My friend and I should have been more familiar with Japanese fancy cuisine. This restaurant is upscale, but still affordable. Perhaps because of its location on the very top floor of this building. (There is no elevator, and it's on the 3rd or 4th floor of this building.) The door was jammed when we were there, but if you knock hard enough, they will come and open the door for you.
I ordered the recommended dish of Toukibi Gyuu no Tataki (Indian millet Pounded beef - for 1280 yen), which was rare beef, seared on the sides in a delicious sauce. It was pretty good, and was served with a type of leafy veggie (perhaps romaine or spinach?).
My friend ordered chicken sashimi in lemon marinade, or soushuu Kohaku dori sasami remon marine (for 680 yen). We were both pretty scared to try rare chicken seared on the sides, but it was surprisingly good! The lemon marinade and leafy greens complemented it nicely.
For a drink, I ordered oolong tea, which was OK.
We were given the utmost in customer service, and our waitress had the ultimate patience as I explained to her of my friend's allergy, and inquired about the dishes served. After our meal, she escorted us all the way downstairs to bid us goodbye. Very hospitable, indeed.
The only drawback? I was still a bit hungry 2 hours later.
The absolute BEST part of our stay was the FREE breakfasts. Don't be fooled by the description of Toast and Coffee. They definitely go the extra mile. Breakfast was surprisingly refreshing and delicious.
Served on English-style chinaware, our breakfast consisted of thick bread with jam and butter on the side, coffee with sugar and cream on the side, fruit juice (one day was orange juice, another it was apple juice), and a side dish (one day it was tamagoyaki with sweet rice inside; on day two it was a half banana and a korokke with a dollop of sauce on top).
Our bedsheets were changed fresh each day and our room came with a flat screen liquid TV which included many channels.
Staying at this ryokan, guests feel as if they are immersed into the culture. Our room came with minimal furniture: 2 futons on the tatami mat floor, a traditional low table and floor cushions. Also included with our room was fresh hot water each day to brew free green tea.
When coming in, make sure to remember to remove your shoes and put on your slippers, so as not to tract dirt onto the delicate tatami mat floor.
For a further traditional experience, you have the option to reserve a room without a bathroom.
There are private showers and a private Japanese style bath available to any of the guests if they reserve this kind of room.
However, the convenience factor was very important for my friend and I, and shampoo and rinse were provided for us in our bathroom.
As with all the guests, we were also provided a face towel, body towel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a yukata bathrobe and obi. We stayed in the largest room including a bathroom, which comfortably fit 2 of us.
Words to the wise, if you get the bathroom included in your room, make sure you are small enough to fit in the bathroom (both my friend and I are petite), and are not claustrophobic. It may be a bit small for the average American. The toilet is a western-style toilet with a bidet wash, which made us feel so fresh and so clean, clean, afterwards.
There was a slight mixup on the price when we first arrived, but the owners graciously fixed the issue promptly.
There is a curfew, so if you are the type to stay out late, don't forget to let the front desk know that you will be out so that they can provide you a key.
This is an ideally located ryokan if you are only planning on scoping out the Ueno and Asakusa areas. It is a 2 minute (literally!) walk to Sensouji temple and Nakamise street. And there are several karaoke bars and restaurants nearby, as well as a Denny's, 7-Eleven and a 24 hour convenience store.
However, we had to make a transfer to get to Shinjuku. The Ginza line will be your best friend, also.