Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tokyo in 40: Sunday Sushi Lunch

Finding a proper place to eat in Tokyo on Sundays is not as easy as one might think since many fine dining establishments chose to rest on that day, but Sushi Shin in Nishi-azabu is a rare exception, which stays open on Sunday and closes every Monday instead. So I asked the hotel concierge to make the booking for me for Sunday afternoon.

The restaurant is located in a quiet neighborhood somewhere in between Shibuya and Roppongi. After spending the morning in Daikanyama, I made a slow walk into Ebisu where I took a bus that brought me just a couple blocks away, right on time for my noon-time booking. The restaurant occupied a tiny street-level space next to a liquor store, with eight seats by the counter and a private room near the entrance. The street-facing entrance was a tad bit annoying from time to time whenever the door was open and you could hear the cars driving by, but it’s not that bad an issue.

Behind the counter was the young owner/chef Shintaro Suzuki and his assistant. For lunch they offered a choice of set menus with nigiri sushi, or omakase with both tsumami and nigiri sushi which I ordered. My tsumami courses started with a few light pieces, like the makogarei (flouder) and mategai (razor clams), then shako (manthis shrimps) done two ways, and gradually moved to some richer pieces like iwashi (sardine) and katsuo (bonito). In between there’s also a cooked fish course of sake-poached head of tai (snapper). The seasonal iwashi was my favorite piece with good texture and flavor, but I also like the shako prepared two different ways, one slightly poached with a brush of tare sauce, and the other one I believe was marinated in nuka, or rice bran, with a deeper taste and softer texture.

I then moved into the nigiri sushi courses, again, starting with the ligher pieces working my way up in the traditional order- namely tai (snapper), sumi-ika (golden cuttlefish), engawa (flounder fin), maguro-zuke (marinated lean tuna), chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), kohada (gizzard shad), hotate (scallops), shima-ebi (shrimp), uni (sea urchin) and anago (sea eel). All of them quite decent, but a few pieces stood out.

I am used to having engawa (flouder fin) being torched before serving, but Chef Suzuki put that through aging in a piece of kombu and served the piece as is, so instead of this fatty flavor, what I got was a slightly crunchy texture with a milder taste. It was enjoyable. The kohada was also great for its firm texture and paired well with the deep vinegared rice underneath – that’s a good reminder of me not having a proper sushi meal like this for a long while.

The hotate piece which was served next came from a thick piece of scallops and well-aged and marinated. Chef sliced it thick then scored numerous times then served with a brush of sauce and sudachi zest on top. I loved the contrast of the rich taste and the refreshing zest. Two types of uni were used in the sushi piece served gunkan-style – on one end was the lighter bafun uni from Hokkaido and on the other, the richer and softer murasaki uni from Aomori.

In between there’s also a bowl of aosa-jiru, a light miso soup with seaweed, and I ended with a perfectly cooked castella cake with a soft, wobbly center. Went with two types of sakes for lunch – starting with an exquisite Katsuyama Akatsuki Ginmai Daijinjo then moving back to a more rustic style one from Kanagawa Prefecture (just because I felt like I wanted to try something different). The first glass won. Overall it was a decent meal – not the best I have had but it was satisfying.

More photos here:

When? June 4 2017
Where? Sushi Shin, Nishi-Azabu Co-house 1/F, 4-18-20 Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo
Katsuyama Akatsuki Junmai Daiginjo, Katsuyama Shuzo, Miyagi Prefecture
Izumibashi Junmai Ginjo, Izumibashi Shuzo, Kanagawa Prefecture

The rest of my Tokyo weekend:

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