This post is about the hardest restaurant to book in Tokyo. It’s a very traditional and simple Japanese restaurant located in the old geisha district of Shinbashi, but it reportedly turned down three Michelin stars.
In Tokyo last January, living a Travelife, I ate at this tiny restaurant considered by serious foodies in Japan to be one of Japan’s top five restaurants.In fact, until recently it was #1 in the national rankings, but now I think it’s about #3.
Nevertheless, even #3 is still a pretty mean feat, in a country that takes food very seriously, and that has such an incredibly competitive dining landscape.
TASTE OF TRADITIONAL JAPANESE CUISINE
This restaurant is almost impossible to book because it’s completely full every single day, in spite of its pretty expensive meals on a cash-only basis.
So basically you show up for lunch or dinner, and you’ve got to have enough cash in your pocket to pay for the equivalent of an airplane ticket to Europe.
I reckon this is one of the most expensive restaurants in Tokyo now, especially at lunch. Lunch in Tokyo is usually cheaper than dinner, even at the best restaurants; but here, the price is the same even if you go at lunch.
YOU NEED MORE THAN MONEY AND LUCK TO EAT AT THE HARDEST RESTAURANT TO BOOK IN TOKYO
Then there’s another almost impossible hurdle: you actually need an introduction from a regular client to book a seat here. If you just call up from out of the blue, they’re going to tell you they’re already full for any and every day you wish to book.
There are no menus, no English signs, and no explanations. And perhaps most importantly, there are no indications of the prices of the meals. You just sit and eat what they give you, hoping you have enough money to pay for everything at the end. So the odds of finding a regular foreigner client are quite slim — except for me, now, of course, as I’d like to be a regular if I can be one.
But for most foreigners, this is a restaurant that’s not even in the running, when it comes to booking a restaurant on a trip to Tokyo, especially because of the introduction requirement.
NO, THANK YOU, TO 3 STARS FROM THE MICHELIN GUIDE
The other reason this restaurant is so famous is because of the rumours that this chef reportedly turned down the honour of receiving three Michelin stars, saying he didn’t need this.
Can you imagine? Sources connected to the Michelin Guide say this is purely urban legend; but this restaurant’s refusal of the Michelin stars is what is being whispered around the foodie circles in Tokyo.
While so many other chefs all over the world are literally dying to get even one star, this one reportedly sent the three stars back.
THE BEST JAPANESE INGREDIENTS
As for the taste, the entire meal was very refined and subtle — perhaps almost too subtle for foreign tastes. It was all about the best of simple ingredients prepared in the best of simple ways.
Serious Japanese foodies love it precisely for its simplicity and subtlety, but I can imagine how some non-Japanese might have difficulty reconciling what they ate with what they paid.
Unfortunately I can’t write the details of this restaurant on this blog if I want to keep on getting a reservation here as this Japanese restaurant hates publicity. But if you’re a serious foodie who’s done your research on the best restaurants in Tokyo, you’ll probably know which one I mean.