It’s your last night in Tokyo. You want to make the night last forever. You can’t, of course, but you can make the night memorable. With such a wide selection of restaurants in this big city, how can you choose?
If you asked 1000 Japanese and foreign residents living in Tokyo for suggestions, you’d get more than 900 different suggestions. So before telling you my choice, I’ll tell you my criterion for making this choice.
It’s why we eat, so the food has to be good. But the food must also be particular to Japan.
The place itself should be memorable – a beautiful setting for a lifetime of happy memories.
If possible, for and drinks for under ¥5,000 per person. (It was a stretch.)
So, my suggestion for the most romantic place to have a nice final dinner in Tokyo is – music please – at Happo-En in Shirogane, near Meguro. But I have to cheat, because instead of one restaurant, I chose two – Japanese restaurant Enju and Thrush Cafe.
Enju is a Japanese restaurant that serves a variety of kinds of foods, ranging from sushi to kaiseki, a course meal that includes a variety of seasonal dishes. The food at Enju is all seasonal, so it is somewhat difficult to say what is “on the menu.” But they always have a variety of sushi and other dishes, starting at the amazing price of ¥3,000 for a dinner course with chirashi-zushi, a kind of a sushi bowl with many kinds of toppings. The course comes complete with appetizers, tempura, side dishes, soup, and dessert! While Enju also has more expensive course dinners, at ¥10,000 and higher, they also have two other sushi course meals at less than ¥4,000 per person, well within the budget of a couple looking for a romantic night out after you’ve spent too much money buying gifts for each other!
Thrush Cafe is a Western-styled restaurant, so it might not seem to fit my criteria for this recommendation. But the food here may be western style, but it is very specific to Thrush and to Happo-En. Thrush has three dinner courses, which are seasonal. They also have an a la carte menu, but the course dinners are fabulous.
The main course offers choices from each of the three environments: farm, sea, and land. The difference between farm and land isn’t really clear, but the farm choice seems to have more veggies than the farm choice. Thrush also offers a vegan dinner course, as well as a more generous farm-to-table dinner course. Prices range from ¥2,000 for the vegan dinner to ¥6,800 for the farm-to-table course.
Both restaurants, like the whole of Happo-En, take pains to offer the most fresh and high quality ingredients in their meals. The chefs from both restaurants have direct contracts with farm, dairy, and other producers, so that they can guarantee the quality of the food sources. No wonder the food is delicious and healthy! Both also offer a full selection of beverages, particularly wines at Thrush and sake at Enju. Enju even offers their own craft beer on tap!
Both restaurants arrange their beverages to the food, so the menu changes seasonally! This care for the ingredients and their arrangement make dinner at both restaurants completely original. Whether you choose Japanese or Western style, the food will be something you can only eat in Japan and at Happo-En.
But the best reason to eat at these restaurants, beyond the food, is Happo-En itself.
Happo-En is most well known inTokyo as a place for weddings and banquets. This, of course, is the reason for the fabulous food here. But while the interior of the main building and the restaurants is immaculate, their Japanese garden will make the wonderful evening perfect.
The Japanese garden at Happo-En is really outstanding. There are many great Japanese gardens in Japan, even in Tokyo, but most are renowned because they are large, old, and just famous. The Shiosai Project, a research project devoted to ranking publicly accessible Japanese gardens based on quality, with 30 international experts participating, ranked the garden at Happo-En #25 last year, the third highest in Tokyo. Only six gardens in Tokyo even make the Shiosai list of the top 50!
The garden at Happo-En is compact. But it has all of the features that make a Japanese garden complete – a hill, waterfall, pond, trees, moss. etc. But the walk with bonsai trees, for example, is incredible. Many of the bonsai are hundreds of years old! There are several small pagodas for you to sit and take in the lush scenery and to take beautiful photos. Make sure to take a look at the tea house. If you make an advance reservation and get there early, you can enjoy tea, in the garden in the afternoon before dinner.
When you eat dinner at either Enju or Thrush Cafe, you will overlook the garden below, providing a magnificent backdrop to your meal. After dinner, you can walk out into the garden and cherish the moment, which will make your last night a relaxing, serene, and romantic memory.