Sushi Kanesaka (Tokyo, Japan)

Sushi Kanesaka
Misuzu Building
8-10-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Dining date: 10/21/12

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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).

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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.

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Hokkaido Oyster

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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

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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.

Hairy Crab

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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

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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.

Steamed Abalone

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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

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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.

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Shima-aji (Striped Jack)

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Slight chew, mild flavor.

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Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna)

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Always a favorite.

Otoro (Fatty Tuna)

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This was expectantly fatty but not overly so, with a very slight chew.

Ika (Squid)

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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)

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Complemented by shiso, scallions, and ginger.

Akami (Lean Tuna)

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This tuna was lightly marinated, though I’m not sure with what.

Kurumaebi (Shrimp)

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Served warm – this was a sweet, plump bite with strong wasabi flavor coming through.

Ikura (Salmon Roe)

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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)

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The uni was nice and cold, and the textural contrast of the nori and warm rice went well with the uni. Good clean flavor.

Mirugai (Geoduck)

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Soft chew with a slight salinity and sweetness.

Anago (Sea Eel)

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Warm and soft with a lingering sweetness from the eel sauce.

Tamago (Egg)

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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.

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Other Tokyo sushi:
Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi
 | Sushi Dai | Sushi Daiwa | Sushi Yoshitake | Umi


Sushi Kanesaka (Tokyo, Japan) — 7 Comments

  1. Wow. Now I really have to head to Sushi Kanesaka! Yeah, their prices initially seem steep but I can imagine you were enjoying some of the finest Tokyo has to offer. I hear they are really known for their tuna. Although I went to a sushi-ya that’s not as decadent as the one’s in Ginza, I was fortunate to try Kamatoro which is the amazing, relatively unknown to most, fatty portion of tuna meat from the collar which happens to be a really small portion of the tuna. I hope they have some at Sushi Kanesaka as those photos of akami, chu-toro, and o-toro look amazing.

    It’s also great that you’ve pointed out how there are sushi itamae at Sushi Kanesaka that speak fluent English which is quite assuring to foreign guests who would want to try Edomae style sushi in Ginza but without having to deal with the huge language barrier as that’s the case with most of the high-end (mainly sushi) restaurants in Ginza. Some people might say “why didn’t you try this sushi place as it was considered the best by many food blogs…who cares about the language barrier or if you don’t know any Japanese.” However as I’ve experienced during my time in Japan, especially outside of Tokyo (such as Osaka and Fukuoka), the huge language barrier, especially with a language that uses characters instead of the alphabet we’re used to, can possibly hinder a person to enjoy a full experience at a restaurant. But then again, I was able to get by and order at most restaurants with whatever little Japanese I knew (Very important to know a few phrases/words instead of none) and in some very few cases (don’t want to give the impression that it happens all the time) they actually gave me a discount (they call it “service”) in the bill as I assumed they’ve appreciated the effort that I tried to communicate with them and plus I told them I was from America as it generally seems that they really like America as some of them would respond “kakkoii” meaning cool. Although it may seem the opposite in some countries, it’s great to know that Americans are generally thought of positively in other countries such as Japan. Sorry for that tangent as I just wanted to give some tips to those that want to go to Japan for the first time.

    Judging from what I’ve learned from my favorite sushi place in Orange County, Ikko; The sauce on top that they added with a brush on the akami sushi is most likely a seasoned, simmered soy sauce called “Tare”. It’s more concentrated in flavor than regular soy as I can imagine they only want to add a thin layer to the akami sushi.

    As always, amazing review!

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