Tokyo Nov 2018

Summary

Highlights

  • “Noharayaki” at Yakiniku Jumbo Hanare

  • Service at L’Effervescence is outstanding

  • Mindblowing mango tart from été was worth every effort and every penny

  • Entire meal at Den exceeded my (very high) expectations.

  • Open air rooftop onsen at Hoshinoya Tokyo

  • Serene gardens at the Nezu museum

Lowlights

  • Kakigori at Kuriyakashi Kurogi did not live up to its hype

  • Service at Eneko during our lunch was abysmal.

  • Too. Much. Fish. at Abysse

  • Braving the crowds of Harajuku on a holiday

Meals

Unagi Uomasa (うなぎ 魚政)
Tabelog
Uomasa is an unagi restaurant in a farther suburb of Tokyo. My friend and I each ordered a 6,000? 8,000-yen lunch set. It was delicious, but probably not worth another trip out. Would be a good option for those looking to try high-end unagi. Reservations can be made by hotel concierge.

Yakiniku Jumbo Hanare (焼肉 ジャンボ はなれ)
Tabelog
High-end yakiniku restaurant that serves a la carte or omakase. Delicious delicious beef. Yakiniku might be my new favourite thing to eat in Tokyo. The “noharayaki”, their take on sukiyaki, is a must-order. Already booked to go again for my Mar 2019 trip.

Hakkoku (はっこく)
Tabelog
I originally had a seat at Sato-san’s counter, but because PDF decided to crash my solo Tokyo vacation, I gave up that seat for 2 at Saito-san’s counter. The food was delicious, a few especially amazing and interesting pieces. However, 30+ pieces of nigiri is just a lot of food. Saito-san spoke good English and was very entertaining. I’m a bit torn between the great experience and how pricey it is.

L’Effervescence
Tabelog
Food is delicious (monkfish liver and black truffle hand pie <3), service is mindblowing. Someone held the tablecloth for me everytime I got out of my seat. And as I was headed to the restroom, someone covered with their hands every sharp counter / table corner that I could possibly have hurt myself on. Very nice touch. Despite the low cavernous ceilings (not my usual preference), I felt like this was one of the most beautifully decorated settings I’ve ever been in. Super serene and wonderful. Lunch is a fabulous bang for buck…great place to peacefully daydrink some amazing French and Japanese wines and sake.

Eneko
Tabelog
The food here is very very delicious, as to be expected from Eneko Atxa behind the 3* Basque restaurant Azurmendi. The truffle egg spherification, excellent. Amazing mushroom dish, also excellent. Txakoli wine, always excellent. Jamon iberico, excellent. But we went during lunch and our server was so so so green. Service was abysmal. Still the food was so delicious, I want to give this restaurant another try (maybe at dinner)…or visit Azurmendi, I guess.

été Mango Tart
Tabelog
Wanted to snag a tart on Omakase, but was missed the time as I was helping a friend’s (now) husband decorate for his proposal to her. Waitlisted on Tableall (which is something like 8,000-yen more expensive or something) and got one! The mangoes are some of the best fruit (and food, in general) that I’ve ever had and to quote PDF, “this tart crust is a gift to humanity”. I hate 7/9 of the tart myself. Was it worth $180? Debatable. But my friend did snag one for our March trip and I’m not gonna say no.

Den (傳)
Tabelog
This meal exceeded every expectation I had. This is how inventive dining experiences should be. Grounded in delicious food, but full of quirks and surprises. The staff was amazing and entertaining. Verdict: will try to visit every and any time I visit Tokyo.

Sushi Namba Asagaya (鮨 なんば 阿佐ヶ谷)
Tabelog
The atmosphere here was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a sushi (or any) restaurant quite like this one in Japan. The staff was very casual and fun, but made sure all guests were given the best service and utmost respect. The speed was a bit slow as chef Takaoka-san formed each piece of nigiri himself for all 12(?) guests. (He was also so handsome with a very infectious smile. Everytime he smiled I couldn’t help but smile back. Ha!)
I sat right in front of the sous chef in charge of slicing all the neta. He spoke a bit of English and tried hard to converse and entertain me. I sat next to a nice Japanese man who was clearly a regular. He's a retired professor who frequently visited California and was able to translate for and converse with me a bit. This shop is known for their sakes. Professor noticed I wasn’t drinking and offered to buy me a glass if I was willing. Of course I was...and the sake was great. Food-wise, almost everything was delicious, but nothing mindblowing.
It was a trek to get to and from. My 9:00PM reservation meant I left the restaurant at 11:30PM and got back to my hotel ~1:00AM (didn’t catch an express train at that hour). I would visit again if next time accompanied by someone who spoke Japanese, as I feel that would really complete the experience (or learn Japanese myself…)

Abysse
Tabelog
A seafood focused Japanese-French restaurant. I love seafood, and I just didn’t like this place enough to want to go back. I think this is probably because it was just too white-fish-heavy. The sea is such a rich, varied, interesting place! Why not add more of the other stuff? Service was also a bit awkward.

Joumon
Tabelog
Stopped here for a late dinner the first night after my flight got in. Joumon is an izakaya in Roppongi with seats around the grill / counter and also “in the window”. Casual fun place, but would not go out of my way to come back here. I don’t think the yakitori is even as good as Ippuku in Berkeley.

Lodging

Hoshinoya Tokyo
Second stay at Hoshinoya Tokyo, 6 nights this time (you can get fantastic rates when you stack the discounts of a 5+ night stay booked more than 120 days in advance). The concierge is decent. The onsen is such a luxury in the winter (I wish it was colder than the 50-60F when I visited). I generally love how quiet this place is. The only time when I saw other guests was at the entrance foyer putting on or taking off shoes. Unlimited tea, coffee, soft drinks, and snacks in the lounge. If I think about it, the service here is actually pretty bare bones. If you want to be waited upon and pampered, go elsewhere. Even though I spent most of my time on the other side of town, transportation is easy. There’s a very convenient underground entrance into Otemachi subway station.