Japan in the year of our lord 2022/23 (planning help)

Ugh i have been trying to get into them but fear the lack of a good hotel concierge will doom me. i even had amex platinum try to help me out to no avail.

Did you get the resy through a hotel?

1 Like

Yes. But that was pre-pandanmic.

For Ishikawa, they have switched to Omakase. Unfortunately I have never seen an open spot on there. I remember reading on some random corner of the internet that I cannot easily dig up where they actually have a phone line for the whole restaurant group with support for English speakers. They list the 050-3138-5225 number for multiple restaurants in the group which to my mind adds credence to this. I think in the post I found somebody had used the number to call in and were able to making a booking. It might be worth a shot if hotel concierge doesn’t work. I’ve been to Ishikawa as well and thought it was awesome, though I haven’t been to Goryu Kubo yet.

As to cost, some of the ultra expensive (400-600+) stuff I understand is related to using ultra premium ingredients. For example, during crab season it’s not just a certain type of crab, but also from a specific area, and then with specific features. I’ll refer to this older post on Goryu Kubo where the number of black circles on the crab is apparently a sign of quality where more is better. [Tokyo] Goryukubo (Nishi Azabu) 2 Michelin star kappo kaiseki heaven. Goryu Kubo I recall hearing before is that sort of restaurant. He tries to use the best and that’s built into the cost. I don’t think that’s the case for every place though. A rich foodie I follow on Instagram does occasionally note when an expensive place doesn’t have the best cost performance.

Personally, I’m not sure I have the palate or experience to appreciate the use of the very best ingredients so I historically have passed on such experiences, though after re-reading those GK reviews I’ll probably have to try to fit that in eventually. Of the three, I’m guessing that Ishikawa is the hardest resy so you could always keep the others as backups?

Adding a little to the ryokan discussion earlier in the thread:

  • There’s also the Ogoto Onsen area on the other side of Mt Hiei from Kyoto. A bit off the beaten path but I stayed at Yumotokan before and very much enjoyed the rooftop open air bath overlooking Lake Biwa and remember the food being quite good.
  • Arashiyama area is also typically a recommended destination for Kyoto area and has some ryokan as well, though the good ones I think were pricier.
  • Within Kyoto itself, I’ve heard great things about the food at Kanamean Nishitomiya. It unfortunately does not have onsen water for its baths, though the rooms seem very nice.

I also agree that the Kaiseki dinners at Ryokan have, in my experience, not been comparable to stand-alone restaurant Kaiseki, though they can be fun. Went to a bunch of ryokan in Kyushu as part of a (very good) tour package and while they were good only one got kind of close to what I had in Tokyo. I actually did enjoy my meals at Yumotokan quite a bit but it was basically before I got more into food so I didn’t have much to compare to at the time.

There are apparently ryokan that might serve food on the same level as stand-alone restaurants but I think you have to go out of your way for that and will likely pay quite a bit for the experience. For example, one place I’ve been eyeing is a restaurant named Sower attached to a hotel in North Lake Biwa called L’Hotel du Lac. Very out of the way but the restaurant seems very interesting. Another more accessible example in Nara (especially since Nara is another typical recommendation for Kyoto/Osaka day trips) is Fufu Nara. Apparently good food but springing $600-800 for that and the hotel is definitely outside my budget.

2 Likes

Gah, thanks for the number. This time, nobody picked up, but I’ll keep giving it a shot. Also might naively try to leave a voicemail asking if there is any availability at Ishikawa. That is sort of what I figured regarding Goryu Kubo; I too feel like I probably don’t have the knowledge to really appreciate the finer ingredients so might have to be a pass on this trip.

Earlier, you mentioned that you were doing research for another Kyoto trip. Anything feel like a must-do for you? Currently, I have these on the itinerary, though I’ll probably cut one!

Jiki Miyazawa: kaiseki lunch Jiki Miyazawa – Kyoto - a MICHELIN Guide Restaurant
Monk: chef’s table pizza omakase (wtf)
Kiyama: absurdly high-rated kaiseki spot. a tad worried it will be too austere for me though. Kiyama | Restaurant Reservation Service in Japan - TABLEALL
Ryo Sho: Ryō-shō – Kyoto - a MICHELIN Guide Restaurant they got two stars their first year open. thought it looked kinda interesting, mainly because there seem to be some French inflection, which I thought might work for my un-educated kaiseki palate lol. too new for a tabelog score…

This is probably also kaiseki overkill, so I might add a sushi meal. If so, it would probably be this because to make things even more difficult, I’m traveling in a party of 4, so counter resys have been a struggle.
Sushi Gion Matsudaya

2 Likes

Hopefully it works for you! That way I can use it for Ishikawa or Kohaku maybe next time haha. :sweat_smile:

For Kyoto, my only must is Kiyama; it’ll be my second shot at Kaiseki in Kyoto instead of my first haha. I think I was also inspired by this thread to check out Monk. Honestly I’m more planning a Kyoto trip for the fall foliage and since that’s end of November/early December I haven’t thought too much more. Other things I’m considering food-wise are more casual, like wagashi, desserts, a different tofu-focused place, etc. Nothing crazy yet.

I mentioned Sower previously because I’m seriously considering a detour just to check it out. I’ve liked the area since my first visit and the restaurant’s head chef has an interesting background.

If a counter is the goal then I think a party of 4 can definitely make things tough. Ishikawa I remember being a pretty small counter, though they have a ton of private rooms. If you want to bring everyone I can see that being incredibly difficult for that one in particular. Conversely, a party of 4 can make certain places easier. Mostly thinking the French/Japanese/modern Kaiseki type like Florilege, Narisawa, etc.

Personally I approve of Kaiseki overkill! I’m pretty much 90% done planning for my May trip and I’m fairly certain I’m replacing my only full sushi omakase dinner while keeping my 4 Kaiseki places LOL. :sweat_smile: :laughing:

Just throwin it out there for those seeking a good ryokan + kaiseki combo in Kyoto. A ryokan style establishment with on site catering by Ogata. I don’t think it’s cheap…

1 Like

I’m super overdue for photos and a writeup - just been super busy!

Will start with Photos to flesh out last write up

Ushigoro Non-S, NishiAzabu

Thick-cut gyutan


Marinated Lean Beef + Seafood [Scallop, Crab, and Spot Prawns I believe]

  • Super awesome - crispy rice from the stone pot, delicious fragrant seafood, tender sweet beef. Really damn good and if I have time/space, would be down to come back and solo this as a meal

Chanja, Marinated Cod Innards

  • new dish for me but super awesome — I’ve never seen this in LA Ktown… might be a specific Japanese-Korean dish?
  • Marinade is a straightforward gochugaru/gochujang paste — similar to Kimchi or spicy marinaded crab.
  • What’s unique about this dish is the texture of the innards, super chewy without any offensive stink to it. Chewiness is as expected of intestines and quite satisfying. Goes great w/ a cold beer/highball/sour

Potato Salad with Smoked Egg

  • excellent runny yolk, awesome crunchy pickled cucumbers, and a potato salad that isn’t drenched in mayonnaise. This is textbook Japanese potato salad excellence/superiority

Beef Tenderloin Katsu Sando


  • Awesome perfectly toasted milk bread, deliciously beefy and tender tenderloin, and a wonderful buttery demi to mop up with.

Zabuton/Denver Steak, Sukiyaki Style



  • The presentation of this alone was just fun. Freshly grilled meat is placed into the yakiniku sauce, then you go right → left swirling in rich egg yolk with the soy-based sauce before finishing with the rice. Pure happiness

Sirloin


Caveman, Nihonbashikayabacho



Snacks





  • These wonderful rich creamy shrimp marinated in sweet beet purée.
  • Oyster in sake sauce - kind of a miss for me; sauce was a bit perfume-y in a bad way. Paired wonderfully with the champagne we got, but a miss by itself
  • Thank GOD this wasn’t as uninspired as toro/spicy tuna on crispy rice. Basically tastes like Pico de gallo but sub out the tomatoes for tuna. Serve on a wonderful fluffy crispy hash brown. No bullsh*t of sticky rice stinking to your molars, just pleasant all around
  • If the tuna was served on a potato that resembles a hash brown, this fried ball more closely resembles a croquet - there’s a whipped quality to the interior that keeps it interesting . Perfectly seasoned and borderline cheesy. Good stuff

Squid Noodles, Goji Berries, Hazelnut Cream, Braised Radish

  • This was kinda a miss for me because it really closely resembled Vietnamese Chè - let me explain.
  • The squid noodles, wonderfully sweet and fresh, but this resembles the chewy-snappy jelly you would find in Chè
  • The hazelnut cream definitely had a richness and fragrance that evokes coconut for me, even though its distinctly hazelnut in fragrance
  • The gojiberries provided the fruity aroma that again, makes me think of chè
  • Lastly the braised radish had this powdery starchy texture that reminded me of dessert taro
  • Creative and interesting, just didn’t expect it to be this dessert-vibes

Carrot Endive Jasmine RIce

  • carrots presented in 3 ways
  • broth blended with Jasmine rice (super fragrant jasmine rice quality)
  • thinly sliced and pickled
  • thick chunks roasted and caramelized
  • Probably one of the best carrot dishes I’ve ever had

Kebab - Spiced Octopus w/ Celery Purée


  • truly truly excellent seasoning, char, and tenderness on the octopus.
  • Celery purée provided a great creaminess to offset the springy yet tender octopus

Turnip Crab Chawanmushi

  • previously described it as one of the best chawanmushis I’ve ever tried and I still maintain that
  • big distinction here is the texture of the chawanmushi, possibly because of the turnip, made it have the texture of sour cream/yogurt compared to a flan/custard
  • superbly flavorful, some butter thrown in there for additional richness.

Wild Boar w/ Chrystanthemum Foam & Yuzu

  • Absurdly fragrant chrysanthemum and yuzu flanked by what feels like a dry aged, medium boar that has a slight funk that’s similar to what you’d find from a really nice prosciutto.
  • Not my favorite but still good

Buri/Yellowtail cooked over Bincho, served in Smokey Kuromoji Dashi

  • super highlight dish, Smokey on Smokey with wonderful potato slivers emulating julienned ginger in a Chinese Ginger-Scallion dish.

Wagyu Sirloin, Black Pepper Sauce, and The best Damn Spinach I’ve ever Had

  • the spinach truly tasted like candied beets. Who the hell is supplying this restaurant with this produce??
  • Steak is great, just overshadowed by how amazing this spinach is
  • Excellent study in iron/mineral flavors, perhaps the red meat is meant to give you a baseline of minerality, then the spinach by contrast is less intense and therefore much sweeter

Housemade Soba, Parmesan Cheese, Beef Consume

  • Basically tastes like a really good French onion soup. Nutty aroma of the soba kind of evokes a good toasted baguette but not quite. Semi-miss but still appreciated it as a closer

Desserts

  • I believe this was a Sake-lees/Kasu ice cream. Super fragrant, great pound cake-like texture, sour cherries

  • most fragrant grapefruit macaron. Wonderful

Kanazawa Food

First Stop 鮮彩えにし/Enishi

Nodoguro Meshi

  • Jesus Christ this nodoguro’s texture is actually softer than most Otoro you will find in the states.
  • Basically you scoop this into a bowl, simply eat with soy, then pour nodoguro dashi to finish it. The dashi really brings out any of the fat in the flesh for a wonderful experience

Kani Don

Second Stop Ushioya

  • This shop specializes in aged fish and then they sear the outside
  • Since we were pretty rice’d out, we asked to not be served any rice for our salmon + yellowtail combo; added a side car of nodoguro.

All in for both places was $25/person total, absolute insanity QPR.

Osaka

IKR51

dried oyster dashi shoyu ramen

  • Definitely one of the more unique and better ramens I’ve had this trip. Highly recommend making a stop here if you’re in Osaka. No English menu, but google translate is sufficient

Katsudon Chiyomatsu Dotonbori Main Store 大阪 かつ丼 ちよ松道頓堀本店( 大盛り ・ デカ盛り ) 難波


  • Waited over an hour for this viral katsudon spot[definitely recommend showing up early or before open]. Main gimmick here is that they sous vide all their pork before deep frying
  • I ordered the 400g pork option, which is basically 1 pound of pork that’s THEN deep fried and made into a katsudon.
  • I thought the 400g portion didn’t have the right balance of meat to breading, and would recommend the 200g or 270g if you’re hungry. I was definitely in a bad mood after this because I had to keep moving around Osaka despite being uncomfortably full
  • Otherwise, a damn good katsudon that isn’t conventionally soggy-crispy and just crispy

Yakitori Ichimatsu

Won’t upload the whole omakase but a few highlight courses. Highly highly recommend going if you can get a res. Absolutely incredible and attentive service, as I’m writing about it 3+ weeks later, still one of the top meals of the trip.

Awesome pickled persimmon


Smoked, springy, chewy chicken wing.

Chicken skin

Yaki-onigiri, log style. Fun and yummy

Best GD chicken hearts ever.

I thought them showing off their chicken leg prosciutto was fun - they served this in a mini salad in between courses

Still gooey and runny smoked quail eggs. I missed this high so much, I tried getting this as random hole in the wall Tokyo yakitori joints. Incomparable. This is just a completely different level

Wonderful Tsukune

Overall, Osaka was very “meh” to me. Most of Dotonbori was underwhelming. Street food sucks [especially coming straight from Taiwan, where its IMO many leagues better than Japan]

6 Likes

Acid Brianza

  • whole gimmick here is that every dish has a fermentation or aged component to it. Some more obvious than others, but all relatively delicious

Tempura Cauliflower with Shaved Lamb Heart

  • perfect cauliflower, perfect fry, shaved lamb heart and fermented blueberry sauce to bind the lamb heart to the cauliflower.
    Monkfish Liver, Daikon, Fermented Tomato Broth + Seaweed Oil
  • there were l Ike 3 elements of tomato on the dish, broth, fresh, and sun dried. Pretty reliably tasty dish, no faults

Caramelized Sweetbread [I assume veal], yeast and chrysanthemum foam

  • This was pretty awesome albeit really ugly to look at LOL. Wonderful nutty, buttery, rich yeasty sauce coats caramelized sweetbreads underneath the chrysanthemum foam. To be honest, not the biggest fan of foams and this foam didn’t really change my mind, but the flavors were remarkable

Fried Chicken, Fermented Cabbage, Chili Powder

  • you would eat this like a taco, and the “tortilla” really resembled Ethiopian injera.
  • Unfortunately a slight miss since the injera kind of disintegrated from the moisture of the fermented cabbage
  • Otherwise, awesome juicy chicken, light batter fry, and good “stink” to the cabbage that isn’t quite as intense as say… store bought sauerkraut

Scallop in Green Coconut Curry + Waffle

  • Super fun dish, probably gonna copy this for a home recipe in the future. Not particularly mind blowing just really solid and yummy

Bincho Seared Chicken Breast, Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Truffle

  • definitely the best chicken breast I’ve had at any restaurant. Glassy crispy skin, insanely moist flesh, wonderful pairing with the smooth Jerusalem artichoke
  • The chicken jous didn’t really taste like truffles; it was fine

Tofu Ice Cream, Brown Sugar, Fig Leaf Oil & Fresh Mikan

  • as Asian dessert as it gets. Insanely refreshing, rich tofu flavor, yummy way to close out the meal

Gonokami Suisan, Kanda

Tomato & Shrimp Bisque Tsukemen

  • on the nose, smells like Vietnamese Bun Rieu;

  • thick chewy noodles, delicious simply mixing with the pesto but some real alchemy happens when you have it all together. Really solid!
    Saikyo Miso Cod Tsukemen

  • Tastes like they took the very popular dish of saikyo miso, sake, and cod and blitz it all into a Tsukemen broth

  • Fortified with a ton of chicken thigh Chashu

  • It’s bitter, sweet, creamy, oceanic [can be strong for some] and feels a lot heavier than the tomato and shrimp bisque Tsukemen

Shrimp Oil Mazesoba

  • I was shooting manual focus that day and wildly missed focus whoops
  • BUT I’m planning on coming back and ordering this - that’s how good it was.
  • essentially tastes like a really yummy Chow mein that’s blossoming in shrimp shell aroma
  • its served really damn pipping hot, a stark contrast to the much more mild and room temp Tsukemens we ordered
  • if you got sick of the flavor, simply add curry powder at the table and its instantly yummy again, that curry powder goes so so well with the shrimp

Hakkoku

Highlight pieces
Otoro


Katsuo/Bonito

Shunko/Mantis Shrimp

Aji/horse mackerel

Tamago/Hand-held Creme Brûlée

Shirako/Cod Milt/“White Children” - served hot and brulee’d. actually insanely delicious

Blowfish - the cause of my anxiety

Yogoro, Jingumae


  • this interesting hybrid/Japanification of Saag Curry + Tandoori Chicken in the style of kare raisu
  • the spinach curry was incredibly smooth and velvety, a perfect emulsion contrasted with juicy springy chicken.
  • the soft boiled egg was genius and honestly happy with this for 1200Y

Parla, Jingumae




  • If you want a more grown-up/adult crepe this is the spot for you. Comparing this crepe to the crepes you find in Harajuku is like the equivalent of trying Panetonne from Roy against a $35 Panetonne from Eataly. The $35 Panetonne tastes like its made for children with how overly sweet it tastes]
  • I got the Apricot + Hoshiko, where Hoshiko is an ume-based liquor
  • Within the crepe, you have some crispy, some dark chocolate, a Hoshiko jelly, and. It truly tastes so much more complex and enjoyable than a Harajuku crepe
  • It’s definitely 2x the price of a Harajuku crepe, hell this was the same price as the Yogoro curry and that’s a full meal.
  • I think if you’re in the mood for a crepe, just come here…

Shichisai, Hatchobori

Niboshi Special Ramen - 1700Y


  • An emotionally dear ramen shop to my heart, the cut their noodles fresh to order and it comes out curly and soaks up a ton of the broth. Niboshi ramen isn’t a thing in the US, and the closet flavor profile to it in LA is probably Tsujita’s tsukemen, but I don’t think that’s a fair comparison; this is significantly more nuanced and less intense in its flavor.
  • It’s Smokey, its fishy [in a non offensive way, you can tell you’re having an anchovy broth but its not gross]
  • Definitely recommend checking out. If you’re staying in Ginza-ish area

Taniya Udon, Ningyocho

Taniya Special Udon 1500Y


  • Tempura egg, tempura shrimp, sweet simmered beef, all in a wonderful warm dashi to revitalize you after being out all day.
  • I’ve posted about them before, but truly an excellent udon shop that just happens to be in my neighborhood; literally 0 desire for me to go queue up for hours at Udon Shin

Tantanmen Piriri

Black Sesame Soupless Tantanmen


  • Right upstairs of Taniya Udon is an excellent Tantanmen specialist shop.
  • Honestly since I live in Highland Park and being so close to SGV, its difficult for me to make this recommendation to someone who may be in a similar position to myself. However, if you’re really craving an awesome numbing noodle dish to warm you up in 35F weather, this is worth a try

Standing Sushi Bar Akira, Tsukiji Location

Nodoguro - 1320Yen/piece so f*cking good, I had 2 pieces


Shirako - finally developed a taste for it, actually excellent

Shiro Ebi

Sardine/Iwashi

Chu toro - I recently saw that food blogger Supertastermel is also in Tokyo and visited the shop. She says that they source the same tuna as Sushi Saito, makes sense since the tuna is pretty damn good and at like 500Yen/piece too

Truly excellent and went with a friend of @formersushichef! That friend had a 20k+ omakase the night before, and Hakkoku was still fresh in my mind. Both of us agreed this was more enjoyable—especially at the price. We had a different chef this time compared to my previous visit, and this chef didn’t alternate the seasonings between Soy for the first piece and then sudachi + salt for the next .
Total damage for each of us was about $80USD

Pizza Studio Tamaki, Roppongi






Sergio was in the house and we had court-side seats. I originally visited in December 2017 and was pretty disappointed by my experience, good pizza but definitely not mind blowing. “It’s just pizza” kind of a reaction
However, this time around, this was absolutely incredible pizza. Pizzeria Sei was my baseline, and I had an emotional experience there [some edibles for the assist really made Sei that incredible for me]
PST exists in a completely different plane of existence. In short, the flavor was just transcendent and the saltiness was tuned in perfectly. The Bismarck pizza tasted like what a sausage egg McMuffin should taste like. The Arrabiata is spicy, garlicky, and profoundly savory. The oyster pizza [the soggiest of the 3] also held its own in flavor and creativity and being something I haven’t tasted before.
After eating at 12+ pizza shops in NY, dozens in SF and LA, this somehow is #1 for me.

7 Likes

PST is amazing, glad you had a great experience this time around! My friend actually joined FTC,
his username is @Spicyshlomi

3 Likes

[starting a new reply since the previous one was severely lagging from how many photos I uploaded]

Den Kushi Flori

Here’s an excerpt from Pocket Concierge
“Globally acclaimed chefs Zaiyu Hasegawa, awarded two stars at his restaurant DEN in Jingumae, and Hiroyasu Kawate, a chef with two stars at neighbouring restaurant Florilège, have collaborated on the theme of “kushi” (skewer) at this hotly-tipped restaurant.”

I could not get a reservation to either Den or Florilege so I figured to try out this concept to get a sense of that these guys [and/or their teams] are cooking.

There are 2 options for lunch - a 6,000 Yen option and a 9,800 Yen option [dinner menu served during lunch]. When I asked the waitress what explains the price difference, she mentioned that the 9800Y course comes with Sashimi and the mochi + caviar course. If I were to come again, I would probably opt for the 6,000 Yen course.


Bincho-Grilled Mochi, Soy-Cured Egg Yolk, Caviar & Celery Purée

  • A play on French Egg + Caviar + Sour Cream done in a Japanese way
  • mochi - crispy and gooey center. Kinda tastes like a senbei cracker
  • soy cured egg is really nice with the mochi and crispy seaweed
  • Celery purée is super “French-tasting”, crème fraiche, butter, and celery enhances the experience of the soy-egg, mochi, and seaweed
  • Downsides are that the caviar get a little loss and the mochi is molar-sticky

Turnip Mayonnaise, Braised Turnip, Whipped Turnip in Butter, Tare Clams

  • Clam is coated in tare and grilled over Bincho. It’s Smokey, natural sweetness of clam is omega-enhanced by the tare, really really tasty
  • the natural salinity and minerality of the clams pair really well with the perfectly braised turnips
  • Turnip is braised in Clam juice and it all comes together wonderfully

Shrimp Bisque & Ebi-imo Or Shrimp-Striped Taro

  • Ebi-imo is supposed to be designer Taro, or some of the best tasting taro you can get. It’s also rounded and striped like a shrimp would be, hence the name
  • They did some word play with that and made an awesome shrimp bisque. Texture-wise, its frothy [I saw them use an immersion blender to whip air into it] but the soup’s body definitely is thinner
  • Incredible shellfish aroma;
  • the taro is somehow Smokey despite only being deep fried and the texture is less pasty, but more flakey. Once you eat half of the taro skewer, you mash the remaining half into the soup which provides nice texture and body to the soup

Chicken Wing Stuffed with Scallop Mouse + Comte Cheese Sauce + Mushroom Cream Sauce



  • Never been to Den, but one of the courses he serves is Dentucky Fried Chicken in this custom Paper Box
  • The chicken wing is deboned, stuffed with scallop mouse, then deep fried. After frying, it’s finished over Bincho charcoals to provide a wonderful Smokey aroma that billows out of the box when you open it
  • The Comte cheese sauce basically tastes like a better Shake Shack sauce
  • The mushroom cream sauce tastes like really good soup
  • Together, the sauces make the experience something magical as the conventionally French sauces are further accentuated by the smokiness in the chicken wing, something that is relatively rare in French cooking!
  • Presentation being fun truly helped; this is truly excellent fusion!

Sashimi


  • two pieces of konbujime/konbu curedwagyu sashimi bisected by a really awesome maguro-zuke or soy marinated tuna
  • In the back, julienned radish that is tossed in olive oil and vinegar as a palette cleanser
  • The sashimi is topped with lukewarm beef consumme [ not enough to remotely cook any of the meat, but warm enough to perceive on the tongue]
  • The beef consumme definitely has a pot at feu/pot roast quality to it.
  • As you chew the beef sashimi it gets increasingly beefier yet remains superbly tender.
  • I dare sa the experience is similar to having a good Pho Tai - where you eat beef tenderloin that barely cooks in pho broth
  • The parsley oil provides a nice grassiness that cuts through the otherwise really dominant beefy flavor

Sardine & Tofu FishCake “Cassoulet”




  • From the Dutch oven, really strong thyme fragrance, and the sauce was bubbling — really nice showmanship for the diners to see before plating
  • The fish cakes are made of sardines, tofu, woodear mushrooms, and some carrots. Perfumed with freshly grated ginger
  • Instead of white beans, they used soy beans in the cassoulet
  • They topped off the dish with tofu skin or yuba
  • Overall a very fine dish for me, didn’t really like it too much compared to more home style Cassoulets in the past

Rice with Shirasu + Shirako


  • An insanely decadent closer to a marvelous meal. Rice cooked in a donabe until perfect then topped with Shirasu/white baitfish
  • It’s then plated into bowls at which point a sizzling skillet of garlic parsley butter a la escargot style is served with hot melty shirako
  • it’s so absurdly rich that you get a slice of sudachi on the side to help cut through it.

Dessert - Pudding with Burnt Caramel Sauce + Matcha Whipped Cream

  • Japanese pudding is notorious for its burnt caramel, but I believe this one had some coffee mixed into it to further accentuate the bitterness
  • Just a classic good pudding, matcha whipped cream provides just a hint of semi-sweetness to counterbalance the bitter caramel sauce

Drink Pairings

Whatever you do, you must get the Tomato Lemon Sour

  • this is genuinely mind blowing. Peeled cherry tomatoes are pickled in some kind of sweet vinegar. They also separately have a clear tomato juice [likely fermented?]
  • This is an insanely refreshing drink that is umami,sweet, tart, and just so so good
3 Likes

@Bagel within the goryu family is sushi shou goryu. Sushi Sho(鮨祥)'s Reservation - OMAKASE

@Spicyshlomi and I met the sushi chef and the chef who prepares the otsumami, gummy enough at PST.

Shou Goryo, not to be confused with the very famous Sho has some interesting pedigree.

From the sushi spreadsheet:

Apparently the chef that prepares the otsumami comes from Goryo Kubo so maybe a good candidate to try?

And apparently harutaka is of the Jiro school of sushi, so you’d be 2 degrees removed. Quite an ambitious crossover for 33k yen :thinking:

They were quite fluent in English too so that could add to the experience

3 Likes

Concur.

1 Like

Thanks for pointing out! It does look quite good… but every time I jump into that spreadsheet I find new sushi places to get interested in. :smiling_face_with_tear: :crazy_face:

By the way, awesome posts! I don’t need to hope you’re eating well because I can clearly see it lol. I’m actually replacing the sushi dinner with Caveman thanks to your recommendation and going to probably try to supplement with a trip to Stand up sushi bar Akira, which I’m also planning to check out thanks to your awesome intel.

3 Likes

Narisawa has been tempting me for a long while in this research, but I think it’ll be a pass on this trip, if only because I would like to get a Tokyo kaiseki + a Tokyo counter sushi meal under my belt, and I would like to have a night or two to try to wander into some izakayas, etc.

Tokyo evening itinerary is currently like this:

Saturday: Yoroniku Ebiusu (EBISU YORONIKU - Ebisu/Yakiniku (BBQ Beef) [Tabelog]): Doing this one over the one @jc_eats did simply because it’s walking distance to our hotel! We are doing a 5 pm tasting of their cheapest menu with the intention of being hungry later on and eating elsewhere.
Sunday: Stand-up Sushi Akira: Gonna do a super early dinner here with similar intentions: maybe ramen or yakitori later in the evening.
Monday: Ichita: Would be open to maybe flipping this with something else, but I actually saw a super positive review on here from @beefnoguy ([Tokyo] One Michelin Star Kappo Kaiseki goodness - Ichita (Aoyama)) so I’m sticking with it unless I can get into Ishikawa, I think.
Tuesday: Sushi Zai https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1307/A130703/13233764/: Bookable online, can handle 4 of us at the counter, and receives a B+ on the megalist! Good enough for us, I think.

On a side note, gah, Sower looks really cool. Unfortunately the only available slot they have while I’m down there is in direct conflict with Kiyama, so I’ll be sticking with that, but I might see if anything opens up at Sower for lunch.

2 Likes

I try sometimes to explain how absurd this site is to people who ain’t on said site and I often struggle. Next time I think I’ll just show them these @jc_eats reports. Smh, we have a guy on the ground in Tokyo eating like a madman and often reporting back on a DISH by DISH level. Wtf.

@jc_eats: Let it be known good sir (or madam) that I have diligently been following your posts and will go to at least two of your recommended spots.

4 Likes

Argh, went to the wrong location, ended up at OG spot thinking that’s where Sergio would be stationed. Still can’t complain, huge amaebi salad, pizza + wine - $40 OTD and walk in with no rezzie stresses.

@Jc_eats, enjoying your recap of non-cookie cutter destinations.

@Bagel

Caveman is pretty awesome QPR no doubt. If you happen to be staying in western Tokyo they have a sister restaurant in Meguro called Kabi which I hear is also excellent! I wish there were more Noma-ish/Scandanavian-leaning restaurants in LA

IMO if you manage to strike gold, the perfect day of sushi at Akira would have these 3 elusive menu items all at the same time they’ve only lined up on the days I haven’t visited [they post their daily menu on instagram]

  • hairy crab
  • nodoguro
  • toro-takuan hand roll (to this day the best version I’ve had anywhere, and I’ve tried it everywhere I can that offers it)

I personally would double up on all of these haha but my preferences may very much be different than yours!

FWIW, I also have this bookmarked and it looks excellent! Good strategy to get a sampler and leave the evening open for more variety
Also in ebisu, is a steak sandwich joint that’s pretty awesome
STABLER Shimokitazawa Meatsand EBISU
I got their 150g sandwich but wish I got the 300g portion; good to share if you’re not traveling alone!



If you have a sweet tooth, I walked by two seemingly popular spots but can’t vouch for how good they are since I haven’t been yet

I also love Daikanyama as a neighborhood which is really nearby Ebisu[less about food but more about the atmosphere and vibes] You picked a great area to stay!

Upcoming Spots I’m going to try

3 Likes

@set0312 Ichita definitely is on my list too. Please report back! I was actually planning to do Sushi Zai because they also apparently have a sake pairing for 11K JPY. Think I’ll just opt to try and hit up sake bars elsewhere to make up for it. The issue with Sower is accessibility. Even if you have a car its a bit of a drive. Without a car, its a minimum 45 minute walk from the nearest train station on areas that aren’t really meant for pedestrians. I checked out the street view and either you’re walking on the lake shore or risking it with the at times one lane road.

@jc_eats I just added Kabi to my list for the future! Noma-ish/Scandanavian-leaning is definitely something I’m interested in so if you have any other suggestions in Tokyo I’m all ears! It definitely does seem like a hole in LA, especially nicer dining. And by that I mean I don’t know any lol (don’t think Habitue counts haha).

When I get Tachigui Akira I might be doing a double dinner that night so a OOE approach is probably going to be my limit. :sweat_smile:

Please report back on Tomato! Google maps seems to suggest the wait is lower for dinner so maybe that might work better? Space for dinner is always a struggle though… I saw Tomato before and given how far from the city it is opted instead for Bondy - 2nd on the “European curry” category and located in Jimbocho which is fairly central. Bondy was good but don’t think I’ll wait for it again. Thankfully they’re an all-day and last time I went mid-afternoon and there was no line!

2 Likes

The food columnist of the Japan times just posted a top picks list

Some things look interesting to me

  • AC house looks interesting AF to me. Old chef of Caveman but a ton of other good spots

Separately might have found my new favorite casual sushi spot spot - revolving sushi spot that specializes in

  • salt and lemon sushi
  • aburi or torched
  • aged sushi

世田谷区 九州寿司 寿司虎 Aburi Sushi TORA
03-6332-7556
https://maps.app.goo.gl/yYBxnwxPkdC78gXW6?g_st=ic

They do use akazu but more so for color than outright flavor. The shari is definitely solid especially for the price point but say worse than Akira. I ate like a complete clown and it was 8000Yen all in or $62. Absolute insanity. Literally left the restaurant to type this out asap while the iron’s hot.

It’s 7 stops or 17 minutes west of Shibuya Station and tbh while I’ve had it bookmarked and known about this place since before I came, the distance from the city center truly put me off. Super super happy I got to go and I can say for the money, this is the best QPR sushi I’ve had (maybe 20+ casual and omakase spots so far?). I’m going to make an effort to come back before I leave lol















6 Likes

Oo those dessert options look good. I’m also gonna try that Sebastian kakigori spot that somebody (you?) recommended? I think it’s close enough to me. That steak sando looks so tasty.

I am so excited for Akira. Fingers crossed that I get all the goods, but anything will work.

Yes, I’m excited for Daikanyama too!

Btw, you done any cocktail bars? Trying to figure out if it’s worth my time to make reservations at one of the top spots, or if I should just drink lots of whisky sodas and whatnot.