Tokyo Table Trip

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Tokyo Oct '23 - May '24 Food Journal

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magiquonnu 12 days ago

A dump on Tokyo food that I've eaten in the past few months. I score by Taste and CP here and my personal preferences do affect the final score. Something I realized while writing this is that while I do take note of cooking techniques, ultimately what I rank is how good the food tastes to my tongue (i.e. 3* Michelin places will have more sophisticated techniques than Bib Gourmand ones but doesn't mean it'll taste better to me).

Sushi

Sushi Suiten Ippeki (Oct 23)
Taste: 8.5/10
CP: 7/10
I found about this place when I suddenly had an uni craving and found it from an Instagram post about places where you can get uni sushi with a high CP. They have an open slot on Tabelog on the next day so I went. This is a pretty new sushi place and the chef is still very young (28). The courses in the Tabelog page has changed since then but I remember getting the 20k course.It includes 10 nigiri and 7 tsumami served in an alternating order. When I arrived the place was not full and the chefs had a very friendly and lively vibe.
The first thing I noticed when the sushi was first served was how small it was. As advertised, the best item I had was the uni that I ordered seconds, shin ika which is still my favorite among all ika sushi I had until now, botan ebi uni-ae, and stingray (kasube) suimono which I've never seen served anywhere else. Other than that the course also include akami, otoro, sanma, ikura don, and sekogani nigiri which are all very good. On the other hand they put toppings which I feel are overly strong on some items like buri nigiri and katsuo tamanegi shoyu (tsumami). Also included were some veg items like gingko, grilled maitake and shimeji, and interestingly they have toromatsu roll which is a temaki of toro and matsutake (although I found those two premium ingredients will taste better on their own).
Overall while the course includes a lot of premium ingredients for the price, the quantity is definitely small (17 items still isn't a lot even if the nigiri were a bit larger) so I have mixed feelings about the CP (although they gave me an extra large serving of uni gunkan for my addon haha). This place is perfect if you have a really small appetite, want to sample premium ingredients (since most of the items were good), and want somewhere easy to book (same day/D-1 is possible on Tabelog). Nearly zero English is spoken but they provide a menu of the course items that day in English.

Sushi Chef Hiroki Usui (Sushi Arai B1F counter) (Nov 23)
Taste: 8.5/10
CP: 7/10
The course consists of 5 tsumami (with quite large portion sizes) 11 nigiri, 1 ikura don, maki, tamago, and owan each. I feel that the items were quite orthodox and simplistic in flavor/seasonings (this is true for the nigiri as well). Standouts for me were the katsuo tataki (the best one I've had so far), kawahagi which had a deep flavor, kurumaebi which was served with its head paste in-between the shari. akami which was not zuke but the flavor blends seamlessly with the rice. I thought the ankimo narazuke was perfect until I had one at Namba (read on). The nigiri was medium-large on size and had quite sour shari. I might have forgotten it but I believe Usui san didn't use akazu for (most of) the nigiri. Other than the aforementioned ones, progression is quite orthodox with items such as kohada, maguro trio, uni, ikura don, and anago which was grilled on the spot and served in a scorching temperature (too hot for me personally).
Now the downsides were the chutoro which was not interesting enough for me, tai sashimi which just ok and actually didn't pair well with the salt provided as condiment, and sumi (?) ika nigiri (I wasn't a fan in the first place due to its slimy texture). They slice a slice of the ika vertically into 6 very thin slices and pound it during the duration of the course using a knife. I feel like this makes the ika extra slimy but some other guests really liked it though.
I booked via Omakase (shouldn't be hard) and the advertised price was 38.5k. This was quite a fulfilling meal and while the quality of neta were good I didn't find enough standout points for the price. The seats were full and there were a couple of Chinese tourists beside me who was chatting with one of the apprentices. Usui san himself didn't converse other with who seemed to be regulars.

Bentenyama Miyako Sushi (Dec 23)
Taste: 7/10
CP: 6/10
The legendary progenitor of Edomae sushi. I walked in not long after their opening on a weekend, and was able to get a table seat. The counter was full from reservations, although by the time I was done, most of the counter was empty already so you might be able a counter seat if you're lucky.
Due to being in a table seat the sushi was not served one by one, but rather 5+5 (I got the 9 nigiri + tamago set, which was 8.8k). This was a very orthodox Edomae sushi, and as expected the items which has had some sort of preparation were the standouts. The akami zuke was super flavorful, surume ika was brushed with nitsume which become one of my favorites, and the blend of sweet, sour, and wasabi in the kurumaebi nigiri was so good. There's nothing special with the other items though, and the anago was particularly not tender enough, and the akagai has a bit of a smell.
Despite the reputation, I don't feel the pricing nor taste was good enough. I don't think sitting in the counter and having the nigiri served one by one would have fixed my complaints here. If you want a better value, I'd recommend going to the standing sushi Magurobito Kaminarimon nearby.

Sushi Inomata (Dec 23)
Taste: 9.5/10
CP: 7/10
It's winter so it might be the best time to visit Inomata. Although there might be less items on this visit (16 nigiri + 1 temaki and tamago) compared to other seasons. The atmosphere is very homey and way more rustic than your typical Ginza sushiyas. There were 3 other foreigners and despite Inomata san not initiating any conversation (I think he's known to be quite shy), his wife spoke good English and very friendly.
This meal had a very flavorful kawahagi, kobashira that is very sweet and crunchy adorned with the flavors of sudachi, salt, and the shari, the HUGEST (and best) uni I've seen and had (it was served as nigiri, not gunkan), insanely fatty katsuo, a HUGE portion of sekogani nigiri, insanely juicy chutoro, silky smooth otoro, very complex-tasting 10-days aged buri, and arguably an akami with the most complex flavor I've had. The tuna that day was from two different fishes (172kg from Hachinohe and 153kg from Oma) and they also served another toro (they call it just toro), but best of all they mix every cut of tuna that day into one single glamorous temaki. Insane. I won't also forget to mention the signature kujira (nigiri) which was very fatty and melt in your mouth, but served a bit cold. The only real downside that day was the opening piece of ika was overpowered by the sudachi (maybe he squeezed a bit too much?). Other than that almost every item was a real standout.
Considering the ease of booking on Omakase, I would say this is very worth the trek to Saitama. The CP is not the best if you compare to the heaviest hitters like Namba but if you can't get in those Tabelog Gold sushiyas, this is your best bet.

Sushi Yuu (Feb 24)
Taste: 7/10
CP: 8.3/10
The "instagrammable" sushiya. I got the lunch course for 15.4k which consists of 8 nigiri, 1 futomaki, 1 kobako uni caviar maki, and 6 misc items (including their signature ankimo "purin maki").
The pricing is good for Ginza standards, although I find most of the items bog standard and having no standout qualities. Their scallop (either hotate or kobashira?) which was shredded and made into a nigiri was the best rendition I've had so far, with supreme sweetness and texture and starter of mineoka tofu is nice and sweet. I found their signature items more style than substance (the ingredients in the kobako uni caviar maki is better each on its own), yaki tachiuo don doesn't work well with sweet tare (I prefer it with salt), while the kasugodai and chutoro lacks flavor. The shari also lacks punch for me.
Objectively you get a good value for money here, but I just don't think the taste is good enough to warrant a revisit. Reservations are easy via Tabelog, and the female staff speaks quite good English.

Sushi Hazuki (Mar 24)
Taste: 7.9/10
CP: 10/10
A humble sushiya far out in Shimomaruko and very hard to book. Reservations are via Tablecheck but they are booked two years out (they have a whiteboard listing the next available opening above the counter). What I got was the 6.5k weekday lunch course which is held irregularly, and there was an opening when I randomly open their Tablecheck page. Be noted that you can't place your next res after your meal for this lunch course.
I have to say this is the absolute king of CP and I can't believe the array of items that were served to me considering the price (I didn't check prior reviews). It's a proper full course with maguro shimofuri (!) and akami, a substantial serving of uni gunkan, kurumaebi, anago, thick and sweet hotate, and a kawahagi nigiri with a huge chunk of its liver topped above it. What also surprised me was the inclusion of two tsumami (albeit it's non-seafood), my favorite of which being the bamboo shoots saikyo yaki.
The not-so-good parts: nodoguro that doesn't have much flavor, katsuo topped with shichimi which absolutely doesn't work, shirako don with no flavor, and the signature saba bozushi where (maybe I got unlucky and got the tail end) the portion of rice substantially overwhelms the fish, but my main issue is the lack of flavor/fattiness. The rest of the items were just okay.
All in all I got 13 nigiri, 2 tsumami, one shirako don, tamago and dessert each. Despite the lows for the price it's hard to fault and it's worth going once if you can get a res. The taisho did work in LA before but we didn't talk in English (other than a couple of jokes). The atmosphere was very lively and even though it was lunch everyone in the whole counter ended up chatting with everyone else.

Sushi Namba Hibiya (May 24)
Taste: 9.8/10
CP: 8/10 (or 6/10 via Tableall)
I got a res when I was randomly browsing through Tableall and saw plenty of availability for a certain Sunday. The Omakase page didn't show any availability so I bit the bullet even though the price is steep (65k including service, vs 45k before service on Omakase, so it would roughly be a 15k premium). Surprisingly after a day or two (up to the night before the res) the slots still haven't been taken on Tableall and availability on Omakase appeared. I would guess Tableall prepurchased certain seats and they will only be opened up on Omakase if they're not taken. Note that on Tableall can only be booked with a foreign (non-japanese) number. Unsurprisingly since the slots were for Tableall, around half of the counter were foreigners.
I don't have to say what has been said plenty before. The tako is unbelievable. The kinki ni is unbelievable. The awabi is unbelievable. The ankimo is out of this world. The kujira (tsumami) is even better than at Inomata (served slightly warm here) and the botan ebi was the plumpest I've ever seen. Most of the items here are the best I've eaten anywhere. E.g nigiri of shako (which felt grilled instead of boiled, makes it smoky and the freshest/sweetest I've had), torigai, aji, otoro (super smooth with texture that feels exactly like slightly cold butter), and hamaguri with a perfectly sweet (not nitsume) sauce. Other items are very good, but I prefer the uni and akami at Inomata. The only downside here is that the kinmedai nigiri which topping of oboro overpowered the flavor of the fish. Namba san varies the size of the nigiri depending on the neta and also the kind of rice vinegar used (I heard he didn't do this in the past). Also surprisingly he served a tsumami of anago yaki with sansho (which makes your mouth numb), after the starting nigiri of shiro ika which had the subtlest flavor. The anago was really good with very crispy skin, but I'm just confused with the flow. In total it was 14 nigiri, 8 tsumami, tamago, and kinki akadashi.
Nowadays Namba does a nigiri only course at the side room for ~30k (I heard it consists of 21-22 nigiri). It sounds like an absolute steal and I would definitely like to try that out. However if you are lucky enough to get a seat, I would recommend getting the full course at least once in your life since some of the (esp. tsumami) items were 11/10s for me. Is it worth the price? If you don't live in/near Japan and is a big fan of sushi, I'd say it's worth booking even via Tableall. Otherwise I did see (mostly D-1/same day) cancellations on Omakase every now and then so it's best to be patient.

Sushi Ryujiro (May 24)
Taste: 9.4/10
CP: 8/10
I got the lunch nigiri-only course for 18k at the main counter. Reservations are medium-hard on Omakase, although for the subcounter it's really easy and slots are plenty at any time.
The course consisted of 11 nigiri, one unakyu maki, kanpyo maki, and tamago each. The tuna here was akami and otoro and was among the best I've had, and so is the murasaki uni. Isaki was surprisingly fatty for a white fish in this season, shiro amadai was very sweet and I felt that the shari's saltiness was less. Unakyu maki was fatty and the cucumber complements it well, and the tamago is the best rendition of a classic dashimaki that I've had. Everything was top notch except the kohada which was way too briny. My girlfriend who dined with me liked the katsuo but I found the neta a bit too cold and I guess the taste wasn't up to my preference.
Somewhere mid-meal, Ryujiro san had to take care of something so he left. Up to that point we hadn't been served the tuna yet and the apprentice chef had to took over and serve us the uni gunkan and kanpyo maki (the apprentice made all the non-nigiri items) which was supposed to be the last items so it was a slight disturbance to the flow of the course. Ryujiro san then came back and picked up where he left off.
While the items are of superb quality, one thing that detracts from the CP is the low quantity of items (considering the small size of the nigiri). The full course was 32k and looking at other patrons beside me it has quite a lot of tsumami so I'd be interested to try that and probably give a similar CP score for the full course.

Nihonbashi Kakigaracho Sugita (early Jun 24)
Taste: 9.8/10
CP: 8.1/10
I got lucky with a D-1 cancellation on Omakase. Price is listed as 44k before service but my total bill with one extra tsumami (uni tsukudani) and one bottled water came to 53.8k so I'm quite curious to know the breakdown. I went on a weekday dinner (17:30 start).
The course consisted of 8 tsumami, 13 nigiri plus owan and tamago. The ingredients quality are faultless. The ankimo tsumami are on par with Namba and probably crumbles in your mouth more. The signature iwashi maki has all kinds of flavor and texture in your mouth, and the grilled tachiuo is the best rendition I've had. After everyone is done with the grilled fish, Sugita san offered 6 kinds of extra tsumami to choose from. I choose uni tsukudani and while I do not know how much each invidual item cost, I don't think it's the most worth it given the super small size and the increase in my bill.
Now on to the nigiri, the size of both shari and neta is large. The signature opener of kohada is the best one I've had. The neutral flavor of isaki nigiri makes you really taste the sourness of Sugita san's rice. The full trio of maguro is included and it's perfect, and so is the uni. Kuruma ebi is HUMONGOUS and perfectly cooked, although sweetness is completely missing from it. Shako was very sweet and the anago was unbelievably soft, it just crumbled in my mouth without biting. No extra nigiri was offered.
I can't help but to make comparison with Namba as the Tabelog Gold kings of sushi and I would say the execution is more faultless at Sugita. However I feel like there are less 11/10s in here compared to Namba, and I do have a preference for something less traditional. So while on a technical standpoint I should rate it 10/10, I can't say I absolutely prefer it over Namba. CP is a bit higher since the sushi is larger.

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Kaiseki/other japanese cuisine

Yakitori Omino (Oct 23)
Taste: 8.8/10
CP: 7.6/10
I booked via Omakase. I went in without knowing their system but basically they will keep giving you food until you say stop. To this day I still don't know if there's a limit to the items you can get, or how many different items they actually have on a particular day. I went on a weekday 4PM slot.
In total I got 14 yakitori and 2 non-yakitori (tsumami?) items, plus oyakodon. The tofu tsumami was the best tofu I've ever eaten and it goes without saying that the chicken items are some of the best in the world. Some of it were due to the quality to the chicken, and partly can be contributed to the grilling skills (I didn't think liver, heart, and tsukune could be this good). I realized that some patrons beside me were requesting to stop the yakitori and that's when I understood the system and I also stopped soon after. I then soon realized they were also going to give a full portion of oyakodon at the end (you can also choose soboro don or ramen, but I think the portion of the rice bowl were the same as if you buy one portion from a donburi place). In the end I got an uncomfortable sensation due to eating too much chicken in one sitting.
The bill for the items I got was around 15k including two drinks. This is the only omakase yakitori place I tried to date and while the food is very good, I don't think I will go to another one any time soon. Too much chicken is not for me and going to local yakitori joints will satisfy the craving just fine.


Myoujaku (Nov 23)
Taste: 9/10
CP: 6.5/10
When I entered the restaurant I was greeted by some staff who could speak good English. I entered the dining room and was mesmerized by the ethereal decor (plus it's very quiet). The guests in that slot were mostly foreigners but the atmosphere was befitting of 2* Michelin.
In total there were 16 items. They start with their signature, a single vegetable (shiitake that time) boiled in just salt and water, and it didn't disappoint. They actually had other similar items served in such way such as kue fish, and wagyu hire with winter vegetables. The wagyu owan in particular, had a surprisingly complex flavor despite being served in such way and the veggies were a nice texture (and taste) addition to the wagyu. Other standout items were the signature grilled fish (aji this time) sushi wrapped in egg white wrapping. sawara tataki which had super crispy skin, somen with eggplant sauce, and managatsuo yaki which had a deep flavor for such a simple grilled fish. They served rice in two ways: plain with three kinds of sides (shirasu, ikura, anago) and tamago toji with kamasu (barracuda) on top. Both were very satisfying. They had two desserts (lemon sherbet and mochi pancake with sansho) and a palate cleanser of seasonal fruits. Those were very good for a kaiseki/japanese restaurant.
There were some items that was not to my liking such as their signature fried sesame tofu and chestnut and edamame puree, but the vast majority of the course were excellent.
This were such a good experience, but the price (44k advertised on Omakase) was quite steep considering the ingredients served (only "luxury" ones were wagyu and crab). Go here if you want to know how good some food can get with very minimal seasoning, and to see the best quality you can possibly get for quite basic ingredients.

Tadenoha (Dec 23)
Taste: 8.5/10
CP: 7/10
I found about this place from watching the Eater Omakase series on Youtube. They basically focus on grilling (robata) wild game and has a very seasonal focus. Which was proved when I went here after seeing some Tabelog reviews on the summer course showing an emphasis of fishes like ayu and vegetables. What I got in the winter course was almost 100% red meat. Price is advertised as 27.5k on Omakase and reservations are surprisingly hard to get for a place with a not-so-high Tabelog rating. I wanted to blame Eater but on that visit there were only one other foreigner and no one of the other patrons were aware of the YT series when I mentioned it.
The standouts were venison tenderloin, bear stew with wild parsley, boar sirloin, a sashimi mix of duck innards with raw quail egg, and ichigo daifuku. The rest of the dishes were okay-to-good, though I don't particularly the bear nabe (too much fat) and the carbs were not a standout: tororo gohan (not a big fan) and cold soba (not better than what you'd get in a good soba place). They also have a couple of non-meat starters like shirako chawanmushi and karasumi with imo, but nothing outstanding.
It's worth mentioning by mid-meal the atmosphere got rowdy and everyone was sharing drinks with each other (and the chef/staff) so all in all it's a good experience. A Japanese elder seated next to me keeps recommending me to go during the matsutake season and matsutake robata does sound enticing. I would be interested to come back in another season for sure, just because the dishes will be very different.

Haramasa (Feb 24)
Taste: some dishes 10/10, others 3/10
CP: can be 10/10 or 0/10 depending on how you see it
A restaurant of paradoxes. On paper, the lunch course (10k) which I had looks like a bargain for such a highly-acclaimed kaiseki restaurant. But I'm very confused on how to rate this restaurant.
In short, they serve some very luxurious dishes (particularly those with truffle) and those are 10/10s. The truffle crab chawanmushi, karasumi uni somen, and especially the signature truffle gohan was mind blowingly good. Seriously I could keep eating the truffle gohan endlessly. They serve the rice two ways (plain, gyukatsu tamago toji with MORE truffle shavings) plus they offer the remaining rice as takeaway. However the remaining dishes were among the worst I've had anywhere. The signature hirame sashimi nori maki with ankimo paste had flavors that doesn't work well and the fish itself is not the best. The oyster dumpling owan was flavorless and doesn't have any oyster at all, and the hassun which includes a freshly grilled sawara was just bad, I barely eat anything on the plate. It's not that they are not fresh, but all the components just don't have any flavor whatsoever.
It's also confusing to rate the CP of this place but I would say for 10k + service it's worth the money JUST for the truffle dishes. While bad, at least the total number of dishes get you quite full. There was not much atmosphere inside and bookings are quite easy to get via Tabelog now. No English spoken.

Ginza Shinohara (Feb 24)
Taste: 8.9/10
CP: 8/10
If the philosophy of Myoujaku is reduction and simplicity, Ginza Shinohara would be festivity and complexity. I would say dining here is more like witnessing a theatrical performance than eating something, and it definitely shows in the exquisitely decorated hassun they serve (and Shinohara san will tell you a story behind the dishes, usually related to Japanese folklore). Not only that, some dishes have so many elements (shirauo, kurumaebi, awabi, hotate, kazunoko, and nanohana in a single cup). Some highlights were grilled echizen gani, owan of ise ebi (which had superb flavor and texture) and gelatin, akami, toro, and kyuuri maki sushi which beats sushi from top sushiyas any day, and a donabe of shirako tempura, daikon, imo, foie gras, and truffle. Oh, and the gohanmono which was plain rice served with grilled iwashi and pickles. It was perfection.
The price is listed as 35k on Omakase and for the price it's a very good value considering the abundance of premium ingredients (there was about 10 dishes total + hassun, and matcha). However while the hassun is very wildly decorated has so many elements, taste-wise most of it was ranging from quite okay to pretty bad (including a pigeon that was grilled during the course, but it was left cold especially after the lengthy story-telling from Shinohara san, and a soggy room-temp wakasagi tempura). Taking my personal preferences aside, I'd say the food at Myoujaku were more consistently good. And while Shinohara san is very friendly and conversed with everyone, I prefer the service in Myoujaku as the staff who served us had so much difficulty while trying to speak English and his service felt a bit stuttered (I think he forgot my drink order once).

Edomae Shinsaku (Feb 24)
Taste: 8.5/10 (9.2/10 for the tempura)
CP: 7/10
The course consists of around 12 tempura (excluding some items like kurumaebi and anago that were served twice, with salt and sweet sauce), clam dashi, gohanmono, and dessert. The ingredients freshness were as good as it gets, and I liked the perfect execution of kisu (light and crispy goodness), eggplant (very juicy), anago with salt (crispy and fluffy), shiitake (again, very crispy in the outside with deep flavor), aged nagaimo (left at room temperature, insanely sweet), and shirako tendon (comforting, savory, tangy, and for the last bite we are supposed to give a squeeze of citrus which adds a sourness that slices through the overall flavor.
In general, the seafood items have no fishiness at all, except for the nodoguro that has very crispy, albeit fishy, skin part. I didn't get the extra 1900 yen tendon so I got the default tuna chazuke. I like chazuke, except the fact that I didn't know that the tuna sashimi was gonna be doused in gomadare. I'm not a fan of gomadare and pouring the tea over the mix gives it an overall flavor that I disliked even more lol... If I ever eat here again I would not opt for the chazuke and the taste score might be bumped to 9/10. I have slight doubts about the CP since, as mentioned by TheTokyoGourmet on his blog, while the listed price on omakase is 24k my total bill (with one glass of sake) is closer to 35k. I do not know where it comes from so while the course did include some premium ingredients like uni and quite a bit of anago, I still feel on the fence whether it's worth coming back or not. Reservations via Omakase, a tiny bit of English spoken.

Kusunoki (Hashimoto, 2nd chef) (May 24)
Taste: 9.4/10
CP: 8.3/10
Kusunoki is famous for being the most expensive tempura (now not so after Niitome?) in Tokyo and they don't take reservations from new customers, but nowadays you can get a lunch short course with the 2nd chef for around 18k and that's what I got. Bookings are taken via Omakase every month.
This is a short course, so it consists of just one appetizer, 10 tempura (although you get two pieces of kurumaebi), and a bara tendon (and a one-biter dessert). As the price suggests, there's no overly luxurious ingredients here. Although you will be offered a choice of addons which were uni, murasaki asparagus, and karasumi on that day. It turns out the uni was in two servings: as shiso maki and nori maki. I didn't get any addons since I didn't want to splurge and just wanted to taste how superior the Kusunoki frying technique is (the chef puts the tempura on his hand as testament to the oil-lessness of the tempura). I regretted not ordering the murasaki aspara though since it seems to be quite rare.
The end result of the Kusunoki frying technique to me is tempura that feels more like steamed food inside. In my Edomae Shinsaku review above I mentioned everything there has a crispy sensation but here I can only feel a very slight crispiness and the batter feels more like a light coating. It lets me feel the natural taste of the ingredients (which I think are of better quality than at Edomae Shinsaku) and the highlights of the day were bamboo shoots, mirugai, sakuramasu, and hotaru ika. My absolute favorite item though, is the closing bara tendon. The taste of the mushrooms, sakuraebi, and tentsuyu blends perfectly.
For 18k there's not very much food here and if you add some addons I'm pretty sure the price would be higher than Edomae Shinsaku's base price, but the overall quality is higher here and I think it's a better value overall. No English spoken and taking pictures with shutter sound is not allowed (you can use Live Mode on iPhone)

Koryori Kuhara (May 24)
Taste: 9.4/10
CP: 9.1/10
I was looking for a dinner and saw a D-1 availability for this Bib Gourmand awarded place in Tabelog. The cuisine is kind of kaiseki but you can order alacarte. Bookings are easy and taken via Tabelog for 2 or more people (solo diners need to phone). It is a small (10 seater) place near Shibuya station run by a lovely husband and wife, and the wife speaks great English. There were one other foreigner group on that day, and we see quite a lot of foreigners trying to walk in just to get turned away. They close at 10PM but it seems the last entry is at 7PM. Menu can be alacarte or course and we had alacarte.
I didn't realize it before, but the menu that I selected matches exactly with the cheapest course (7k yen) with the exception of nizakana in the course (I ordered yakizakana). My selection includes sashimi platter that probably beats the sashimi almost every sushiya I tried, their signature kamo negi yaki, raw vegetables with miso paste, yakizakana of kuromutsu which was impossibly good, and chirimenjako gohan. Everything was pretty much perfect. The bill come to around the same price than if we had the course menu but I prefer yakizakana in general.
This place is perfect especially for tourists (due to location and English ability) and and I just hope it will never become hard to book lol. Definitely coming back again and again.

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Western

Etape (Oct 23)
Taste: 8.6/10
CP: 8.4/10
This is a small French counter dining resto with just 6 counter seats and a single table near Asakusa. Previously they got a bib gourmand and despite that and the small capacity, during my weeknight visit not all seats were taken. I got the cheapest (9k) dinner course, but they also have a lunch course from 3.5k on weekends.
The course consisted of 5 dishes, dessert, and coffee. It doesn't have amuse bouche or petit fours so all the dishes I got were "full sized" dishes. It started out with a cold scallop consomme followed by uni and horenso on toast with mascarpone (which I don't think the uni was the freshest/good enough quality). However the following items of ise ebi stuffed into jidori with white truffles, hirame bouillabaisse, and ezo deer steak were all superb and had a touch of creativity.The dessert, sorbet of eight aromatic herbs in laurel cream, was also superb.
I've never had the lunch, but I didn't regret going for dinner as they provided some surprisingly luxurious ingredients for the price. The only thing that prevented me from giving a higher CP score was the quality of the uni and the small quantity/number of the course. Other than the chef, there was one other female staff who's a foreigner and spoke English. She asked if I'd like the explanations in Japanese or English. Bookings are easy via Tablecheck.

Crony (Feb 24)
Taste: 8.3/10
CP: 7.5/10
When I arrived I liked the chic and casual vibe they have for a 2* French (fusion) restaurant. They only have one course, 25k dinner which you can book on Tablecheck (availability for around 2 months out currently). The building is two floors with an open kitchen and waiting room on the bottom and dining room on the top (which you have to take stairs to get to). Staff were all proficient in English.
There were 18 items in total in the menu, but they would list each item in petit fours and amuse bouche as separate items (whereas in most places they'd be lumped together as a single course). They are quite proud in their sourcing and sustainability and it shows in the freshness of the ingredients. Highlights were the signature potato souffle with truffle (which was an elevated version of a potato chip), squid and caviar tart, very crunchy bamboo shoots and caviar served in a very umami jelly, the mains of roasted isaki that is very flavorful (kinda rare thing for this fish) and gamecock with turnip (which taste reminds me of peking duck), beetroot strawberry white chocolate dessert, and the bookends of HARUMOEGI tea (welcome tea) and the finale of dessert of ice cream made from second brew of the same tea, while the third brew was used as flakes/crumbs. Another noteworthy thing is that the petit fours were all very good. They served freshly baked sourdough bread with sake less, and remaining ones will be given as a takeaway.
That said, some of the dishes fail to impress me like the tuna with kintoki carrot, and danish beef pancake/croquette which is just stale and flavorless. While this place left a good impression from the service/creativity/ingredients, there's not enough (taste-wise) to entice me to come back anytime soon.

Madame Toki (Feb 24)
Taste: 8.5/10
CP: 9.5/10
I would call this an underrated gem. A restaurant situated in an old and romantic building in Daikanyama that serves classic French food. I went for the lunch course which was 5.5k (price has increased to 6.6k, which is still a good deal) which includes a single amuse bouche, two cold dishes, two mains, dessert, coffee, and petit fours. Reservations via Tabelog and D-1 is plenty available. Highlights would be champignon veloute and kinmedai poele with crispy skin. The best part though, is dessert trolley where you could pick as many items as you want from an option of ten desserts (albeit the options are very classic like opera cake). The petit fours actually come from a trolley which consists of stuff like candies and marshmallow. Also the non-alcoholic drinks were among the best I've had anywhere.
There is not much innovation to the food, most of the items are not top-tier, and some items like the desserts might seem bog standard. However, I might have a preference to a more classical French seasonings and if all that matters to you is taste, this place is a bargain. Considering the desserts and all, you might leave the place very full for 5.5k (6.6k now). Service is quite slow though, considering the number of courses isn't that much. English is only spoken very little.

malca (Feb 24)
Taste: 7.8/10
CP: 6.9/10
I was torn on whether to get the course or alacarte here, but upon seeing the the price of the main dishes is mostly around 9k, I ultimately went with the course for 14k (4 appetizers, 2 pasta, 1 main, 1 dessert).
Cold shin tamanegi soup was super sweet, their signature bluefin tuna (from Yamayuki) bruschetta is good and nicely dressed with herbs and olive oil, iwashi fry with paprika powder, parmesan, and harissa was a nice refresher and variation in flavor, and the octopus tomato spaghetti dish had a unique flavor from the use of ginger. The pasta itself was a bit undercooked though. The main of chargrilled kobe beef had good crust and flavor but it's not tender enough and best thing might be the pan fried cabbage on the side. But my favorite dish would be the cheese risotto with fukinoto and montblanc dessert.
Other than that I don't feel there's anything notable enough, and none of the aforementioned dishes were mindblowingly good for me. This place had a noticeably large number of staff (7?) for such a small place, so I feel like that's where most of my money went and I've definitely had better Italian food in Tokyo at a cheaper price. Reservations are quite hard, they open every 1st on Tablecheck. No English spoken but maybe they can speak a word or two.

Nerisa (Feb 24)
Taste: 9.2/10 (pasta was 7/10)
CP: 9.1/10
A quite hidden Italian counter dining in Nishikoyama who previously got Bib Gourmand. It was run by a team of husband and wife (I think) so the atmosphere was quite homely. Bookings are taken via Instagram DM, same week should suffice and they frequently post cancellations on Stories. English was not spoken.
A course costs 9k, but I went with ala carte and it did not disappoint. The burrata with shiokara, white asparagus with parmesan and onsen egg, and roasted pork were all the best I've had until this day. Unfortunately I chose the lamb amatriciana pasta and the lamb had a very gamey aroma. I should've chosen their ragu parmesan pasta.
Mains costs 3-4k while antipasti and pasta costs 1-3k. The price is very good considering the items are the best I've had anywhere.

Yumanite (Mar 24)
Taste: 8.6/10
CP: 8.4/10
I went here after I saw TheTokyoGourmet's rave review about this place. The rumors are true, this place is run by a single guy who acts as chef, server, sommelier, and pastry chef. I still couldn't believe his skills. I got the 9.9k dinner course which consisted of 7 dishes, dessert, and coffee.
I agree with a lot of what TheTokyoGourmet said on his site so the very first thing you should do is get the non-alcoholic drinks. The first few dishes such as fukinoto cheese fromage de tete croquette and boudin noir kumquat will wow you in terms of presentation and creativity. It should be noted that the first few dishes are small one-biters which is a contrast to the mains which will be big in portion. A wellington of squid, takana, and bamboo shoots were superb. And so are the following roasted hirame gratin with truffle, and the chicken main dish which comes with three cuts of chicken (I particularly liked the thigh which as a flavor explosion). Portion sizes are quite big for all those. The signature dessert of strawberry millefeuille, while big and tasty, lacks refinement IMO (which is understandable considering it's prepared on the spot and there's only so much you can do by yourself).
I'm kinda echoing TheTokyoGourmet's opinions here but while the proteins used aren't necessarily the most expensive, all dishes are good although I wouldn't say it's quite mindblowing. I think this place goes toe to toe with Etape and while Etape has fancier stuff like uni and ise ebi, Yumanite's portion sizes are more satisfying overall. Booking are easy via Tablecheck and no English spoken.

Ushimaru (Chiba) (May 24)
Taste: 9.6/10
CP: 10/10
This restaurant is actually in very deep Chiba (3 km from Matsuo station) but it's reachable from Tokyo within a few hours. Even though they have Tabelog Silver I have never seen any English review of this place anywhere and it has became one of my favorite restaurants. The place is very beautiful, but if you want to go to the nearest station by train make sure to take note of the schedule since trains only come once an hour. For bookings, you can go to the website and there's a link pointing to Hitosara. Bookings are pretty easy and should be doable the day before. They are an Italian restaurant but I don't taste anything traditionally Italian in my course, so if you are looking for something more authentic, look elsewhere. There is only one course priced at 15k for both lunch and dinner, and it sounds like a deal but read on to see why it's an even bigger steal than it sounds. I went with the lunch.
When you sit down, you will see a menu of the course on that day and on my visit it shows 4 dishes, 2 main protein dishes, pasta, dessert, and coffee. However in reality they would give you one other dish in between each dish on the menu so in total there were 15 items + coffee. They would use Italian ingredients like tomato amatriciana but also add curry and sansho on the sauce (which ends up being one of my favorites). They use hyperlocal ingredients and most of the ingredients (esp. seafood) are sourced from the neighboring Kujukuri town. I liked the starter of sumi ika crostini but the course would hit me with a barrage of superb seafood items like mozuku crab in zucchini flower, tokobushi (abalone) shin tamanegi soup, ise ebi fedelini, two anago dishes (fried, and in a clear parmesan cheese soup with young corn), and grilled unagi. Desserts were also superb, especially the yogurt and ice cream. Oddly the weakest part IMO is the mains of dry aged pork and beef (listed as separate courses, but served in a single plate). Both cuts are ichibo. The aging gives them a smoky flavor but I don't think they're tender or flavorful enough. I think that would be the only weak point on the course.
Some servers speak English, some others had difficulty speaking English but tried their best to do so (the hospitality was top notch). The staff were very kind and they actually gifted me their homemade lasagna (which you can order takeout for 1600 yen). A day before the booking they sent me an SMS regarding confirmation, allergies, and whether I need arrangements for the way home. Please note that the course took 3 hours and I would recommend timing your exit with the next train departure from Matsuo station, they would ask if you need a taxi (a taxi to Chiba station would be too expensive though). Overall this might be one of the best, easiest to book, AND one of the best value in a Tabelog Silver restaurant.

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magiquonnu 1 day ago

Tempura
1045

(Bookable) Tempura in Tokyo

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JJ over 1 year ago

My two go-to tempura restaurants — Edomae Shinsaku and Sonoji — have become incredibly hard to reserve over the past few years. Edomae Shinsaku used to take reservations on Tabelog, with seats available on the same week, but since moving to Omakase, I could never find any availability.

More recently, I tried booking seats at Ten Yokota via Omakase, but again, seats were snapped up within minutes of release. I also heard that Takiya has stopped taking reservations from hotel concierges.

Anyway, rant aside, does anyone have recommendations for tempura places that are reasonably easy to book 2 months out? I looked at Asanuma, but the chef there seems to prefer a thicker coating of batter (my preference is for less focus on the batter, it should be delicate). I’m also considering Motoyoshi, but am not sure how difficult it is to book nowadays?

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guest 8 months ago

Tempura 2022

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Yee How over 1 year ago

Is there any new tempura places opening in Tokyo these last few years worth visiting?

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JJ over 1 year ago

No Pork and Beef in Ginza

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LTHeracles over 1 year ago

I'm going to Tokyo with my parents that don't eat beef and pork. Can you recommend any restaurant for them to try? I basically want to eat ramen, tempura, unagi and yakitori. If we go to a tonkatsu and yakiniku restaurant, will they be able to eat anything like fish or chicken? We are currently planning to stay in Ginza. Thanks