo
Kyoraku-tei
Les Creations de Narisawa
Raku-tei
Sushi Saito

The list is subject to additions and deletions. And I will have to cross check locations and types of cuisine. To make sure we get to different parts of the city - and that we get a variety of cuisines. I'm not sure about a French place like Robuchon. If we dine there at all - it will be mid-week when I feel like having some great bread and great desserts (it has very reasonable lunch menus that are basically starters and a fish main and desserts - more than enough food IMO).

We have 5 dining slots (6 if any of these places is open on Sunday - will have to check).

I am using the Michelin Guide - because it really simplifies things. Instead of being paralyzed by 125,000 dining choices - I am only looking at 200-300. I honestly don't know enough about Japanese food to appreciate what might be the best restaurant in Tokyo for X,Y,Z that isn't in the Michelin Guide - the kind of place where you need an introduction. So no reason to find those places. OTOH - we're not on a budget - so I don't have to find the best values either (although many of these restaurants are priced *very very* reasonably at lunch IMO).

If anyone has any comments about any of these "possibles" (from great or bad food to very convenient or very out of the way) - I'd appreciate them.

I'm going through a lot of food blogs I've visited before. Since our first trip in 2006 - many of these bloggers have visited Japan at least once (some have visited more). I've used many of these blogs on prior trips to other destinations - and I pretty much know whether I generally agree or disagree with the people who write them when it comes to their opinions of food. OTOH - when it comes to Japan - it seems that many western food bloggers seem to favor the food in Japan that most closely resembles western food - food that is familiar. I guess that is understandable. But - when I go to an exotic place like Japan - I very much look at it as a learning experience. A trip into the "unknown". If I wanted "familiar" - I would just stay home. Robyn

Mar 29, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Nihonbashi in June

In addition to what's been written - you'll be pretty close to Ginza and Tokyo Station. So you have tons of choices.

The "alley of bars" that Smoothiemeister mentioned is interesting. And - IIRC - many of them served food that was grilled on small open grills outside the "bars". Note that these places seemed like places where "regulars" went after work (they all seemed to open in the late afternoon). My husband and I didn't feel comfortable walking into any of them because we're older - I'm a woman (these places seemed to be "men only") - and my husband's Japanese isn't very good. If you're younger - male - and speak Japanese - I'd certainly take a look and visit one that looks good for a drink and a snack before dinner (my guess is if you go later - you'll run into a lot of men who have had too much to drink).

I don't know about the Mandarin Oriental Hotel bar - but the Four Seasons Marunouchi bar (in that general area) is *very* expensive - and the drinks are *very* small (measured out with surgical precision). It's not like a "friendly" bar in the United States - where the bartender will pour your second drink bigger than your first because he/she hopes for a bigger tip :). Ask the prices before you order so you won't get "sticker shock".

If you'll be in this area on Saturday/Sunday - note that the main street in Ginza is pedestrians only on those days - and there is a lot going on. Very fun place to walk around. Robyn

P.S. I took the liberty of looking up your older messages. If you are looking for gin and tonic this trip - just go to any department store basement. On our last trip - I found that the prices were extremely reasonable compared to prices in other countries (Costco may be cheaper - but I doubt I'll be hunting down a Costco near Tokyo to save 200 yen :)).

Mar 28, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Sushi, but no shellfish, in Tokyo

I've been doing some reading (in general) - and ran across this blog piece:

http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2010/...

Sounds like Gargle is on the right track in recommending this place. Robyn

Mar 28, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

What's in Season In Japan/Tokyo in September?

Thank you for these replies. And I had another idea. We can simply go to a department store food basement and see what's there and local. Will give us a good idea what fruits and vegetables and seafood are in season. Robyn

Mar 28, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

First Avenue Tokyo Station

It take me 5 days to get used to things when daylight savings time comes and goes :). IOW - I'm pretty awful when it comes to time changes. OTOH - things work out fine going west. Because we really like to get an early start (especially on warm/hot days) - do some sightseeing - have a nice lunch (normally our main meal of the day) - and then perhaps take a walk - do some shopping - etc. after lunch. Robyn

Mar 28, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

What is this Equa-Teur Restaurant?

Got me. I live in Florida USA and have only been in Japan once (in 2006). Second trip scheduled this year. And - when I travel abroad - I don't normally try to dine at micro-boutique restaurants like this one. Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

What is this Equa-Teur Restaurant?

The restaurant only has 5 seats. Which explains it being booked months in advance - especially in light of its Tabelog rating. Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

First Avenue Tokyo Station

Thanks Robb and Silverjay - This trip will only be a week in Tokyo (as opposed to our first 3 week trip to Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto). Unless the jet lag works out a lot different than it did on our first trip - we'll be using the places you suggested for light early night snacks before we conk out :). Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

What's in Season In Japan/Tokyo in September?

Early September (second week). (And don't mention that it's a crummy time of year to visit because of the still lingering summer heat and typhoon season - it's my birthday and our wedding anniversary and that's where we decided to go to celebrate!).

Anything that's a must try? Anything that should be avoided (either too late in terms of summer or too early for fall)? Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Nice Leisurely Higher End Lunches in Tokyo

If you're talking about Aronia de Takazawa - it doesn't do lunch now.

Also - in countries abroad - especially those with cultures/food we don't understand very well (or at all) - my husband and I are really enjoying eating at counters these days - and interracting with other guests and the chef(s) best we can. I understand that none of the "French" restaurants we're looking at in Tokyo have seating like this. Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Nice Leisurely Higher End Lunches in Tokyo

Hi there - these talks are like a reunion with old friends :).
Am down to < 20 restaurants now. Was pretty easy once I eliminated all restaurants that didn't serve lunch and that didn't take credit cards (sorry - I am not going to carry around the cash I'd have to pay to eat at 7chome Kyobashi).

I think we will do French one day. One restaurant that popped up on my radar screen is Equisse. New 2 star Michelin (since when did restaurants go from no stars to 2!!!). Even Jamin went from 1 to 2 to 3. I guess I'm showing my age here <sigh>. Not much has been written about it because it's so new - but I haven't read anything bad. And it is "local French" - not "chain star chef French".

We're both pretty bad at email. Note that we'll be in Toronto in June (family wedding in Michigan - and I demanded a side trip to get me to go to the metro Detroit area ;)). If there's any possibility you'll be in that neck of the woods then - perhaps we can get together. Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

ISO Knife Shop - Osaka

You're relying on the memory of an older tourist who was still suffering from jet lag at the time :). It was a covered arcade street that started/ended at this place IIRC:

http://www.gojapango.com/japan_pictur...

Perhaps someone who's more familiar with Osaka than I am can give you additional help. But - if you speak Japanese - it shouldn't be hard to get around.

I don't know what price point you're looking at. But - depending on that - and where you live - note that import duties can be crazy when it comes to utensils made of rather ordinary ingredients (in the US - there is no excess tariff on gold flatware - but very high tariffs on stainless steel flatware - it's a "trade thing"). I'd check this out before your trip. Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

NY/Austin Hound travelling to Tokyo for sushi overload

<<Here's a refined itinerary for us...
Tuesday: arrive 12:55 to NRT:
Lunch: Check in at Hotel Niwa (Walk to Iidabashi for Izakaya)
Dinner: Sushi Kozasa - Ginza - 9,000yens first set should be enough>>

I would double-check on this. We dined at Sushi Kozasa in Ginza in 2006 - and lunch was more than 10,000 yen (dinner prices were considerably more expensive). I know there has been recession/deflation in Japan in recent years - so perhaps prices are lower now.

The restaurant is really hard to find (down an alley) - even if you're right in front of it. Make sure to get a map from your hotel concierge with directions written in Japanese so someone will show you where it is.

When we were there - no English was spoken. We were with someone who spoke fluent Japanese - so it wasn't an issue. If you can't speak Japanese - it is perhaps best to order the menu you want through your hotel concierge before you arrive. Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Tokyo & Kyoto - restaurants which specialize

It wasn't strictly vegetarian - but it was pretty austere IMO. Based on what I've read - my initial reaction wasn't atypical. Still - we're going to try it again this trip. If nothing else - the meal will leave me with lots of room/calories to have some wonderful chocolate later :).

BTW - the name of the place where we dined was a branch of Kitcho in the Hotel Granvia (got kaiseki restaurants starting with K's mixed up). Robyn

Mar 27, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Last minute trip to tokyo, first time - need some help!

Just FWIW - the OP is a 20-something. I'm a 65-something - and not at all in touch with 20-somethings. What would be the best parts of town for him/her? Robyn

Mar 26, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

ISO Knife Shop - Osaka

In case you don't get a better answer.

Go to the main market street in Osaka. There are lots of kitchen stores there - some knife stores too IIRC. Learn some words in Japanese so you can ask what you're looking for. You should be able to find a knife you'll like. Robyn

Mar 26, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

First Avenue Tokyo Station

http://www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/en/

Anyone know anything about it?

Our hotel is just a very short walk away. Can we get a decent snack/light dinner there - or perhaps some some take-out? Like I've said in a previous message - our main meals of the day will be lunch. Robyn

Mar 26, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Nice Leisurely Higher End Lunches in Tokyo

My husband and I will be going on our second trip to Japan in September. We are main meal lunch diners in general. But even more so in a city like Tokyo because: 1) the jet lag is awful and lunch time feels like dinner time to us*; and 2) we're older now - my 67 year old husband has MS and some difficulty walking - and we like to break up days with lots of walking with a leisurely mid-day meal so we can rest.

Any suggestions? Cuisine doesn't matter (I would prefer any type of Japanese cuisine but if l'Osier were still around - it would be perfect). Price doesn't either. Nor does the part of the city (we'll be doing a lot of sightseeing in various parts of the city and can always find things worth seeing in a city as large as Tokyo). I guess about the only thing I want to avoid in Tokyo is outposts of famous non-Japanese chefs whose cuisine I can eat elsewhere - unless they're really really good. I've taken a look at Pierre Gagnaire and it seems like a possible based on the limited information I've read. Also - we're not big beef eaters - so no steak houses.

Note that my husband speaks some pretty basic Japanese (he learned some for our last trip and is studying more now). OTOH - he can't read Japanese. But we get along ok in restaurants where English isn't spoken unless they require at least one fluent Japanese speaker in the dining party.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Robyn

*I've read some messages here where people who seem to be coming from places like the east coast of the United States are making late dinner reservations. I don't know their itineraries - or their jet-lag tolerances. But 12-13 time zones is an awful lot of time zones. On our first trip - we were pretty much awake at 3-4-5 am the first week (our first trip was 3 weeks) - and dead to the world by 8-9 pm. I'd keep the jet lag in mind when making dining reservations. FWIW - the only reason a trip to Tsukiji is an obligatory first day trip is when you're wide awake at 4 am - there isn't a heck of a lot else to do!

Mar 26, 2013
pvgirl in Japan

Tokyo & Kyoto - restaurants which specialize

There are probably tens of thousands of restaurants in these 2 cities that specialize in different cuisines (specialization seems more the norm to me than the exception).

We ate at many specialized restaurants on our last (and first) trip to Japan. One that sticks in my mind was an eel restaurant near the top of the escalator in Kyoto Station. I have no idea what the name was - whether it was famous - or whether it's still there - but we liked it a lot.

Note that Kyoto Station is well worth a visit (or 2 or 3). It's one of the largest busiest railway stations in the world and perhaps the most striking in terms of architecture. It has tons of restaurants (many underground). In many different "flavors". There's also an excellent food basement in the Isetan Department store. We did "take out" several nights from Isetan when we were dead on our feet and too tired to go out to dinner. Very good tonkatsu. And - at least when we were there - it was the opposite of "touristy". Guess it's too modern to attract most tourists (who generally go to Kyoto to see "old stuff"). OTOH - you'll find things there that most people here won't tell you about. Like real authentic Japanese spaghetti - made with a Japanese mayo based sauce. I thought it was pretty awful - but I don't think the other restaurant patrons shared my impression - because the place was packed.

We had kaiseki in Kyoto too (Hotel Granvia branch of Kikunoi - we couldn't get a same week reservation at the main restaurant location). In all honesty - very traditional kaiseki is not my favorite. It's a very ascetic Buddhist cuisine that I found more notable for its beauty and lack of calories than its flavor. My favorite dish at this kaiseki meal was a gorgeous vegetable plate composed/carved in the form of a Japanese garden (it was Cherry Blossom season). Doubt the whole thing had more than 200 calories though (and it tasted like it).

In Tokyo - a specialty restaurant that sticks in my mind is Ippoh - a tempura restaurant that's on a restaurant floor at Barneys New York.

We ate at other specialty restaurants too. Soba - udon - sushi - etc. There is of course a ton written about sushi restaurants here. Regarding the other specialty restaurants (and the 2 I mentioned previously) - we stumbled into them when we were exploring various parts of various cities (Tokyo is huge and you pretty much don't want to have to go from one end of the city to the other to have lunch). I'd suggest that except for bigger deal dining experiences - where you'll need reservations - that stumbling around and finding places is a good way to go :). Robyn

Mar 26, 2013
pvgirl in Japan