Friday, March 28, 2014

More Tokyo - Revisiting Sushi Yoshitake

This time around in Tokyo, instead of trying new places for sushi, I also wanted to return to a restaurant that I had fond memories of in my previous visit, so I asked Amex Platinum Concierge to help book me a seat at Ginza's Sushi Yoshitake, and they came back with a confirmed reservation on Tuesday evening.

I arrived slightly 10 minutes late for my 8:30pm booking, and found myself to be the last to arrive for the second seating at this 8-seater restaurant. After picking my first sake from the menu (Hakurakusei Junmai Ginjo), Chef Yoshitake began to prepare my meal.

I started off with some taraba crabs with yuzu jelly, served in a small ceramic cup. It's great as a palate cleanser - refreshing with a welcoming acidity. Next up was the tako (octopus) which was steamed and grilled in charcoal, giving it a great combination of smoky aroma and tender texture. Thin slices of hamadai (ruby snapper) sashimi were then served, with the skin on and charred, followed by the abalone with the liver sauce. Well, this is the very dish that I wanted to come back for most - and it's as good as I remembered.

Taichiuo, or beltfish, from Chiba was grilled with skin on and salt with generous sprinkles of grated yuzu zest. The citrus flavor neutralized some of the salty taste without overtaking anything. The skin was evenly cooked with the hint of crispyness and the meat was delicately soft and creamy. My last otsumami was sea cucumber roe with mountain yam and wasabi stalk - which was well marinated and actually quite interesting to have with the different textures and tastes came to play.

I then moved on to nigiri sushi as Chef Yoshitake started to lay the ingredients out. I was just about to finish my first carafe of sake so I moved on to something else - this time a Juyondai Junmai Ginjo which is a notch sweeter than my previous one with more complexity too. The sushi course pretty much followed the traditional order, starting with ika (squid), nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch), akamai zuke (marinated lean tuna), chutoro (medium fatty tuna) and then o-toro (fatty tuna). It seemed like both the fattier nodoguro and o-toro won my favor this evening - love the texture and strong flavor coming out of the fish that wasn't overly oily with minimal seasoning, and somehow worked well with the rice which has a balanced taste with noticeable vinegar flavor.

After the trio of tuna, I continued with more. I was a bit confused when Yoshitake-san handed me the next piece explaining it's called "siu kei yu", which I thought was unmistakably kohada (gizzard shad). Turned out he's calling by its Cantonese name which I failed to relate at first (kohada literally means "small skin", or "siu kei" in Cantonese). The apprentice chef actually cut the piece and then Yoshitake-san made the sushi, and it was pretty good with firm texture. I also liked my saba (mackeral) sushi done in the traditional Kyoto, bo-sushi style. It's slightly cured with kelp, rolled with shiso and rice, formed into an oval cylindrical shape and cut into a thick slice to serve. It's similar to the one I had in their Hong Kong branch Sushi Shikon except at that time it's autumn time so the seasonal sanma was used instead of saba.

Hamaguri was the only shellfish (other than the Kuruma Ebi later on) being served this evening and it's probably my second favorite of the evening. Love the crunchiness of the clam and the combination of the right seasonings. After the sawara (Spanish mackeral) with a slight hint of wooden smokiness, Yoshitake-san pulled out the wooden boxes of uni (sea urchin) and prepared the sushi in gunkan style. Actually two different uni were used both coming from different areas in Hokkaido - Bafun uni on top from Hakodate and Murasaki uni at the bottom (which he did mention the origin but I somehow forgot). I absolutely loved this - both were of excellent quality and the creamier Bafun uni and the richer Murasaki uni made a great combination! This is my favorite and quite possibly one of the best uni sushi I have had, and to the extent I did ask for a second piece at the end to relive that moment. Two additional pieces - Kuruma Ebi (giant prawn), anago (sea eel) - were served (and both were top notch too), followed by tamago-yaki and soup completed the meal.

Before I came over I was worried that given my near perfect experiences in my previous visits (both here and in their Hong Kong branch), the meal would never match up to my heightened expectation. Well to a certain extent it may be so - my feeling is this time the otsumami leaned more towards traditional style and less delicate, but the abalone was still the best I have ever tried, and all the nigiri sushi were flawless. This time I paid a little more attention to the rice being used, and I must say I love the strong yet balanced vinegar flavor of the shari (or rice). Overall I still found this to be my favorite sushi-ya in Tokyo, and given the consistency, I won't hesitate to recommend this place to anyone.

More pictures on my Flickr page:

Previous Visits:
(March 2012)
(October 2012 - Sushi Shikon Hong Kong)

Where? Sushi Yoshitake  3/F Suzuryu Building, 8-7-19 Ginza, Chūō-ku, Tokyo
鮨よしたけ 東京都中央区銀座8-7-19すずりゅうビル3F
Menu Highlights? Abalone with Liver Sauce
Hakurakusei Junmai Ginjo 伯樂星 純米吟釀 - 宮城縣 新澤釀造店
Juyondai Junmai Ginjo 十四代 純米吟釀 生酒 - 山形縣 高木酒造

1 comment :

Unknown said...

Hey :) so is this the ultimate sushi experience in Japan? would you suggest any other places if one(foodie) goes to Japan once in a lifetime :)
Thank you for your posts :) if you would include the pricing that would be super helpful (cause i'm eating only pasta everyday) need to prepare that wallet :D