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Tokyo trip report - November sushi extravaganza

od_sf | Dec 7, 201601:17 PM

Sushi Iwa
4th visit, but first evening visit. Not quite as good as the last couple times I've gone. The shari wasn't quite as seasoned (tasted a little bland) and I'm not a huge fan of Iwa-san's otsumami. Still very good, but for nearly Y30,000 it felt a little expensive. Unlike my previous visits, counter was full of Americans - some of whom seemingly had never eaten sushi before. Next time I will stick to the great Y8,000 lunch deal.

Sushi Arai
1st visit, lunch - cash only, and roughly Y10,000 for 14 pieces of nigiri. Arai-san has said that he's a big fan of Shimizu-san, and this is apparent in his nigiri. Big pieces, very nice shari prepared with a blend of akazu and komezu - strongly seasoned but still very balanced. Very good akami and toro from Aomori. A very good value for the money considering the pricy tane served. The counter was completely filled with Tokyoites, most of whom seemed to be regulars. The nice guy sitting next to me (who kindly offered me a piece of his negitoro maki) mentioned he visits once a month and bookings are getting harder. This shop will be very hard to book soon.

5th visit I think. First time at dinner. Knew exactly what to expect, and got just that: solid sushi at a reasonable price, in a fun, almost boisterous atmosphere. I ordered the Y15,000 "kyubey" omakase nigiri-only set like I always do, and greatly enjoyed myself. Shari is still not quite seasoned enough for me, nigiri pieces are a little bit on the small side and some of the tane might not be of the absolute greatest quality, but overall Kyubey is still a fun night out. Finally got to meet Imada-san, the owner, who was absolutely lovely. Funny story: a Chinese customer came in and also ordered the nigiri only set, but wanted it without rice. You should have seen the chef's face. Incredibly, the chef kindly accommodated the stupid request, and served each piece of tane, without rice. :)

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten
1st visit, at lunch. Both father and son were there. Yoshikazu-san made most of my sushi, with his father preparing a couple of the pieces midway through my meal. I ate 21 pieces (counting the double kuruma-ebi) in 22 minutes, but the pace felt fine to me. The shari is bar none the best I've ever tasted. Very strong and sour komezu seasoning that worked flawlessly with all the pieces. Every single piece was just fantastic. Particular highlights: the maguro trio, the kuruma ebi, the kohada, and an incredible piece of marinated aji. Interestingly, as my meal progressed, Yoshikazu-san packed the rice less and less as he formed the nigiri. It actually became a bit of a challenge to get the pieces into my mouth towards the end. Atmosphere was not particularly unpleasant, but also definitely not fun. They want you to come in, eat, and get the F out. But when the sushi is that good, who cares? I can't wait to go back. Funny story: an American customer (the entire counter was 100% foreigners) got full after about 12 pieces and asked Jiro-san if she could get the rest to go. You should have seen his face! Priceless. He just told her "no" and continued to make her sushi. Ha!

Daisan Harumi
1st visit, dinner. Had a great time eating at Nagayama-san's counter. He is a lovely guy, and very passionate about his craft. I particularly enjoyed his otsumami, especially the awabi and katsuo. His nigiri is not really to my liking, especially his shari, which is not seasoned enough for my taste. I was a little scared because I'd heard that his rice was too sweet - it is definitely not sweet, it is just very "neutral" tasting and a little bland. His nigiris are also pretty sloppy - his shop is very much a neighborhood type place. The food is not presented in a fancy way. I actually enjoyed the atmosphere quite a bit - maybe more than the food. Nagayama-san gifted me the day's handwritten menu at the end of the meal. Very cool souvenir which I'm going to frame and put in my office.

Sushi Suzuki
1st visit at lunch. Only 1 menu is available at lunch, and priced at Y10,800. I think we were served a couple small otsumami, then about 13 pieces of nigiri. Great value for the amount of food and quality. Suzuki-san is young and extremely friendly. His rice is good, and pretty strongly seasoned with akazu. It actually looks quite brown, much like Sato-san's rice over at Tokami. Pieces are quite large and well-constructed. Highlight was a fantastic piece of sayori. The shop was not busy when we went, we were the only 2 customers for the 1st half of the meal, joined by 2 others later. (Apparently my Japanese dining companion recognized the lady who sat next to me as a famous actress. I had no idea.) Consistency was a little bit of an issue, in that some pieces were fantastic while others were merely good - but overall I greatly enjoyed the sushi, and Suzuki-san's friendly banter. Because it is a new shop I think it is very easy to book for now, but the chef is talented and I'm sure it will become hard to book in time. For now, I really recommend it for those looking for a "last minute" booking for sushi in Ginza.

Sushi Shin
Wonderful meal at Shin - 1st visit at dinner time. Chef Suzuki-san's sushi is very classic Edo: big pieces, strongly seasoned shari, right up my alley. Highlights were the tuna from Aomori and the absolutely stellar hikarimono, especially the kohada and saba. Sadly, Suzuki-san was in a terrible mood, probably caused by the five obviously very wealthy but also incredibly rude Korean customers also sitting at his counter. Funny story: one of the Korean ladies decided that it was appropriate to completely re-do her hair and make-up, while sitting at the counter eating sushi. I understand more and more why some chefs dread serving foreigners when you see this type of stuff go on.

Overall a great sushi trip, looking forward to my next visit (possibly in April).

銀座いわ Ginza IWA,
お菓子工房 SHIMIZU,
Yakiniku Shimizu,
Kyubey Hotel Okura Branch,
Daisan Harumi Sushi,
Sushi Suzuki,
Tonkatsu Suzuki,
Sato Yosuke Hibiya,
Sushi Tokami,
Sushi Shin,
Isen Honten,
Sushi Arai,
Sukiyabashi Jiro
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