Sushi Yoshitake – Tokyo’s Top Sushi Restaurants

Michelin star worthy sushi meal in Tokyo (22 Dec 2015)

On every trip to Tokyo, we always make it a point to visit at least 1 or more sushi restaurants. Given our rather short stay in Tokyo, we managed to squeeze in only one but it was Sushi Yoshitake, one of the sushi places I have always wanted to go to. Located in Ginza, not far from Conrad Hotel, where we were putting up at, we got a bit lost finding the restaurant even though we were literally circling in front of it, and thank goodness for a lady working at one of the bars across the road. Either our faces were so obvious or she’s psychic as she asked us Sushi Yoshitake? then pointed to the white building just behind us and said “3rd floor”. So here’s a picture of the building to help you out when you get a chance to visit.

I understood finally, as we entered the restaurant why it was so hard to get reservations in the past. It was tiny – it basically only sat 7 at the counter with a small private room behind that sat another 4 people, I think. Our whole counter was basically tourists with some American tourists, one Korean and us.

This famed sushi place helmed by Masahiro Yoshitake is a Michelin 3 star, and I was excited and curious to see if it lived up to it’s many stars. I could tell that Masahiro-san was pretty friendly, we were rather quiet as our American neighbours were busy chatting him up, and he seemed happy to make conversation with them in his rather decent English.

Chef Masahiro Yoshitake in deep concentration.

Once we settled in, we ordered a cold sake – Hakurakusei from Miyagi (1600 yen) to share. Yoshitake- san wasted no time in starting the meal for all of us diners. I guess it made sense to serve all of us together given it was such a small restaurant.

So let the meal begin! The first was Hokkaido crab. What can I say, it was sweet and heavenly, chunks of soft crab meat served in a crab shell with dollops of roe drizzled all over it. The meal was off to a really good start. Yummy!!

SushiYoshitakeTokyo9

Second came, today’s sashimi which was a thinly sliced ruby snapper- seared lightly. It was very tender.

Sushi Yoshitake Ruby Snapper

Third, was the marinated octopus. This is always one of my favourites in sushi restaurants, as it’s no easy effort to get this wiggly creature to be so soft and tasty. It was exciting just seeing the sushi master slicing up a long chunk before placing one on my plate. Verdict: It was as expected super tender and flavourful, marinated in his house special sauce.

The fourth dish up next is also one of my favourites – abalone served with liver sauce on the side. The sauce was the Bomb!! It was so creamy and full of umami. It didn’t have any hint of that awful liver taste that I usually hate. It can go with everything, on its own, on rice, on pasta, on noodles, the list goes on. While all of us diners were double, triple dipping our abalone slices into ou bowls of liver sauce, Yoshitake-san told us not to finish the entire sauce as he took back our bowls of liver sauce and placed some beautiful pearls of warm rice in the bowl to eat together with it. Oh, it was so good! I wish I could ‘dabao’ (slang in Singapore for takeaway) a whole tub of this sauce!

The fifth dish was a smoked bonito, with bonito broth sauce, and shisho, ginger and horse radish to top it off. The skin was smoked really well with a nice crusty texture and yet the raw part of it was so smooth, it literally glided in my mouth and down into to my round tummy.

The 6th dish and last in this part of the non-sushi section of the meal ended with a chawan mushi in a bowl, chock full of crab meat inside and on top of it. It was a nice way to end off this part of the meal before starting on the sushi.

At this point ,we had finished our sake and thought to try a second one to pair with the next few courses of sushi. We ordered a Jyuyondai fr Yamagata (2500 yen) which was just perfect for me – fruity , sweet and smooth. I think the prices for these sake is so affordable considering the quality of it.

I observed how Yoshitake-san and his team was efficiently slicing and lining up the fish for the sushi courses in precision. It was amazing just observing his slicing skills. For instance the squid was so thinly sliced, that I think I might have chopped off my paw if I attempted to slice anything that thin.

The first of the sushi round was squid, again one of my favourites always. After he had thinly sliced them till they looked translucent, he chopped it lightly and set it with some vinegared sushi rice. It was so tender and sublime.

The second was sayori (or Japanese half beak) which had a firm bite. The fish was topped with light soy sauce and the rice was dipped with seaweed powder and it gave an interesting flavour to the sushi.

The third and fourth sushi was chutoro followed by otoro. It’s hard to go wrong with medium and fatty tuna. As expected they melted in my mouth very quickly.

Sushi Yoshitake Chutoro
Sushi Yoshitake Otoro

The fifth was Kohada, which is one of my favourite fish, it’s got a fishiness similar to mackeral but I totally love it when it’s done right. Here, the sushi rice was dusted with baby shrimp powder. The fish had a very firm bite, but not so flavourful somehow, as compared to Sushi Hashiguchi whose take on this is definitely much better. The Kohada sushi, was followed by the ark shell which had a lovely bite to it, although generally I can’t say I am a huge fan of ark shell.

My long awaited ‘love’ finally emerged – uni otherwise known as sea urchin. I could see 2 trays of it laid out by Yoshitake’s sous chef. It was very interesting, how they served this. First on top of small dollop of rice, the short spike uni was placed on it followed by the long pike uni and wrapped with seaweed. We were told the short spike is sweet while the long pike one is creamy. This lethal combination was just beautifully sinful and erm I wish I could have more. It was so good to pair them up like this, and yes it went quickly again into my mouth.

Next came a large, succulent and sweet prawn sushi – Kuruma ebi. Too bad for R, he missed out on this due to his allergy to prawns. The eighth sushi course was anago, definitely my preferred over unagi anytime. I could see the sous chef grilling it in front of us before it was served to us with sushi rice. As expected this was excellent, it had a nice smoky grilled taste and the anago was tender.

The 9th and 10th course ended with the tuna handroll, a nice way to end the sushi course, and a sweet ending with the sweet tamago, served in a delightful cute cube.

Overall, the sushi experience at Yoshitake was wonderful and very personal given our cosy setting and Yoshitake-san’s friendly personality. I think it was very good, but I am not sure if it’s a 3 star, maybe a 2.5 star for the sushi portion, maybe because I am biased towards the Kohada sushi that wasn’t done to my liking. But I feel his non-sushi dishes (the first half of course) were outstanding and quite a stand out on their own. We heard from Yoshitake-san that he has plans to open one in New York soon, so it will be exciting to see how he manages the quality and consistency of his sushi over there once that happens. Remember to book early if you wanna get a seat here, you’ve been warned!

 

Sushi Yoshitake

8-7-19 Ginza | 3F Suzuryu Building, Chuo 104-0061,Tokyo Prefecture

Tel: +81 3-6253-7331

 

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