Only in Tokyo can you sample the finest sashimi from a skyscraper, try tofu beside a carp pond or taste tempura under an oversized fedora. The following list will suggest for you Top 3 of Tokyo’s best high-end restaurants.
No other restaurant in Tokyo has a setting to rival Kozue. Perched far above the fray on the 40th floor of the Park Hyatt, Kozue is still as swish as the day it opened in 1994, with a contemporary look (soaring ceiling, stylish tables and chairs) to match the confident modern inflections on kaiseki (japan’s version of haute cuisine). The menu features torafugu puffer fish in winter, ayu sweetfish in summer, matsutake mushrooms in autumn, and year-round shabu-shabu of perfectly marbled beef from premium wagyu cattle. Book a window seat to enjoy a peerless view of the western hills and even (if the weather gods are smiling) Mt Fuji’s cone silhouetted in the distance.
2, Mikawa Zezankyo
Tetsuya Saotome produces flawless tempura, succulent morsels of premium seafood and vegetables served straight from his deep-frying wok to your plate. He follows the classic Edomae style, using only ingredients that (with a couple of exceptions) would have been available 150 years ago. He works solo, which is why he can only seat nine at his counter. The cuisine and configuration may be traditional, but the eclectic decor – from European antiques to traditional lacquer-work and an extractor hood in the shape of a fedora – certainly isn’t. There are many contenders for the crown of Tokyo’s finest tempura, but none take it to quite the same level of idiosyncratic artistry. Zezankyo is hidden away in the residential back streets to the east of the Sumida river, but it well repays the effort and taxi fare to get there.
3, Sushi Mizutani
Sushi doesn’t get much finer than at Mizutani – or more austere. There is virtually no decoration on the plain ochre walls of the small 9th-floor room where Hachiro Mizutani holds court. Nor are there tables, just one long counter; a single massive timber of smooth-scrubbed cedar and 10 plain chairs. The air is crisp with the faint aroma of rice vinegar and the atmosphere is hushed. Sushi veteran Mizutani is taciturn in his own language and speaks no English, but there’s little that needs saying, except to specify beer or sake (there’s only one brand of each). The sushi arrives in a set order, determined according to whatever is in peak season. A succession of flawless morsels of seafood on lightly vinegared rice kept at exactly skin temperature, it will include several cuts of the finest bluefin you have ever tasted, and the best abalone too. A couple of caveats: perfume is frowned upon, as are cameras and mobile phones. Nothing is allowed to disturb the serenity.