Did you know that sushi began as a quick street food in Tokyo? Back in the 18th Century when Tokyo was still called Edo, sushi was created as an optimal on-the-go meal. Since then sushi has taken off, and now there are as many poorly constructed sushi rolls as there are meticulously and traditionally prepared sushi rolls.
When you head to Tokyo and try to enjoy sushi, keep a few rules and key differences in mind: eating with your hands is absolutely accepted, the hefty price tag is always worth it when you’re in the presence of a chef who’s spent his entire life pursuing the perfect sushi, and using additional soy sauce is a big faux pas. Also keep in mind that most of the best sushi restaurants have a maximum capacity of 10-15 seats for guests, so be sure to make reservations when you reserve your flights. Read on, read up and get ready for incredible sushi in some of Tokyo’s best Sushi spots.
Located in the upscale Ginza neighbourhood of Japan, Sushi Yoshitake is a great way to get the full experience (a meal here will cost around $230AUD. With only seven seats in this small shop, you must make a reservation, but once you are there you will enjoy a masterful chef, fresh and delicious ingredients and an elegant atmosphere in which to enjoy your meal. Chef Yoshitake even speaks some English and should be able to exchange greetings and small conversation with you during your time dining at Sushi Yoshitake.
Chef Sawada runs this sushi shop, and beyond a delicious Ginza style sushi-ya, he is famous for another aspect of this culture. He is well-known for how he ages his tuna, and his pairing of flavours with different textures is impeccable. It will take around 2.5 hours to work your way through his omakase set menu course, and since there is a maximum of 6-8 seats here, you won’t get in without prior planning and a reservation. Sawada’s omekase will cost upwards of $350AUD.
Chef Nakazawa is famous for his 35-piece omakase set menu course (it cost aroutnd $200AUD), and if you are lucky enough to snag a reservation at Sushi Sho, you will have the opportunity to taste it. In the course you’ll see pieces of nirigi (sushi) mixed with tsumami (appetizers) and he encourages drinking sake with the menu. You’ll experience endless combinations of textures and flavours through which you can tell Nakazawa has worked hard to create a playful and fun menu for his customers. This shop has just 10 seats, so reservations are all but required as his shop has a strong following of locals and fans from all over the world.
Slide up to the wooden counter at Fukuzushi and get ready for a culinary treat. Whether you prefer conventional flavours and options or if you’d like to expand your horizons, Fukuzushi’s chefs will put together an innovative meal for your palate. There are no reservations accepted here, so if you plan on dining, prepare for a short wait before being seated. Dress is business casual, and the costs are the most reasonable on this list with dinner sets starting around $60AUD.
Harutaka is a lively, relaxed and enjoyable spot to unwind and enjoy some of the most-loved sushi in all of Tokyo. They serve classic Edomae sushi at a more reasonable pace than Harutaka’s sister store Jiro. There are appetizers and a fantastic sake menu that will add to your experience at Harutaka and as a bonus, it is open late. Reservations are strongly recommended and you can expect to pay a pretty penny for the 20-piece omakase set menu course (think $250AUD).
If you are looking for a top quality sushi experience in Tokyo but don’t want to pay as much as the other options, look at Sushi Iwa. It still isn’t cheap (think roughly $50-85AUD for lunch and upwards of $200AUD for dinner) but what you get for what you pay is a better value than some others. Watch the master prepare your nigiri set right in front of you and enjoy the balance of fish and red vinegar that has been mastered in each plate.
Kyubey opened in 1936 and has attracted rich and famous clientele from around the world since. Kyubey offers unbeatable quality and presentation of the sushi, and while you’ll end up with empty pockets by the end of your visit, every person who visits will tell you it’s worth the exorbitant fees. This is traditional sushi, created and crafted by traditional sushi masters, and then served on pottery by the famed artisan Kitaoji Rosanjin. Would you pay $315AUD for that? We would.
While hard-core sushi enthusiasts do eat sushi often, in general it isn’t an every-day meal. Visiting a sushi-ya can be intimidating for locals and visitors alike. They are formal, traditional and respectful places, and it is typically a rare and special occasion to visit a sushi shop. Pick which sushi spot you’d like to try, make a reservation and let the daydreams of the perfect sushi roll begin. Keep your Tokyo sushi tasting adventure safe with an international travel insurance policy from Cover-More.
Image courtesy of Flickr user NielsPhotography.