pocket concierge

A Global Food Critic who has Eaten at Every 3-Star Restaurant
Andy Hayler's Top 10 Restaurant Recommendations in Japan

A Global Food Reviewer from Over 200 Cities since 1994

Based in London, Andy Hayler has, on several occasions, eaten at every 3-star restaurant in the world. He is a published author and the restaurant critic for Elite Traveler Magazine.

Completed Eating at Every 3-Star Restaurant in the World in 2004

In 2004, Andy completed eating at all 3-star restaurants in the world. He has kept up with the world-famous restaurant guide's expansion and new entries every couple of years. By early 2019, there were 126 3-star restaurants in the world and Andy has reviewed every one of them.
Independent, Honest and Trustworthy

Andy pays for his own bills, and does not take free meals from restauranteurs. As a result, his reviews are very honest and trustworthy.

Click Below for Andy Hayler’s Social Media Accounts

Nishi-Azabu Taku
2-star for 10 consecutive years, enjoy famous sushi here

Fresh fish and shellfish are balanced with rice vinegar, while large toro and seasonal fish are flavored with red-vinegar. This delicate work provides an exquisite experience.

Andy Hayler

This eight-seat sushi restaurant is located in a quiet Roppongi side street. Your meal will began, as is usual, with a sequence of appetizers, which might include crab and ginkgo nuts, or flounder sashimi. There was even remarkably good raw aubergine, which is not a sentence I ever expected to write. The sushi rice had good texture and was precisely seasoned with vinegar and freshly grated wasabi as required. There are standard sushi offerings such as tuna in its lean and fatty forms, as well as yellowtail and Spanish mackerel. However, there are also less common offerings such as needlefish. The service is particularly good, with great attention to detail. This is not as famous as some Tokyo sushi restaurants, but the standard is high.


Nishi-Azabu Taku

Restaurant Kodama
Enjoy 1-star healthy and original Japanese cuisine, the pure Japanese cuisine

The cooking takes not only the shape or taste of the food into account, but also how to make it healthier. The food is authentic and similar to tea ceremonies and/or flower arrangements, the presentation is a feast for the eyes.

Andy Hayler

This restaurant in a Roppongi side street serves modern kaiseki cuisine. Seated at the ten-seat counter you can watch the chef preparing the dishes in front of you. Dishes here are well balanced and precisely seasoned, illustrated by dishes such as cooked tuna cheek with spring vegetables and ginger, or crab with soy-based jelly on a bed of crispy rice. Even humble ingredients are made to sing here, shown by an excellent turnip in a soy-based jelly with freshly grated yuzu zest. The solitary star that this restaurant currently gets understates the considerable skill of the chef.


A fine dining restaurant named after Mr. Heinz Beck, who's restaurant in Rome, Italy has received 3-star for more than 10 consecutive years

HEINZ BECK serves unique and innovative Italian cuisine based on two of the chef’s philosophies, which are “the balance and harmony in flavor” and “the nutritious composition.” Executive chef Carmine Amarante has harmonized the tradition and the innovation by using the finest ingredients in each season, and the course menu is almost a collection of modern art masterpieces.

Andy Hayler

Heinz Beck runs Pergola, the only 3-star restaurant in Rome, as well as a miniature empire of outposts around the world. The Beck restaurant in Tokyo has a quintessentially central location, directly overlooking the moat of the Imperial Palace. The signature pasta dish of Mr. Beck, faithfully reproduced here, is fagotelli, which is essentially ravioli with a liquid centre of carbonara sauce. Ingredient quality is high, illustrated by a lovely pigeon breast from France stuffed with top-notch foie gras from the Landes, coated in spinach and served with a red wine sauce. The service and surroundings here are as elegant as the cooking.



Restaurant Ryuzu
Artisanal skills sublimating the season’ finest fruits

Perched beside the towering Tokyo Midtown complex in Roppongi, the 2-star Ryuzu is synonymous with haute-French cuisine. Owner-chef Iizuka is a veteran of kitchens domestic and abroad, and as former head-chef at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, his skills speak for themselves.

Andy Hayler

In this Roppongi basement is a restaurant serving French style food but with classy Japanese ingredients. The signature dish is shiitake mushroom and pancetta tart made with filo pastry, the pastry as delicate as you could wish, the smoky hint of the ham working beautifully with the mushrooms. You might move on to butterfish with matsutake mushrooms, or wagyu beef with girolles, lotus root and boulangere potatoes. Your meal might conclude with a refreshing grape jelly and grape sherbet dessert. The service here is excellent, and there is a quite substantial wine list in addition to the usual beer and sake choices.


Restaurant Ryuzu

Exquisite sushi in Shibuya, a perfect place for sushi dates and private dinners

A sushi restaurant by Chef Kazuki Kurosaki, a young and skilled, up-and-coming chef who decided to go solo after gaining experience in well-established restaurants in Asakusa, as well as famous sushi restaurants in Setagaya.

Andy Hayler

Behind a wooden counter in this quiet Shibuya location, Kazuki Kurosaki prepares high-class sushi. Your meal will normally begin with a sequence of appetizers such as lightly salted bonito sashimi, or sea urchin topped with salmon roe on a bed of rice. The sushi sequence features crowd-pleasers like kohada and tuna, but also less common dishes like filefish and its liver, and the occasional cooked dish such as grilled fresh water eel. The nori rolls here are exceptionally delicate, and a lovely delivery vehicle for some gorgeous tuna. This is a restaurant that is not as well known as some of the Tokyo sushi temples, but is of a very high standard.



Azabu Kadowaki
2-star Japanese restaurant with exquisite "truffle claypot rice"

Using seasonal ingredients from Japan and from around the world, this restaurant serves the "Kadowaki-style Japanese cuisine" that leaves memories with the visitors. The specialty is "truffle claypot rice," of which Azabu Kadowaki is the originator.

Andy Hayler

This kaiseki restaurant in Minato-ku is unusual in that there are some foreign influences to the cooking, rather than it being purely traditional. At the six-seat counter you can see the chef preparing dishes like shrimps with chili rice, or snapper with sansho, the Japanese mountain pepper that has a numbing spiciness. It is rare to see spice used in kaiseki cooking, but many of the dishes here feature it. Your meal might finish with rice topped with Italian black truffles. This is an interesting restaurant that moves beyond traditional kaiseki, and where the cooking is classy and the welcome is warm.


Sushi Arai
Irrefutable taste; a young yet seasoned Ginza veteran hushes even the loudest of critics

After honing his craft at the venerable Kyubei and Sushi Sho, Chef Arai chose to go independent at a young age, throwing himself into the fierce competition of Ginza’s fine-dining world with both inherited technique and his own ‘Arai’ style.

Andy Hayler

This basement sushi restaurant in Ginza may only have 1-star at the time of writing, but is one of the highest rated sushi restaurants on a Japanese gourmet review site. The voters have got it right, as the standard of the sushi here is extraordinarily high. The texture of the vinegared rice is flawless, and the quality of the fish is terrific, from the kohada (gizzard shad) through to the exceptional tuna, including the unusual cut of kama or gill flesh. In a city of high quality sushi restaurants this one is near the very top, and is a tough reservation.


Tenkou Honten
A 1-star Edomae-style tempura in Hiroshima

The focus on seasonality and origin can be seen in ingredients such as Japanese glass shrimp from Toyama Bay and Iwakuni lotus root in spring, Japanese anchovy in June, red cutlassfish from the Seto Inland Sea and maitake mushrooms from Megahira in nearby Hatsukaichi in summer, Kurahashi conger eel in fall, and small fugu (puffer fish) from Nagoya in winter.

Andy Hayler

This restaurant in central Hiroshima serves tempura, the chef having previously cooked in Tokyo. This is an intimate restaurant with just eight counter seats, the chef cooking your food directly in front of you. An example of the emphasis on product quality here was that the prawns were alive and moving on the counter moments before being cooked. The tempura batter is light and delicate, and the sequence of tempura dishes featured uniformly good ingredients, from the sea bream through to the local oyster. Whiting (kiss fish) is particularly good, the fish delicate and encased by a light coating of crisp batter. This is an excellent illustration of just how good tempura in Japan can be.


Tenkou Honten

Kitashinchi Koryu
Enjoy creative 3-star Japanese cuisine at a 12-seat counter restaurant

Kyoto-style cuisine emphasizes drawing out the inherent flavors of the ingredients. Similarly, Osaka Naniwa-style cuisine retains that taste while adding a rich flavor to it. The restaurant elevates the latest seasonal flavors and tastes while incorporating new ideas effortlessly. Chef Matsuo's cuisine is the true standard-bearer of Naniwa, and his flexible interpretation of new ideas has made this a popular restaurant.

Andy Hayler

This twelve-seat restaurant in central Osaka serves kaiseki cuisine. Seats are set around a counter with a central grill with assorted charcoals and wood for various grilled dishes. The meal unfolds over a sequence of elegant courses, which may start with dishes like abalone with mustard dressing, before moving on to more substantial dishes like superb blackthroat seaperch served with potatoes and delicate crisp fish skin. Ingredients are top notch, such as fabulous razor clams, and the cooking is of a consistently high standard. This is a classy restaurant with a real sense of welcome.


Kitashinchi Koryu

Representing the beauty of Earth through most delicate arrangement of cooking, 3-star gastronomy

Going beyond the framework of cooking, HAJIME's perspective stands independently as a form of art, like music and painting. Guests who enter the world of HAJIME do not merely enjoy the cuisine, but more specifically, they use all their five senses to experience the series of messages and stories conveyed through art.

Andy Hayler

In a quiet side street of Osaka is HAJIME, serving elegant French food in a formal setting. Tables are well spaced and covered with perfectly ironed white linen, the waiters wearing dinner jackets. The dishes pay homage to the classics of French cuisine, with for example a version of a famous Michel Bras dish, where dozens of different vegetables, herbs and flowers are prepared in assorted ways and then elegantly presented. They can cook meat well here too, as with a dish of Tasmanian lamb with sorrel sauce. Even the bread, made from scratch in the kitchen, is terrific. The service is attentive and charming, so HAJIME has the complete package.


Information is as of 26th August, 2019.

Our Next Episode

Coming Soon


Pocket Concierge

We provide online booking and pre-payment services, offering access to over 800 of Japan’s most sought-after and exclusive restaurants. From starred establishments to up-and-coming newcomers and hidden gems that the best chefs and foodies keep well-guarded, we feature partners from all across Japan. For guests from abroad, we currently operate in English and Chinese as well. We are working to improve our service every single day, in order to realize our vision of a totally hassle-free way to enjoy premium restaurant experiences and the facilitation of Japan’s incredible culinary arts, we are working daily to improve our service.
Share to WeChat