We are currently on a 16 day trip to Japan. Our family consists of myself and my wife and our two boys (16 and 13 years old). While we travel often as a family and have been to many interesting places this is our first time in Asia. Our boys are very adventurous and will try anything put in front of them (as will we), but we definitely have typical American palettes.
We planned this trip very carefully and have often referred to this board for food advice. This is my first post. I thought I would give my impressions of the various places we have eaten so far. Excuse me if I misspell a restaurant or two.
Tokyo - we stayed at the Mandarin Oriental and the evening we landed we thought it would be wise to stay in the hotel. We had read about the Tapas Molecular Bar on this site and I have to say it did not disappoint. It was very cool and interesting and the food was excellent. The chef is American and he really took the time to explain all the creations and processes they used. All four of us loved the experience.
The next night we went to a baseball game so no dinner to speak of.
The third night we went to Les Creations de Narisawa. This was a recommendation from our travel coordinator. It was awesome. An experience not to be forgotten. We have been to some of the worlds top rated restaurants and this was right there. Extremely interesting and delicious.
The fourth night we went for yakitori at Fuku. We liked it very much. It is seemingly a very local spot which aided in making it a great experience and the food was very good.
Takayama- we ate both nights in the ryokan, Honjin HIranoya Kacho-An. The first night we had a typical kaiseki meal and the second night we opted for the alternate Sushi dinner. Both were also challenging but in the end we tried it all and we were pleasantly surprised.
By the way the snacks all over Takayma were delicious.
Kyoto- the first night we ate at Tempura Yoshikawa. We have never eaten tempura quite this way and have nothing to compare it to, but I have to say it was absolutely delicious. I know there is a lot of debate on which tempra restaurant is the best but you cannot go wrong at Yoshikawa.
The next night we wanted to try teppanyaki so we opted for Gozanbo in the Hotel Granvia. Our only experience with teppanyaki is of course the typical teppnyaki restaurants we find in America and we have several in the New York metropolitan area. We figured we would check it out. It was very good and much more refined (as is everything in Japan, except for the slurping). The food was presented beautifully and it was all excellent. My wife and I do not eat any meat and they created a mixed seafood dinner for us, while my boys ate a combination of the ultra-expensive wagyu beefnand the more moderately price beef tenderloin. If I had to fill them up on just the wagyu meat I would have to dip into their college fund, wow is that stuff expensive.
The third night we did a Maiko/Geiko experience which included a pretty lousy tempura dinner.
Now onto tonight. Tonight we went to Hyo-tei. We have been to several 3 star michelin restaurants, not only on New York but in many other cities around the world. I cannot for the life of me figure out what Michelin was thinking. At one point I figured we were in the wrong place. What did Hyo-tei serve the people from Michelin that they didn't serve us? I can understand if we had no means of comparison, if this was our first kaiseki dinner in a traditional Japanese style but we had been to two prior and this was by far the absolute worst. Perhaps this is the most disappointed I have ever been in a restaurant. Stay away.