Dinner @ Sushi Inomata 鮨 猪股 (Saitama, Japan)

March 23, 2019 in Japanese

And during my February 2018 trip, one of the sushi-yas that I went to was Sushi Inomata! In fact… With the exception of Kioichi Mitani, I booked my other sushi meals based on instagrammer @andrew_gyokudari‘s recommendation; I asked for places that’s within his Top 10 which are also not impossible to book, and he recommended me Sushi Inomata, Sushi Ryusuke and Sushi Suzuki. He also recommended Sushi Arai but I had already gone there. Also, I read Sushi Arai has since become difficult for non-locals to book head chef Arai san’s counter. But I digress…

For 6pm dinner, my hotel concierge assisted to make reservation 1 month prior. And when my reservation was confirmed, I was pre-informed the meal would range between ¥20,000 to ¥25,000.

But the thing was… Within that short 1 month from making-the-reservation to the-actual-dinner, they changed their menu. From February 2018, Sushi Inomata only offered a fixed 22 courses menu. My friend and I didn’t realise that till the end of our meal. And yes… Dinner at Sushi Inomata was supposed to be a solo affair. But when my friend learnt I was going there, she expressed interest.


And it was interesting that Sushi Inomata allowed me to make adjustment to my existing reservation via Instagram. Made me wonder for a moment if they would accept new reservation through Instagram. And yes, we exchanged texts in English. It was during our meal at Sushi Inomata that I realised it was chef-owner Kiyoshi Inomata’s fiancée wife who was replying me.

Sushi Inomata was not in central Tokyo. Located on the outskirts of Tokyo, it was a 45 to 55 minutes (metro) journey to Kawaguchi metro station followed by a 15 to 18 minutes walk. And once everyone arrived and settled down, we commenced our dinner with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Squid. We were told it’s aged for 4 days.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Flounder (hirame).

3) Dish #3 (above) – 1-week aged black throat sea perch (nodoguro).

4) Dish #4 (above) – Needlefish (sayori).

5) Dish #5 (above) – Adductor muscles of clam (kobashira).


6) Dish #6 (above) – Sea urchin (uni).

7) Dish #7 (above) – Marinated tuna (maguro zuke).

8) Dish #8 (above) – Vinegar-marinated mackerel (shime-saba).

9) Dish #9 (above) – Sweet shrimp (amaebi).

10) Dish #10 (above) – Ark shell clam (akagai).

11) Dish #11 (above) – Whale tail (kujira).

12) Dish #12 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro).


13) Dish #13 (above) – Cucumber sushi roll.

14) Dish #14 (above) – Stuffed squid.

15) Dish #15 (above) – Milt (shirako).

16) Dish #16 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro).

17) Dish #17 (above) – Marinated premium fatty tuna (otoro).

18) Dish #18 (above) – Gizzard shad (kohada).

19) Dish #19 (above) – Hand roll of marinated tuna (maguro zuke) and premium fatty tuna (otoro).

20) Dish #20 (above) – Pickled gourd sushi roll.

21) Dish #21 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago).

I only had 21 dishes because I requested not to have oyster as I wasn’t sure if I fully recovered from my oyster phobia. My friend had fewer dishes than me since she clearly knew her likes and dislikes. Because she was still hungry and I was greedy, we tried requesting for add-ons. And that’s when we realised head chef Inomata san had changed to a fixed 22 courses menu. He was apologetic he wasn’t able to offer us additional nigiri sushi.

My friend and I continued to linger a little before requesting for the bill. Although it was odd our bill took a long while to come, my friend and I didn’t mind the wait because we were quite entertained at the sight of the remaining drunk high customers. Keke. And what touched us was after the husband and wife saw everyone off, head chef Inomata san came up to us and explained he couldn’t oblige earlier because of his other customers. That’s when we realised he turned down the other customers’ requests for additional sushi too. So yes, we were touched because he must have realised my friend was hungry since she had significantly fewer dishes. I think she skipped at least 4 to 5? And he made us a sea urchin rice bowl each. We didn’t take any picture cause he requested us not to.

Including a cup of green tea, my meal came up to ¥29,800 (inclusive of tax and service charge).

Will I recommend Sushi Inomata? I definitely enjoyed myself. Sushi was great. Instead of refined, one should think of his style as bold and… Rough? Influenced by Hatsunezushi, head chef Inomata san aged (jukusei) his fishes. Though not all. His sushi was also heavier on the palate as his rice was seasoned stronger with sake less vinegar. My friend and I had lots of laughter thanks to his warm and very adorable wife too. Head chef Inomata san, the shy and gentle bear, couldn’t converse in English. So when my friend and I couldn’t understand him, his wife would take out her pocket translator and translate on his behalf. So cute. We honestly loved the husband-wife team. I only wish their restaurant was more accessible.

And since my February 2018 dinner at Sushi Inomata, there have been more changes. The space was renovated, and Sushi Inomata has collaborated with Hatsunezushi from March 2019. So instead of their former 6 operating days, Sushi Inomata is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays with 3 seatings.

SUSHI INOMATA 鮨 猪股
Sunlive Saiwai-Cho Courthouse, 1-12-23 Saiwaicho, Kawaguchi, Japan (埼玉県 川口市 幸町 1-12-23 サンリーブ幸町コートハウス)
+81 48 211 4175, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Thur : 14:00 – 22:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat & Sun

Lunch @ Kioicho Mitani 紀尾井町 三谷 (Tokyo, Japan)

January 3, 2019 in Japanese

Opened in mid-2016, Kioicho Mitani is the branch of famous sushi-ya Mitani in Yotsuya. And for the unfamiliar (since I previously was), Sushi Mitani is notoriously difficult to book. The waiting list at Sushi Mitani is… More than 2 years! And since I know it’s impossible for me to get a booking at Sushi Mitani, my closest bet was Kioicho Mitani. But having said that, one shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of making a reservation at Kioicho Mitani too.

I honestly didn’t think of trying since I anticipated failure. But with the encouragement from a fellow foodie, I decided to just give it a go. At least no regrets meh, I guess. And thus, my hotel concierge enquired in December 2017 for February 2018. I was told the restaurant was fully booked for dinner, but had an available lunch slot for 1 of the days I indicated. Awesome! And to secure my reservation, I provided my credit card details too.

Upon entering the restaurant, I immediately noticed the 2 chefs; Head chef Hiroyuki Takano and sous chef Yoshinori Sugaya. The 750 years-old Taiwanese cypress L-shaped wood counter could sit 12 people, and I was led to the end where chef Sugaya san was. And I was glad I was assigned to him as he could speak English. Yeah! Shortly after I took my seat, I commenced my ¥30,000 omakase lunch with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Baby white anchovy (shirauo) with kelp sauce.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Hairy crab with its roe.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Black throat sea perch (nodoguro) and sea cucumber roe.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Monkfish liver (ankimo). And for this dish, chef Sugaya san took a chunk from the fridge, mashed it up with a fork, portioned it and sprinkled some salt before serving. And this tasted interestingly like ice cream.


5) Dish #5 (above) – Scorched rice topped with a creamy sauce made with cod’s milt.


  
  
  
  

6) Dish #6 (above) – Sushi assortment of squid, flat fish, adult yellowtail (buri), marinated tuna, slightly-seared medium fatty tuna (aburi chutoro), gizzard shad (kohada) and tiger prawn, and minced tuna hand roll. And I really enjoyed chef Sugaya san’s sushi alot. Very well made in terms of size and the proportion of topping (neta) to rice. As for the sushi rice (shari), I could taste the red vinegar although it was not distinctly strong. But it’s after my visit that I read the sushi rice was marianted with red vinegar, brown rice black vinegar, salt, sugar and 3 kinds of sake kasu (leftover paste from sake production). Wow.

7) Dish #7 (above) – The signature egg omelette (tamago). Such a beauty! And this was so good; Soft and fluffy within the various layers.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Clam soup.

  

9) Dish #9 (above) – I thought I had came to the end of my meal with the egg omelette and soup, but chef Sugaya san continued with 2 more; Clam (hamaguri), and ark shell clam (akagai) with sea urchin. Female version for the ark shell clam was without rice while the male version was with rice. And for these 2, chef Sugaya san served them directly onto my palm instead of placing them onto the plate before me. And I had read that the passing-of-sushi-from-hand-to-hand is Mitani’s style.

  

10) Dish #10 (above) – Pickled gourd (kanpyō) sushi roll. One served in seasoned tofu pouch (inari). Another Mitani signature.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Plum (ume).

I started my lunch at Kioicho Mitani at 12pm and was done by 1.40pm. And it was an enjoyable lunch by chef Sugaya san. One could tell he’s a shy man from how he couldn’t hold eye contact for long. Just like me. Keke. But despite his shyness, he kept his professionalism and introduced the various dishes, checked if I was full when I finished the sushi leg of my meal, etc. And I liked that; The zen-ness of the meal provided the ‘me time’ I wanted.

Would I recommend Kioicho Mitani? Well, the thing is… I always look forward to my meals in Japan not only for the masters’ culinary skills, but because the meals are value-for-money. And at Kioicho Mitani, I certainly appreciated the dishes by chef Nagaya san. So based on taste alone, I would definitely recommend Kioicho Mitani. But if one is looking at getting a good deal, one may want to consider other sushi-yas which omakase lunch menu is not as expensive as Kioicho Mitani’s. However if one is a hardcore foodie sushi-lover (like me), one should definitely come to Kioicho Mitani for Mitani-styled food since Sushi Mitani is virtually impossible to be booked by non-Japanese (unless one is extremely lucky).

And since Sushi Mitani is also known as a pioneer for their alcohol pairing, one should consider opting for it at Kioicho Mitani.

Kioicho Mitani 紀尾井町 三谷
Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho, 1-2 Kioicho, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 千代田区 紀尾井町 1-2 紀尾井テラス 3F)
+81 3 6256 9566, Tablelog
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 15:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8

Dinner @ Sushi Takamitsu 鮨 尚充 (Tokyo, Japan)

December 24, 2018 in Japanese

When my hotel concierge contacted Sushi Takamitsu in November 2017 to assist me with my February 2018 reservation, the restaurant mentioned they only accept reservation for 2 people or more. Like what!?! But luckily I knew someone who would be in Tokyo during the same period as me. And thankfully, she too was interested in checking out Sushi Takamitsu. So with that, my hotel concierge confirmed our reservation with Sushi Takamitsu for weekday dinner.

We were given 9.30pm slot and were informed that the menu was ¥20,000. I was quite surprised it was 9.30pm since I read from Tablelog that their seatings are 6pm and 9pm. Hmm…

I would usually search up the restaurant’s shopfront to help me identify the place easily. However, I forgot to do that prior to my dinner at Sushi Takamitsu. Big mistake… My friend and I agreed to reach the restaurant by 9.15pm in hope to start our dinner earlier. Thus I was in the area by 9pm. But I just couldn’t locate the restaurant’s entrance. After 10 minutes, I concluded Google map must have gotten it wrong by indicating the entrance as facing the main street. I was getting slightly frantic by now because it was nearing 9.15pm. I decided to try my luck by heading to the back of the shophouses. And along the quiet (smaller) street, a particular door stood out. However, I wasn’t sure. There was no sign to indicate it’s the entrance to Sushi Takamitsu. Another 10 minutes slipped by before I plucked up my courage to open the sliding door. And thank goodness it was the restaurant and not someone’s house. Ha.

My friend also faced some difficulty in locating the restaurant but managed to arrive by 9.30pm. So much for us trying to reach earlier. Haha. And since we were pre-informed of the menu, we commenced our ¥20,000 omakase dinner (once we were both seated) with:-

1) Appetiser (above)

2) Dish #1 (above) – Flounder (hirame).

3) Dish #2 (above) – Sea bream.

4) Dish #3 (above) – Flounder fin (engawa).

5) Dish #4 (above) – Smoked radish with mascarpone.

6) Pickle (above) – Burdock with sesame seeds.


7) Dish #5 (above) – Stuffed octopus.

8) Pickle (above) – Radish.

9) Dish #6 (above) – Squid.

10) Dish #7 (above) – Lightly charred big-eye snapper (kinmedai).

11) Dish #8 (above) – Steamed hairy crab.

12) Dish #9 (above) – Gizzard shad (kohada).

13) Pickle (above)


  

14) Dish #10 (above) – Steamed abalone, served with sauce made with its liver and sea urchin. We were also each given a ball of sushi rice (shari) to clean up the remaining sauce. Yum!

15) Dish #11 (above) – Blowfish (fugu) milt with sushi rice. And we were cautioned to be careful as it might be hot.

16) Pickle (above)


Halfway through our meal, chef-owner Takamitsu Yasuda took out a slab of tuna much to our delight. And he continued to place it proudly on his Louis Vuitton (LV) luggage which received more “whoa” and “ahhh” from us. Haha. And yes, I read that chef Takamitsu san is a big LV lover. It was amazing to personally see his LV luggages used as display counters. So cute! The expensive tuna just got more expensive being placed on LV. Keke.

17) Dish #12 (above) – Baby white anchovy (shirauo) with sea urchin.

18) Dish #13 (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) with dried sea cucumber ovary.

19) Dish #14 (above) – Marinated tuna.

20) Dish #15 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro).

21) Dish #16 (above) – Monkfish liver (ankimo) and pickled gourd (kanpyō).

22) Dish #17 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro).

23) Dish #18 (above) – Baby leek with miso.

24) Dish #19 (above) – Tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi).

25) Dish #20 (above) – Mullet roe (karasumi) and grilled rice cake (mochi). Such an interesting combination; A little salty, a little sticky. And very nice!

26) Dish #21 (above) – Belt fish (tachiuo).

27) Dish #22 (above) – Mackerel (saba) topped with kelp (kombu).

28) Dish #23 (above) – Leather jacket fish (kawahagi) with liver and spring onion beneath.

29) Pickle (above)

Such a beautiful sight. When I first saw pictures of the sea urchin galore on instagram, I knew I had to visit Takamistsu. The many types of sea urchin offered at Sushi Takamitsu was simply amazing! In fact, the 9 types offered during our meal was nowhere close to the 12 to 15 types he usually showcased. So I guess it’s luck if one could see some or many sea urchin types.

30) Dish #24 (above) – Sea urchin.

31) Dish #25 (above) – Sea urchin.

32) Dish #26 (above) – Seawater eel (anago) with salt.

33) Dish #27 (above) – Rolled egg omelette (tamago) made with wasenbon.

It was a fun and enjoyable dinner; Food was great, atmosphere was chilled and relaxed, and chef Takamitsu san was friendly. I noticed chef Takamitsu san using a really fancy glassware for his soy sauce cruet. It looked like the trophy which actors/actresses receive during award ceremony. I couldn’t help but nudged my friend to take a look too. Chef Takamitsu san caught on, brought it closer to us and tilted it slightly for us to see the bottom. And wow, Baccarat vase!

So while chef Takamitsu san couldn’t speak much English, I was glad we managed to interact with him since my friend could speak some Japanese and chef Takamitsu san had a westerner working in his kitchen who would come to the front and introduce some of the dishes on his behalf.

And it’s a pity we didn’t have time to order additional dishes when our meal came to the end. I was rushing to get onto the last train. Sigh. Else, I would have loved to order additional sea urchin nigiri sushi and his pressed mackerel stick sushi.

Would I recommend Sushi Takamitsu? I definitely would! But one shouldn’t just come for his sea urchin galore. Chef Takamitsu san had so much more to offer. Just like his fine taste in Louis Vuitton and Baccarat, he only used high-quality ingredients. An example would be the tuna which he gets from Yamayuki, the tuna broker at Tsukiji Market. And as an affirmation that he’s doing it right, Takamitsu has also joined the Michelin ranks. On 27 November 2018, Sushi Takamitsu was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019.

And if one went, do let me know if chef Takamitsu san resembled the cartoon character Squidward Tentacles from SpongeBob SquarePants. I am also curious to know if I am the only one who thought so. Keke

SUSHI TAKAMITSU 鮨 尚充
1-28-2 Aobadai, Meguro, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 目黒区 青葉台 1-28-2 EXA 1F)
+81 3 3712 6999, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 17:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 8
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun