One Night in Tokyo - Shibuya Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel - Sushi or Kappo and a fun bar - thoughts?

It is a Saturday night prior to spending the rest of our time in Tohuko, Kobe/Osaka, and Kanazawa regions
Last year when we went most of the good sushi places were closed because of the closing of Tsukiji.
We still had a wonderful sushi meal at Ginza Kyubey
Thanks
Bob

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First, this cuisine is not on the same level as Sushi or Kappo, but is definitely fun, delicious, and most importantly, something that you cannot find in the U.S.
Upside, it will make for a lighter evening (atmosphere &¥) and allow you to spend even more money elsewhere on your trip.

You are visiting many regions of the country and will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy their specialties.

Therefore, I recommend trying something that is uniquely Tokyo: monjayaki
image

Monja is best enjoyed in its birthplace on the small island Tsukishima, near Tsukiji.
Here is one restaurant that I have been to on several occasions and enjoyed: Iroha
English: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066444-d3758256-Reviews-Iroha_main_shop-Chuo_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html
Japanese: https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1313/A131302/13012757/

From your hotel, Google tells me that it takes approx 20 min to get there by car and 40 min by metro.

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Thanks but I don’t think that will appeal to the wife for the only night in Tokyo.
Anyone else?

Not sure how fancy you want to go. Had the best meal of my life at RyuGin in 2013. But thats a very expensive meal. Also Ichiran for great ramen is pretty close to your hotel I think.

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Do. not. go. to. Ichiran.

For the love of God.

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How many days until this trip? The Cerulean is good at locking in reservations so if you are still a few months out you can try for high-end sushi spots. If you’re going in that direction I would recommend: Sushi Sawada, Sushi Taichi, Sushi-Ya in that order.

For ramen:
http://www.thatfoodcray.com/tokyo-cray-kagari-ginza-ramen-soba-shop/

For steak, I really enjoyed my meal at Shima Steak and the sandwiches you can order to go after you’re done with dinner are absolutely bonkers.

Regardless of where you eat dinner, please make a point of getting one of these afterwards (there is a retail location near the Cerulean). I’m not a big soft-serve or ice cream guy in general, but I find this to be life changing:

I am friends with the owner of Kiyoi, a locals only sake bar that provides small dishes that center around traditional (and modern) Japanese home cooking (done at a very high level)… this is not something you can easily have either.

This could be your last stop if you do an early sushi dinner or you could have your full blown dinner there. This is one of my most favorite places to go and I’ve visited six times (no joke). Love it to bits.

Tabelog page https://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1303/A130301/13225671/ (don’t worry about the lack of score)

The owner unfortunately speaks literally no English (and there is no menu either) but if you let me know I can help you book and communicate with her in advance (I have ways around the barrier) to ensure she finds an English speaking employee (or perhaps her customer friends) to assist you and your wife when you visit. They only take reservations within the same month and basically announce who is on duty at the start of each month.

The owner did an interview for this online magazine and her words and story are translated to English

https://culinarybackstreets.com/cities-category/tokyo/2018/kiyoi/

Though if you two prefer only high end options, L’Effervescence for Japanese French that is really really good. Book on OpenTable and if you can make it for lunch it’s even cheaper. Ask for Aoshima Sosuke who is the beverage director, his sake pairing is quite legendary too although you can mix with wine.

Of course you can always try Ishikawa, Goryukubo for that Hayato upward lineage if kaiseki ends up being the winner of the battle.

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When I hear “sushi” and “Shibuya” I automatically think of Kurosaki. I really enjoyed my meal there last year. Here’s a write up someone else did: Kurosaki (Tokyo). Not sure you need any more high end suggestions but I also liked Sushi Ishiyama in Ginza, where the chef speaks some English if that’s a concern. I went for nigiri-only lunch though.

Food at RyuGin was okay. Chef Yamamoto was delightful in person, though.

What was your favorite Kaiseki experience in Tokyo?

Wow…Kiyoi for the “full blown dinner” sounds perfect for us. Love everything you write about it.

OK, a few things before you take the plunge

Make sure you have cellular data, or rent a pocket WiFi to help you get internet access to navigate. It’s pretty easy to get to Udagawacho. It’s about 11 minutes walk from your hotel but you may have to use either overpass or underground crossing as maps doesn’t make this specific. On your way there are many neighborhood restaurants, chains, shops…boba tea place, etc mostly for the younger crowd. Once you get to the street where the restaurant is, there are other eateries too.

Use this in google maps to bookmark

きなり, Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 36−16 1階

(it will refer to its old name, Kinari, but currently it is called Kiyoi)

The front entrance sliding door outside as of 2/20

It’s a very small space. Counter seats maybe 8 or 9 but could squeeze extra if there are many reservations (plus it will be their busiest night, Saturday). There is a table for 2 and one that seats 4 but I’ve seen additional people packed around there as well.

Sake selection will vary every few days and mostly come in 1.8 L bottles, so they sell by the glass ranging from 500 to 700+ yen for a reasonable pour (a bit on the small side but it will allow you to try different ones). All of them are stored in the sliding door refrigerator behind the counter/kitchen area (very small as well). Against the left wall by the counter is the sake list but I guess Yuri will decide for you (she does work Saturday nights, and usually has another assistant/employee but for you maybe she’ll switch or ask for someone who can speak English…if you are really lucky maybe a regular will dine there and can help a little).

Have google translate app ready in case you need to use it and show them. Cash only, you may end up spending 9000 yen a person to be very full (inclusive of sake). Although you don’t have to eat till you are full, and can explore and eat at other local places. If you have a bag or jacket, you can leave it by the hanger near the sliding door. Close the door after you come in. When you leave, owner will likely see you out and say goodbye.

Depending on when you go there may be something seasonal with the sake. Yuri san has professional equipment for sake warming and you can ask for recommended hot sake. She may speak some random single words of English but otherwise isn’t comfortable, but may understand a teeny bit.

On the counter are some very large plates of cooked dishes. If you see something you like, just point to it and they will reheat. Those rotate daily. The ones involving vegetables and some that look like stews are fantastic and must. In addition to that, is a menu in Japanese only. If given enough advance notice, she may have one translated into English but even then it may not give you an idea of the dish. Or you can look at your neighbors and tell her or assistant you want that one (point). All items are small plates and are designed to be shared (or you can pig out and just eat one entirely).

You will almost always get some starter dish, usually it’s a soup. I never see an itemized bill so likely you get charge a few hundred yen for it. Just enjoy it, whatever it is.

Here are some pics of the food from random visits, subject to availability and season

Simmered daikon with miso minced pork (nikumiso)

A sample of what you might see on the counter, these are items put together for one or two dishes

The legendary nikujaga, meat & potatoes stew. Ridiculously great comfort food. Not always available but you can ask

If they have chicken karaage, get it. It’s absolutely mind blowing…

Chikuzenni, chicken and vegetable stew. Subject to many interpretations but they do one of my favorites. The change of using lotus root instead of burdock was a nice touch

Dashimaki tamago, super solid rendition

This is almost always on the regular menu: gyu suji nikomi (beef sinews stew). This rendition from the photo is a bit greasy but super aromatic. You need a good hot sake with this that’s fuller bodied. But feel free to have Yuri recommend even a cold one.

There are other things too depending on what they decide for the menu that will no doubt be fun.

This might not be the only place in town, but it’s representative of something truly local and unique enough that I think anyone who truly loves Japanese food and culture visiting from the US (or overseas elsewhere), would appreciate despite the language barrier.

Anything you want to take offline for specifics, send me a PM, or ask here as well.

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Wow. I’m going early next year and will definitely check this place out. Thanks.

Ishikawa!

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