Feb 20 2014

Sukiyabashi Jiro


One of the things I always wanted to do when in Tokyo was to visit arguably the world’s best sushi restaurant. Sukiyabashi Jirō is a three Michelin star sushi restaurant in Ginza, the expensive area of Tokyo. It is owned and operated by the 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono (the world’s most renowned sushi chef, the first sushi chef to receive 3 Michelin stars and someone that Japan has declared a national treasure and the subject of seven books). Sukiyabashi Jirō was made even more famous by David Gelb's 2011 documentary film called “Jiro dreams of sushi” that talks about the art of sushi and the relationship Jiro has with his oldest son Yoshikazu Ono. His other son Takashi operates the 2 Michelin star branch of Sukiyabashi Jiro in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo.
Getting a reservation of Sukiyabashi Jiro was not easy, but in the end the concierge at our hotel managed to do it for a Thursday lunchtime at 12.00 just after we had landed in the Tokyo airport. You can call them on your own, but they won’t pick up, hence you need a good hotel concierge and I have no idea how the lady managed to book it, otherwise it seems impossible. Also finding the place was not easy even with a map, as the restaurant is located in a Tokyo subway station, which I did not expect and I think we found this place by luck, as there are no English signs outside and I only went into the subway and the Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant to ask for directions how to get to the restaurant and it turned out to be the right place.
The restaurant only has 10 seats by the sushi bar where Jiro and his son Yoshikazu both make sushi in front of you. When we entered the restaurant only 2 people were there eating sushi and when we left the restaurant was empty. The décor is quite plain, with stools around the sushi bar and also tables on one side where you sit after you have finished eating sushi and have your dessert. I asked if I could take pictures and was only allowed to take pictures of the sushi not of the process how it is made or the décor, so I can’t show you these.
When we sat down we were presented with a set menu (they only do set menus) that had 19 different pieces of sushi and cost YEN 30,000 per person (which is around £176), which is a super ridiculous amount of money of course and meant each sushi cost £9 on average. The sushi eating also lasted only 25minutes as when Jiro put a sushi in front of you, you had to eat it and he kept putting sushi on our plates constantly. My boyfriend says he is the fastest eater he knows and even this was testing his level of comfortable, as he had to eat the sushi so fast. I also later read that Jiro gets upset if you don’t eat the sushi after he has placed it in front of you and want to take your time.
You can see pictures of all the sushi that Jiro himself made for us, each piece with a different thing, so sushi with flat fish, squid, yellow tail, tuna, semi fatty tuna, fatty tuna, gizzard shad, octopus, arc shell, jack mackerel, boiled prawn, mackerel, clam shell, sardine, sea urchin, baby scallops, salmon roe, sea eel and egg. Some of the sushi, like the ones with gizzard shad, arc shell and clam shell, I had never had before and I actually really liked this gizzard shad and will be ordering more of this. Some sushi I was less keen on, as I don’t really like arc shell, clam and sea urchin. But the common feature of the sushi was how well it was prepared and put together, skillfully and quickly by Jiro, and how incredibly fresh the fish tasted. The tuna literally melted in your mouth. I have had expensive tuna before, but nothing like this. It was superb sushi, the best I have ever had. My only disappointment I guess was that I could not enjoy this sushi a tiny bit longer and had to eat one after the other quickly. After finishing with the sushi in 25 minutes we were shown to a small table next to the sushi counter where we were served tea and a piece of melon and where we could actually take time to drink our tea and eat the food.
I have read some reviews that say Jiro is not nice to foreigners and can be a bit cold but I did not experience any of this. I very much liked Jiro. He did not speak English (his son did speak some) but he seemed very nice and started laughing at my boyfriend’s bad chopstick skills when my boyfriend dropped a piece of sushi and Jiro started teaching him and also loved how my boyfriend just like him did not have any hair, he found it hilarious and kept pointing at both of their heads. Also at the end of the meal he wanted to take a picture with us which we were super glad to do and now have this as a memory and also he was also super keen to sign our menus. Also I very much liked how he was physically there at such an old age making sushi. He must be super rich charging these type of prices and being so famous, yet he is still in the restaurant, approachable and there to make you your sushi.
This was an extremely expensive meal and we did not have any alcohol, but I think it was worth it. It was an honour to meet Jiro, take a picture with him, see him in action and also taste the best sushi I have ever had with fish I have never seen before. Save money and come here, it is very memorable.
Date: 20/ 02/ 14
Locaton: Ginza, Tokyo, Japan
Price for 2 people, no alcohol: 63,000YEN (or £370)

Maija rated: 




Sukiyabashi Jiro
4-2-15 Ginza, Chūō 104-0061
Sukiyabashi Jiro Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 5