Hello all! I am finally awake from my slumber. If you like nice food, you might know of Chubby Hubby. I am a fan of his blog. He eats well, he writes well, his pictures are pretty, and I also really trust his taste. Some months ago, he declared Keiji Nakazawa of Sushi Sho the best sushi chef in the world. That was a huge compliment paid. And truly well deserved I found out.
Friends and I booked weeks ahead and got a 9pm slot on Friday night. The cosy restaurant in Yotsuya, Tokyo seats ten around a sushi counter. We spotted Chef Keiji Nakazawa, who helms Sushi Sho, busy attending to the group beside us. Chef Shingo Takahashi, protege of Chef Nakazawa and who would be responsible for our gorgeous dinner tonight, speaks some English, much to our delight.
From my travels in Japan, I have been fortunate to have tasted possibly some of the sweetest, freshest seafood in the world – fatty tuna that simply melts in your mouth, sea urchin that might as well have been ice cream, scallops both crunchy and tender in one bite, pea-sized salmon roe that pop into a sea of salty goodness. All extremely high quality seafood, but now surpassed, now that I have met Sushi Sho.
Through the hands of Chef Takahashi, we have quantum leaped into a whole new league of sushi cuisine. We ate through a set course of sushi and other seafood so exquisite it was surreal.
We had a lot of firsts tonight. From the extraordinary ingredients, to the deliberation in preparation, and to the harmony of flavours, of textures, of temperatures, everything was impeccable.
The gizzard shad (kohada) so skillfully scored with a crisscross pattern had been cured with salt and pickled in vinegar. The hint of vinegar tartness reined in the strong taste of the fish for a perfect balance of acidity and oil.
The lightly grilled splendid alfonsino (kinmedai-no aburi) was warm and buttery, a delightful combination that drew nods of approval. The boiled octopus (tako) was so incredibly tender and succulent with the umami flavours of the ocean we could not hold back gasps.
So meticulous these masters are in the creation of the sushi, that even the choice and preparation of the sushi rice have been painstakingly thought out. Chef Takahashi explained that white rice is used for delicate seafood while red rice (from Ibaraki prefecture) is preferred for seafood that is more flavourful and fuller in body. The rice is then prepared with different vinegar profiles and paired with the seafood for optimal taste.
Served on red rice, the monk fish liver (ankimo) paired with a sliver of watermelon jelly was nothing short of unctuous decadence. Sea urchin (uni) typically served chilled was served lightly grilled on red rice at Sushi Sho – a morsel of sheer delight and indulgence (and I am not being biased here towards uni, it was mind-blowing I swear!)
Cod milt (shirako) is a Japanese delicacy most foreign palates are apprehensive about. This dish I guarantee would convert even the most tentative of diners. The milt was served pleasantly warm, and tasted like very delicate, very delicious egg white. The sprinkle of shichimi togarashi may seem elementary to the uninitiated but it was exactly what the milt needed for a spicy lift. How clever!
The tuna belly (toro and otoro), aged for ten days to allow for the flavour of the fish to mature, is a bite of unadulterated pleasure, character and complexity. Essentially a celebration of the astounding culinary intuition and prowess of the chef masters of Sushi Sho.
We had these among many other remarkable sushi tonight. It was clear as day masters were at work as everything was just perfect. Every piece of sushi and seafood was a wondrous balance of temperature and flavour. It was irreproachable.
With every course, Chef Takahashi returned our oohs and aahs, omigawds and oishii desu with a bashful smile, a slight bow and a “thank you thank you” with an endearing accent.
The attentiveness and consideration to our experience extended beyond our food. One of us was left-handed and by her second course, her tableware, sake glass and even placement of the sushi on her plate had been discreetly rearranged for her convenience.
This amazing 2.5 hours journey into Sushi Sho’s art and philosophy was an extravagance no doubt, but as Chubby Hubby said, it was worth every penny.
The restaurant’s menu changes every season. Chef Takahashi helpfully remarked that sea urchin is in season in summer. Can these great chefs read minds too now??Sushi Sho
Yorindo Building, 1F
1-11 Yotsuya Shinjuku-ku
Tel: +813.3351.6387 Written by jack.d Photographed by jack.d and leni.b