On CH, I used to read from other posters about their frequent forays to a sushiya that was in the outskirts of Tokyo, where the one could dine at world-class sushi that rivaled the Ginza locations at half the price. That was Sushi Nanba, in the original Asagaya location. Well it turns out that Nanba-san has decided he wants to be in the big leagues, so he moved to a more central location in Hibiya Midtown. The original location is still staffed by one of his trusted apprentices. I’ve never been to the Asagaya location, so I can’t compare to that. But given all that’s been written, I had high expectations, and the meal lived up to them.
Let’s get straight to the food pics…
So when we first entered, we sat down at the left side of the bar, in front of the apprentice. He was really friendly, spoke good English, and helped translate some of Nanba-san’s statements to us. Also, please note that our friendly apprentice has some thin translucent white sheets of what can only be squid, and is starting to slice them.
The first appetizer botan ebi with mizo and some paste made of innards and miso - the sweet shrimp flavors complemented the nutty paste
Shirako - tasted like the most amazing seafood chowder
Kinki in broth - an amazing version comparable to the very best fish in broth I’ve had
Meanwhile, the apprentice is still slicing the ika…
Tako - this was the first miss of the meal - the texture was like pulled pork, I’ve had better
Iwashi-maki with shiso leaf
Ankimo - this was simple, but it was the bomb! Maybe the best ankimo I’ve ever had? Amazing flavor while still being delicate, with the complementary sauce.
“Shizumono” (hope I didn’t butcher the Japanese term) - crab broth - clear, simple, and delicious
At this point, the apprentice is finished slicing the ika; he has spent the entire time that we’ve been eating the otsumami slicing that ika (~45 mins to an hour?)…which he sliced into hundreds of tiny strips
On to the nigiri! So they send out a menu, and Nanba is known for matching exact temperatures of the neta with the shari:
We finally see the fruits of the apprentice’s labor - a piece of shiro ika. Each piece has over 40+ slices of shiro ika, and the texture was exquisite. This is the level of detail and dedication you get in restaurants like this.
Kawahagi with kimo and green onions (our 2nd time this trip!)
Now it’s tuna time!
Kohada with ebi flakes (a touch of sweetness)
Buri with salt
Ikura with rice - this dish was out of this world - the apprentice explained that it was basically heated and cooked into some rice up to 66 degrees C, and mixed with truffle. So you didn’t see any overt signs of Ikura.
Kinmedai zuke (my first time everhaving Kinmedai prepared this way) - loved it
Uni from Santa Barbara (!!) - Nanba-san spoke to us in Japanese, and I didn’t really understand it, but I inferred that he was saying at the moment that the SB uni he found was better than the Kyushi and Hokkaido uni he had seen
Tamago with some shrimp paste mixed in
At this point, we were done with the meal, and they asked if we were full. It turns out that, randomly, the chef from Tominokoji Yamagishi (a kappo restaurant in Kyoto) happened to be eating lunch at Nanba that day. I heard him order a kanpyo maki, so I got one for myself. I didn’t understand why, but they made a chu-tori maki and akame-maki as well. No complaints here!
Just for @beefnoguy This was the selection of sake, served in order!
Nanba’s shari was strong, made with akasu and a great deal of salt. While I was eating the meal, I thought the salty shari really highlighted the flavors in the nigiri. After the meal though, I did get this sense that I had consumed too much salt. My dining partner told me that they would probably not return due to the saltiness of the shari. My favorite nigiri pieces were probably a succession of the three above where I had sayori, sawara, and katsuo, but many pieces were excellent and among the best I’ve had. For me, Nanba definitely lived up to its reputation, but some might want to be wary of the salt levels in the shari.