Some of you reading my reviews, especially the recent one on Iwa [いわ], may be wondering why I did not write a full review of the famous Mizutani [水谷] after my lunch there the other day? To be very honest, I felt writing a full review of that experience would not be a fair depiction of the 2-Michelin legend, as various circumstances — some outside the restaurant’s control — marred the experience.
First of all, I noticed the old master was suffering from the sniffles, probably the same cold every other person in Tokyo has. As he’s the only person making the sushi, it’s either trudge on or close the place, and he admirably trudged on.
Second, and this was a key factor in the experience being marred, was that a short time into my lunch a pair of girls came in and sat down at the counter. To put it nicely, one of them was ridiculously hungover and had no idea what was going on. She was talking loud and not eating the food. The other girl was drinking shochu non-stop in the meantime, annoyed with her friend (but not helping the situation). One of them was not eating any oily fish, which disrupted the flow from the already sniffly master.
Unfortunately, at this point Mizutani became pretty obsessed by them, constantly staring at them and seeing what’s going on and whether they are eating. Sadly, it distracted him so much it started to disrupt the output for the rest of the diners. Even though at some later point he moved from annoyance to amusement over the antics of the girls, going as far as constantly calling for refills of shochu for the non-hungover one, it completely disrupted the process of serving his other customers.
Then you should have seen Mizutani’s face when the hungover-I-can’t-eat-that girl started talking about seeing this film about this Jiro guy…
Mizutani is one of the most expensive sushi-ya in Tokyo, an that’s saying a lot. Plus it’s a cash-only place. So I don’t like having such an experience ruined. For a lunch omakase and 3 beers it cost over USD 300. Not feeling very happy when I handed over those notes.
As with the food, I have to say I was disappointed. The rice was admittedly very good, but the seafood seemed second rate at times. The o-toro was stringy and very unimpressive — I ordered it again before the end to confirmed my fears that it wasn’t a fluky piece. The mackerel was boring, the octopus was basically an inedible combination of rubbery, stringy and unchewable — took me about a minute of constant chewing to get it small enough to swallow without killing myself.
I admit watching him work — when he wasn’t staring daggers at the girls — was mesmirising, but it really wasn’t worth the below-average seafood and crazy side-show.
The sooner I forget this the better.
Oh yeah, they have a strict no-photo policy.