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1. Japanese/ Nukumi (温味) [Hokkaido]
Nukumi located in Susukino, downtown in Sapporo, offers fancy Japanese cuisine in kaiseki style, traditional multi-course meal. Ingredients including fresh fish and vegetables are gathered not only from Hokkaido but throughout Japan. This is a good place to experience fine dining and drinks in a discreet atmosphere for reasonable price. The Japanese sake selected by the chef’s wife is also interesting. English speaking stuff will explain the dishes. This place accept children as well.
Address: G DINING SAPPORO 3F, Minami 3-jo Nishi 3-3, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido (Google Map)
2. French/ Moliere(モリエール) [Hokkaido]
Moriere with 30 seats is a perfect place to enjoy fine dining intimately. It’s located on the edge of Maruyama Park in Sapporo and you can enjoy its beautiful garden through the wide window. They generously use seasonal vegetables fresh mostly from Hokkaido and prepare them to satisfy your palate with the flavor of each ingredients. Several set menu and good wine list are offered day and night. Friendly stuff will explain you the dishes in English.
Address: 1F Lafayette Miyagaoka, 2-1-1 Miyagaoka, Chuou-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido (Google Map)
3. Sushi/ Yoshitake (よしたけ) [Tokyo]
Masahiro Yoshitake, the owner chef of 7-counter-seat restaurant in Ginza, serves creative and transcendent dishes. An omakase, their set menu for about 25,000yen, consists of several appetizers and sushi. The steamed abalone with liver sauce is their specialty. Yoshitake will explain you about sushi and dishes in English. Head to his place if you want to enjoy excellent sushi and a chat with a sushi master.
Address: 3F, Suzuryu Bldg, 8-7-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
4. Sushi/ Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten (すきやばし 次郎 本店) [Tokyo]City Foodsters/Flickr
Jiro Ono, the owner chef of this restaurant in Ginza, has been pursuing the perfect sushi for years, and many admit that his sushi restaurant deliver the unforgettable experience. Small place with 10 counter-seats is where you can taste very traditional sushi crafted by the hand of a top artisan. No frills. You need to be punctuate and precise to honor Jiro and his apprentices. They do everything to serve you their ultimate sushi at the very best texture.
Address: B1F, Tsukamoto Sozan Bldg, 4-2-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
5. French/ Quintessence (カンテサンス) [Tokyo]
City Foodsters/FlickrCity Foodsters/Flickr
The owner chef of Quintessence had trained at some restaurants in France including one in Paris with high reputation for the quality. There are singe chef’s selection courses for lunch and dinner and reservation is required. All ingredients are prepared or purchased for the day, and grilled meat or fish, the chef’s specialty, cooked at low-temperature requires some time and lots of care to be served to the guests at their peak. The selection of approximately 600 wines mostly from France are also interesting. It’s stylish but comfortable place to amuse your palate and eyes.
Address: 1F Garden City Shinagawa Gotenyama, 6-7-29 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
6. Japanese/ Makimura (まき村) [Tokyo]
Makimura, the owner chef, is diligent to serve the best ingredients in the best condition. He goes to the Tsukiji market every morning to buy the best seasonal ingredients and the dishes are prepared with carefully selected and prepared fresh fish and vegetables. Recipe and ingredients are just simple but you can enjoy the best flavor. Though Makimura serves very Japanese cuisine in kaiseki-style, you can satisfy your stomach with the main dish with meat. The specialty is “tai-chazuke,” sea bream and rice served with kelp broth and sesame sauce. The selection of Japanese sake and the gentle service of the staff also make your dinner more pleasant. Open for dinner time only.
Address: 3-11-5 Minami-oi, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
7. Japanese/ Ryugin (龍吟) [Tokyo]City Foodsters/Flickr
Not only 3-star rated by Michelin, Ryugin is also listed as No.29 by The World’s 50 best Restaurants. The dishes express Japan’s rich natural environment. Chef’s choice course changes daily according to the ingredients available at the day. It boasts splendid wine, champagne, and Japanese sake lists as well as uniquely arranged dishes. Open unitl 25 o’clock. This place is for those who love stylish and modern interpretation based on tradition.
Address: 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
8. Japanese/ Ishikawa (神楽坂 石かわ) [Tokyo]City Foodsters/FlickrCity Foodsters/Flickr
Ishikawa is renowned as the great place to enjoy the spirit of Japanese kaiseki to your heart content as it opens until 24 o’clock. Though it’s located in Kagurazaka where quite a lot of high-quality restaurants dotted around, the attentive service of the owner chef attracts many guests. The best seasonal ingredients are interpreted into veritable treat with chef’s amazing idea and skills. You can also enjoy sake and wines to stimulate your appetite. While this place has table-seats in private rooms, counter-seats are recommended where the chef prepares dishes in front of you.
Address: 5-37 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
9. Japanese/ Kohaku (虎白) [Tokyo]
Kohaku, newly awarded 3-star Japanese restaurant is produced by the head chef of Ishikawa introduced above and run by his apprentice. While Ishikawa offers dishes in unique combination of Japanese ingredients, Kohaku serves more creative dishes which are well-balanced combination of traditional broth and imported ingredients. It is wonderful place to enjoy sake and wines as well as Ishikawa. If you enjoy your dinner time at this friendly restaurant, the chef’s hard work is rewarded. Both Ishikawa and Kohaku offers delicious dishes for affordable price for a Michelin starred restaurant.
Address: 3-4 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
10. French/ Joel Robuchon Restaurant (ジョエル・ロブション) [Tokyo]hazuijunpei/Flickr
Joel Robuchon, the worldwide-famous French chef, produces 6 restaurants in Tokyo. Joel Robuchon restaurant in Ebisu is one of his best creations. On the second floor of an 18C French-style chateau, you find breathtaking dining room decorated in black on the floor and champagne gold on the wall shining under the glittering Baccarat chandelier. Their specialty is the best ingredients in best condition interpreted by skilled chef and gorgeous wine list. Reservation required.
Address: Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-1 Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
11. Fugu/ Usukifugu Yamadaya (臼杵ふぐ山田屋) [Tokyo]
The head of Yamadaya is a restaurant specialized in fugu, puffy fish, in Usuki, Oita prefecture with a history over 100 years. Nishi-Azabu store offers fugu transported from Usuki by air on a same day. There are 3 fugu courses basically and time limited course menu with seasonal fish can be tasted at their peak season. The fugu slices served here is rather thick and chewy. The alcohol list selected to match the fugu dishes is excellent including fascinating wine and champagne list.
Address: B1F Fleg Nishi Azabu Vierge, 4-11-14 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
12. Japanese/ Kanda (かんだ) [Tokyo]
At Kanda in Azabu-Juban, it’s not the chef but the guests who play the leading role. The ingredients change daily according to the stock, and Hiroyuki Kanda, the owner chef, arranges the dishes to the guests’ preference in taste and even in portion. He had been the head-chef at a Japanese Restaurant in Paris and speaks French and English. This place has magnificent lists of wine and Japanese sake as well. If you love fine dining and drink, his place is a must-go. Dinner is only served but it opens until 24 o’clock.
Address: 3-6-34 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
13. Sushi/ Saito (さいとう) [Tokyo]
Takashi Saito, the owner chef of this tiny restaurant with 8 counter seats, can speak English and is very friendly. Before current location in downtown of Roppongi, his restaurant was located inside a car park until 2014. His sushi is renowned for perfect balance. Each items are carefully crafted and the set menu itself has a perfect proportion. If you want to taste the best sushi in relaxing atmosphere, this is the place.
Address: 1F Ark Hills South Tower, 1-4-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
14. Japanese/ Yukimura (幸村) [Tokyo]
Yukimura in Azabu-juban is run by the owner chef who had worked for 25 years in Kyoto. Though his specialty is shabu-shabu with hanasansho, a kind of Japanese pepper, in spring, other creative dishes are also worth visiting. Yukimura is particular about the taste while most of top-end Japanese restaurants put importance on the presentation as well as the quality of meals. Unique mixture of contemporary and traditional techniques will satisfy your palate.
Address: 3F Yuken Azabu.10 Bldg, 1-5-5 Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
15. Japanese/ Yamamura (和 やまむら) [Nara]spektrograf/Flickrspektrograf/Flickr
Yamamura, located in a quiet residential area close to Nara station, is a small restaurant with a casual ambience which you don’t expect for Michelin-3-starred place. Once the owner-chef starts to serve the dishes, you would be amazed by its beauty. He is particular about interpretation of Japanese cuisine. Plates, bowls, decorations, and foods fully express his aesthetic. If you love Japanese cuisine for its beautiful presentation, this place is a must-go. It’s better to make reservation.
HP: www15-yamamura.sakura.ne.jp/newpage2.html (Japanese Only)
Address: 2-11-15 Shibatsujicho, Nara-shi, Nara (Google Map)
16. Japanese/ Kitcho Arashiyama Honten (吉兆 嵐山本店) [Kyoto]City Foodsters/Flickr
The first step was a small restaurant in Osaka opened in 1930. Arashiyama Kitcho, close to the Togetsu Bridge, is exclusive in all aspects. Tea-ceremony-house style restaurant is designed to accommodate each guests at rooms with garden view. Interior, tableware, foods and service, all you experience here is top-notch. Some plates are museum pieces, vegetables are produced by contracted farmers, wine and champagne lists are fascinating, the head-chef has excellent aesthetics and conducts wonderful skills to create new harmony of traditional and contemporary culture. You might find set course from 43,200yen is not expensive for dining experience they offer. The simplicity and elegance is breathtaking.
Address: 58 Susukinobabacho, Sagatenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
17. Japanese/ Kikunoi Honten (菊乃井 本店) [Kyoto]City Foodsters/FlickrCity Foodsters/Flickr
Kikunoi is located close to Maruyama Park and Yasaka Shrine. The owner chef consider ryotei, a type of Japanese restaurants, is an amusement park for matured. Seasonal ingredients are transformed into treat for eyes and palates. The atmosphere and the interior is designed to entertain guests with five senses. If you are to dine at Kikunoi, don’t hesitate to inform them with your preference for tastes and situation including anniversary. Kikunoi boasts pleasant garden as well. They offer several set course menu for lunch and dinner.
HP: kikunoi.jp/chinese/index.html (中文)
Address: 459 Shimokawaracho, Shimokawara-dori Yasakatoriimae Sagaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
18. Japanese/ Hyo-tei (瓢亭) [Kyoto]
Its history dates back almost 400 years when it started as a tea house on the approach to Nanzenji temple. The refreshing atmosphere created by beautiful garden makes you feel like joining the tea ceremony. The specialty is hyotei-tamago, a soft boiled egg, which white is firm while the yellow is melting-soft. However high reputation their lunch and dinner kaiseki courses get, asagayu, breakfast with rice gruel, is recommended as an excellent starter of the day. Reservation required.
Address: 35 Kusakawacho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
19. Japanese/ Chihana (千花) [Kyoto]City Foodsters/Flickr
Established in Gion district in 1946, the current chef is the second generation of Chihana. He serves mainly 5 set-course menu starting from 13,000yen and is happy to get an advance requests from the guests regarding budget or preferences. He also serves dishes at the right time, of the right portion to each guests as much as possible. His ideas and techniques to make beautiful harmony of unexpected combination is wonderful.
Address: 584 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
20. Japanese/ Mizai (未在) [Kyoto]
Mizai, located within Maruyama Park, serves an orthodox chakaiseki, a multi-course-menu served as a kind of tea ceremony. Though it’s so popular that you should wait over half a year to dine at, it is worth waiting to experience prominent chakaiseki. As the course starts at the same time for all guests- based on the tea ceremony etiquette, you should be punctuate. The dinner starts with rice, soup, and appetizer and finishes with green tea using water from neighboring Yasaka Shrine accompanied with sweet. If you are after the essence of cha-no-yu spirit, this is the right place to experience it.
HP: mizai.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 613 Maruyamacho, Yasakatoriimae Higashi iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
21. Japanese/ Kichisen (吉泉) [Kyoto]City Foodsters/Flickr
Kichisen, close to Shimogamo Shrine, offers orthodox kyo-kaiseki. The head chef exercise Japanese culture widely and deeply. His knife work is skillful and the dishes are the fruit of his aesthetic and knowledge based on his real cultural experience. But he doesn’t insist on tradition. He is eager to combine traditional recipe and technique with modern ones to treat his guests. There are several courses for lunch and dinner. The dinner courses are composed to go well with sake: another orthodox manner in kaiseki-style.
Address: 5 Morimotocho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
22. Japanese/ Nakamura (なかむら) [Kyoto]
Nakamura, 5-minute-walk from the subway Karasuma station, is built in traditional Kyoto-town-house style with small gardens. The history dates back to the Edo period and they used to cater the top-notch ryokans in the neighborhood. Their specialty is shiromiso zoni, soup of white miso, and well-prepared grilled horse-head fish, ‘guji’. Two set-course menu are served day and night and a lunch menu at 15,000yen is also available.
HP: www.kyoryori-nakamura.com/english/index.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Tominokoji Oike Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)
23. Japanese/ Taian (太庵) [Osaka]
Taian is located within 3-minute-walk from the subway Nagahoribashi station. Takahata, the owner chef, has trained for 15 years at one of Osaka’s best Japanese restaurant. In addition to traditional and basic techniques, he devotes himself to create new dishes unique and impressive. The interior of the dining room with 12 counter seats and a table is very simple. The signature of Taian is charcoal grilled items.
Address: 1-21-2 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku, Osaka (Google Map)
24. Innovative / Fujiya 1935 [Osaka]
The owner chef, Tetsuya Fujiwara, is born to the family with ample cooks for generations. After his study in confectionery in France, he was attracted by modern Spanish cuisine and had trained in the restaurant in Spain. Though his style is described as ‘innovative’ by Michelin, what it stands out is not strong display of the originality but his deep understanding of the changing flavors of seasonal ingredients. Simple but flavorful. Small portion of various dishes greet you one after another in perfect proportion in relaxing atmosphere. It’s a great value for money.
Address: 2-4-14 Yariyamachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka (Google Map)
25. Japanese/ Kashiwaya (柏屋) [Osaka]
Kashiwaya is located in a quiet residential area on the north of Osaka. They serve Japanese cuisine in traditional manner with modern techniques in tea-ceremony-house style dining rooms. The owner chef, the son of Japanese restaurant, was devoted to the aesthetic of tea ceremony while at university. You can satisfy both your palate and eyes with colorful and seasonal delicacies. They serve set menu of the month: one for lunch from 7,500yen and several for dinner from 14,000yen.
Address: 2-5-18 Senriyamanishi, Suita (Google Map)
26. Japanese/ Koryu (弧柳) [Osaka]City Foodsters/Flickr
Koryu is located in the middle of busy district in Osaka. They serve only one menu, chef’s choice course for 12,000yen, and reservation is required. The combination of seasonal ingredients makes excellent harmony. The counter seats are designed to entertain guests by showing chefs’ works. This restaurant has an ambience like a bar and it might be irresistible to examine their wide variety of drink list including sake and wine.
HP: www.koryu.net/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1-5-1 Dojima, Kita-ku, Osaka (Google Map)
27. Japanese/ Komago (子孫) [Hyogo]
Located in quiet residential area, 5-minute-walk from Koyoen station on Hankyu line, Komago offers traditional Japanese multi-set-course menu in tea-ceremony-house style. Three courses starting from 10,000 yen are served day and night and a lunch course for 5,000 yen is also available (tax and charge exclusive). You can choose from table seats or private rooms with horigotatsu seating for extra charge. Some seasonal ingredients are from the neighboring areas including seafood from Akashi or vegetables from Kyoto.
HP: www.komago-jp.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 5-21 Koyoen Honjocho, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo (Google Map)
28. Innovative/ Ca Sento (カ・セント) [Hyogo]
Ca Sento with only five tables and a private room in the quiet residential area is not easy to find. It is named after Ca Sento in Valencia, Spain where the owner chef trained. It serves single course menu for lunch and dinner. Each course includes lots of small dishes like tapas to amuse you. It serves innovative dishes inspired by modern Spanish cuisine in stylish but minimum dining room. The strong flavor of carefully selected and prepared ingredients are worth visiting though it’s difficult to reserve a seat.
HP: casento.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 4-16-14 Nakayamatedori,Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi (Google Map)
29. Japanese/ Nakashima (なかしま) [Hiroshima]
Nakashima, located at the north of the Hiroshima Castle, is a small Japanese restaurant with 9 counter seats and a table. The owner chef uses ingredients mostly from the neighboring area. The clear and refined broth is his signature. The interior, furnishings, serving dishes, and foods- every detail tells you his aesthetic and diligence. Not gorgeous but impressively beautiful! The list of Japanese sake he presents is also worth trying. It opens for dinner time only but until 22 o’clock. Two set course menu are available and reservation required.
HP: nakashima-ryori.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 10-4 Higashihakushimacyo, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima (Google Map)
30. Japanese/ Sagano (嵯峨野) [Fukuoka]City Foodsters/FlickrCity Foodsters/Flickr
Sagano, close to Hakata area is one of a few remaining ryotei in Japan, where you can experience genuine traditional Japanese culture as well as beautifully prepared dishes. Opened in 1967 and newly constructed the restaurant in tea-house style in 2011, this place offers you colorful and harmonious combination of seasonal dishes mostly brought from the region and placed on beautiful plates in elegant rooms. If you want to try ‘genuine’ Japanese culture including food in the area, this place is it.
Address: 2-21-19 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka (Google Map)
31. Sushi/ Gyoten (行天) [Fukuoka]
The half-hexagonal counter is a stage to enjoy skillful presentation of the young owner. Kenji Gyoten trained in sushi restaurants in Ginza, Tokyo and uses traditional technique called hontegaeshi (hand flip) which is basic to Edomae nigiri but rare to see nowadays. It accepts only two groups for a day and requires reservation to keep their guests served with best attention. The chef’s menu consisting of appetizers and bite-size nigiri seasoned with salt and red vinegar makes perfect match with Japanese sake.
HP: www.gyoten.net/guide/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 1-2-12 Hirao, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka (Google Map)
If you don’t know Japanese or are otherwise unable or unwilling to make a reservation yourself but would like to try some restaurants in Tokyo, please consider this service: