So in Japan, when it comes to restaurants, there is a term “ichigen san okotowari.” This means the restaurant is invite only—you need to be introduced by or go with a regular to gain access. Even if you were to randomly stumble across one of these restaurants and ask for a seat, they would politely tell you they are fully booked (even if they aren’t).
Somehow, I was able to get into one as one of my dining companions had a connection. We ended up at this basement-level restaurant in Ginza.
The service was impeccable, even though we often were fumbling around with our limited Japanese. There was unlimited alcohol so the sake poured freely. And of course, there was the food. The food was incredibly fresh and well-made (this might be the understatement of the year). It was essentially a nine course dinner, which upon completion, you can order anything off the menu all-you-can-eat style. We got there at 5:30 prompt and ended up leaving close to 10pm! It was an epic meal.
This here is live abalone grilled over fire. It was done tableside and you could see the abalone squirm about (which was a little sad) but the abalone was so flavorful and a lot less chewy than I had expected. It was only the second or third course and set the stage for a truly memorable night. The crazy thing was… I later learned that there were three different menu levels. We had level one, which was the cheapest menu available. I can’t even wrap my mind around what level three menu would be like