8-10-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Dining date: 10/21/12
There are so many sushi restaurants in Tokyo, it’s a daunting task trying to choose which ones to go to. However, the fact the I would be dining solo for most of the meals, and speak very little Japanese, helped to filter down the options. Sushi Kanesaka came onto my radar due to other blogs as well as its two-star rating in the Michelin guide. The fact that the restaurant was English-accessible and its Ginza location was walking distance from my apartment easily brought this up my list.
Shinji Kanesaka is a rather young sushi chef (40) but has already achieved much success. He trained at well-known Kyubey before opening his flagship in Ginza. Along with the 2 Michelin stars, he has already opened up a popular restaurant overseas (Shinji by Kanesaka in Singapore).
In Ginza, there is one large bar serving 14, with one sushi chef serving each group of 7 diners. My sushi chef for the evening was Takashi Usuba (not sure where Kanesaka-san was this evening). Usuba-san, as well as most of the staff, spoke surprisingly good English. It made it fairly easy to get a little bit of dialogue going; the atmosphere was actually pretty lively and engaging, not like other quiet and uptight sushiyas I’ve heard of.
Two omakase meals were available for dinner – a ¥20,000 and ¥30,000 menu; I opted for the first one.
The meal started off with a simple oyster from Hokkaido. Unfortunately I didn’t catch what species this was, but it was a big fella. It was a good oyster, cold plump and juicy.
Sea Bream Sashimi
Next was a sea bream sashimi with choice of two different dipping sauces, soy or sea salt. I tried both and liked the added depth that the soy provided, but the fish itself was extremely tender and fresh.
This was my first taste of Japanese hairy crab during this trip, which I believe is in season in the winter months. A cool, subtly sweet meat was delicious on its own; a light vinegar dipping sauce was available as necessary.
Katsuo (Bonito) Sashimi
This fish was superbly tender with a delicate flavor, paired simply with wasabi and soy; I felt like I could’ve eaten this all day.
A six hour steamed abalone arrived next; expectantly it was tender with just a slight chew. It was tasty though the flavor was somewhat subtle, reminding me of the 10-hour simmered abalone of the night before.
Seared Blackthroat Seaperch
Another cooked fish was the next dish, the nodoguro fish. It was very moist and light, paired with a cool grated radish. Pretty delish!
Sushi service began next.
Shima-aji (Striped Jack)
Slight chew, mild flavor.
Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna)
Always a favorite.
Otoro (Fatty Tuna)
This was expectantly fatty but not overly so, with a very slight chew.
Also tender with just a little bit of chewy mouthfeel, it was topped with lime juice and sea salt. The rice was a little bit on the firm side here, but I liked it.
Aji (Horse Mackerel)
Complemented by shiso, scallions, and ginger.
Akami (Lean Tuna)
This tuna was lightly marinated, though I’m not sure with what.
Served warm – this was a sweet, plump bite with strong wasabi flavor coming through.
Ikura (Salmon Roe)
Shiso and soy complemented the salmon roe; I thought this was an excellent example. It was very well balanced flavor-wise, with the crisp nori providing nice texture.
Hokkaido Uni (Sea Urchin)
The uni was nice and cold, and the textural contrast of the nori and warm rice went well with the uni. Good clean flavor.
Soft chew with a slight salinity and sweetness.
Anago (Sea Eel)
Warm and soft with a lingering sweetness from the eel sauce.
I thought this was a very good tamago finisher – cold, light and moist with a subtle sweetness and very nice creaminess. Apparently baby shrimp were ground into the batter (not-so-secret ingredient?).
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Sushi Kanesaka. It was clear early on that the fish was very fresh and of high quality, that much was to be expected. Early on in my Japan trip, it’s easy to say this was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. The warm atmosphere really helped the overall experience, as well. If there was one sort of downside, it was that I thought the variety of fish was pretty ‘typical.’ With the exception of the hairy crab, there wasn’t any fish I hadn’t had before (most many, many times)…I was expecting a little more variety. And, I don’t think it was because I was a foreigner, since neighboring locals followed the same meal progression. Having said that, it was still an excellent meal and a great way to get my feet wet in the high-end sushi scene.
The walk back to my apartment was a pleasant one; here, Ginza at night.