Hello fellow Chowhounders!
I am set to visit Tokyo for the first time in late October with the formidable goal of eating all the things. Unfortunately, in an effort to fund said goal, I'm planning to stay in (some of you will blanch) a hostel. As such, I won't have any help in formulating dining plans or securing reservations. Given the dizzying number of options in Tokyo and the difficulty of experiencing some of those options as a clueless, concierge-less American, I hoped some of you might have some tips to make the most of my time in the city.
1) Where do I go!? I'd like to sample as broad an array of Japanese cuisine possible in my four days. I'm early on in my research (so please excuse any too-obvious choices), but am zeroing in on restaurants like Bird Land for yakitori, Rokirinsha for ramen, Butagumi or Maisen for tonkatsu, and Kondo or Mikawa Zezankyo or Tsunahachi for tempura. I'm still looking into izakayas (maybe Tachimichiya?), sukiyaki (Kitamura?), and soba (Muto?). As for sushi, oh jeez, Sushi Mizutani or Sushi Saito would be a dream. I was investigating Kyubey, but sensed a simmering animosity toward it on this board, and also learned about Hatsunezushi here. I've also read good things about Sushi Iwa. I'm less interested in Ryugin (I know, I'm a heathen). Any advice? Anything I could cut, should add? Different options?
2) How in tarnation do I eat in any of these places? For the more obvious barriers - getting into Sushi Mizutani or Sushi Saito - should I just give up the dream, or is there a way I could get in? I'm happy to put down a deposit, but how should I go about even doing that? For others, will I need reservations or are they amenable to walk-ins? I know I'll just queue at places like Rokirinsha, but do I need a slot for Bird Land, etc?
3) Finally, I love trains and plan to love temples. Day trip to Kyoto worth it? And where would you eat?
4) Oh - finally, finally - when should I expect to attempt reservations? I'm guessing September 1, but hoped to make up for my lack of assistance with a lot of lead time.
Thanks, truly, for any advice. It's been stunningly difficult to suss out information on the web, and this board had never led me wrong in the past.