1 February 2014
I was really starting to love Tokyo on this trip, especially after the previous night’s dinner at Sushi Bar Yasuda. However, my jetlag was getting worse, and I was still sick from the bug I picked up in Manila, so I had to really fight to get to food. As a consequence I was not eating as much as I thought I would.
But for my last care-free night on this trip, I made arrangements to check out one of the very best sushi bars in all of Tokyo, the Michelin-starred Sushi Kanesaka. Michelin stars are kind of turn-offs for locals, but compared to Yasuda this place caters much more to the Japanese.
As are many other top sushi restaurants in Tokyo, Sushi Kanesaka is in the basement of an office building. I found the non-descript place, went downstairs and found a small sushi bar divided into 2 sections. I was seated in the front section, possibly because the chef speaks decent English; of the 2 groups next to me one was Japanese and one was Korean (but spoke some Japanese).
I was gonna take it slower on the sake tonight as I don’t need a hangover, so I also had a mug of tea during this omakase. Once again, another amazing experience, and I do have photos of the entire course (like the Yasuda review), so join me once again for the ride!
The omakase (big course) began with some baby shrimp with a generous serving of fresh sea urchin. Mmm, a nice opening, balancing the two different types of sweet from the key ingredients. Nice!
Next were two succulent oysters. Meaty, briny, these were scrumptious! So far excellent!
Third up was some awesome hairy crab. A generous portion, the savoury crabmeat was very tasty.
Fourth was some chu-toro to whet the appetite. Just enough fattiness to make this sashimi a wonderful treat before we move into the sushi.
Next up was a generous slice of ankimo, or monkfish liver. I’m not a big fan of these things, though this was done pretty well. Fish livers have never done as much for me for some reason…
Following this was two boiled treats — abalone on the left, octopus on the right. Both were braisd in a sweet-ish sauce, which brought out the delicate (and different) flavours of both items. I’m gonna miss all this abalone when I leave Asia…
The last of the pre-sushi courses was a nice piece of grilled swordfish. Don’t see this often on Japanese menus, but it was an excellent piece of fish. I was now really looking forward to the sushi portion of this omakase dinner!
First up was hirame, or flounder. A solid piece with nice taste, but after the amazing flounder hoe I had at Seoul’s Goraebul this was a runner-up. Ironically when the Korean group asked me about my dining experience in Seoul they were utterly impressed I had found Goraebul and Congdu.
Next was shimaaji, or striped jack. Nice, deep taste on this piece of fish. Excellent. Now we move into the tuna tasting section…
First up was the akami, or lean tuna. This was very tasty as the freshness can’t be questioned.
Next was the chu-toro, which was very tasty. I got a sniff of this during the early courses as a sashimi, but this was fantastic.
Then of course was the o-toro, which was just melt-in-your-mouth here…wow, this was stunning. Super fresh, as the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market is just a few blocks from here.
In a change of pace the next piece was ika, or squid, one of my favourite sushi to eat. I love the texture. This was no exception, good!
Then a wonderful piece of aji, or horse mackerel. Nice and oily, a perfect contrast to the previous piece.
Next we move back to shellfish with a juicy and large ebi. This was a large and delicious piece, fantastic!
Following this we stay with shellfish. The akagai, or red clam, was delicious. I love the presentation here too. Utterly photogenic, and the texture was fantastic.
Uni was next on the omakase. To be honest this was nice but nowhere as nice as yesterday. There are some parts of this meal that was better than yesterday’s at Yasuda, but also parts of yesterday’s meal that’s been better than today — and this is one of them.
Then we have seared tuna cheek…fantastic, really strong flavours here, and the searing brought it out fully.
Next up was anago, and this was a really tasty item. I love my eels as everyone knows, so there’s no way to make it bad — especially how fresh this was. Nice!
You know the meal was coming to an end when they give you the handroll, this was a simple tuna and scallion roll. Nothing special, it was better last night.
Then finally, the closing tamago. Now this was very good. I usually hate tamago as do many sushi lovers, but this was really a nice way to finish the omakase. However, I had some more sake and chef asked if I was still hungry, so we endulged each other for a few more treats…
The first “extra” piece was an excellent mirugai. I love clams, so this was a real treat. Very tasty, the cutting brought the crunchiness down a bit but really opened up the taste of this giant clam. Fabulous!
Next up were squid tentacles. Beautiful presentation (like last night), I really like this hard-to-get item outside of Japan…not because it’s rare, but few sushi chefs good and patient enough to properly do this.
I finished the drinks with this final piece, a rarity, engawa — flounder fin. Utterly fantastic piece to end this omakase. Wow…
I was a little shell-shocked when I got the bill, as it was more than double the bill from Yasuda (and I drank far less). But it was a wonderful experience. The tuna section was a particular gem tonight, as were some of the opening courses. I think the progression was better at Yasuda at times, but this was amazing.
I headed out for the 20-minute walk back to my hotel, enjoying the cool breeze and savouring the experience of the evening. Fabulous food once again, and I started to wonder — can I eat sushi at a cheap place again? Or am I doomed to enjoy sushi only at pricey (but awesome) places?
Oh, what a choice… 🙂
Sushi Kanesaka Omakase
1. Baby shrimp with urchin
3. Hairy crab
5. Monkfish liver (ankimo)
6. Abalone and octopus
7. Grilled swordfish
8. Flounder (hirame)
9. Striped jack (shimaaji)
10. Lean tuna (akami)
13. Squid (ika)
14. Horse mackerel (aji)
15. Shrimp (ebi)
16. Red clam (akagai)
17. Urchin (uni)
18. Seared tuna cheek
19. Eel (anago)
20. Tuna scallion roll
21. Egg (tamago)
*22. Giant clam (mirugai)
*23. Squid tentacles (geso)
*24. Flounder fin (engawa)
B1/F Misuzu Bldg, 8-10-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku