Japan and Seoul Recommendations

Hi All,

I’m going to be in Tokyo for 4 days, Osaka 4 days, and Seoul for 3 days in Nov. I know it might be a little late to secure reservations in Tokyo this late, but this was a last minute planned trip. I’m staying at the Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku and just asked the hotel concierge to try to book Den for 1 night. Based on what I’ve read here, Sushi Sawada seems to be highly regarded; however, they longer accept reservations from my hotel due to past experiences (not sure what happened). I’m looking for a a sushi experience maybe around $250 max per person (can do lunch or dinner). Is there anything else comparable to Sawada? Based on what I’ve read so far there are:
Sushi Iwa
Sukiyabashi Jiro (may not be able to get reservations)

Also looking for a recommendation for Yakiniku as well.

For Osaka, we planned on doing a day trip to Kyoto and Nara and will try to make a reservation at Wa Yamamura and Miyoshi. Are there any restaurants I should try to book for Osaka?

I don’t have anything planned for Seoul thus far, it will be our first time going. Likely staying in the Gangnam area.


Try this list for sushi recs. - Tablelog.

Seek out Korean Beef while you’re in Seoul…

Thanks for the response, I will check out the list from Tabelog.

Sadly my hotel just informed me that Den and Arai are both fully booked. I will likely try to Sushi Sho Masa or Iwa.

If you can get a reservation at ANY of the places with 4 stars or better you will have an amazing meal.
(This is not to say that you will not have an amazing meal at a restaurant with 3.5 stars, either.)

Do you think the beef quality is comparable between Japan and Korea? I’m thinking of getting a reservation at sumibiyakiniku nakahara, but haven’t seen much discussion on it

I find Japanese Kobe beef tends to be super marbled compared to Korean. Which is not necessarily a good thing, too rich and fatty if you consume in large quantities. Perfect opportunity to compare and contrast. I had a nice teppanyaki style meal at Steak Misono in Osaka. Alternatively look for a shabu-shabu joint.

Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll look into the teppanyaki place.

I was finally able to book lunch at Sushi Ichiyanagi and Ginza Kyubey. Does anyone know how these 2 places are?

From what I have heard, Sawada stopped taking reservations from certain hotels as a result of bad experiences (cancellations) by foreign visitors and only takes booking from a very small select number (I don’t know exactly which ones they are off hand). The cancellation by foreigners isn’t just affecting Sawada, but even top tier places like Saito. It is unfortunate that some of that population do not abide by nor respect the rules (and at times oblivious to the culture).

I almost booked Nakahara and I’ve friends who adore the place, but I passed up on it because the only reservations I could get were table only. However you are likely not getting the best experience if you 1) don’t get the counter and 2) by not sitting at the counter you are also not likely going to get the coveted special beef tongue (which they say the visit is incomplete without having it, but quantities are also super limited…). All those famous OAD top reviewer diner/famous instagrammers rave about the place because they get to sit at the counter (have connections) and get the tongue. The other often visited/raved place is Yoroniku which you can try, which is where Nakahara came from before starting his own place. I was recommended Yakiniku Jambo in Hongo Sanchome, as well as Jumbo Shirokane as very solid options (and probably a bit easier to book, not sure about on short notice). If you book further in advance, apparently Sato Buriand is the place to go, though it’s further out of the way…but really nothing can stop anyone armed with pocket wifi and google maps to get around.

Have you dined at Kyubey and Ichinayagi yet?

Sushi Arai, I did not like the place and my visit was the day before they got the Michelin star.

Nowadays if you can book and if you are not a regular, you will be put in the private room with a different chef (even for lunch). The main counter with chef owner Yuichi Arai is only for regulars.