The Great Noodle Tour: Sukiyabashi Jiro

This is the post that I can’t believe I’m writing.

It’s also the post with no photos.

It’s the post about my meal at Sushibayaki Jiro.

eel

You may have heard of this small sushi restaurant in a subway station…it had a little film made about it?

Anyhow, we went there when we were in Tokyo.

Make no mistake, this was the most expensive 90 minutes of our life.

But was it our best?

To begin, the doors don’t open until precisely 11:30 am – the only time that we were allowed to make a reservation, though our hotel concierge. Until then, we queued nervously and made sure that we had followed the rules that had been emailed to us:

Sukiyabashi Jiro Note;

* Please kindly note that all restaurants are strict on punctuality.

*If you would like to cancel, please let us know as soon as you decide.

*Please be noted that they strictly apply 100% cancellation charge.

If you cancel 2 days before your reservation date and a penalty 15,000 yen per person applies.

* Strictly NO perfume/ cologne is allowed at the counter seat.

*No T-shirt, NO-sandales(sic).

*If you are late for dinner, you need to contact to the hotel at least 30 minutes before. They lay all food items for the time of your arrival.

 obviously, I wore my Sunday best and took VERY FEW photographs because our sweet hostess was careful to point out that Jiro does not like when people take pictures

Note: I know that there are photos of this meal all over the internet. What can I say? People are just braver than I am. I didn’t want to offend anyone. Thus, I didn’t take any pictures and if my husband hadn’t snuck a couple with his iPhone, we wouldn’t have had any at all.

We sat down and were jointed by 2 other people at the sushi bar. Behind the bar was Jiro and a sous-chef. It was almost shocking to be seated in front of him in the quiet, elegant room. He barely made eye contact as we sat down and were presented with our menu for the day.

Then, we were served.

By Jiro himself. One by one, he made the pieces for each of the 6 patrons at the restaurant during our mealtime. Women were served first, then men. And the parade of food was excellent.

Insanely fresh tuna, from ruby red and lean to the almost white fatty tuna.

Meaty, mild horse mackerel with a zip of spicy wasabi

Tender clam in a sticky-sweet teriyaki sauce.

Boiled prawn so sweet and snappy that it could be served for dessert

Uni from Hokkaido – doubtlessly the greatest uni of my life. Lush, cold, sweet, delicate…incredible.

Soft and meaty eel with just a glimmer of sugary lacquer

Rich but light tamago, layer upon layer of softly folded and steamed egg atop rice.

Then, when the meal at the sushi bar was finished, we sat at a booth and finished with the sweetest, juiciest melon that I have ever enjoyed. It should really be called cotton candy melon. You have to eat it with a spoon to sop up all of the juices.

The meal was 90 minutes from beginning to end. It was, no doubt, the most expensive 90 minutes of my life. But was it worth it?

Well, it is very difficult to get reservations. There are many rules that you must follow. Jiro himself is a very serious, efficient sushi master and he isn’t one for chatting during the meal. We couldn’t even take picture with him before or after because he was so busy for the rest of the day and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, veer off schedule. The sushi itself is excellent – but is it the best? Well, no. Nakazawa is actually better, in my humble opinion. The rice at Jiro is extremely vinegary and though the fish is sublime, except for the uni, I wouldn’t say that it’s better than what I enjoyed at Nakazawa. That super tangy rice was rather distracting and the lack of interaction with Jiro-san himself meant that I didnt’ know how or if the fish was prepared/aged.

And did I mention that it was expensive?

However…on the upside…this was worth it. Why? Because it is a meal one of the hardest-to-reserve restaurants in the universe. Because it felt unspeakably cool to be ushered into the restaurant while others were taking pictures of the facade. Because I ate sushi for an hour made by none other than Jiro himself. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

Would I recommend it? If you want the best sushi in the world – no. Next time, I hope to try Sawada.

But if you want some incredible sushi in an atmosphere that is unrivaled to my knowledge – yes. This is the place for you.

tamago

And I will continue to dream about it.

Comments

  1. Hm… you know, initially I thought “no pics? boo” but while I was reading, I realized that they would just distract. The reality is that sushi is sushi and 9 times out of 10, it all looks the same (sushi in the strictest sense of the word – what you ate). And someone going next week or next month might not get the same fish anyway. So I think you did a good thing – concentrate on what you were eating instead of taking pics. As for the meal, thanks for sharing. I am glad you got to experience this.