Ticked of Tsukiji? Marvelled at the Meiji? So you know Tokyo like the back of your hand-stitched Japanese denim. One of Asia’s largest and most impenetrable cities, Tokyo is the exquisite gift that keeps on giving (if you know how to receive). LUXE City Guides CEO and seasoned traveller Simon Westcott gives us the skinny on how to navigate Tokyo’s lesser-sung wonders like a pro…
Elevating your fave curbside yakitori to fine-dine kabuki heights, Torikado puts the performance back into poultry, with blazing charcoal theatrics and no inch of the humble chook left unskewered. A spot-lit white cedar U, hovering in a hard-to-find black basement cube, is the stage on which this culinary drama unfolds. Neck skin, tail meat and grilled ground meat balls are among the star cast, while innovative supporting characters appear through black curtains from the kitchen; the mashed potato salad is the scene-stealer. Book ahead... Like a month ahead.
It’s refreshing, in trend-tortured Tokyo, to find exquisite French food, artfully presented and expertly wine-matched. But chef Takayuki Saito doesn’t leave his iconoclasm there. Gallic technique succumbs to Asian flavour at Alternative; umi and yuzu flowers wrestle with crepes and red wine reductions; and finally, palates are cleansed with sliced melon and ginger doused in champagne and pepper-infused gins. Take every single one of your taste buds; you’ll need them.
Drowning in the antique kimono and samurai swords of the National Museum? Instead, take a satisfying paddle in the iconic work of the creator of the Great Wave Off Kanagawa at the intimate Sumida Hokusai Museum, located in the ward where the venerable ukiyo-e master lived most of his life. Housed in a gleaming silver spaceship next to a children’s park, the museum is as interesting for its evocations of old Edo as its well-illustrated story of the evolution of Hokusai’s distinctive style. Stock up on Great Wave designer merch at the store downstairs.
Our new favourite jean junction; small but perfectly formed, Japan Blue Jeans is a shrine to Okayama selvedge denim and staffed by English-speaking hipster high priests. Styles range from tapered and slouch for him, to skinnies and boyfriend for her, and all with discreet and untypical allowances to the fuller Western figure. The divine intervention, though, is the onsite tailoring. The man measuring you up may look like he can only spin decks, but he’s a dab-hand with a vintage Singer too. Praise be!
Torikado / B1/F / Suzuki Bldg / 2-8-7 Meguro / Meguro-ku / +81 3 6417 9967 / dinner daily
Alternative / 2/F / 3-1-19 Nishi-Azabu / Minato-ku / +81 3 5772 7272 / dinner Mon-Sat
Sumida Hokusai Museum / 2-7-2 Kamezawa / Sumida-ku / +81 3 5608 6115 / 9.30am-5.30pm Tue-Sun / hokusai-museum.jp
Japan Blue Jeans / 5-28-7 Jingumae / Shibuya-ku / +81 3 6450 6704 / 11am-8pm daily / japanbluejeans.com