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!

40 thoughts on “November 22, 2010: Rate my Tokyo restaurant list!

  1. Hey Joe, I know this will probably interest you, The Amazing Race 18 is currently filming and it looks like it’s another all star race with former racers returning confirmed to be.

    Flight Time/Big Easy

    Also cool travel plan, only thing I would say about plans is, not every plan really works out in the end, delays and things like that could crop up.

  2. Joe, looking forward to your trip. It’s fun for us too and it should be interesting with Ivon!

    @ PBMom – good luck! Maybe PBDad could update us on Tuesday. 🙂

  3. Joe: I don’t know anything about these restaurants, but they all sound good. Food photos please upon your return so I can virtually feast vicariously. Have a great trip!

  4. Wiki can show you which part are the oysters, if you want to be an informed muncher.

    Best wishes to PBMom.

  5. Hey Joe,

    I’ve really been enjoying this season of SGU. I haven’t read all of the comments in order to avoid being spoiled before I saw Malice, so pardon me if someone has already commented on this. I was wondering a couple of things…

    1. When Rush was shooting at Simeon near the end of the episode, he kept missing. Now, is he just a terrible shot, or was he purposely missing in order to draw Simeon into the open so that he would meet the much more horrible fate of being trampled to death? Diabolical, but I wouldn’t put it past a grieving Rush…

    2. When they discovered that Ginn was dead, James immediately went to the Communications Room and used the stones to go to Earth to find out what had happened on their end. Now presumably if killing Ginn also killed Amanda Perry on Earth, then Homeworld Command would have known before Destiny’s crew that something had happened. Why didn’t they send someone to Destiny? Can communication via the stones only be initiated from Destiny? Too bad because otherwise they could have had more of a heads up regarding Simeon and might have stopped him before he got so far.

    Another great episode.

  6. Mr Mallozzi.

    This new incarnation of restaurants is a deliberate kick in the fork to the loyal followers of the Tokyo-trip franchise. As an avid watcher of last year’s Tokyo trip I am 100% entitled to take deep personal offence at the decision to move to a more realistic and gritty style of eatery.

    Your assurances that there will still be the familiar Michelin-star appearances are obviously false, and in any case I won’t be following any of the blog entries except to bestow harsh and unconstructive criticism.

    I will take any slide in the ratings as personal vindication of my views, and have created a website dedicated to the cancellation of the trip. After all, if this trip is cancelled it will automatically bring back last year’s trip, right?



  7. Aw, Joe, I may cry. Thanks for the blog dedication.

    @ponytail and @riley: Thanks for your good wishes. As long as there are no complications (saying that with toes and fingers crossed), I should be home hopefully in time for SGU to air. I may be snuggled in my bed, trying to keep my golden retriever from jumping all over me, as I struggle to find a comfortable position and turning on SGU to hold me over until the pain meds kick in.

    I was going to have Jeff (aka PBDad) post a status report on my Twitter and Facebook accounts if something happens and I wind up being admitted, but he is not going to check for comments or replies (you can leave them and I’ll find them later). If you haven’t connected with me on Facebook yet, then you can find me at I’ll post a quick note when I get home.

    Found out new information on Friday that had me a bit anxious–I had an allergic reaction to one of the anesthesia medications they didn’t tell me about (I had to find out by getting my records–seriously hospitals really scare me now). Apparently my blood pressure was in the 200/110 range (and I have a very normal BP) and they added this drug name to my allergy list but never told me, which won’t help the hospitals I may have to visit like tomorrow. My neurologist on Friday told me that I was lucky because it could have ruptured my brain aneurysm or it may have caused new ones. So here I’m thinking my biggest fear was the pain of passing these kidney stones once they are smashed; my biggest worry is really this aneurysm. So I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much tonight. LOL. But I have this wonderful blog to read (and the comments that follow) and Facebook and Twitter to keep my mind occupied. I’d sing, but I’ll wake everyone up.

    You all are awesome. Thank you for support. Big major hugs.

  8. @cat4444, Thanks for the link to the SGU special on InnerSpace! (The link was posted earlier I think, but it wasn’t working when I saw it.) It was such a treat to watch the hour-long special with the cast & Brad Wright and Rob Cooper. Especially loved the segment with Robert Carlyle and Louis Ferreira. “Papa Louie” even got Mr. Carlyle to goof off with him on camera. What a riot. It was so fun to see the actors appearing as themselves. Jamil just makes me laugh. I can see his spontaneous self also in Sgt. Greer. And I love Greer! The part where he played “Dr. Love” in schooling Eli cracked me up. He so reminds me of guys I went to H.S. with.

    @PBMom, by the time you read this you’ll be recovering from surgery, but know that prayers for a good procedure and speedy healing are coming your way. Here’s to having a good story to tell. Not everyone has an in-patient surgery (for reals?) parked outside, with a Doc in the Box. 🙂

  9. @PBMom: We’ll be thinking of you! Get well quickly, you’re too busy for this stuff!

  10. Damn. Mr. M. beat me in acknowledging GuyNoir’s post. Was laughing so hard my dog thought something was wrong!
    As far as rating the list, how the heck are we supposed to do that? Even you can’t rate it until you’ve tried the places out. But I approve of the looser structure. I feel somehow guilty when you try to work through so many meals, and to give us reports on each. The trip is for your pleasure after all, and however much we enjoy your reports, we don’t want you to sacrifice your own fun for our sakes. Well, ok, we do, but we try not to. Of course, if you get pleasure from your reports, by all means keep it up. But i wonder if we’ll get status checks on Ivon’s side of the trip, i.e. the barhopping aspect.
    Anyways, thanks for the daily fix.

  11. @ GuyNoir – that is hilarious!! (at first I was like, “what?”, then I got it!!)

  12. GuyNoir said:

    Mr Mallozzi.

    This new incarnation of restaurants is a deliberate kick in the fork to the loyal followers of the Tokyo-trip franchise. As an avid watcher of last year’s Tokyo trip I am 100% entitled to take deep personal offence at the decision to move to a more realistic and gritty style of eatery.

    Your assurances that there will still be the familiar Michelin-star appearances are obviously false, and in any case I won’t be following any of the blog entries except to bestow harsh and unconstructive criticism.

    I will take any slide in the ratings as personal vindication of my views, and have created a website dedicated to the cancellation of the trip. After all, if this trip is cancelled it will automatically bring back last year’s trip, right?



    Is this Carl? LOL…. I’m gonna start a Twitter campaign to shut down your website. After all who cares about the Michelin crap, I’m only stopping by those 15 days for the copious photos and videos of Ivon in Tokyo.

    Cheers, Chev

  13. Joe,

    What the hell is molecular gastronomy…is that just a fancy name for cooking?…’cos really all cooking is chemistry.

    Cheers, Chev

  14. I need to get you the pic of Sausage Surprise by tomorrow night? Yikes!! Can it please be my tomorrow night and not your tomorrow night ‘cos I need to cook it and take a photo and I’m working tomorrow…we’ve got an 18 hour time difference.

    Cheers, Chev

  15. Thanks for the photos and tales of the wrap party and dinner. Ashleigh was doing a poor impression of Where’s Wally…I found her in every photo straight away.

    Thanks for pics of my fave guys but seriously you need to buy a better camera when you’re in Tokyo 😉

    So it got me thinking…what’s the most expensive digital camera in the world…got a spare $40,000 for the 39 megapixel Hasselblad H3DII dSLR? Awesome!

    Cheers, Chev

  16. Wait just a cotton-picking minute! You said we had until December to post our entries and I won’t have a picture of the Nutella croissants until Thursday morning when I do my baking. I’ll sent a picture then, but I would like to officially enter my famous Nutella Croissants in the contest. Croissants filled with Nutella and topped with chopped toasted hazelnuts.

    @PBMom: Best wishes for an uneventful procedure and speedy recovery! And you are absolutely right. Now that insurance companies have decreed fragmented medical care by forcing people to go all over the place to have procedures done, you really need to keep track of your own medical records.

    @GuyNoir: Excellent. You had me going there, right up to the last sentence.

  17. I’m a bit behind…distracted lately… 😉

    @ PBMom – All the best and wishing you a quick recovery, with no complications! No popping blood vessels! Are you able to have surgery on the aneurysm? I have an elderly friend who recently had several brain aneurysms operated on, and she’s doing just fine, despite her other health issues.

    @ Joey – If Stefan approves, so do I! 😀 (I miss that guy…you need to invite him to Vancouver!)

    @ GuyNoir – BRILLIANT! 😆


  18. I am looking forward to your trip pictures. The food sounds divine!

    Good luck to PBMom and I hope she feels up to SGU tonight!

    GuyNoir: That was brillant! Where have you been hiding?

    Sparrow_hawk: I can’t wait for that recipe!

    Hey, Mr. M., have you bought any books for your Kindle yet?

  19. @ PBMom

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    @ Joe

    I gained 5 pounds just reading about your Tokyo lunch plans. There goes my jeans button!

  20. “Apparently, the chef [at Muroi] specializes in wild mushrooms (with over 70 varieties!).”

    I have never wanted to visit Tokyo as much as I do right now. Do they deliver? Overseas? ::whimper::

  21. Well, since I have decided to boycott your restaurant tour this year out of dedication to last year’s trip, I don’t have the right to rate your itinerary.

    But I still want to complain about last year – the way you paired the different dishes together when you ate is still disturbing to me. The more mature dishes were paired with lighter fare and the old reliables were just pushed to the side and sent back uneaten. For shame!

  22. So where can we find a picture of this TSA Stargate? Does that mean if you refuse the pat down you’ll have to step through the Stargate instead? Probably to a Wraith planet?

    All those meals sounds fabulous, I’m hungry for a good steak now.

    Do you have your books all downloaded for the trip on new Kindle?

  23. Oh, Joe, I can’t rate any of your restaurants – never been to any of them. But I think I voted for you to go to the mushroom place last year – I’ll look forward to hearing how it is. One of my most memorable meals in Japan was at a little udon shop in the mountains during the fall – I had wild mushrooms and my son had duck. Heaven!

    @Tammy Dixon: Even if Joe doesn’t take my croissants for the semifinals, I’d be happy to share the recipe for the Nutella ones. My children have made me promise not to post the recipe for the pecan ones: it’s a family secret.

  24. Joey, just a quick question for you or Akemi…

    In Japan, how popular is whole grain rice (brown, black, red, or otherwise)? Thankies in advance!


  25. @GuyNoir:

    Loved it! 🙂

    @Tammy Dixon:

    Final cheesecake pic…pour the strawberry syrup just before serving!


    You can enter this one if you like, but I think the Black Raspberry/Chocolate Cheesecake is the better of the two (YMMV).

    I’m looking forward to to pictures of your Tokyo trip (especially the Unagi). Maybe you can take the TSA Stargate to Tokyo (that’s now the alpha site right? 😉 )


    Sending you prayers and best wishes today on the surgery!

  26. It’s actually me. My aneurysm did not blow up. Whew. Now whether this cleared my kidney stone up I won’t know for 2 weeks. Of course everywhere I go I talk to everyone about SGU, and turns out the anesthesiologist is a fan of the show, so chatting about that before he thoroughly knocked me out was fun. Once we get through the left side, then we have to turn the attention to the right side and hopefully that will be it forever. Thanks for all your good wishes and thoughtful notes.

  27. JOE! I know what chicken Oysters are!

    When you butcher a chicken, there is a piece of meat that is close to the spine just behind each hip joint. It is one of the best parts of the chicken.

  28. I like the idea of Ivon going to Japan with you. I read it in one of his tweets today…not the you part…but him going to Japan. Glad to see you will have a “romp-a-round” buddy.

    Sounds like a fun plan…can’t wait to hear about everything.

  29. Hey Joe,

    I am hearing from some of my sources that SGU will be renewed for a 3rd season. Same sources that told me Caprica was done, so I do trust them, but they said take it as any rumor or buzz or good/bad sign. Brad said he might possibly leave, but didn’t he leave or take a break back when SG-1 ended and you and Paul were running SGA? Also, would you take the showrunner position for SGU if Brad were to leave if the opportunity was given to you? I think you guys did great with SGA, would hate to see Brad leave totally but I think you and Paul would still make an amazing show. Your eps have been some of my favorites of this series.



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