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.
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
The first course: satoimo mash (taro) with shungiku
Aged Kue (九絵) longtooth grouper sashimi, absolutely sublime and excellent this time of year.
Next to the Kue sashimi was Nama Tsubugai (Japanese Whelk)
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)
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
Madai (sea bream) konbujime (marinated in kelp)
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
The sake lees vinegar seasoned sushi rice is sublime (Kohada, for example, was paired with this rice)
Komesu / white rice vinegar seasoned sushi rice (paired with sanma, for example)
Aji with sesame shoyu
Next sake: Kamo Kinshu Tokubetsu Junmai (Saga Prefecture)
It was served along side tsubugai liver (topped with togarashi)
Sawara (Spanish Mackeral) bousushi (there is a piece of kelp on top)
Kelp, sea grapes (umi budo), and mozuku sunomono
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.
Iwashi (su-jime, marinated in vinegar)
Tairagai (pen shell clam) isobeyaki - essentially a clam nori “sandwich” without rice and super tasty
Nogomi Junmai Ginjo, brewed with an ancestral rice varietal Omachi (Saga Prefecture)
Pickled daikon (Bettara)
Aged marinated bluefin (maguro zuke)
Aged bluefin toro (I believe wild bluefin from Aomori, they don’t show the provenance like some other places do)
Amadai sakamushi (steamed tilefish in sake)
Aged bluefin hosomaki
Shako (add on)
Aoyagi zuke (add on)
Ankimo narazuke (add on)
Shijimi jiru (clam soup)
Kanpyo (add on)
Dessert: shio (salt), kinako, kuromame (black bean) ice cream as monaka
Dessert: nashi (pear) sorbet
Can’t really go wrong here.
Takumi Shingo 匠進吾
1F Win Aoyama, 2-2-15 Minami Aoyama Minato-ku