Sushi is something so ubiquitous, and unfortunately diluted by various mass produced versions that we forget what it should be, or rather what it could be. And what it could be shall be best experienced at Sukiyabashi Jiro. We didn’t manage to get a booking at the original in Ginza, but I reckon his son’s shop at Roppongi will do just fine.
Upon entering the shop, I felt a certain palpable tension, and seemingly some serious work is being executed in this establishment. The staff were polite but serious, and we were quick to take our seats in front of the rather imposing Jiro. But as we progressed through the meal, he definitely eased a bit and asked a lot of questions about us, and explained the dishes adequately in English. I hesitated to pull out my ginormous camera, but he soon explained that it was fine as long as I didn’t take photos of other guests.
Now, onwards to the sushi.
Anthony Bourdain was right, it’s all about the rice. The rice here was definitely more pronounced with the vinegar, but I have to say I loved it. It definitely gives some acidity to the sushi, which triggered my taste buds and was rather appetizing. We had a wide array of sashimi and sushis, and general consensus amongst my friends was that it is bloody awesome. Here are some of my favourites that are worth salivating over.
Although I didn’t manage to capture a picture of it, the octopus i.e. Tako was also an amazing dish. Massaged for 30 minutes or so, it was served warm to invoke certain flavours that one would not expect from octopus. As Jiro had explained, the octopus diet consists of crab and shrimp, and these flavours come forth when you gradually chew it. Amazingly tender and utterly delicious.
One of the highlights was squid or Sumi-ika sushi. Never had squid so immaculately smooth and tender before.
After trying toro and chutoro sushi, I’ve gotta say the lean tuna i.e. Akami sushi was my favourite. It definitely had more complexity and flavour to it. Folks may not realize this, but the fish were typically aged for a few days in salt and vinegar, whilst only the clam dishes are served raw.
The salmon roe i.e. Ikura sushi was also amazing, with the roes popping and bring forth a torrent of flavour without even a hint of fishiness to it.
Uni me!! This was hands down the best sushi I’ve had in my very brief, but well fed existence. When fresh, sea urchin is like the foie gras of the sea which is luxuriously creamy. It was quite a mouthful, and upon the first bite, once again a surge of freshness and flavour of the sea hits you square in the face. It was like god kissed you with a mouthful of scotch. Once again, utter bliss.
I’ve always had Unagi sushi, and the salt-water eel i.e. Anago sushi was amazing! The sweet sauce with the luscious anago was definitely something else.
Next, we had wheel shrimp i.e. Kuruma ebi sushi. What was amazing about it was that he managed to retain the flavour of the shrimp head in the sushi.
Of course, we had to have the fatty tuna i.e. Otoro. It was as immaculate as one could imagine.
For the finale, we had the tamagoyaki, which was fluffy perfection. For Malaysians, it might be redolent of “chicken egg cake” that one might get back home, but taken to the next level of awesomeness.
Second day in Tokyo, and I’m once again spoilt silly with amazing food. This was definitely the pinnacle of sushi for me, and don’t think I’ll be able to consume anything else back home for quite awhile! Ther regular stuff just wouldn’t do it for me anymore.
Was it worth the hype? Most definitely. Although I’ve heard that Sushi Jiro at Ginza was uptight towards foreigners, the Roppongi branch was definitely on the other end of the spectrum. Heck, we even managed to snag a photo with Jiro! Another brilliant day in the land of the rising sun.