Japan has put raw fish on the culinary map. You can now find sushi across the world, from South America to Northern Europe, unadulterated, in fusion cuisine, or in the finest fancy restaurants. However, nowhere does it better than its homeland. Originally scoffed at by the Michelin Guide, there are now sushi chefs with three stars, acclaimed for their ingredients, technique and, of course, taste. From your classic sashimi to a full-on omakase menu, we pick the best of the best sushi Japan has to offer.
Forget the fish, the main variant in the taste of sushi come from the rice, specifically the rice vinegar. At Tsugu Sushimasa they use an unusual vinegar, stronger in taste and dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). It’s an interesting twist, and one that is entirely dictated by flavor, rather than fashion. You can trust them though, chef Shogo Sugaya is a third generation sushi chef. It’s not all raw, however, and the menu offers some grilled fish in addition to the traditional pieces.
After winning three stars from the Michelin Guide, Sukiyabashi Jiro has become one of the most famous sushi restaurants in the world. The chef and owner, Jiro Ono, was the star of David Gelb’s 2011 documentary, ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’, which put his tiny restaurant firmly on the traveller’s map. It’s pretty no-frills, with a simple sushi bar only sitting a few guests, who are served a set menu of beautifully prepared and selected sushi. Anyone who saw the documentary will recognise Jiro and his team’s attention to detail, from choosing the fish in the early hours, to massaging an octopus for a whole morning.
Chef Teruya Iida of Ichibancho Teruya insists on meeting his clients, and is one of the only high-end sushi chefs who can converse in almost flawless English. He began his sushi training in New York. The restaurant specializes in sushi sho style, a large number of morsels in small portions, including some chef-special sides and delicious desserts. The chef’s selection is highly recommended.
Found within the busy Tsukiji fish market, Tsukiji Sushisay Honten is in the perfect position to get the best of the fresh catch. The clientele tends to be local and prices are reasonable. There are two floors, the first where seating is limited to counters and the second where there are a few tables to sit. A great stop-off after visiting the fish market.
Having earned three stars from Michelin, sushi chef Masahiro Yoshitake has put his sushi restaurant, Sushi Yoshitake , on the map. Expect inventive interpretations of classic sushi dishes. Yoshitake is particularly famous for his abalone, accompanied with a special sauce made from abalone liver, uni and oyster. Serving small plates in the omakase style in front of the clientele, Toshitake only takes reservations for two sittings each night and demand is high, so be sure to call far in advance for your table.
Another sushi counter located in the Tsukiji Market, Sushi Dai is hidden just near the main gate around Shin-ohashi Street. Behind the unassuming green doorway, you will find fresh sushi, so popular that lines wrap around the corner, even in the early morning hours. The restaurant is particularly noted for its sushi breakfast selection, with options including a simple nigari set or one that also includes sushi rolls. There are also eggs, another market specialty, on the menu.
Chef Takashi Saito has earned three Michelin stars for his Sushi Saito restaurant, located in Minato Tokyo, on the first floor of the Nihon Jitensha Kaikan building. Noted for offering some of the freshest fish, the restaurant has also been celebrated by the director-general of Michelin, Jean-Luc Naret, who is a major fan of Saito and the sushi he produces. Reservations are necessary for this sushi counter as it only has six seats.