There is a heaven, and it’s in an unassuming piece of seafood and rice. Sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro is probably one of the most delightful culinary experiences that we can remember, and sushi will forever be benchmarked by it.
We flew to Japan solely for the purpose of eating at Sukiyabashi Jiro, a sushi restaurant owned and operated by a man who is regarded as Japan’s living treasure - Jiro Ono, whose business was made famous by the 2011 documentary, ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’. There are two branches for this restaurant, the 3 Michelin star helmed by Jiro-san in the shopping Ginza district, and the 2 Michelin star branch under his son Takashi in Roppongi Hills.
Making a booking at either of the restaurants is a feat on its own. Guests need to book through their Tokyo hotel or a dedicated concierge, no bookings are accepted through any other means (which means your international phone calls, if ever you make it through on what seems to be a perpetually busy line, will be in vain). Booking is done only on the first day of the previous month. So if you are booking for say July 15th, you can only book on June 1st.
We were extremely fortunate to book 2 spots at the Roppongi Hills branch, thanks to our hotel concierge from our Shibuya hotel and a Filipino friend living in Tokyo!
We booked and arrived at 7.30pm sharp and there were four other diners already present, who including us, brought the total to 6 diners for the night. While there are no specific dress codes, they reserve the right to refuse service to those wearing shorts and collarless shirts. Takashi Ono was very friendly, his smiles seemed to puncture the feeling of seriousness in the room. While Jiro-san can hardly speak English, Takashi can converse well enough to put foreign guests at ease. Each sushi piece was a course, which meant that we had a total of 20 courses that night. It was probably one of the most divine meals I’ve had in a long while. The right freshness, the right temperature, the balance of delicate flavours and the hint of wasabi embedded in each piece was such a joy for our palates.
Who knew that seafood would feel like silk? With uni melting in your mouth and the piece of octopus tasting like crab, the flavours were just surprise after glorious surprise. The ability to innovate is indeed a hallmark of a true world-class chef. Sushi must be enjoyed right after it is prepared with flavours at their most exquisite.
Aside from kohada/gizzard shad, we also tried smoked bonito, ikura, kurumaebi, clam, mirugai, anago, ika, hirame and abalone. Each course was consumed in almost absolute stillness, as the sushi is truly the star of the show, and in the capable hands of Chef Takashi and his team, shone well on our palates. Scott, normally averse to mackerel because of its overpowering aftertaste, took an instant liking to the mackerel sushi served that night. The entire meal was a heavenly experience that made flying to Japan to eat at Sukiyabashi Jiro totally worth it. In total, we spent ¥59,900 (US$ 548 at 24 May 2016 exchange rates) with a tea pairing.
Overall, the experience was exhilarating, an odd way of describing a meal, but indeed it was. Reservations are up to four people per group. It’s closed on Sundays, public holidays, Saturday evenings, mid-August and year-end holidays. Lunch is from 11:30-14:00 and Dinner is from 17:30-20:30.
Ginza: Tsukamoto Sogyo Building, Basement 1st Floor,2-15, Ginza 4-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Roppongi Hills: 六本木6-10-1, 六本木ヒルズ けやき坂通り 3F, Minato, 東京都 〒106-0032 Japan, Motoazabu, Roppongi Hills
Dave Ryan Buaron, Owner and Co-Founder THE NEXT ESCAPE: TRAVEL, ARTS, SPORTS AND LIFESTYLE