Japan (Tokyo) Nov 2018: Sushi Masuda - Another Jiro Apprentice Excels

#1

One New Years resolution is to actually fish through all my Japan food pics…

Sushi Masuda is another sushiya from the Jiro tree - Rei Masuda is one of many of Jiro’s former apprentices to strike out on his own. On my previous trips, the Jiro-style sushiyas happened to be my favorites (Mizutani, Harutaka), so I made sure to book one this time around. My impression of the Jiro-styled sushiyas is that you will not be served any new fish you’ve never heard of, and the types of fish are pretty middle down the fairway, but the quality will be among the best you’ve had. Both Masuda-san and his apprentice speak great English. We were asked if we wanted to upgrade to the premium course for 7k JPY extra, and we gladly obliged. I would say that the otsumami here was the most consistently excellent, in that every single dish was of the highest level.

Fugu sashimi with liver sauce - I think fugu sashimi tends to be overrated (it’s tough and bland to me), but this sashimi in combination with the liver sauce and some sort of ponzu sauce was outstanding


Seiko gani with Hokkaido uni - the bright crab with the earthy roe and the rich uni were all outstanding individually, yet complementary

Shirako with truffle - I’m wary of eating crappy shirako (reminds you that you’re eating sperm sac) these days, but this shirako was delicate, and the truffle was a perfect match

Oyster with broth - magaki from Miyagi prefecture

Hand roll with karasumi and mochi - Whoa!!! Texture-wise, mochi and karasumi go so well together, and then mochi provided a nice backdrop that let the flavor of the karasumi shine

Amadai In broth with green onions

Tuna roll

On to the nigiri!

Kawahagi with liver (again) - this time the liver was on top instead of in between the fish and the shari

Sumi ika

Maguro / akami

Chu toro

O toro

Kohada

Kuruma ebi - this is the best kuruma ebi my very first piece with Mizutani-san

Hamaguri - one of the very few misses of the meal - the sauce was a bit heavy-handed

Sayori

Buri

Ikura

Anago - again the saucing let them down

At this point, they asked if I wanted anything else. I asked for kanpyo, which was met with a roar of approval. I wonder if this should go in the Sushi 101 post about what you order to show the itamae you mean business :slight_smile: The gourd was more delicate and subtle than what I had at Nanba

Obligatory Jiro-style tamago

All the nigiri was of a very high quality. They use gomezu in the rice, which gives a razor sharp acidity that peaks quickly and doesn’t really linger, leaving a clean taste.

As an aside, we ended up sitting next to the CEO of Pocket Concierge and chatted with him and his team briefly. FYI, Masuda only seats 5 at the counter - they have a private room. I saw that Masuda-san made the nigiri for the counter, while his apprentice made the nigiri for the private room. I also think they must be in some guide book (yes, I know, Michelin, but I assume other popular ones as well?) because three different parties knocked during lunch and were turned away because they didn’t have reservations. As I understand it, Masuda is not that hard a reservation to get, yet the sushi is excellent (albeit pricey). I would highly recommend this as a sushi destination for many folks on their travels to Japan where you can enjoy world-class sushi and not stress about whether you can get into the latest intro-only restaurant.

Of the three sushi restaurants I went to on this trip, if I could only return to one, it might be Kimura, because of the uniqueness of the aged fish and the warm hospitality. But I would say Masuda was the highest quality meal from beginning to end, with only a few misses detailed above.

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#2

You’re totally right - The nigiri photos look much like they’re straight from Jiro playbook.

I had an issue with oversaucing when I went to Sukiyabashi Jiro (yeah, I know that can be subjective) - Did you find this to be the case with Masuda?

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#3

Very explicit porn pic…

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#4

Except for the hamaguri and the anago (where tare[?] was involved), I didn’t have an issue with oversaucing on the nigiri and thought it was pretty on point. Love the focus on quality sourcing for the neta!

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#5

The CEO of Pocket Concierge is a sushi fiend…he also posts to Instagram and is a pretty serious dude, though probably not on the same level as some of the top tier Opinionated About Dining jet setting sushi fiends.

I can tell you that a lot of local Japanese diners in Tokyo don’t even order kanpyo as their closer at high end omakase restaurants, even if they have status on instagram (which doesn’t mean a lot these days with a few exceptions). There’s a lot of effort and skill in cooking great kanpyo despite its humble and lowly status (yet is vital to Edomae sushi), and the variations are different between establishments down to the seasoning, cooking technique, texture, and overall mouthfeel. So for foreign visitors to order this (whether you speak any Japanese or not), is HUGE with the chefs and owners. But you have to like it and appreciate it to begin with since it’s also very washoku in a specific way. I had one mindblowing kanpyo experience in Tokyo, and it was actually served as a handroll with crispy toasty seaweed, with an intense flavor and another one had so much umami that it was almost sake/mirin centric with soy sauce but explosively awesome. Still far better than the generic crap in the USA (with a few exceptions).

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#6

I’d love to have a chat with him. Specifically, I’d be interested to ask him why they charge foreign customers way more money than Japanese customers for the same bookings. :roll_eyes:

#7

I’ll take a guess at the answer: Because they can.

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#8

Well, I won’t use their service and I have heard of plenty of folks who also won’t use them due to what amounts to a “gaijin tax”, so it might not be best for their service in the long run - especially since the 3rd party booking market in Tokyo is getting quite crowded.

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#9

Yeah there’s a lot of boutique 3rd party outfitters now for Tokyo experiences.

The gaijin tax exists because many past clients have done, well, gaijin things (unwarranted rudeness/attitude/entitlement, flaked on reservations without notice, etc.), and left the outfitter with egg on their face, in need of repairing broken relationships with local restaurant or establishment proprietors. It’s more of a gaijin insurance, rather than tax…

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#10

is the suggestion that people who will pay more will behave better? because if so…

#11

The meal is already 100% pre-paid at the time of booking, so that covers the insurance part, and so the extra money that foreigners are charged is absolutely a gaijin tax.

#12

There is also the issue that not every establishment in Japan wishes to accept a foreign diner without an introduction, and so the extra cost can often be considered a matchmaker’s fee to allow easing of a restaurant’s policy.

#13

Fact is, Pocket Concierge is the only service that makes foreigners pay more than Japanese customers for the same seats. You can rationalize it however you want, I personally think it is wrong.

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#14

Life ain’t always fair.

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