We arrived in Tokyo via Nozomi Shinkansen after 3 fabulous days in Kyoto, where we had a wonderful food experience. So it was with high hopes and an extensive restaurant list that we began our visit.
The first inkling that our plans were to go awry happened that afternoon. We asked the hotel concierge to help us with dinner reservations for the next 5 nights, mostly well regarded, reasonably priced restaurants for tonkatsu, sushi, yakitori, tempura, etc.
The first 5 places the concierge called for us were booked solid with no openings on a week day. They next 4 places they recommended were also booked solid. Then she explained that this was the season for companies to host year end parties for their employee's, something we were completely unaware of. So that is how it went for our entire stay, none of the restaurants we wanted to go to were available, unless we wanted to eat dinner before 5:00 pm.
We still managed to eat well, just not anyplace we originally planned. We had a delicious chirashi set at Genjikoh in Nihonbashi, great unagi at Matsukawa and absolutely fabulous ramen at Afuri, both in Ebisu.
Our best meal was completely unexpected, tempura at Ten Ichi, one of the places on our original list. Our family was meeting up at the Rendevous Lounge in the Teikoku Hotel for cocktails on a cold rainy night. We were resigned to eating at one of the Ginza Mitsukoshi restaurants for dinner afterwards. Walking to the hotel in underground complex we passed Ten Ichi and decided to take a chance and ask if they had any openings. As luck would have it there was a last minute cancellation so they were able to accommodate our party.
After drinks we walked in and were seated. Great tempura dinner, served in courses, fresh seafood and vegetables, hot and crispy from the fryer. Dessert was some delicious musk melon and ocha. While we ate reasonably well in Tokyo, this meal saved the trip for us.
So lesson learned when traveling year end in Tokyo. Be sure to make reservations as far in advance as possible, even at smaller, less known places as year end parties are booked everywhere.