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Kyo Aji's reputation precedes it - it is exceedingly popular with gourmet locals, who flock to it for its imaginative, highly original Japanese cuisine. The 'Kyo' in the title refers to Kyoto, whose cuisine the restaurant is dedicated to. Chef Nishi serves up a spectacular menu comprising of matsutake mushrooms, hamo (conger eel) and other versions of popular delicacies, all adhering to Japanese gourmet sensibilities - and then some. This Michelin starred restaurant is a must visit however you need to reserve either months in advance or accompany a regular to get an easy entry.
The chef, Keishi Yamada, is a famous Japanese chef with a highly tuned aesthetic; something which he inevitably applies to his cooking. For Yamada, food and art are inseparable. At Rei, you will find extremely fresh seasonal vegetables paired with perfectly prepared sashimi. The restaurant itself is gorgeous; the elaborately carved pine ceiling spirals above a cleanly square setting. With so much to offer, this charming restaurant will not fail to impress you.
Takahashi only recently opened but it was to great buzz, as it was helmed by Yuji Takahashi, a well-respected French-trained chef. He has chosen a rather different path at his new restaurant; it's a yakitoriya. Yakitoriyas specialize in skewering and roasting pieces of chicken, taken from anywhere on the bird. Takahashi uses a special breed of organically raised fighting cocks, whose deep, gamey flavor caught the attention of Michelin judges in 2010. As is typical of a French-disciplined chef, a quality, extensive wine list is available. The restaurant is closed the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month.
For delicious oysters, the Fish House Oyster Bar is your best bet. With oysters from Canada, America, and a plethora of local varieties, there are as many varieties as there are ways to chomp them down. Besides oysters, clam chowders, cheese platters and several other menu choices are also available. This one-room joint also offers a thoughtful variety of oyster-friendly wines and beers. Whether you believe in the power of the oyster or not, if you are a fan, aficionado, or just want to see what all the fuss is about, then the Fish House Oyster Bar is a great place to start.
Ponta Honke is one of Tokyo's highest praised tonkatsu restaurants. Tonkatsu has the honor of being loved equally by locals and foreigners and at Ponta Honke, you can dine on some of the finest pork cutlet that the city has to offer. They are simultaneously tender and crispy, thanks to the cooking method; the deep-fat frying is done at a low temperature first and then the cutlets are finished off in extremely hot oil. Portions are huge. Wash your tonkatsu down with a glass of cold beer for a satisfying evening meal.
Hachiku is famous for its Osaka-style (boxed) sushi, perfectly made at this tiny establishment. As there are only four tables, most customers choose to get take-out. Try the chakin-sushi, rice is mixed with eel, pickled gourd, lotus and minced fish then wrapped in a thin layer of omelet. For the experimental types, get a sushi variety box, which is a great way to sample many of the twenty or so flavors. Hachiku has been open for eighty years now and continues to set a very high standard for Osaka-style sushi.
Experience the culinary traditions of Japan as you dine at Sasahana. Established in 1984, this restaurant entices your palate with scrumptious Japanese delicacies and has gained several fans for the same. The delectable menu is followed by an impressive list of beverages to accompany your meal. In case you are confused about ordering the right drink with your meal, their knowledgeable and friendly staff suggest the perfect sake to go with your order. The brightly lit interiors of the restaurant have a traditional Japanese theme with its simple and elegant bamboo furnishings.
It's hard to argue with over 200 years of history; Jubako has been serving unagi for that long. Unagi (eel) used to be a delicacy for the very rich; now it's accessible to everyone - you can get delicious eel at pretty much any sushi or sashimi restaurant. Jubako has only a set menu, which serves various forms of cooked eel (broiled, baked, plain) alongside abalone and stewed carp. It's a great restaurant to check out for some authentic, historic Japanese flavor; eat on the floor traditional Japanese-style or, if this doesn't appeal, you can book a Western-style table.
While Yukimura is tucked away in Azabu-Juban and doesn't boast of an extravagant setting unlike other Michelin starred restaurants in the city, it has earned an international reputation. With limited counter seating and only nine seats on tables, it means that booking is essential - but it is well worth it, to try Jun Yukimura's Kyoto-inspired cuisine. All ingredients are shipped in especially from Kyoto. Try the matsutake mushrooms, wrapped in eel and grilled over coals; or the grilled bamboo shoots, cooked until perfectly tender. Jun Yukimura is rightly celebrated as one of Japan's most innovative and deft chefs and if you are lucky enough to get a seat, you are guaranteed a meal of unrivaled finesse.
Simplicity is key when it comes to udon noodles - the noodles themselves - thick and chewy - are the stars of the dish and Tokyo Mentsudan upholds this principle. One of the owners, Kazutoshi Tao, is the chief of an udon fan club, giving you an idea of just how seriously the restaurant takes its noodles. The restaurant is self-service - you choose your own noodles, toppings and side dish. Highly recommended is the kamatama; noodles are served in a scaldingly hot shallow dish and an egg is cracked over the top. Add some soy sauce and you have the very essence of delicious udon simplicity.
The Showa period lasted for over sixty years, ending in 1989. During this time, Western food exploded in popularity in Japan; spaghetti, omaraisu (omelet and rice) and hamburgers became very popular and many Japanese view these foods as nostalgic childhood treats. Katayama has a wide range of these dishes, guaranteeing the restaurant's continuing popularity. One of the most popular dishes is dabincho which is a 'Da Vinci' cut steak; a rump steak that has somehow had all the fibers removed, leaving behind a flavorful, tender piece of meat. In the winter, you can order a serving of juicy, deep-fried oysters. You cannot make reservations so be prepared to queue, particularly at weekends.
Korean barbecue, ubiquitous in its home country, is greatly popular in Japan. It's a fantastic way of dining communally - you cook a cut of marinated meat on a charcoal grill at your table, dip it in soy sauce and enjoy the smoky tenderness of the meat. At Sutamina-en - sutamina is Japanese for stamina - there are many cuts of meat, many of which you are unlikely to find anywhere else; cow's Adam's apple is one you're unlikely to forget. Sutamina-en draws hordes of enthusiastic Japanese diners so be prepared to wait.