[Tokyo] Otsumami, Sake, and Sushi Heaven at Takumi Shingo

Quite a few of you have probably heard of Keiji Nakazawa. For some, he appeared in an episode of the original Iron Chef, battled Morimoto Iron Chef Japan and shockingly lost the Battle: Sushi (judges preferred Nobu Matsuhisa style fusion…sigh). For foodies some claim he “kicked out Michelin inspectors”. Either way, he is the creator and founder of the original Sushi Sho (Yotsuya) in Tokyo (as well as the style of sushi known as “Sho style”), who is teacher/mentor/master to a lot of students, many have ended up opening their own restaurants with the help and blessing of their master (and permission to include and use the name “Sho” or “Takumi” same Japanese/kanji character, hence an alternative way to have chains/branches). Nakazawa has relocated to Waikiki Hawaii to open Sushi Sho Waikiki, and doing next level sushi.

His apprentices do carry on the torch in Tokyo. While Sushi Sho Yotsuya remains open and still a stronghold amongst Japanese gourmets, one of his best students is Takahashi Shingo, who is very accomplished and has 18 years of experience directly under Nakazawa, and his restaurant Takumi Shingo is incredibly amazing in its own right. In addition to all that working knowledge, Shingo has an incredible resume that includes time at an izakaya outside of Tokyo, and some years at a sake brewery in Miyagi prefecture (to say he knows his sake is a bit of an understatement), and of course well traveled throughout Japan.

Before we start, here are some key characteristics of Sho style sushi (at a legit Sushi Sho lineage restaurant in Tokyo):

  • interspersed appetizers/otsumami with nigiri (instead of all appetizers first, then all nigiri). This is to facilitate drinking and a changing of pace. Not for everyone, but it shook things up for a lot of customers (and chefs)

  • at least two different kinds of sushi rice (usually one that is white/regular, seasoned with rice vinegar/komesu, and the other is a darker red/red brown color which is seasoned mostly with akasu (red vinegar, but the correct term is sake lees vinegar, usually aged 2 to 3 years) served around body temperature. The rice used for the piece of sushi will depend on the topping to create the right balance

  • The aging of certain fish, particularly bluefin (Hon Maguro) and wild yellowtail (Buri) upwards of 2 weeks

  • pick the type of alcoholic beverage you want to have, and the restaurant will decide for you and serve you what goes best with certain courses. You are welcome to mix and match, or just do pairing for one type of beverage.

  • no miso soup at the end

  • adherence to many Edomae techniques (many labor and skill intensive) that showcase some original approaches, but from a very technical standpoint with the goal to maximize deliciousness and/or alternative ways to enjoy seasonal and non seasonal/year round offerings

  • three signature sushi pieces that are Sushi Sho originals: kinmedai skin (grilled), ohagi (chopped aged bluefin with takuan/pickle), and the legendary ankimo with a piece of narazuke (pickle) on top, usually it’s pickled baby watermelon

This style has inspired many chefs locally, outside the region, and overseas to varying extent. There are die hard fans and there are also naysayers to this style. For example, Sasa Sushi in Taipei serves ankimo narazuke sushi. You can possibly find ankimo paired with narazuke at several other restaurants in Japan, and/or places that serve aged fish and use sake lees seasoned sushi rice (or they serve a seasoned sushi rice made with a mixture of vinegars). But you cannot deny the influence and impact this has had in the world of Edomae style sushi and high end sushi omakase restaurants.

Let’s take a journey and recap into this spectacular house of sushi, otsumami, and sake, one fine Sunday evening in October.

The entrance
1

No mucking around, let’s start the sake pairing! First up is a stellar Hokken Junmai Ginjo from Hiroshima prefecture, it appears to be a hiyaroshi (fall release) and is an excellent starter
2

The first course: satoimo mash (taro) with shungiku
3

Aged Kue (九絵) longtooth grouper sashimi, absolutely sublime and excellent this time of year.
4

Next to the Kue sashimi was Nama Tsubugai (Japanese Whelk)
5

The first sake small carafe (ichigo ~ 180 mL) ran out, so on to the next one. Koimari Saki Junmai, brewed with Yamadanishiki rice (Saga prefecture)
6

The First Order of nigiri. Starting off with an excellent sumi ika with a fantastic texture with its signature sticky surface (known as “nebari”) and delectable light crunch. Very strong this season
7

Madai (sea bream) konbujime (marinated in kelp)
8

Tako (otsumami)
9

This is a Sushi Sho signature, a very particular cut of saba (right then from Aomori prefecture) shaped into a triangle with some sesame seed, shiso inside. Sometimes aji (horse mackeral) is used, but Aomori saba when in season is unbeatable
10

Kohada
11

The sake lees vinegar seasoned sushi rice is sublime (Kohada, for example, was paired with this rice)
12

Sanma
13

Komesu / white rice vinegar seasoned sushi rice (paired with sanma, for example)
14

Aji with sesame shoyu
15

Next sake: Kamo Kinshu Tokubetsu Junmai (Saga Prefecture)
16

Shirako zuke
17

It was served along side tsubugai liver (topped with togarashi)
18

Sawara (Spanish Mackeral) bousushi (there is a piece of kelp on top)
19

Kelp, sea grapes (umi budo), and mozuku sunomono
20

Nama ikura. For a very, very short season in October, ikura can be served raw without any treatment. The texture and taste is absolutely heavenly.
21

Iwashi (su-jime, marinated in vinegar)
22

Tairagai (pen shell clam) isobeyaki - essentially a clam nori “sandwich” without rice and super tasty
23

Nogomi Junmai Ginjo, brewed with an ancestral rice varietal Omachi (Saga Prefecture)
24

Anago shirayaki
25

Pickled daikon (Bettara)
26

Aged marinated bluefin (maguro zuke)
27

Aged bluefin toro (I believe wild bluefin from Aomori, they don’t show the provenance like some other places do)
28

Amadai sakamushi (steamed tilefish in sake)
29

Bafun uni
30

Aged bluefin hosomaki
31

Shako (add on)
32

Aoyagi zuke (add on)
33

Ankimo narazuke (add on)
34

Shijimi jiru (clam soup)
35

Kanpyo (add on)
36

Tamagoyaki
37

Castella tamagoyaki
38

Dessert: shio (salt), kinako, kuromame (black bean) ice cream as monaka
39

Dessert: nashi (pear) sorbet
40

Can’t really go wrong here.

Takumi Shingo 匠進吾
1F Win Aoyama, 2-2-15 Minami Aoyama Minato-ku
Tokyo

Closed Wednesdays

Tel: +81-3-6434-0074

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i have no speech.

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Here are some more pictures from a prior visit (November 2016). I’ll showcase some highlights

Ni hamaguri (simmered clam)

ni hama

Aji with cucumber and ginger
aji

Umi budo (sea grapes) and kelp
umi budo

Gorgeous aged chutoro
chutoro

Ikura with komesu shari
ikura

kawahagi with liver between the fish and shari
kawahagi

Kurumaebi
kuruma

Nodoguro sakamushi
nodoguro sakamushi

Tachuio (belt fish, salt grilled)
tachuio

2 week aged toro
2 week toro

Shako
shako

Oyster
oyster

Signature kinmedai skin
kinme skin

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I just learned something new today! Wow!

Nice!

Have you tried Kimura? Another aging specialist, purportedly ages swordfish to 50+days!!

Oh yes I did go to Kimura on the same trip!

The swordfish is overly hyped in my opinion, there were other pieces that were far tastier (and less aged).

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Hey @beefnoguy i’m going to Tokyo in 2 weeks for 10ish days…kind of a sushi newbie but want to hit some nice places and expand my taste.

How much do the places in this thread cost and do you have any recommendations? I’m staying in Shibuya.

thanks!

There is a Michelin star sushi omakase in Shibuya called Kurosaki. The instagrammer snobs aren’t as smitten about the place but to me it is excellent and very pleasant. I don’t recall the exact price but you’re looking at around 25,000 to 30,000 yen per person, add extra for drinks. Bear in mind that chasers will like to flock and return to certain places to be regulars, and thus make them incredibly hard to get in. But also possible you might not enjoy them as much (that has happened to me once where people loved a place I thought was really so so). The best is to try it out for yourself and get a range of different styles, so you eat and learn and enjoy at the same time.

Kurosaki (Shibuya): https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1303/A130301/13178821/

If you want to try old school very traditional (but not fancy)

Bentenyama Miyakosushi in Asakusa : https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1311/A131102/13003694/
(highly recommend you call ahead for a reservation, and they are open for lunch as well). The current chef is 4th generation and the 1st/original generation reported trained under the founder of Edomae sushi (Hanaya Yohei) and all they do is preserve techniques. You won’t find fancy ingredients like sea urchin or salmon roe here.

You can also consider these:

Sushi Ryusuke (Ginza)

Sushi Suzuki (Ginza)

Takumi Shingo (Aoyama) - if they have something available you may have to settle for a late seating

Sushi Nakamura (Roppongi)

Sushi Taichi (Ginza) - also available for lunch and represents good value

Zoroku Yuzan (Roppongi) - good value and fantastic appetizers/otsumami and solid sake selection, nice fun atmosphere and very personable service by owner’s wife (who is also the sake somm). Should be easy to book which is a plus. Very high satisfaction level though pricing can be near the higher end places.

Given that your trip is 2 weeks away, the super popular places will already be booked up, the likelihood of these places still having some availability could be better.

Good luck, have fun and please report back where you end up going!

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