9 September 2016 was a lucky day for me, where I got to enjoy 2 very distinct and different styles of sushi. For lunch, I had very interesting and a rather modern approach to sushi at Tenzushi Kyomachi, and at night for dinner, I was very blessed to have snagged a table with Y and LY at 3 Michelin Star – Gyoten Sushi in Fukuoka. Thanks to a Japanese chef whom I shall not name that LY is very good friends with, he managed to score us some precious seats at Gyoten, which helped since he was really good friends with Kenji Gyoten, the chef behind this establishment. I had heard a lot about this place from our buddy LY who had just been here a few months ago, and she told us it was probably the best sushi she’s had in Japan, even better than the Tokyo ones. Wow, I was definitely looking forward to this meal! All I can say is it’s booked months in advance, and so I would suggest to call the moment you are planning a trip to Fukuoka.
The discreet entrance
Gyoten Sushi is located in the Shirogane area and not far from the Yakuin train station. Anyhow, in typical fashion, we arrived on time but complete with many plastic bags of groceries, a must especially for LY who needed to buy all her gazillion Japanese groceries from the likes of Daimaru etc before heading back home. Once we arrived at this rather discreet entrance which was rather dark complete with a rather aged bamboo fence, and walked down the pathway into the sushi house, we felt the immediate Zen-ness of space which helped to calm us down from our crazy shopping sprint earlier. Beautiful crafted wooden table greeted us, and I could see subtle beautiful touches of pottery in the background and a Louis Vuitton trunk to hold Chef Gyoten’s knives – so cool!
Chef Gyoten’s open kitchen and his cool LV trunk with knives inside.
Chef Gyoten greeted us warmly and recommended a sake for us to start with. He was very young – only 35 years old, wearing a simple understated dark yutaka. I noticed how he had a female apprentice chef who happens to be from Vietnam, a really rare sight honestly in many Japanese sushi establishments in Japan. For this, I already felt he’s a great guy who gives opportunities to the right people regardless of gender or even nationality for that matter. And he also had a rather boyishly cute male chef that was in charge of a lot of the charcoal and grill dishes, it helped to have some eye candy while enjoying our omakase meal, hee hee.
Cooling down with a sake recommended by Chef Gyoten.
Chef Gyoten with one of his assistant chef – a female from Vietnam.
Yes Kenji Gyoten, and the handsome apprentice chef beside him.
When I checked back against my notes of the number of items I had in the omakase course he created for us – we had a whopping 23 items in total ranging from appetizers to cooked food, raw food, soup, sushi. I don’t think this is like in the usual standard repertoire of omakese if Y and I came by ourselves, so thanks to our buddy for this amazing dining experience.
I could tell for someone so young as 35 years old, Kenji Gyoten really thinks and dreams of sushi. He sources from everywhere in Japan to ensure he gets the best seafood and other local produce from the best places for each season. I could tell that for each fish, even items like the salmon and trout roe which you will see below, he thinks about the best way to treat that item to bring out its flavour. He thinks about the harmony, the completeness of the dish such as in dishes like the oma tuna with Matsutake mushroom. It’s a lot of heart and thought. His fatty tuna is just oh my gosh, sublime, and I never saw such big clams till that day in Gyoten. When we casually asked him about the situation of wild salmon and how it’s so hard to find good salmon in Singapore, he dished out a big salmon fish and let us try some of it, and that salmon looked so different from the salmon I have seen in Singapore. It was a light pink rather than an intense salmon pink, and he explained to us it’s important to see the line along the side of the salmon belly which shows the natural oil.
Without further adieu, let me have the pictures do the talking.
Kuromutsu (Japanese blue fish)
Smoked with Kisho binjotan -a type of smoking technique
Octopus from Akashi – damn good !
– it was so sweet and tender, and perfect combination with the liver
Mehikari fish in raw state before cooking.
Mehikari fish served up deep fried – very good
Herring roe marinated with salt
– had a nice bite and crunch, perfect with sake
Hokkaido clams finely sliced, served with udo (a type of herby vege with a slight bitter taste), shansho leaves and chives
Large clams in raw form
Shijimi soup (clam)
– amazing aroma which literally smelt of the sea in a good way!
The next few pictures show the next 2 courses using the Oma tuna. First, Chef Gyoten marinated it with soy sauce, grilled lightly, then served it with Matsutake mushrooms on sushi rice. This was really amazing, it tasted like a well marbled Japanese beef, I am not kidding you. The second way, was it was then served raw, which was pretty impressive too.
Chef Gyoten showing us the fresh Matsutake mushrooms and beautiful oma fatty tuna
Slicing the Matsutake, my fav!
Ooh, the delicious tuna getting sliced for us
Prepped Oma Tuna, marinated in soy sauce, waiting to be grilled
Oma Tuna with Matsutake and rice, it honestly tasted like a good seared Wagyu Beef
Oma tuna sushi
Abalone – a little more chewy for my liking but it had a nice flavour of the sea
After having a fair bit of cooked food and sashimi, we went on to sushi courses. I don’t think his sushi is really edo-mae style similar to the Tokyo ones. He did use some vinegar in treating some of the fish, but it’s not too heavy and has a really delicate, and refined taste. I felt then I was really able to enjoy and taste the fish, with the sushi rice beneath them. And one of my favourites, was for sure the salmon roe (ikura). He first marinates the salmon roe in salt water, then drain out a percentage of the water to get rid of the fishy smell, and then repeats the process by marinating the salmon roe again in salt water, so the taste is not so strong and one is able to taste the natural taste of salmon roe. It sounded like science as he was explaining to us. And the taste really is a less fishy and salty. Given the season, I was also blessed to have been able to try his trout roe which was just even more amazing, the taste is a more subtle compared to salmon roe, but still really good.
Salmon roe – one of the stars of the show
Kamasu fish sushi
Shrimp, one of my favourites always. Was so sweet!
Cooked fish with simmered rice cooked overnight
Trout roe – like delicate pearls of caviar
Showing us the importance of the pink lines along the belly
Preparing the salmon for us – step 1
Slicing just the right amount
Salmon sushi – aged for one week
Ending off with Anago sushi – one of my favs too!
They say a picture tells a thousand words, but I don’t think my pictures are enough to describe the emotions, the taste that I feel when I ate up every piece of fish that he served up to us. For a chef at 35 years old this year, it’s really impressive, his food shows maturity beyond his age. I just can’t wait to see how much better he can get with age. This is really a sushi place to come visit, seriously, no kidding!