November 2, 2019

Tokyo sushi day: no pictures and no magic

Pin It

My original plan for dinner tonight was pretty simple. I was either going to check out a place recommended by a friend, which still serves the “real, traditional” edomae sushi (江戸前寿司) before things got refined, or I was simply gonna have a bowl of my favorite ramen at Hakata Tenjin (博多天神).

Then a week ago someone I know offered up two seats at Sushi Hashiguchi (鮨はしぐち), which is apparently ranked No. 5 for all Tokyo sushi restaurants on Tabelog. I remember reading other people posting about this place, and it is supposedly pretty difficult to book. So I figured that since I happened to be in town tonight, and had no fixed plans I couldn’t cancel, I might as well give this a try.

It turned out that my dining companion also lives in Hong Kong, and had flown up for the occasion. The two of us would be among the 6 foreigners at the 9-seat counter tonight.

Hashiguchi-san had not been told about his regular customer not showing up, so we kinda had to offer an explanation about the situation, and how we happen to know the customer. He was also curious about our backgrounds, and was a lot more chatty towards non-regular customers.

However, he is very strict about the no-photo policy at his restaurant… so the only picture one ever sees on Tabelog is that of the discreet signage out front.

As this was the first time for both of us, we asked for the “full experience” – which meant starting with sashimi before moving to the nigiri (握り) portion.

Olive flounder (鮃) – this was pretty soft.

Olive flounder wings (鮃縁側) – very crunchy when served raw.

Horse clam (黒海松貝) – crunchy as expected.

Unmarinated salmon roe (生イクラ) – this hadn’t been marinated at all, and so it delivered the pure flavors of the eggs themselves. The consistency was really thick, just like a hen’s egg yolk… and the taste was also very similar. This was really interesting.

Japanese tiger prawn (車海老) – served chilled instead of warm. Nice and sweet, with some tomalley.

Thread-sail filefish (皮剥) – cut into long strips, with a nice and crunchy texture. The sauce was made with the fish’s liver along with a bit of soy sauce. This was mixed well so that the fish was completed coated in the sauce.

At the end of this portion, Hashiguchi-san took out a piece of nori (海苔) and wrapped the remaining wakame (若布) and shredded myoga (茗荷) on the plate with it, so that we would not waste any of it.

So now the nigiris start to come...

Olive flounder kobujime (鮃昆布締め)

Squid (墨烏賊) – scored just once down the middle. The squid was really tender, seemingly having been aged to deliver that somewhat liquefied texture, while retaining crunch in the middle. This was also when I first noticed the prominence of wasabi in just about all the pieces.

Marinated lean tuna (赤身漬け) – the tenderness and the fact that texture was more broken down would suggest that this has been aged more than usual. I could also clearly see the striations in the muscles. However, Hashiguchi-san says he does not really age his neta (ネタ) much, and that the tuna had spent about a week between being caught around Toi (戸井) in Hokkaido (北海道) to being shoved into my mouth.

Gizzard shad (小肌) – marinated and pressed for about 5 days. The texture was definitely more firm and solid.

Ark shell (赤貝) – definitely felt the kick of the wasabi.

Medium fatty tuna (中トロ) – this was pretty interesting as the flavors were definitely sweeter than what we’re used to. The cutting technique was also interesting, since even though the fish came in one piece, it was cut so that one side was thicker than the other – with a visible “ridge” separating the two sides.

Fatty tuna (大トロ) – the shari (シャリ) was very loose for this piece, and almost fell apart when I picked it up. In fact, this wasn’t the first piece where the shari felt loose. The neta was pretty good, with clear separation of the muscles by tendons.

Marinated mackerel (締め鯖) – one thing I had noticed along the way was that the neta of many pieces were relatively thin compared to other high-end sushi restaurants. This piece was especially noticeable. In spite of the higher acidity from the vinegar, the wasabi still managed to come though…

Clam (蛤) – thin and flat, with a firm and springy texture instead of being soft and fluffy. The tare (たれ) was sweet but not too much sugar here. Rather disappointing.

Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) – from Hokkaido, and served as a gunkan maki (軍艦巻). This was sweet and creamy, and well-chilled.

Japanese flying squid (スルメイカ) – this was cooked, and called (スイカ) for short. Hashiguchi-san explained that this was served the traditional style, which developed when there was no refrigeration.

Conger eel (穴子) – mushy as usual, and melted in the mouth.

Egg (卵) – served in the old style (i.e. non-custard-like texture) and offered no surprises.

This was a very good meal, and I certainly appreciated having my eyes opened and learning about some of the more traditional methods of serving edomae sushi. However, given that this cost almost exactly the same as my lunch at Sushi Saito (鮨さいとう) earlier in the day, I was disappointed that my dinner offered too few instances of what I would come to call “magic”. At this price point, being tasty is no longer sufficient. What makes me want to return to a restaurant is the presence of a few magical moments, where I’m suddenly overcome with joy at a mouthful – and my eyes open wide as I stare in disbelief… thinking how lucky I am to be tasting whatever I was eating at that very moment. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get much of that tonight…

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map