Tokyo- expense account but some picky eaters


#1

Hi,

I’m about to go to Tokyo for a work trip with some colleagues for 4 days this week. We will be mainly in Shibuya and Daikanyama, but can cab it anywhere. We have $USD a day to spend, and usually get a cheap breakfast and lunch wherever we are out and about BUT spend a lot of time thinking about dinner. The rub is that some of my colleagues are picky (luckily we arent bringing the one who insists on TGIFridays!) and I’m dealing with pregnancy cravings, aversions, anxiety and fatigue.

What are your favorite places? Not necessarily the “best or most authentic” but the most comfortable/ least cigarette smoky.

Thanks!


#2

Shodai in Ebisu

Hand made soba noodles, lots of appetizers (the dashimaki tamago is excellent with a thickened dashi). Interestingly their most popular and most instagrammed item is curry udon and looks like fluffy white light whipped cheese (white curry) and that is super popular with the local OL’s (office ladies). The menu has pictures and you can ask for English menu if you need one. Open dinner only and they close at 2 am or 3 am. No smoking allowed inside.

If you can somehow get a reservation at one Michelin star Tacubo (Japanese Italian) it’s very tasty…not the best wine pairing. May require some uphill slope walking but not too steep. It’s somewhere between Shibuya and Daikanyama.

I’ve heard good things about Ristorante Aso.

Shinsen Kappo Sanoya is just outside of Shibuya (one station away), and you can book quite easily on opentable with enough notice. I almost tried this place last month but picked somewhere else instead. That’s only if you like washoku…though simpler and cleaner flavors overall.

If you can be more specific on type of cuisine and budget, I could recommend other places. I assume you only want to go to places where there is English menu and staff speaks English, but let me know also if that’s not the case.


#3

Thank you for the suggestions!

We are fairly confident in non English speaking places-- google translate and hotspots have been game changers. I think our budget is roughly $70USD for dinners.

I think we are game for as many Japanese meals of various types as possible, however none of us are deep into the specific nuances of Japanese food cultures. Sushi and noodles for sure. Yakitori places that have non chicken options (full on chicken repulsion with this pregnancy). I’d be keen for some interesting approaches to tofu, miso and vegetables.

My eyes roll as I type this, but to give you an idea of our demographic…we are all women aged 25-40, from the Bay Area, professionally superficial (respond to considered decor and aesthetics) and will almost certainly instagram all of it. Very much the types to rely on monocle guides to cities.


#4

Given your budget is $70 per person, it does put a limit on the high end choices, so Tacubo is out of the question.

Look into Sushi Kutani (Ginza) for lunch. I can’t remember exactly how much but you might be able to get by with around or slightly above $70 per person (e.g. chirashi, or a nigiri combo). If you don’t get full you can go up the street and look for a cafe with cake sets to fill up (or whatever savory plates the cafes offer). Kutani can be booked on opentable quite easily. Quality easily blows away most places in SF Bay Area and better value. Ask for the English menu. They won’t serve the lunch offerings during dinner (which will run 16,000 yen for the full course).

Look also into yakiniku (Japanese style BBQ, like Korean BBQ but smaller portions, different cuts). Yakiniku Champion and there may be a more popular competitor Kintan available in the Ebisu and Daikanyama area. Some friends prefer Ushigoro but it’s more of a brand name and maybe a bit harder to book. Either places will blow away Gyu Kaku for sure. Check and see if they have set courses, and if not then maybe they are all a la carte. To lessen the blow, look for possible fillers on the menu. May end up running a bit over $80 per person possibly.

You can also do a bang bang at an area called Hobo Shinjuku Norengai (very close to Yoyogi station just north of Shibuya)

https://www.hobo-shinjuku.com/

http://www.mogood-japan.com/category_izakaya/16834

You will have to research the individual restaurants for their menus and whether they are non smoking or not. Outside this collective group of restaurants are other eateries, though mostly casual. The upside is that you will be dining with people getting off work, so a lot more atmospheric and you will see how the working class unwind (which can be really fun). The downsides will be rowdy and loud. Hopefully someone in your party will order a drink, not sure if that’s expected for some of these drinking places. Beer or hi ball is easy (none for you though).

There are also some restaurants on the top floor of high end department stores (Shinjuku’s Takashimaya at Times Square and Isetan come to mind), so those will be easier and you can take a look at their menus. You can also explore the lower level of Tokyo Station (you have to go into the lower level before you exit the subway) where the shops and restaurants are and there are tons of affordable and quite delicious options as well.

You can also download the ramen beast app and go to ramenbeast.com desktop version of the website to scout out interesting noodle spots (lunch and dinner). Focus on the places that have tables…Kiraku in Shibuya has tables on the second floor, old school place with a great soy sauce broth and shallots (get the bean sprouts wonton ramen, supposed to be their signature). Otherwise if it’s a popular place with counter seats only, your party may be broken up.

For Shodai, the tables I think are on the upper level, the ground level are counter seats only.