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Tokyo Restaurants

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And a trip to Tokyo would not be complete for me unless I get to eat First Kitchen's flavoured fries. Their flavour fries are very good examples of good skinny fries with seasoning. They used to change the seasoning once a month but now it looks like they've made several versions "standard" on the menu and have one "new" one on. My favorite flavours in the past were pickled plum, wasabi, and sour cream. All of these are now gone, there is a standard cheese on the menu that I remembered being good but I tried their "new" flavour of Prawn Mayonnaise.




I almost couldn't be happier except that at this branch of First Kitchen (Aoyama) there happens to be a Pierre Herme just a few buildings down the street.




So I got to eat one of these after my fries




Ispaphan happiness

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  • 2 months later...
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Bumping this back to the top to ask for updates...


Cameron and I will be stopping over for 4 days, 3 nights in Tokyo on our way to Thailand this December. We're staying in Shiodome (south of Ginza) at the Park Hotel Tokyo.


We're taking a tour of Tsukiji market on one morning with these guys. We're planning on sushi after the tour, probably at Sushi Bun... but we're open to other suggestions. (Daiwazushi? Sushi Dai? Ryuzushi?)


Aside from sushi, I'm especially interested in recommendations for:

- Ramen: Kyouraku, Kagemaru?

- Tempura: Ten-Ichi?

- Breakfast: We really don't want to eat at the hotel, but most of the places in guidebooks and food sites don't open until 10:30 or 11.


We're also definitely planning to hit the department-store food halls. I don't think we're willing to completely blow it out (so the $500 wagyu dinner is out) but one nice dinner (say in the $150-200 range) sounds like fun, preferably if it's Japanese and not European.


Neither of us speaks Japanese beyond the basics, so we'll need places with english menus or tolerant staff. We've got a bilingual street atlas that shows block numbers, which should help with the "how the hell do these addresses work?" factor, and we're reasonably adept at transit.


We're also thinking of heading up to Asakusa to check out the kitchen-supply stores and the street market. Other sightseeing musts?


Thanks much!


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I think they had an English menu. In some Ramen shops you make your purchase using a "ramen ATM", which is normally in Japanese only. You can try and memorize the letters for the differnt types, or you can use prices from www.worldramen.net as reference (typically each item is priced differently).


As far as restaurants are concerned. Many places have some sort of an English menu, or are otherwise very helpful. Best to ask when reserving, as there are a few places that will refuse to serve you, either because they can't or just don't want to. In any event, Japanese just isn't one of those languages where speaking or reading a little is of any help, don't count on anyone understanding what you're trying to say.

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If you like ramen, I highly recommend that you go to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. It is about a half hour from Tokyo and well worth the trip. Eight styles of ramen are represented in this "museum." Each style has a restaurant and you can choose either a large or small portion. As is sometimes typical with ramen restaurants in Japan, you buy tickets in vending machines outside the restaurant. When you get to the head of the line you give the hostess your tickets and then you are seated.


Choose carefully which style you want to try or go with a big stomach. I was only able to sample two styles before I had to throw in the towel.

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I pretty much owe Peter Cuce (from Chowhound) my first born child for all his help with my trip. Before I left, he met with me and gave me many guidebooks, Japanese magazines and a five page document that I quickly began calling my Peter-Japan Bible. This document lists his food and shopping picks. What more could a girl want in a city like Tokyo?


My meal of the trip was at Miyashita, and it was organized by one of Peter's Japanese friends. Miyashita is located in Azubu-Juban, a trendy and expensive little neighborhood located near Roppongi Hills. Thankfully I went with someone who was sort of familiar with the area because Japanese addresses are notoriously tricky. There's a reason why all cabs are fitted with GPS. Anyhow, we found the place with only minimal trouble.


It is located in a basement and upon entering the restaurant I was immediately struck by its beauty. The space is dominated by a beautiful, large walnut bar that runs the length of the room. All diners are seated there and it holds I would say no more than 20 or so people. We were lucky enough to be seated in front of Miyashita-san. (We didn't know this until after dinner was over.) So not only did we get his full attention, we were also able to watch our dinner being prepared.


As Peter has noted, this is a great restaurant for non-Japanese speakers because the menu is set, your only choice is beer or sake. I believe that the menu changes seasonally. Since Miyashita-san knew that we were American, he kindly gave us an English menu which I was also allowed to take home. Here's what we had:



Salad of chayote, carrot and greenleaf vegetable

Rape and chrysanthemum marinated

Stem lettuce with sesame cream sauce

Burdock root dressed with baby anchovies

Fish ball soup


Hot appetizer:

Turnip soup with wheat-gluten bread



Kelp marinated cod with Japanese chive and hot radish. (There were two preparations of cod -- one raw and one that tasted almost like tuna fish. Very delicious)


Simmered dish:

Steamed Japanese yam with vegetable sauce



Stewed sea bream, Japanese radish and leaf mustard



Kyo-imo rice

Wild mushroom soup



Pumpkin pudding


All of the food came in gorgeous Japanese ceramics, which I believe are also for sale.


After dinner, Miyashita-san came around the bar and knelt in front of me (!), gave me his personal card and asked where we had come from and how I had found out about his restaurant. When he found out that we were from New York he mentioned that it was his dream to someday open a restaurant there. Apparently he also has a second restaurant in Tokyo and it is very unusual for him to be present at the Azubu-Juban location. Lucky for us, he was there.



Motoazabu A Bldg, basement

3-12-Moto Azabu

Tel: 81-3-3402-2655


More on Miyashita.

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Just got back from Tokyo last night; here's a few of the food highlights from our five days in the city:


Restaurant meals:


Kozue: Kaiseki restaurant at the Park Hyatt. Had the "shun" meal, which consisted of several appetizers, a sashimi course, shabu-shabu of some the most well flavored and highly marbled beef i've ever had (tokyo-based friend informed us that even by japanese standards this beef was exquisite) a course of freshly made inaniwa-style udon, and then a red bean soup. Food was wonderful across the board, in particular the mackerel pressed sushi appetizer and the various levels of fatty tuny in the sashimi course. Service was superlative, with the waitresses in the most gorgeously understated kimono. Bill came to 31000 yen per person, including beer and a bottle of sake.


One Two Three, Ginza: Kyushu-style kurobuta pork shabu-shabu specialist. Very hearty with great tasting pork. The yuzu paste and spice blend for dipping the pork shabu shabu was so addicting, and i bought two of each at the restaurant shop on the way out. Bill came to 5000 yen per person, including beer.


Kushi Ginza: High-end chicken specialist. Hushed, quiet and contemplative setting which kind of reminded me of a sushi bar, except that everything was chicken based. Had onsen tamago, chicken sashimi of various parts

(two cuts of breast, thigh, heart, liver, lung), various shio yakitori (the tsukune was particularly flavorful), and chicken rice. Food was unifomly well prepared in presented and the chicken was just so flavorful. The onsen tamago had the most red/orange yolk i've ever seen and the taste was just pure unctuous egginess like i've never had before. Bill came to 15000 yen per person, including sake. In general, this was the only somewhat ho-hum meal of the trip, not that the quality was not good, just that that many courses of chicken can get a little tiresome on the palate.


Uokin: Very popular seafood izakaya near Shinbashi JR station (usually hour-plus waits on weeknights but we lucked out as we arrived just as the first seating was turning over and got a table right away). Had the most succulent fried minke whale and oysters, freshly shucked oysters with yuzu and soy, a whole wooden container of the freshest and sweetest uni (for only 1100 yen!), assorted sashimi, squid shiokara, and inexplicably, also an order of fried camembert cheese with blueberry sauce (friends insisted this was one of their favorite dishes here), and great and well priced sake. Wonderful informal atmosphere and pristinely fresh seafood at affordable prices in very large portions. Bill came to 3000yen per person, including a lot of sake!


Fast food: Had my favorite kinpira rice burger at Mosburger, a very satisfying bowl of tempura udon at Hanamaru (for only 380 yen), oden at Lawson convenience store, yaki-imo from a street cart (is that song the carts broadcast at top volume creepy or what? something about it gives me the shivers), and a hearty and yummy-greasy bowl of ramen at Kyushu Jangara.


Ice cream: fell in love/became addicted to black sesame Haagen Daz ice cream (available at any convenience store). Also had great chocolate ice cream at the Pierre Marcolini ice cream cafe in Ginza, as well as very tasty sweet potato soft serve at Kihachi Soft Cream in Shinjuku station.


Roppongi Hills: Reminded me a lot of the Time Warner Center in NYC, but with actually good food and a nice variet of restaurants at all price points. Bought some great chocolates (like la maison du chocolat in general style, but with some very nicely asian flavored ganaches like ume and yuzu and black sesame) and probably some of th best macarons i've ever had at Le Chocolate de H. Also some great bread at the Joel Robuchon pastry boutique. Had some really tasty mentaiko spagetti at Te (an informal pasta shop that cooks pasta to order in less than one minute, using frozen pasta that winds up perfectly al dente. just amazing, only 700 yen a plate, and much better than many pastas i've had at pricier italian restaurants in nyc). Also ate at the kaitenzushi restaurant Pintokona; very high quality and fresh for a kaiten restaurants, prices are higher than the usual kaiten place but well worth it.


Tsukiji fish market: This was my fourth time visiting the market but it never gets old. This was my husband's first time at the market and it was wonderful to see his eyes widen so many times during our walk through the market, the bounty and variety is just so spectacular. Highlights were "authentic" hairy crab from near shanghai (complete with counterfeiting-proof holographic seal attached to the carapace of each crab), large beefy-looking chunks of minke whale, huge green-lipped mussels and pacific oysters, all manner of eels and elvers, and of course the massive blue fine tuna. Ate at a maguro-don counter in the outside market area; fresh, delicious, and only 800 yen for a very substantial serving!


Department store food halls: Favorite depachika were Isetan and

Takashimaya in Shinjuku for overall selection, Mitsukoshi in Ginza for french pastry, and Odakyu Halc in Shinjuku for seafood. Matsuya in Ginza and Tokyo Food Show in Shibuya were also very good. There's more very high quality european pastry and food available than ever it seems in the depachika in Tokyo, was delighted to find a huge selection of Christine Ferber jams and Jean Paul Hevin chocolates (and oh! those divine marrons glaces), and Laduree pastries at Isetan in Shinjuku, Demel pastry and chocolates at Matsuya in Ginza, Gerard Mulot (great selection of macarons) and Dalloyau and Eric Kayser at Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku. Giotto de LaVierge was my overall favorite pastry counter, at Ginza Mitsukoshi. They had some simply divine small cakes featuring sweet potato and chestnut; so beautifully presented and tasted even better. My favorite stand-alone pastry shops were Pierre Herme in Aoyama which featured all of Herme's collection as available in Paris, and Henri Charpentier in Ginza. Also, found a charcuterie counter selling jamon iberico bellota at Isetan in Shinjuku. Yay!


We stayed at the Park Hyatt in Nishi-Shinjuku; the room, fitness club, and service were perfection. Loved swimming in their 47th-floor pool in the evening, with all the Tokyo lights twinkling beneath. Pure magic!

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