In approximately two weeks, Ivon and I will be Tokyo-bound. Since I’ll be in company this time rather flying solo, I’ve decided to mix things up a bit. Instead of the strictly Michelin star blowouts of past years, I’ve elected to broaden my horizons by incorporating a little high and a low-end dining into the culinary itinerary: teppanyaki, yakitori, izakayas, tempura, tonkatsu sushi, unagi, and, yes, a handful of Michelin stars. Even though we’ll be playing things more by ear on this trip, I’m a firm believer in the more structured approach to travel, thus I’ve gone ahead and established some touchstones for us to look forward to/schedule around. These touchstones will (surprise surprise) take the form of restaurants located throughout Tokyo. So, for instance, if we know we’ll be having dinner at Sawada in Ginza, we may elect to spend the day in the nearby area – breakfast at Tsukiji, lunch at Mos Burger, browsing at Misukoshi and Ito-ya, taking in a Noh performance, then after-dinner drinks at the Desert Rose.
Anyway, this is how it’s looking so far…
Day #1: Dinner at Kamon. We get in late, so what better way to introduce Ivon to the marvels of kobe beef than a teppanyaki meal at the hotel restaurant.
Day #2: Dinner at Birdland. Heard a lot of very good things about this upscale yakitori joint that serves up everything from chicken breast with basil sauce to “chicken oysters” (whatever they are).
Day #3: Lunch at Butagumi. If you’re in the mood for tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet), looking no further than this restaurant in Nishi-Azabu that offers up some 57 different varieties of pork from Spanish Iberico and Chinese Meishanton.
Day #4: Dinner at Sawada. We’ll be doing plenty of casual breakfast sushi at Tsukiji, but for blow-your-mind high-end sushi, I can’t think of better than Sawada. Last year, I went for lunch and enjoyed a three hour feast.
Day #5: Dinner at Pachon. This restaurant comes recommended to me from my buddy Stefan who I met on my last trip to Tokyo. He’s a bigger foodie than I am (I mean, the guy carries around his own salt pouch!) and spend the better part of his year in France – so he should know what he’s talking about.
Day #6: Diner at the Molecular Tapas Bar. Beef cooked in nitrous oxide. Liquid nitrogen Blue Hawaiian. Just a couple of the inspired two dozen or so dishes served up at THE place to sample the wonders of molecular gastronomy in Tokyo. Ivon had only one restaurant request, and this was it.
Day #7: Dinner at Kondo. If you’re going to do one tempura meal in Tokyo, you can’t do much better than this restaurant in Ginza.
Day #8: Dinner at Hirosaku. One of my best meals on my last trip to Tokyo was lunch at the family-owned and operated Hirosaku. According to the concierge who made the reservation, Mrs. Watanabe remembers me. I’m guessing she remembers the ever-gregarious Stefan and just happens to recall the guy he was dining with. Anyway, eager to try the charcoal-grilled Japanese black cattle this time.
Day #9: Lunch at Nodaiwa. This fifth generation restaurants is one of the few places to serve natural eel – steamed and served with wasabi and rock salt or lovingly broiled.
Day #10: Dinner at Muroi. I missed Muroi on my last trip, an oversight I intend to rectify this time. Apparently, the chef specializes in wild mushrooms (with over 70 varieties!).
Day #11: Ristorante Honda. I have to include at least one Italian restaurant and Ristorante Honda comes highly recommended. Apparently, they do a winter flan with foie gras and truffles as well as a sea urchin tagliolini.
Day #12: Tateru Yoshino Ginza. Organic vegetables from Chiba, seafood from Yamaguchi and Wakayama, and lamb from Hokkaido. Another restaurant that made my short list last time I visited.
Day #13-15: Open.
So, I figure somewhere in there, we’ll work in a bunch of izakayas, ramenyas, at least one soba kaiseki, and maybe a lunch at that place in Omotesando that serves up burgers in those whiter than white buns – not to mention all the desserts! I swear, this trip, if the sake doesn’t kill us the pistachio macarons will!
If you’ve got a dish you’d like to enter in the “I Make the Best Whatever” contest, post a description and link to a pic by tomorrow night at the latest. I’ve got more than enough to choose from and would like to announce the elite eight contenders for the recipe showdown.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to PBMom. Wishing you a speedy recovery!