Tokyo, a City Made for the Ultimate Foodie.

Written by: @cazadordelomejor

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Japan is the ultimate foodie experience. Being one of the biggest food-experience seekers there is, I knew my next big trip had to be somewhere far, somewhere different and somewhere with a strong food culture. One step into Narita International Airport and I was already dreaming of what I’d be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 Tokyo is a city with a huge food palette. You can scour the various neighborhoods and alleyways for the tastiest Ramen, Yakitori, Izakaya, Sushi, Tempura, Udon, Okonomiyaki, and Soba. You’ll find that many restaurants specialize on only one type of dish – it’s perfected from generation to generation.

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 Here is my breakdown of Tokyo’s six main districts and the food that can be devoured in each:

 Tsukiji & Ginza

 Home to the renowned Tsukiji Fish Market, you cannot leave this area without enjoying a traditional sushi omakase at Sushi Daiwa. This hole in the wall sushi joint opens up at 5:30 AM, get there early to get a seat. Then head to the inner market at Tsukiji which opens up to the public at 10:00 AM and navigate the enormous halls of the biggest seafood market in the world.

Highlights:

Sushi Omakase at Sushi Daiwa

Lunch menu at Sushi Tokami

Tori Paitan with an Egg at Kagari Soba

Japanese Confectionaries at Higashiya

House Blend at Cafe de L’Ambre

Seasonal Cocktail at Ginza Music Bar

Yakitori at BirdLand

Harajuku & Aoyama

Bursting with restaurants, coffee spots, shops, boutiques and vintage stores, it is one of the best neighborhoods to get your shopping and eating game on. Stroll along Omotesandō Street and see shops converted into architectural destinations. There’s something special about Aoyama that kept me going back every other day – to sample a dessert at the newly renovated Pierre Hermé, try out the Mr. Roboto pastry sold exclusively at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Japan, or enjoy a cold brew at Blue Bottle.

Highlights:

Order the entire menu at Harajuku Gyoza (a few doors down from Harajuku Gyoza is a small takeout window serving one of the best Chicken Karaage I’ve ever tried)

Raspberry-Rose Madeleine at Pierre Hermé

Mr. Roboto and a Seasonal Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery Japan

Salmon-Avocado Pancakes at Rainbow Pancake

Cold Brew at Blue Bottle Coffee

Asakusa

A calm neighborhood where Buddhist temples are nestled between streets full of tempura restaurants. Its main attraction is the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple, an architectural beauty that is best to be visited when there is absolutely no one around, early in the morning or right at sundown to snap some National Geographic worthy shots.

Shinjuku

Exactly what you imagine Tokyo to be. Tall skyscrapers, colorful billboards, enormous crosswalks, and futuristic department stores with incredible underground food halls (Depachika) that must be visited. One of the highlights of my trip was drinks and live jazz at the New York Bar, high above Tokyo. Get a table right in front of the stage to create an unforgettable experience. A contrasting part of Shinjuku that makes it so special is Golden Gai, a small and cozy nightlife district where you’ll stumble across tiny bars, each with its own charm.

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Highlights:

Albatross Bar

New York Bar, Park Hyatt Hotel

Isetan Depachika

 Close by:

Cocktail Omakase at Gen Yamamoto (Minato Area)

Multi-Course menu at Narisawa (Minato Area)

Tsukemen at Rokurinsha (Tokyo Station)

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A trip to Japan involves a lot of eating, walking, discovering, interacting with locals (they love foreigners), and will leave you wanting to move there as soon as possible, or at least that’s what happened to me. If you’re flying out of Narita, don’t forget to grab a farewell sushi at Kyotatsu.

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Tips for first-time travelers to Japan:

 

  • Pocket Concierge is a great platform that will help you secure reservations for Michelin starred restaurants
  • Be sure to pick up a Suica Transit Card upon arrival at the airport to navigate local public transit
  • If you plan on travelling outside of Tokyo, be sure to purchase a Japan Railway Pass, it provides bullet train transportation at a great price
  • Pocket Wi-Fi is a necessity in order to use Google maps and make navigating around Japan easy, these can be rented at the airport

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Follow along on my food experiences @cazadordelomejor on Instagram – Boston is up next!

New Restaurants in Miami for 2016

  1. Bachour Bakery & Bistro

By Chef Antonio Bachour whose creations are gorgeous compositions of color and form, and best of all, they’re delicious. The pastry genius, along with Henry Hane, is opening a 40-seat bistro and bakery at 600 Brickell Ave., featuring breakfast and lunch offerings. Of course, the chef’s impeccable pastries will be showcased. Once the eatery opens, Miami could very well experience its own Dominique Ansel-like lines and frenzy for Bachour’s edible works.

  1. Alinea Pop-Up

The bad news is this amazing restaurant is not opening permanently in Miami, but this three-Michelin-starred restaurant by Grant Achatz and Nic Kokonas is popping up at the Faena Hotel Miami Beach. Alinea’s unique dining experience will be available from February 17 and continuing through March 13. The dinners are already sold out, but Alinea is accepting names for a wait list. Visit alineamiami.tocktix.com. for reservations.

3. Trust & Co.

By Chef Jerry Flynn this will be a chef-driven restaurant in Coral Gables that will offer craft cocktails. Located in the former Azucar Cuban Cuisine space (2 Aragon Ave.), will feature a menu of local produce, seafood, and proteins in an industrial-chic setting. The cuisine is described as “diverse American” with Latin, French, and Italian influences. Trust & Co. is expected to open shortly.

 

 

  1. Sullivan St. Bakery

James Beard Award nominee Jim Lahey is planning a commercial and retail bakery at 5550-5570 NE Fourth Ave. in Little Haiti. The 4,000-square-foot location will first house a wholesale business and eventually expand to retail. Lahey’s New York City operation supplies bread to about 250 restaurants. The baking chef has had his sights set on Miami for more than two decades, and now that he’s found a space, he’s not in any rush. “It’ll take us about six months to get into the groove with people. It’s a different labor market in terms of where people come from.” Don’t expect to enjoy Lahey’s famed bread in Miami in the immediate future. Pressed for a completion date of his new bakery, Lahey simply said, “It’s still TBD.”

 

  1. Quinto La Huella

This one has me anxiously waiting. Uruguay’s Parador La Huella is the most lauded restaurant in that country. Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants calls it a “breezy seaside grill, whose high-end beach shack appearance speaks of lazy lounging and barefoot walks along the sand.” Now the owners — Gustavo Barbero, Martin Pittaluga, and Guzman Artagaveytia — are bringing their high-end beach shack to the East Miami Hotel at Brickell City Centre. The restaurant, along with a rooftop bar, Sugar, was originally scheduled for a winter 2015 opening, but the hotel’s website takes reservations beginning May 1.

 

  1. Ariete

Will come to in mid January to Coconut Grove and join the great dining establishments of the neighborhood.. What makes this one special is the chef behind it. Michael Beltran, the former sous-chef at the Cypress Room, has worked alongside Miami’s culinary elite of Michael Schwartz and Hedy Goldsmith. The chef will serve family-oriented food, mostly prepared in the restaurant’s wood grill..

  1. Komodo

Opened its doors December 2015 at 801 Brickell Avenue. Behind the concept is the man responsible for mega-nightclubs LIV and Story,  David Grutman, along with Jeffrey Chodorow , who’s best known locally with his work with China Grill management. The menu is self-described as “Asian cuisine designed to take guests on a culinary journey of the Marco Polo trail.” The highlights are peking duck, dim sum, and the tuna dishes.  The restaurant is now open nightly for happy hour and dinner. For more information call 305-534-2211.