Although we’ve been very lucky (and, like Jack Nicklaus said: “The more I practise, the luckier I get!” – that is, we did a lot of research beforehand), there were a couple of occasions where the food we found in Tokyo was not as good as we had hoped it would be.
Heiroku Sushi, Omotesando
Although we’d already had great sushi and sashimi at Shinkichi, we wanted to try a conveyor belt restaurant. We had been recommended the Sushi-Ro chain of restaurants but were feeling lazy and had passed Heiroku Sushi on Omotesando a couple of times so we thought we’d try there.
On arrival, we should have noted our own rule – there was no queue and we were quickly seated at the start of the conveyor. Having been to many “giratorios”, we had a good idea how it worked – pull what you want from the belt and at the end of your meal you the plates you’ve had are totted up and you’re billed accordingly.
Unfortunately, it became quickly became obvious that all the dishes on the conveyor had been there a while and were just going round and round untouched, and that the locals were all ordering off-menu directly from the chefs. Nothing looked appetising, so we mustered our best Japanese and managed to order a plate of maki and a plate of nigiri. These were cut fresh and were absolutely edible, but not in any way spectactular, and we shortly afterwards made our excuses and left.
To be fair, we realised after the fact that we had arrived at the restaurant less than 30 minutes before it closed – there’s every chance they were winding down the conveyor contents and ordering directly was the way to go, but even then, the food we received paled in comparison to the food from previous nights, and we wouldn’t recommend it to anyone when there is so much better food to be found nearby.
Red Rock, Jingumae
One thing we’ve really wanted to try in Japan is the beef – specifically the wagyu beef, but Red Rock in Jingumae, one of a chain of beef restaurants, isn’t the place to do it. There’s little to be said about this other than we ordered a rice-bowl of “Japanese Beef” and received a sliced up steak, reasonably well-cooked but definitely nothing one couldn’t have bought from Sainsbury’s and fried yourself. And at twelve quid a bowl, it wasn’t even worth the convenience factor…
So, I guess the moral of the story is research, take advice, follow the queues and still be prepared to be disappointed on occasion. There are undoubtedly as many mediocre eating experiences in Tokyo as anywhere else in the world and you’re bound to come across one of two of them on any trip. Just do what we did and go back to Maisen the next day for a guaranteed win, and you’ll soon get over any disappointments fast!