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Mid-to-High end Tokyo Food recs

Mid-to-High end Tokyo Food recs

Old Aug 27, 16, 9:30 pm
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Mid-to-High end Tokyo Food recs

Hi everyone,

Apologies if this has been asked before (I did a quick search but mostly saw first time food recommendations), but what do people recommend for mid to high end Japanese restaurants in Tokyo?

For reference this is me and Mrs. Selfish's 5th visit to Tokyo, and our 1st visit after having our 1st child. We've eaten a ton of meals in Japan in the past, but most have been on the cheaper side. However, since this is our only trip sans 2 year old in the upcoming future, we'd love to try places we couldn't go with a child.

Thus far I've been researching sushi, yakitori, tempura, kobe beef, izakaya, and sake joints, but Tokyo has such a dizzying array of options that I'm not sure where to start. The other big wrinkle is the fact that we're traveling over New Years, so at least 3 - 4 of those meals will fall into the dreaded January 1 - 3 window when many small places are shut down.

Thanks a lot!
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Old Aug 27, 16, 10:16 pm
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Old Aug 28, 16, 8:02 am
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First, if you can provide budget and specific cuisines you and your wife are seeking then I think people can give you more useful suggestions.

In Japan Yakitori (焼き鳥) and Izakaya (居酒屋) are pretty much budget eatery or called B-Kyu Gourmet (B級グルメ) in Japan, are not particularly considered as high end dining although there is an example of Michelin starred Yakitori restaurants. Traditionally Sake Joint (酒場) are considered as blue collar drunk joint and not particular known as high end dining either. If you are looking for Kobe beef then look more general for Japanese beef Wagyu (和牛), do not limit yourself to Kobe beef. Kobe beef has been abused and misused by celebrity chefs outside of Japan.

If you are looking for high end Japanese dining then one place you want to look is a restaurant type called Kappou (割烹) or Ryotei (料亭).

Tempura restaurant I know (been there) at Ginza is Tenkuni. Basement counter dining is more formal where 1st fl. an 2nd fl. table dining is little more casual.

P.S.
Not only small places shut down on Jan. 1 -3, a lot of large places close down on Jan. 1 - 3 also.

Last edited by AlwaysAisle; Aug 28, 16 at 9:08 am
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Old Aug 28, 16, 8:13 am
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I'm not really qualified to post in this thread, since I normally go for value / street food when I'm traveling. I do really like and seek out quality - I just usually prefer not to pay for ambience, formality, etc.

All of that said, on one of my recent trips, a friend of mine that goes for higher end sent me to This place for a lunch and we were quite impressed.
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Old Aug 28, 16, 8:25 am
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Not high-end, but a favorite of mine when I lived there many years ago, and not a place to wait in line with a child: Tonki

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/201.../#.V8LzU5h94z4
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Old Aug 28, 16, 9:28 am
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we use the micheline guide, and choose 1 & 2* places. we will stay at a hotel with known excellent concierge services. i pick out 4 or 5 places, then have the concierge call and arrange for one of them. then have the concierge generate an address for the taxi.

always arrange at least one day in advance.
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Old Aug 28, 16, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by AlwaysAisle View Post
First, if you can provide budget and specific cuisines you and your wife are seeking then I think people can give you more useful suggestions.
Looking for something between 4000 - 10,000 yen per person, though we're willing to go higher for one or two meals. Anything over 20,000 per person would be a huge stretch.

We tend to go value/quality when we travel - so ambiance, formality and service are usually least important.

As for type of cuisines - sushi, beef, and tempura would be high priority, but we're up for trying anything that is uniquely Japanese. We enjoy fusion food at home and are always interested in trying other culture's takes on fusion while traveling.

Sorry if that's not too specific, but we'll basically eat anything if it's good and are always looking to try something different.

Originally Posted by AlwaysAisle View Post
If you are looking for Kobe beef then look more general for Japanese beef Wagyu (和牛), do not limit yourself to Kobe beef. Kobe beef has been abused and misused by celebrity chefs outside of Japan.
Good to know. We are just looking for good Japanese beef - doesn't have to be Wagyu.


Originally Posted by AlwaysAisle View Post
If you are looking for high end Japanese dining then one place you want to look is a restaurant type called Kappou (割烹) or Ryotei (料亭).

Tempura restaurant I know (been there) at Ginza is Tenkuni. Basement counter dining is more formal where 1st fl. an 2nd fl. table dining is little more casual.

P.S.
Not only small places shut down on Jan. 1 -3, a lot of large places close down on Jan. 1 - 3 also.
Thanks, I'll keep those in mind. We're staying at the Park Hyatt, then the Andaz (after spending 2 nights in a ryokan in between), so I'll have them call around to see who's open.
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Old Aug 28, 16, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by angra View Post
I'm not really qualified to post in this thread, since I normally go for value / street food when I'm traveling. I do really like and seek out quality - I just usually prefer not to pay for ambience, formality, etc.

All of that said, on one of my recent trips, a friend of mine that goes for higher end sent me to This place for a lunch and we were quite impressed.
Ha - yeah my wife and I are the same way. For some reason squatting over a meal in an alleyway seems preferable to eating at a 3* joint. We did a 13 course meal once at Astrid y Gaston in Lima and I was exhausted after 6 courses.

Now that I have a kid, however, the thought of just sitting around and enjoying a meal sounds amazing, so we're trying to break out of our comfort zone.

Thanks for recommendation!
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Old Aug 28, 16, 2:19 pm
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Originally Posted by SEA-Flyer View Post
Not high-end, but a favorite of mine when I lived there many years ago, and not a place to wait in line with a child: Tonki

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/201.../#.V8LzU5h94z4
Thanks, I can always eat tonkatsu. The last time we were in Kyoto we ended up dining at Katsukura, so I was excited to see they had a branch in Shinjuku. Might have to do a side by side comparison with Tonki!
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Old Aug 28, 16, 2:28 pm
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You can always try some super-fancy tonkatsu at Butagumi (review). I gave it a try on my last visit and enjoyed it, though it did lead me to question just how much yen I wanted to spend on Katsu.
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Old Aug 28, 16, 2:57 pm
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Originally Posted by MisterSelfish View Post
Good to know. We are just looking for good Japanese beef - doesn't have to be Wagyu.

Thanks, I'll keep those in mind. We're staying at the Park Hyatt, then the Andaz (after spending 2 nights in a ryokan in between), so I'll have them call around to see who's open.
I think your biggest challenge will be stay between Jan. 1 – 3. Many restaurants will be closed. Obviously, restaurants at hotels will be open for guests, but hotels with multiple restaurants may close some of restaurants for New Years on Jan. 1 – 3.

Park Hyatt has New York Grille which can be good option if you want Japanese beef. Beside U.S. beef, New York Grille at Park Hyatt has Japanese beef from Hokkaido, Saga, and Sendai along with Kobe Beef.

New York Grille Dinner Set Menu
New York Grille Dinner a la carte Menu

It is no secret for local Japanese that hotel restaurants are one place they can count on opening during New Years. Going to hotel restaurants is one of common options for locals if they want to eat out during New Years so hotels restaurants during New Years can get very busy and not unusual to get booked solid by reservation.

P.S.
Forgot my usual recommendation. If want Sukiyaki, Shabu-shabu, or Teppan Grille (Japanese style steak cooking, a la "Benihana") Kobe Beef at Tokyo and do not mind spending a little, Seryna. Although I do not know if they open during New Years.

Last edited by AlwaysAisle; Aug 28, 16 at 3:17 pm
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Old Aug 28, 16, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by MisterSelfish View Post
Now that I have a kid, however, the thought of just sitting around and enjoying a meal sounds amazing, so we're trying to break out of our comfort zone.
I undertand where you are coming from. Who's looking after your kiddie? I'd love to take a trip like that with my wife.

Anyways, I too am hardly qualified to comment on this topic, as it's possible I've never spent >$60 per person on a meal outside of Hong Kong. Don't get me wrong, I love fancy places once in a while... but I only go to those places for lunch (when it's substantially cheaper) or if someone else is paying.

Having said that, let me propose a couple places in Tokyo that you could consider. I don't know that many high-end restaurants, but I like these two.
-- Sense at Mandarin Oriental: I go to HKG every year, so of course it's not the best dim sum I've had. But the view is just amazing and so are the service and ambiance. A nice meal for <$50 with that type of view in a 5-star hotel is hard to beat. (I've only been there for lunch)
-- Tofutei at Gajoen: Kaiseki restaurant at the gorgeous Gajoen complex. Gajoen just offers a wonderful setting. Lunch courses can be had for <$40. I've only had lunch there, and dinners are a lot more expensive.
http://www.megurogajoen.co.jp/restaurants/tofutei/menu/
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Old Aug 28, 16, 3:59 pm
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Originally Posted by angra View Post
You can always try some super-fancy tonkatsu at Butagumi (review). I gave it a try on my last visit and enjoyed it, though it did lead me to question just how much yen I wanted to spend on Katsu.
4800 yen seems a little pricey, but Iberico Pork is pretty excellent. Given that it would cost at least $15 USD for regular chicken katsu with tax & tip in SF, 4800 doesn't seem like that much of a stretch. Love your blog, btw!
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Old Aug 28, 16, 4:06 pm
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Originally Posted by AlwaysAisle View Post
Park Hyatt has New York Grille which can be good option if you want Japanese beef. Beside U.S. beef, New York Grille at Park Hyatt has Japanese beef from Hokkaido, Saga, and Sendai along with Kobe Beef.
I've gone up to the NY Bar several times, but never the grille. Unfortunately, we'll be staying at the PHT earlier in the trip and will be at the Andaz for the latter half.

Have you had a chance to dine at any of the restaurants at the Andaz? Making a reservation at either hotel for Jan. 1 sounds like the way to go.


Originally Posted by AlwaysAisle View Post
If want Sukiyaki, Shabu-shabu, or Teppan Grille (Japanese style steak cooking, a la "Benihana") Kobe Beef at Tokyo and do not mind spending a little, Seryna. Although I do not know if they open during New Years.
Looks amazing. Writing to the concierge now!

Thanks again everyone.
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Old Aug 28, 16, 4:09 pm
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Originally Posted by evergrn View Post
I undertand where you are coming from. Who's looking after your kiddie? I'd love to take a trip like that with my wife.
My folks are flying in for the holidays. Somehow I managed to sweet talk them into staying at our place and watching my daughter for a week. It may or may not have involved wine last Thanksgiving. It probably also helps that she's their only grand child so far.

Never heard of Gajoen, but the area looks pretty - I'll check it out.
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