pocket concierge

A Half Japanese and Half English Foodie Passionate about Discovering Restaurants:
@tokyohalfie's Top 10 Restaurant Recommendations in Japan

A Foodie Sharing Information in Both Japanese and English

Based in Tokyo, @tokyohalfie is a half Japanese and half English foodie who is passionate about discovering new restaurants.

Food is One of the Most Important Parts of Our Culture

Having grown up in Tokyo, San Francisco and London, she realised that food is one of the most important parts of our culture. However, it can be difficult for foreigners to navigate through Japan’s extensive variety of culinary experiences given the linguistic hurdles, and the same applies for Japanese tourists visiting overseas. By sharing information in both Japanese and in English, Halfie hopes to help as many people as possible break through these barriers.
Halfie Discovers Suitable Restaurants for Different Occasions

She started her career in London working for an international financial institution in the city, before transferring to her hometown in the Japanese capital. Through her experience working in various roles, she discovered the importance of selecting a suitable restaurant for each type of occasion, from business dinners to personal catch-ups. Below are a few of her favourite spots around Tokyo - enjoy!

(c) Zakary Walters

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Steak Dining Vitis
A kiln-grilled Wagyu steak house that uses white charcoal from Kishu

The restaurant uses the best quality of Kishu white charcoal “Umabejokomaru” to cook their premium Japanese Black beef. The chef grills the steak directly on the fire, which creates a crispy surface whilst maintaining moisture inside.




@tokyohalfie

"Steak Dining Vitis" is located down a side street in Nakameguro, and prepares some of the best wagyu in their fire-kiln grill. It is run by the Owner Chef Yuki, who has worked at renowned steak houses around town, including Aragawa and Gorio. If it’s your first visit to Vitis, I recommend their “Steak Course”, where Yuki-san presents his carefully selected meat at the start of the meal. The medium rare beef tongue "tan" has become their signature dish over the past few years, and requires reservation in advance. The best seats in the house are the ones closest to the entrance, as you get a nice view of the chefs cooking in the kitchen!

  

unico-co
An Italian restaurant that blends traditional dishes with sea urchin

More than 12 kinds of sea urchins are used here; popular specialties include the rich sea urchin pasta and the “Unico-co Tournedos Rossini”, a decadent ensemble of beef tenderloin, foie gras, truffles, caviar, and sea urchin.




@tokyohalfie

~All Uni’d Is Love~ This sea urchin specialty restaurant is a dream-come-true for uni maniacs. Everything from the appetisers to the desserts feature sea urchin, and their signature dish is their “uni map” that includes more than 12 types of the Japanese delicacy in one plate - as far as I'm aware, it's the only place in the country where you can try so many in a single serving. They now serve a shortened 5-course taster menu, so it’s worth making the trip out to Yotsuya if you’re as much of an uni fan as I am!

  

Tenmasa
Enjoy delicate seasonal Japanese cuisine and tempura in a calming setting

The chef here uses a blend of oils to prepare the tempura, adding Taihaku Sesame Oil (extracted without roasting the sesame seeds) and Daiko Sesame Oil (features an elegant, roasted fragrance and a beautiful amber colour).




@tokyohalfie

This starred tempura restaurant is tucked away in the residential neighbourhood of Nakameguro. The course encompasses not only their signature Tempura, but also all the essential elements of Japanese Kaiseki featuring seasonal delicacies, presented on beautiful dishware. You really do receive “Omotenashi” service here from the Owner Chef Ashiki and his wife - it is one of my favourite tempura spots in the city, and I make sure to visit every quarter.

  

Crony
Simple and elegant French-Nordic fusion cuisine

At Crony, you will start with Nordic-style finger food prepared with Umami, one of the five basic tastes, together with unique elements. The dishes are perfectly complemented with their freshly baked sourdough, which is chewy in texture with a crispy crust, inspired by the chef’s experience in San Francisco.




@tokyohalfie

Fusion seems to be one of the most popular genres these days, but the starred "Crony" is most definitely one of my favourites. The young Chef Haruta gained inspiration from his experience at a handful of starred restaurants around the world, from Copenhagen to San Francisco. Despite being located on the main road that connects Roppongi to Shibuya, the moment you walk into this underground restaurant you warp into a calm and ambient room. The staff here are careful and considerate, and each dish is creative and delicate. It is completely understated and surprisingly easy to book despite the immaculate quality of the food and service - a must try.

  

Ichirin Hanare
A modern Chinese experience in the nature-filled Kamakura

The modern Chinese restaurant is particular about the ingredients used, including Takasakadori (chicken from Takasaka), vegetables collected directly from Miura farm, seafood from the Yokosuka fishing port, and noodles bought from Hashizume Noodles, a 60-year-old noodle specialty store.




@tokyohalfie

The restaurant is a 15-minute walk from the centre of Kamakura, the former capital of Japan from the 12th Century, which may be most well-known for its Big Buddha statue. As you enter their Japanese-style house, you are given comfortable slippers to wear, and the staff will take you to a long counter table. Their specialty is their “Yodaredori” steamed chicken in a spicy sauce that is subsequently used to dip dumplings and noodles. It is well worth making the trip outside of Tokyo for this special experience.

  

Ichirin Hanare

Hakuro
Italian-inspired cuisine with 15 small courses, displayed on traditional Japanese dishware

Italian-inspired food is presented on traditional Japanese dishware with a variety of history including the Edo period and the Meiji era, such as the “Arita-yaki” and “Kutani-yaki”, allowing you to visually and physically enjoy each course. Enjoy watching their performance while they prepare an original pasta of your choice.




@tokyohalfie

This Shinorian-style Italian restaurant, led by the young genius Chef Shinohara (who is still in his late twenties!), is hidden underground in Nishiazabu. Their 15-course Omakase dinner is prepared in the open kitchen that is surrounded by U-shaped counter seats - each dish is small, fun and innovative, and makes you eager to try the next. As the menu here changes monthly with seasonal ingredients, it’s my go-to spot when I have visitors from abroad!

  

INUA
Experience a unique and undiscovered blend of Nordic and Japanese ingredients

The world built by the team at “Inua” is an art that speaks the lingua franca of food, exploring the country’s unique wealth of ingredients including herbs, fruits, spices and seaweed that even those in Japan know very little about.




@tokyohalfie

This truly innovative fusion restaurant opened summer 2018, led by the talented German chef Thomas Frebel, alumni of the world-famous "Noma" in Copenhagen. The moment you walk through the minimalistic entrance tucked away in Iidabashi, you escape into a stunning Scandinavian world. The food here is creative and bold, and we were completely blown away by the originality of flavours invented by the talented chef and team of 30+ kitchen staff. Apparently they have a lab for experimenting with taste - hopefully we’ll get the chance to visit during our next meal here!

  

recte
A contemporary 1-star French cuisine, highlighting the essence of seasonal ingredients

As you enter the restaurant, you will be taken into a minimalistic and peaceful setting – the chic interiors have been carefully selected by Chef Naohisa, including the wooden beams used on the ceilings. The private room at the back is the perfect space for a quiet dinner or an anniversary date.




@tokyohalfie

This starred contemporary French restaurant is located on a hill in Daikanyama. The name is derived from “recte” in Latin, which means “as is” – the Head Chef Naohisa strives to incorporate carefully selected seasonal ingredients in a way that does not alter the “essence of each ingredient”. One of the most impressionable dishes here for me was their meat, which was cooked in a special stone kiln. The lunches here are great value, with 3 options ranging from 5,000 yen. I took my mother here for her birthday and she loved it too!

  

Principio
A cosy Italian restaurant hidden in Azabujuban

The restaurant’s specialty is their charcoal-grilled meat dishes, which is slowly grilled for an hour until juicy, served with a crispy outer layer and an amalgamation of flavours.




@tokyohalfie

There are a number of delicious Italian restaurants in Azabu-Juban, but Principio is one of my favourites. Hidden on the 2nd floor above a cheesecake shop, it is a cosy space with only 12 seats - the white wall is decorated with an antique-style window, and the room furnished with wooden tables and chairs. The warm ambience makes it the ideal spot for a romantic evening, or you could even hire the entire space out for a relaxed private dinner party. The freshly made pasta here and tender charcoal-grilled meat never disappoints– it’s no surprise it is continuously awarded 1 star!

  

Restaurant Lyla
A unique meal prepared just for you

The sophisticated and delicate dishes here are unique and cannot be exactly replicated, as they are prepared using ingredients that are stocked that very day or delivered directly from their source.




@tokyohalfie

This understated gem in Akasaka has one of the most “kosupaii” (good cost performance) lunches in the city, and it is surprisingly easy to get a reservation here. Their cheapest lunch costs around 5,000 yen per person for an experience that deserves to charge more - the presentation is fun and creative, playing with a spectrum of colours and flavours. What’s impressive here is that the “Special Course” menu uses ingredients that were sourced that very day. The setting is formal yet relaxing, and the waiters here are extremely attentive - it’s the perfect location for a special meal with a loved one.

  

Information is as of 22nd November, 2019.




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Pocket Concierge

We provide online booking and pre-payment services, offering access to over 800 of Japan’s most sought-after and exclusive restaurants. From Famous gourmet guide-Starred establishments to up-and-coming newcomers and hidden gems that the best chefs and foodies keep well-guarded, we feature partners from all across Japan. For guests from abroad, we currently operate in English and Chinese as well. We are working to improve our service every single day, in order to realize our vision of a totally hassle-free way to enjoy premium restaurant experiences and the facilitation of Japan’s incredible culinary arts, we are working daily to improve our service.
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