Japan in the year of our lord 2022/23 (planning help)

A fun update to my schedule. Going to Tempura Araki in Niseko, which is the newly-opened sister restaurant of Araki in Sapporo, which is a 2 star, 4+ tabelog spot.

Not necessarily expecting the perfection of the Sapporo location, but it beats the pulled pork I usually have in mammoth.


btw, @JLee is posting his current japan trip on his ig (https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17977554943755497/)


The pristine Hokkaido powder is insane right now at Niseko (boots on the ground intel from a buddy there)… Jelly.

ugh i’m jelly as well. seems that December/January is the best time for pow, though i had to go in February. May the snow gods save a tad for me.

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anybody been to either lature in tokyo or monk in kyoto?

Lature in particular intrigues me. French game cuisine that the chef hunts himself (deer, maybe even bear!!!) with a very high tabelog score and a Michelin star. I’ve got a lunch resy…

Monk is kinda wtf cuisine. A 13k yen pizza tasting menu? Can’t be worth it right?

Don’t worry team these are the only non-Japanese meals I’m thinking.

There is no shame in getting French cuisine in Japan, Tokyo Has better French food than LA. It’s not even close.


@rlw review forthcoming? they have a chef’s table pizza episode.

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Ahh of course they do. That makes me less interested, I think? Explains how they have a massive Phaidon book

Agree! Definitely explore the non-Japanese options in Tokyo.


I know Jason Neroni spent some time at Savoy in Tokyo when he was doing research for his new Pizza place in the A-Frame spot

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Tentatively staying close to Seirinkan so might do that for a lunch

I went here a few days ago, it was incredible 10/10 and fun experience. Will post a better update soon, thank you so much for the rec.


Which one?

Any on the ground reports from anybody? After much debate, i’ve switched Hyotei (Hyotei - Gion, Kiyomizu-dera, Higashiyama/Kaiseki (Traditional Japanese) [Tabelog]) for Kiyama in Kyoto.(Kiyama - Imperial Palace Area/Kaiseki (Traditional Japanese) [Tabelog])
I think my fear was that Hyotei might be a little too austere for me, as a few others mentioned above.

Though I might switch Kiyama for Soujiki Nakahigashi mainly because they are more or less identical on tabelog (4.45-4.43) and I committed 8k yen (60 USD or so) to Jpnezy to try to snag me a restaurant at Soujiki Nakahigashi. Woof.


My current list of booked restaurants is as follows. It’s a two week trip–I think this is about the limit of what I want to have booked, though I may try to figure out a sushi meal in Kyoto. I’m most open to replacing Ichita and Monk, I think? Another small note is that it has been easier to reserve the true heavyweights in Kyoto than in Tokyo. Perhaps because tourism is slow there in February but Tokyo is Tokyo?

Raikuichi: Niseko (as seen in Bourdain)
Araki: Niseko (Tempura Araki | Restaurant Reservation Service in Japan - TABLEALL this is for the Sapporo spot but you get the point.)
Lature: Tokyo (LATURE – Tokyo - a MICHELIN Guide Restaurant)
Ichita: Tokyo (Ichita - Aoyama-Icchome, Gaien-Mae/Kappo (Traditional Japanese) [Tabelog])
Sushi Zai: Tokyo (Sushizai - Hiroo/Sushi [Tabelog])
Jiki Miyazawa: Kyoto (Jiki Miyazawa – Kyoto - a MICHELIN Guide Restaurant)
Monk: Kyoto (unsure on this but there’s an entire Chef’s Table if you wanna get the vibes)
Kiyama: Kyoto (Kiyama | Restaurant Reservation Service in Japan - TABLEALL)


Please report back we are considering doing a trip in April

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hello @jc_eats :face_holding_back_tears: :melting_face:

Any recent highlights? Also hope Taiwan was a dream!

More Intel Incoming —> Will need to do a separate thread for the craziness that is Taiwan’s food scene, something that I believe is criminally under-reported through any current English media.

Will post pictures next post, but will give a few thoughts on some notable spots:

  1. Caveman, Nihonbashikabutocho Tokyo
  • Awesome borderless cuisine; sister restaurant to Kabi in Nakameguro, this restaurant takes place in the K5 hotel, which is basically a brutalist bank exterior that has been repurposed to a hotel and commercial space downstairs
  • Highlight dishes:
    Chawanmushi that had a texture more closely resembling greek yogurt/cream cheese than a flan/soft tofu. Whereas other chawanmushis had some more resilience and bounciness in the mouth, this just separated in your mouth. Honestly super interesting take - I believe they grated radish into the egg mixture so I wonder if that had any influence on the texture
    Kebab-seasoned Octopus Taco -wonderfully charred and cooked, comes on a celeriac puree to emulate the creaminess that yogurt would give you in a shwarma. All served on a chewy Majordomo-esque bing “tortilla”
    Yellowtail/Buri w/ Kuromoji Dashi & Julienned Potatoes - Binchoseared buri in this smokey heavenly kuromuji woody dashi. The raw yet crunchy potatoes emulated ginger akin to what you would find in steamed Chinese fish & Ginger. Genius!
    Carrot Course - A study of carrots in 3 formats → thin ends of carrots are roasted fork tender, thick bits are sliced thinly and pickled. Everything else is blended into a juice with jasmine rice as a broth. Genius and a great way to represent carrots
    Spinach & Wagyu - Wagyu steak came with this absolutely insane spinach that tasted like candied beets; absolutely mindblowing produce. The steak was as expected - delicious sirloin perfectly cooked; just overshadowed by the insanity of this spinach

2. Ushigoro Non-S, Nishiazabu Tokyo

  • absolutely delicious; but was a little hungry after about $80 of yakiniku. As expected, exceptional quality and a treat - I think be ready to spend $120US/person to be full or bang-bang elsewhere
  • Loved the stonepot rice with wagyu and seafood
  • Loved the katsu sando
  • Loved the potato salad

3. Acid Brianza, Tokyo

  • Lunch for 8800 Yen; 6 courses
  • Focus of restaurant is that every course has something that’s fermented
  • Absolutely delicious, incredible veal sweetbreads course that comes in this brown butter, yeasty sauce topped with chrysanthemum foam. Tremendous
  • They also had a fun scallop with coconut green curry and you scoop up the sauce with a waffle
  • Best f*cking chicken breast course in a restaurant. Definitely cooked over bincho, skin was crispy like any top tier yakitori spot; breast and tender were juicy and just cooked. Paired amazingly with the quenelle of Jerusalem artichoke puree
  • Tofu ice cream with fresh mandarin oranges and brown-sugar sauce was tremendous

4. Yakitori Ichimatsu, Osaka

  • Best yakitori I’ve had bar-none. Insane hospitality, staff speaks Mandarin, English, and Japanese
  • incredibly attentive service
  • When compared to lesser yakitori spots, there is ZERO un-evenness in cooking. If a skewer comes with multiple pieces, you’re guaranteed a great bite for each segment whereas other yakitori spots will have inconsistencies [i.e., 4 chunks of liver on a stick, the first bite would be good but the other 3 are yucky]
  • Smoothest, creamiest liver I’ve had–non fatty
  • Best chicken heart I’ve had
  • Ham-like/bacon-like chicken wing crispy and feral to tear apart [as in, not the most fall off the bone tender, but still satisfyingly tender]
  • I’m missing a few things here, but if you’re in Osaka definitely gogogo

5. IKR51 Ramen, Osaka

  • Order their oyster dashi shoyu. It’s dried oysters that are then rehydrated to form the dashi. It’s mellow, it’s beautiful, and it pairs wonderfully with whatever shoyu tare they have.
  • Toppings wise, you get duck, chicken, pork, and a wonton. Wonton kinda sucks since it’s not Q and bouncy like other ramen shops [or even your favorite canto spot], but definitely still a fantastic bowl

6. Gonokami Suisan, Kanda

  • tried tomato shrimp tsukemen, saikyo miso gindara ramen, and the shrimp oil abura soba.
  • Definitely coming back for the shrimp oil Aburasoba, comes with cabbage, pork, and a ton of canto chow mein accompaniments. Actually insane how delicious this is
  • There’s some curry powder on the table to add and it pairs so wonderfully with the shrimp essence

7. Sushi Hakkoku, Ginza Tokyo

  • An otherwise delicious dining experience ruined by terrible dining guests. One guest had a very sus cough the entire 2 hour meal. Talking about gross phleghmy “am I going to get covid a 3rd time despite having 4 vaccine shots?” kind of anxiety.
  • There are 3 “rooms” with the restaurant; rooms is loosely used here since it’s truly 3 counters with minimal compartmentalization to separate the rooms out. The other room had some obnoxious Americans that kept yapping about America this, Texas that, “have you tried banh xeo???”. Obviously, all fine conversation points, but the fact that I can hear you in crystal clear detail from like 30+ feet away is distracting especially if I’m paying nearly 30k yen for this meal
  • Extraoardinary creme-brulee tamago, shirako [first time!], spanish mackerel, katsuo, and mantis prawn
  • They also served fugu, and I swear I thought I was being fugu poisoned since it was the first time I had it, and the hyper-anxiety of potentially dying kind of mirrors the symptoms of fugu poisoning :eyes:

That’s it for now, will make an edit talking about random desserts, restaurant misses, and cocktails shortly. Also providing pics


We do not deserve you. Incredible report, per usual. Lol at the fugu poison. I’m not going anywhere near it–the anxiety would be through the roof.

Crazy how fellow diners can ruin an experience. The worst thing about Quintonil for me was the group of Texans next to us. They fixated on big tech and forgotten NBA semi-stars like Michael Redd and Peja Stojakovic. Amusing enough conversation if you’re at a bar but I really didn’t need them to spend two hours remembering some guys.

Also, trying to decide if Yakitori Ichimatsu is worth a little night trip over from Kyoto. Looks and sounds insane. Think I’ll book, and then see if things work out.

Any of Caveman, Ushigoro Non-S, or Acid Brianza feel essential? I theoretically have space in my Tokyo itinerary but wanted some flexibility with some meals. (Currently have like four booked meals out of eight lunches/dinners, but at least one of those unbooked meals is gonna be stand up sushi and another is probably gonnna be Tokyo pizza.

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Toss up between acid brianza and caveman for me. But slight bias towards Caveman. Food quality is similar at both, both also relatively easy to secure reservations for. I felt that while there were more misses at Caveman, there were also higher peaks.

Tiebreaker considerations

Pro Caveman

  • countertop dining at Caveman was truly an open kitchen experience; you truly get to see everything come together. The somm also did some excellent and rose up to the occasion for some challenging pairings too. For example, I wanted a good sake pairing with the kebab-spiced octopus and she delivered!
  • if you’re planning on pre-drinking or post-drinking, Caveman is also conveniently next to a Tea Cocktail Bar called Ao https://instagram.com/ao_k5_tokyo?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= I used google translate and managed to communicate well enough that I was interested in a reservation, no problems whatsoever.
    • at bar ao, the standout cocktail is the shogunnal car. Just such an incredible blend of aged tea, denki blan (which is apparently also known as electric brandy?) and mezcal. Super fascinating and I’ve never tasted anything like it. Also worth getting is their seasonal special cocktail which is like a Gin and tonic with grated radish. Somehow incredibly refreshing with the crispness of daikon yet not stinky at all.
  • the two other cocktails I had, a riff on a pisco sour and negroni were just OK.
  • there’s also a taproom and sake bar that was unfortunately closed the night I went so no comment on it. Looks pretty though https://instagram.com/heiwadoburoku_kabutocho?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

Pro Acid Brianza

  • it’s next to a Savoy pizza like literally a 2 minute walk LOL. One word of caution is that I had a 12pm reservation for Acid Brianza and tried to do a bang bang with Savoy but Savoy closes at 2:30 with presumably last call at 2pm. So by the time I got to Savoy, it was already closed for lunch service and finishing up any orders for the people who made it on time. Possibly worth doing Savoy first THEN Acid Brianza if you go this route
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