The following extracts were taken from a list of 1000 restaurant descriptions I produced for an English-language restaurant booking service in Japan. The total word count for all of the descriptions combined was over 180,000 words, which I delivered in just one month. I also completed a second batch of 500 restaurant profiles — a further 120,000 words — one month later. The project is currently being rolled out, with the preliminary phase viewable at https://www.byfood.com/restaurants.
This was an extremely time-intensive project which required hundreds of hours of research into the restaurants, and hundreds more writing up clear, informative, and engaging copy. If you have a similar high-volume writing project, I can provide you great results within tight deadlines!
TAGLINE: Get in touch with your primal side at a unique rural restaurant with private fire pits.
This double Michelin-starred restaurant in Mizunami, Gifu used to hold the top spot in the country on the most popular restaurant rating site in Japan. That’s because it offers a dining experience like no other.
Walk into the repurposed old Edo period house and you’ll find bright and wide private rooms, each with a low fire pit at its centre. It’s at these rectangular fire pits that the guests are seated, with a stone ledge around the rim for plates and glasses.
The pit is filled with sand, raked up into a flat-topped Fuji-like mound, with concentric circles raked onto tho the top reminiscent of the patterns of Zen gardens. At the center of these circles is the mound of charcoal which your kimono-clad hostess light after donning fireproof gloves.
The chefs gather the best of the earth, rivers, forests, and mountains of Gifu and mount them on skewers. These skewers are then pushed into the sand with their delicious seasonal ingredients angled towards the fire.
There’s a wild and primal feeling to gathering around a firepit, watching wild-caught fish slowly cook in front of you. If you’re lucky enough to land a seat by one of these hearths, you won’t soon forget the experience.
Price Range: ￥15,000 ～￥19,999
Michelin Stars: 2
83: Joël Robuchon Ebisu
TAGLINE: The absolute gold standard of French dining not only in Japan, but in the entire world.
Are there any bigger names in the world of cooking than that of Joël Robuchon? Likely not, seeing as he was the chef with the most number of Michelin stars to his name. The late king of fine French dining expanded his influence across the world, establishing a significant number of restaurants in Asia. This Ebisu restaurant is the pinnacle of all of these Eastern outposts.
Housed in an 18th century grand chateau-like house, the cooking here is in the hands of Michael Michaelidis. He took stewardship of the kitchen in 2017, having previously worked at the Singapore outlet.
The name Robuchon is basically synonymous with excellent haute cuisine, and unsurpassed service. With such a brand you are guaranteed the highest level of care and attention in every part of the experience.
The interior is stunning, with black velvet soft furnishings on the floor and tables contrasting starkly against the champagne-gold walls. Make sure that you dress up to match the elegance of the setting — no sportswear or sneakers allowed! As you might have guessed, a meal here doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every penny.
Price Range: ￥20,000 ～￥79,999
Michelin Stars: 3
96: Kaiseki Hachisen
TAGLINE: Achieve culinary enlightenment with Japan’s only Michelin-starred Zen priest!
Many students of Japanese culture find it quite surprising that the holy men of Japanese Buddhism often have full-fledged second careers. It’s not uncommon to find that the local priest is also a lawyer or policeman. The owner of Kaiseki Hachisen, Masayoshi Amano, pursued the priesthood alongside his successful cooking career, studying at Manpukuji Temple in Kyoto.
Naturally, this means he lacks the ego of a modern celebrity chef. Instead, his cooking follows a philosophy of clarity which reflects the Zen aesthetic of “suchness”: taking the time to pause and appreciate the unadorned beauty of things.
Prepared according to this clear sighted approach are dishes such as chestnut dumplings, seasonal soups, and perfectly cut sushi and sashimi. The branch of Zen which Amano follows is that from which the traditional Japanese tea ceremony sprang, so you can expect the same level of care and attention paid to the service as he places each dish in front of you.
Another happy result of his years of temple living is his mastery of the traditional vegan cuisine served to the monks who live and study there — known as shojin ryori. Every August, he serves up a set course menu that showcases this unique and historic fare, giving vegan diners a rare opportunity to enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine without worrying about special requests or misunderstandings.
Price Range: ￥15,000 ～￥29,999
Michelin Stars: 2
TAGLINE: This ode to Japanese ingredients and French recipes hits a melodic note, with a Michelin star to prove it.
The ode referenced in the name of this restaurant has two parts — its dishes are at once a poetic celebration of fine Japanese produce, and elegant French gastronomy. Chef and owner Yusuke Namai shifted the focus of his life from the musical to the culinary arts in 1995.
Now at the helm of his own French restaurant in Hiroo — to the south of Shibuya and east of Ebisu — he serves up some of the most inventive modernist cuisine in Tokyo, with a Michelin star for his troubles.
With the slate gray walls and achromatic color palette, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a contemporary art gallery. In a way it actually is! His innovative, modernist French cuisine has more than just a touch of the avant garde: black fish offal meringue shattered into fragments and arranged around a Pacific saury confit, drinks mixed in laboratory flasks, a thin fried fritter of sweet potato on top of foie gras, and the crowning touch: an amuse bouche called “Dragon Ball,” inspired by the anime and manga of the same name.
Nine such dishes feature on the lunch menu, and thirteen on the dinner menu. The open plan dining area has a great sense of space, with the three-sided counter offering a great view of the culinary wizardry going on at the center.
Price Range: ￥8,000 ～￥19,999
Michelin Stars: 1
Tagline: With a cosmopolitan spirit and undeniable class, this Yurakucho restaurant is probably the coolest new spot in Tokyo.
The chefs at this undefinable restaurant in Yurakucho have a variety of backgrounds in Chinese, Spanish, French, and Japanese cuisine. Their sum of their combined knowledge is a menu which never fails to surprise.
Head chef Saito had an internationalist vision for his restaurant, aiming to engender it with a cosmopolitan feel. The interior design plays on this idea as well as the name, with a variety of different textures and patterns coming together to form an ultra-modern aesthetic, just as in the menu.
Said menu includes a jet-setting array of dishes such as Szechuan chicken, Spanish garlic shrimp with homemade bread, mushroom paella, white teriyaki fish with radish, and a pork cutlet sandwich.
There are two sections to the restaurant to choose from when making your reservation. The casual area by the door has the cocktail bar, and is perfect for after-work drinks or dinner. The formal area at the back has an even more elegant and private vibe, so it’s suitable for special occasions and business dining.
With 80 seats in total, you’ll be glad to know that landing a seat here isn’t nearly as troublesome as in many other top Tokyo restaurants.
Price Range: ￥1,000 ～￥7,999
Michelin Stars: 0