During this past trip to Japan, wife couldn’t eat full meals of raw fish, so I had one hall pass for a sushi meal. I had really enjoyed Jiro-styled sushi before (Mizutani, Harutaka, and Masuda). Of those three, two are now closed, and I didn’t want to deal with the pain in getting a Jiro Honten reservation, nor have I heard good things about Jiro Roppongi, so back to Harutaka it was.
Harutaka San is in stands in the corner of the L shaped bar. His apprentices (I counted three out serving in addition to the kitchen staff and the waitress) cut and serve the otsumami. Once the nigiri comes though, Harutaka-San finishes each piece of nigiri himself and brings them to each customer.
One random comment - the behavior of customers (both foreign and japanese) has gotten “worse” each time I’ve come to Japan. To my left, the couple spent the entire night taking selfies with the fish. To my right, the pair was asking for specific pieces and not waiting for the omakase to play out, and one of them was shopping for shoes on her phone all night.
While the otsumami was so-so, the nigiri absolutely met my expectations and left me immensely satisfied.
Shirako - this was the only otsumami that wow’d me - a really delicate presentation of this seasonal dish
Hirame and Kue sashimi
Amadai with lotus root
Smoked and grilled sawara
At this point, I was a bit worried that my only sushi meal in Japan was going less than spectacularly, but the nigiri line up was coming up.
Those of you who are familiar with the Jiro style know it for its distinctive elements - strong sharp komezu, a focus on premium ingredients, and fairly large sized pieces. On his Tableall profile, Harutaka-San even alludes to the current popularity of akazu-styled nigiri, but says the komezu is his style, and he’s sticking with it.
One we got to the nigiri- order was restorer, and the pieces were fantastic. My favorites on this trip were probably the kuruma-ebi, the katsuo, and akame. I’ve read online reviews that criticize the shari here for being overly salty. I didn’t think it was any more salty than the other Jiro places, and the shari had a nice punch.
Katsuo Marvelous as mentioned above
Bafun Uni from Hokkaido
The omakase was done at this point, and they asked if I wanted any additional pieces.
Kanpyo Maki Friggin fantastic - ordering this elicited another statement of approval from the sushi chef in front of me
I went with carafes of Kokuryu and then Tedorigawa daiginjo for my meal.
In my buzzed state, I ended up ordering a carafe (Of the Tedorigawa) for all the chefs. I was nervous doing so in Japan because I wasn’t sure if it would seem presumptuous (I do this all the time I’m the US). They were quite appreciative, and Harutaka San thanked me twice, so it seemed to have gone over well