Have you heard of sushi-yasan in hotels ?
Sushi Kyubei (Hotel Okura), sushi Kanesaka (Hotel Palace), perhaps now you've heard of Sushi Mao. Now its closed and moved to Ginza 1 chome under the name sushi Ichi Yanagi (disappointing!). Sushi Sora, in the Mandarin Hotel, was the only sushi-yasan in a hotel that I would have recommend. Their lunch had some good points like the 'shari(rice)', the rice is stored for 2 years, the vinegar is a blend of old red vinegar and vinegar kasu.
Recently, sake is in vogue and there have been many articles written about the manager Izuhasan, the sake sommelier that won the 'kikisakura' price. So I decided to invite the fine connoisseur on sake Wekabeka with me, and get her opinion on the sake.
Sushi Sora was fully booked except Sunday's diner, and Izuhasan was on holiday. But, on the phone, I was told they have 20 sorts of sake, so I thought we would have plenty to choose from. There were only a few available in 180ml servings. Disappointingly the most interesting sake was by bottle at a 'crazy' price ! The service was great though, offering a tasting before choosing the sake. The sake was listed by the rice used, and not only by region. As a novice, I always felt the rice was the most important, but even the yeast is of importance to give the flavor. Hours passed so quickly, I forgot to ask the details about the rice to Wekabeka.
- Masumi Junmai Daiginjo Sanka (Yamada Nishiki), Nagano.
- Hokusetsu Junmai (Gohyakumangoku), Sado Island.
- Yamaguchi Dassai 39 (Yamada Nishiki), Yamaguchi.
So concerning the the sushi, I will give you the best first :
Sora mame dashi
Mizunasu with sumiso sauce
An assortment of 3 tsumami plates :
Shiroshita garei (marbled sole/flounder)+ iwashi (sardine cured in vinegar).
Tako no ashi, Shiroshita garei no kimo, engawa.
Meiji maguro aburi (6 kg!!), aji.
Shinko (baby kohada)
Ezo murasaki uni (Yagishiri Island sea urchin, Hokkaido).
Miso and junsai broth.
We changed to tsumami instead of continuing the nigiri course.
Tsumami plate :
Ebi kimi su oboro zuke (cured in sweet vinegar with minced egg yolk).
Awabi (simmered, tsume sauce).
Hakumomo compote with hakumomo and lemon yokan (white peach dessert)
Even though the ingredients used were all seasonal, still the only things that stood out were the 'shiroshita garei', and the high quality 'ezo murasaki uni'. Apart from that, the 'iwashi(sardine)' was awful, even cured in vinegar it had a taste of fish going to go off ! Maguro(tuna) nigiri was just okay, the baby batty was only fat, the t'ako(octopus)' leggs almost took my life off !! End of the leggs of 'tako' can sometimes contain poison !
Yes, it was down in quality, considering the price 25,000jpy/pp with sake, and things were different compared to the lunch. The difference, in my opinion, comes from the storage of the fish. There were some questionable fishy smells in the restaurant. The storage of the fish kept at good temperature gives mature flesh fragrance that is delicious.
The hotel should take care of their image by the quality of their products, not in doing publicity !! A second guess is that the hotel is managing the restaurant, furniture equipment is from the hotel, and a team of 5 chefs (different) is not what the best sushi-yasan's are made up of..