SUSHI DOKORO MEKUMI, NONOICHI, ISHIKAWA PREFECTURE
Worth a special visit, it's out of the way and unassuming but this sushi is incredible – made by a real master, using seasonal produce, made with perfection. I cannot single out any one item.
INOUE RAMEN, TSUKIJI, TOKYO
Honest goodness: freshly sliced roasted pork on a light tonkotsu (pork) broth. A great ending to any Tsukiji market visit. No seats all standing, and only one item on the menu.
YAKITORI SEO, AZABU JUBAN, TOKYO
Yakitori at its finest. The menu changes on the whim of the chef. The lightly blanched chicken fillet and leek salad was exquisite on my last visit. The wine list does not disappoint.
L'ATELIER DE NOTO, WAJIMA CITY, ISHIKAWA PREFECTURE
A showcase of the area's fine produce served honestly and on the local famous "wajima nuri" style plates. In the middle of a sleepy fishing town, this is a real oasis.
HAKUICHI, KANAZAWA CITY, ISHIKAWA PREFECTURE
Hakuichi is one of the most famous gold leaf shops in Japan, and they are now more famous after the introduction of the gold-leaf-coated. soft-serve ice cream. A must try, even if just for the idea of eating a gold-coated ice cream. I've been to the Higashii Chayagai shop in Kanazawa but they have a few other locations that sell the same product.
USHIGORO YAKINIKU, NISHIAZABU, TOKYO
My favorite yakiniku place in Tokyo. It's hard to get a reservation last-minute, so best to book in advance. I love the zabuton sukiyaki. This is very finely sliced, highly marbled wagyu that just touches the grill before being dipped in the special broken rich egg yolk and sukiyaki sauce. It is then rolled around steamed rice. They are also very good for their Kiwami wagyu tongue (served only at their Nishiazabu store) and selection of meat sashimi.
RYOKAN MURATA, YUFUIN, OITA PREFECTURE
A high-end ryokan in the famous ryokan district of Yufuin. A special memory is of the simple roll cake served at the daily tea time. The in-room dinner is also special for its seasonal ingredients and pampering service.
Sydney-born chef Matthew Crabbe's stellar CV includes being sous chef at Tetsuya's as well as Michelin-starred restaurants and five-star hotels in the United States and Mexico. He now runs the kitchens of three restaurants and bars in Tokyo: Two Rooms Grill|Bar, R2 Supperclub, and Ruby Jack's Steakhouse & Bar, and one in Manila (Ruby Jack's Steakhouse & Bar – City of Dreams). See tworooms.jp