[Tokyo] - Sushi Kimura - An Evening of Aged Deliciousness (beefnoguy's trip report Oct 2017)


#1

T’was a lightly rainy evening. After exploring Futagotamagawa, it was time to head to the highly anticipated Sushi Kimura.

Got seated close enough to the fish case. Lots of aged deliciousness on display!

To start, a broth made entirely with hamaguri

Next up: shima ebi with shiokara (fermented shrimp guts) mixed in

The “pasta” course… soba with uni sauce. Unconventional!

Found out Kimura san also offers hot sake, so why not? It was chilly outside, so something warm and soothing would be great. Nobody gives a flying magnum generally about hot sake, not even the instagrammers. This was totally unexplored territory! What’s amazing is that Kimura san is also his own sake somm, and while he is preparing appetizers, nigiri etc for the guests, he also warms up the sake and monitors the temperature!

Here to start is a Shizuoka prefecture brewery “Kikusui” with a signature Tokubetsu Honjozo. Much later I would learn this is a cult classic amongst the hardcore Japanese sake drinkers. Very easy to like and quite impressionable as the first warm sake.

Iwashi sumire in dashi, very very good.

Mushi shirako (risotto)

Nameta garei from Aomori prefecture. This was a supreme delight to have!!

A number of sushi chefs generally take the fish parts that are not used for sushi and make a clear broth out of it or enhance it a little with miso. This mixture is taken to the next level, an almost European bisque like approach. It is made with mixed fish parts (no doubt the aged fish carcass/bones), vegetables, sushi rice. Kimura san joked this was “cappuccino”. Seafood cappuccino to be exact.

Next comes a preview of his sushi rice to set the tone for the nigiri course of the evening. It’s just seaweed and shari. The shari is very warm, sour but has an incredible aroma and lots of umami. This is attributed to the organic premium pure rice vinegar from Kyoto prefecture he uses that is of a light to medium darker shade that can sometimes be mistaken for akasu, though there are debates as to whether he blends akasu and komesu. Either way this rice is damn good.

Next hot sake: Asahikiku Daichi, I believe this was a Junmai Ginjo, brewed with Yamadanishiki rice and the rice was cultivated without pesticides. Furthermore it was one of the first Fukuoka prefecture sake I’ve ever had. Unfortunately I don’t remember much about this one…

Nigiri time! First time, sumi ika, aged one week

Next, is Kue, aged two weeks

Ginger slices

Kawahagi aged five days, with its liver between the shari and the neta

Next up is baby bluefin, or commonly called meiji maguro (meiji for short). The baby bluefin tunas for some reason tend to swim alongside katsuo, and when net caught, usually results in both. Always a short reason and very hard to come by. The preparation is done katsuo tattaki style, and is smoked with straw. Prior to the straw smoking, it was aged for 10 days. I recall this being one of the best pieces of the evening. It was like a hybrid bluefin otoro and katsuo mixed together, absolutely sublime.

Kohada, and I’ve never had it aged this long…20 days! Excellent!

Sujiko, aged three weeks. Terrific

Buri, aged one month

Iwashi, aged one week. Literally pornographic

At this point I took a video of Kimura san whipping out a gigantic black abalone (kuro awabi), from Chiba prefecture. He was doing very delicate ridge/see saw like thin slicing, and meticulously at that. The result was a wonderfully textured/bite of a nigiri, of an extremely delicious prized specimen.

The most instagrammed item was my least favorite. Makajiki (marlin) aged 51 days. I did not find it to be coffee flavored or cafe au lait but I think I got where people came from with this reference. A very unusual style of aging/marination

My favorite hot sake of the evening. Shinkame Hikomago 3 year aged Junmai. The most remarkable of all the sake poured so far.

His anago is also very good

This was a sake on the regular menu at the time of visit that I was dying to try. This is a very small producer that only sells to about 6 to 8 shops nationwide in Japan, and only one shop in Tokyo carries it retail. Sari Junmai Daiginjo from Fukui prefecture, polished to 50% and they brewed it to pair with sushi. It was good to have this as a closer, the bottle was chilled and quite refreshing. Unfortunately did not get to pair this with sushi.

His tamagoyaki was pretty good, and it was made with amadai that was aged two weeks (grounded to a paste and mixed in with eggs). There is a growing trend to move away from using ground shrimp (typically shiba ebi) due to growing number of shellfish allergies mostly by foreign visitors.

This was the first sushi meal in town, maybe 2nd day upon arrival. Was the the absolute best sushi of the trip? Interestingly, not really. It was good, but it was not earth shattering enough to me. From a sake lover’s point of view, none of the sake were perfect matches with the food either, but they were great on their own.

One thing to note is that extensive aging of fish, is not classic Edomae. People are trying to come up with new things and of course there are plenty of bandwagon jumpers. Even with that said, visiting here can be quite educational if you can get a reservation. Come here because you want to learn and discover yourself, not because of jetsetting instagram VIPs…some of which their tastes can be a bit…interesting.


#2

Wow! If this meal wasn’t your best sushi of the trip, then your trip must have been mindblowing.


#3

Nice report and pics as always.

Surprised by the tepid review, care to elaborate? Did notice some the nigiri were not the best I’ve seen.


#4

Thanks @Sgee , and sure!

  1. We have Sushi Yoshizumi in San Mateo. Go there enough times over time, then try places in Tokyo. Ultimately you want an experience where you get the absolute complete package from start to finish. A meal where you’re literally left speechless, either close your eyes and clench your fists because you want to exclaim and tell people how awesome this is, and you can literally taste all the work the chef puts in and why he (or she) does things a certain set of ways. I mean, down to the preparation, the curing/cooking technique where applicable, the knifework, the balance, the texture, the temperature, and the sensibilities. More importantly, their style jives with your personal tastes and creates a synergy and excitement where you and the chef are both passionate about the end result (it’s actually very very hard to find a place where your frequencies sync). On top of that you want to be able to have sake either from their menu, a sake pairing, or one that you bring your own that just works so darn well with the food, and not just enjoyed side by side separately (think of the earth shattering wine pairings out there that literally made you hit the floor with joy or maybe it was so good you ended up accidentally making a baby with your significant other that night and disregarded the amount of alcohol in you because you were having such a good time, lol). I did not get that pow wow at Kimura, as delicious as it was by itself.

  2. See above (just kidding). Well you eat around enough times, you can formulate your own opinion and compare it with your own experiences. I am just but one opinion (and person) even if it may be going against the grain.

  3. The additional aging may have improved the texture just a bit for some and maybe not for the others; it worked great with hikarimono and some did not work as great as expected. Of course taste is subjective, and while it was exciting to finally try the 50+ day aged marlin, it makes you wonder what the ultimate purpose to that was. Perhaps it’s just me…I didn’t get it. With fish there is definitely an optimal sweet spot. The more you age, the more fermented or rotten parts have to be removed and thrown away. If you over age fish, it becomes more of a number or brag, kind of like how some sake breweries are so obsessed with rice polish ratio (e.g. Zankyo Super 7 (7%), or Dassai Beyond where they don’t publish the exact number but basically it’s below 23% and somewhere above 8%) and you’re left with basically an apertif or digestif rather than a brew that you can pair a variety of food with. Aging could draw out potentially some umami, but there’s more work that needs to be done in addition.

  4. There are many different styles and approaches of sushi in Tokyo. The word “Edomae” has very little meaning as current and new crops of chefs seek to find their own style, innovative upon a theme. Some work, some do not. And those that practice true Edomae, basically the same style handed down the generations, are deemed too old school, boring, and unusual (or just not cool).

Had Kimura been one of just a few sushi meals during that trip, I might think differently. However now that I’ve visited Tokyo about three times and been to a number of sushi places, I can conclude that Kimura is not within my top 3, and I still have a long way to explore (and haven’t been to as many super high end jetsetter loving places).

On my most recent trip I went to another aging specialist sushi restaurant (a new one). I enjoyed the meal, but it too was not an earth shattering meal for me (I actually enjoyed most of the cooked dishes/otsumami more from a washoku perspective, and a few of the nigiri pieces)… I did a second meal after that dinner at a sake bar with a few small plates and had the one of the best evenings of my trip lol.


#5

Thanks for posting. I was told by someone who claims to have a good relationship with Kimura-san that he uses a blend of ~80% komezu and ~20% akazu, both apparently Iio Jozo brand.


#6

Not surprised, and thanks for that. Yeah his rice is really remarkable. Very warm and has good sour and plenty of umami, and notably aromatic (though the definition of aromatic and pungency is purely subjective).

Despite my review, I have huge huge huge respect for Kimura Kouji san as a chef; the amount of work he puts in and dedication, and going so far as to picking out (assuming it’s him) sake for the menu, and even artisan small producers and some incredibly hard to track down due to supply and distribution (Sari and Ouroku for example), offer warm sake from a selection of about 5 to 8 different bottles, and even keeping track of temperature prior to serving them. Literally a one man show, as if he handled vocals, drums, bass, keyboards, looping track machine, guitar, and maybe the saxophone and the cowbell at the same time. Though I’m guessing only a small percentage would want warm/hot sake. The evening of my visit, one group brought in a Krug and focused mostly on that, another couple had a beer at most.


#7

After tasting some mind-blowing examples of aged neta at Yoshizumi and Ichimura (in NYC) I’ve been obsessed with jukusei. Have tried aging some seafood at home in various ways (but I would never test out the results on my mother). Hoping to try Kimura when I’m there in February. If so, I will definitely ask for kanzake!


#8

If you can, give Sushi Sho Honolulu a try. Quite the experience. At Yoshizumi, you may recognize some dishes inspired by Sushi Sho Honolulu (and Amamoto). Aging to the right amount (not overdoing it or doing it just to do it) has a nice effect, on maguro in particular to my tastes. I will report back from Yoshizumi in a few weeks.


#9

Sushi Sho Honolulu is high on my list. Last time I was at Yoshizumi, he served ankimo-narazuke nigiri in the Sho-style and placed kuruma ebi precariously with tail hanging off the geta (a la Amamoto). His references are fun (and tasty). I thought Ichimura did a great job of aging tastefully. Did you ever try his sushi?