Last night I was blessed to be able to dine for a second time, at the legendary Shinbashi Shimizu in Tokyo, and first time for dinner.
Harcore Edomae sushi fans all know about this place and try their best to make their pilgrimage to the restaurant. Foreign visitors need to go with a local regular, otherwise it is not possible to get in.
You can read an excellent interview with chef owner Shimizu Kunihiro here
He was taught and learned the old school way of doing things. In his time he has witnessed so much change in sushi that what people are calling Edomae isn’t really Edomae anymore.
The shari was perfect. Sharp but balanced and nuanced notes of sour and aroma (akasu, sake lees vinegar) and pronounced salt, but together in a way that still creates a good aroma and balance with the neta. The pieces are a bit larger but generally very comfortable putting one bite in.
Texture is the key name of the game here. None of the fish is particularly high end, but Shimizu san has supreme skill to draw out all the best flavors based on what he can purchase from the fish market. Some have an insane and incredible bite that may take getting used to for people (people who prefer “soft melt in your mouth BS for anything other than anago or otoro” might have to look for their nirvana somewhere else).
If I remember correctly, 8 stools (all counter seats). There used to be a separate space upstairs for customers who smoke but that is closed off.
Photographing is supposedly no longer allowed. But as my friend is a regular who doesn’t take pictures, I showed my respects by just eating quickly and enjoying the moment.
1 Sapporo small bottle
1 Sharaku Junmai (single pasteurized but surprisingly dry) 180 mL
2 x 180 mL of Taka Junmai Daiginjo that drank like a Chablis Premiere Cru, perfect with the shellfish courses
In no particular order since this is all from memory
Kobachi - marinated broccolini looking greens
Hirame - excellent firmer chew but so much flavor
Sumi ika - slightly thicker cut but pronounced stickiness and perfect texture
Kohada - shime kohada, dryer than most modern preparations but still moist. Very classic
Akagai - lower temperature simmering style, super meaty
later we had akagai himo-kyu hosomaki. The himo was the FATTEST I’ve ever had. So refreshing
Mirugai - chunky and delicious
Saba - wow
Kasugodai - early and this was a su-jime preparation. The skin was especially tasty
Kobashira - superb
Hokkaido uni - very nice, not premium but super aromatic nori
Maguro / Chutoro / Otoro - not premium cuts but the work applied elevated the experience a lot…I actually enjoyed this trio more than some of the higher end Ginza places…
Komochi Yari Ika (pregnant spear squid, tail, body, legs) with his killer tsume as otsumami add on
Torigai - fantastic
Ni hamaguri - fucking genius. The center of the ni-hama was like a 63 degree yolk, and with the touch of tsume right in the dead center, it was like having that ethereal Cantonese high end seafood braised dried Japanese abalone with the sugary firm gelatin like center. This was a revelation for me.
Kurumaebi - served fairly warm, medium (a bit more than medium well) but still had good aroma and moisture. Not dried like some other places. And still retained natural sweetness
Tako - legendary, just the right touch of seasoning and texture. Another home run
Anago - two halves, one with shio on top to be eaten first then the tsume version to the side. His tsume is sooooooooooo good.
Kanpyo - not as complex as some other places but for what it is, I enjoyed it.
Tamagoyaki - classic authentic thin style crepe/omelette…this is the ORIGINAL Edomae tamagoyaki, not the thicker versions as you see in Tsukiji/Toyosu. Only other places I’ve seen this style would be Kizushi, Bentenyama Miyakosushi etc. The old school places.
Shimizu san is legendary with his shellfish preparations, and next might be hikarimono. His shako from visit #1 was amazing, as was steamed abalone. His apprentice was serving steamed oysters as otsumami, but we did nigiri palooza so did not get it.