Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tokyo - Sushi Kanesaka

People marvel at the fact that Tokyo has the most Michelin stars combined, of any city in the world. I don't. For the simple reason that I think Japanese cuisine is the hallmark of global cuisines today, primarily for its simple use and remarkable combination of top quality produce and natural flavours. And for this reason alone, I think that Tokyo will, in time to come, also surpass Paris in the number of 3 Michelin starred restaurants - it currently lags Paris by 2.

I was therefore honoured to have the opportunity to lunch at Sushi Kanesaka (2 stars), owned by Shinji Kanesaka, possibly the youngest sushi chef in the prestigious Ginza district in Tokyo. Kanesaka san was not at the helm but his learned colleague Sanpei san was. Sanpei san was loads of fun, helped by his good command of English. He was interactive and participated by slow-mo-ing his knife wielding to the beat of our oohs and ahs, as he whipped out quality catches of the day from his magic fridge, especially the one under the counter.
Sanpei san's omakase was an excellent ensemble of sashimi and sushi of the finest quality that I've ever had.
Flounder - choice of sea salt, ponzu or traditional soya sauce and freshly grated wasabi
Baby Ebi - quite a few of them, de-shelled for easy savouring
Otoro - melt-in-your-mouth goodness
Lightly grilled Anago - cushiony softness with just a hint of charcoaled crisp skin
Fresh Uni - sweet sweet urchin from Hokkaido.. sigh..
Steamed Abalone - just enough to retain its natural sweetness and not chewy at all
Ika Sushi - hint of the sea and tender enough to even take a bite without losing your lipstick with the squid, soya sauce and grains of rice.
Speaking of the rice, the grains were so well defined and had its own fragrance. Sanpei san explained that it is the season's fresh harvest from Yamagata. Wow!

Lightly grilled Aji served with grated radish and soya sauce was next. Aji, typically cottony in texture, tasted like silk in this case. The excellent quality of the fish, with the perfected grilling techniques were of course the culprits.
Back to our sushi course...
Lightly cooked Botan Ebi - the sweetness of the shrimp from both the meat and a little of the entrails from the head made for a delightful out-of-this-world flavour
Aji or Spanish mackeral
Salmon roe -the sweetest and none of that usual over salted brininess.. our smiles brought out and extra scoop for each of us from good ole Sanpei san. Also, he thought it probably made a better looking photo (but because I had too many to choose from, it didn't make the blog given limitations of the blog).
Uni rice - this spectacular dish of more top quality Hokkaido uni, generous blob of freshly grated wasabi and a drizzle of soya sauce, mixed tenderly together to produce whole rice grains of the brightest orange, each perfectly wrapped in the the uni gravy was heaven with every teaspoon in the mouth.
A small recess with tamago custard - almost like dessert..
Then our sushi finale - perfectly grilled anago with a sweet marinade on top of rice. The plump anago withstood the grilling well and unlike our first course of shio-grilled anago, this was definitely dessert.
We finished off with a good bowl of miso soup cooked with many baby clams and it was definitely heartwarming before battling the cold again for another aggressive shopping day!
What an experience - definitely a must-do-again.


  1. Hi Ed,
    Aside of Sushi Kanesaka, what are your other top 5 sushi places in Tokyo? Also: How would you compare Sushi Kanesaka to Sushi Mizutani? To Sukyibashi Jiro Ginza? Thanks for your help

  2. Hi S Lloyd
    it's been a while since I visited Tokyo so it would not be fair for me to judge. However, a reliable foodie friend who visited more recently actually preferred Kanesaka for the overall experience while Mizutani won in a couple of categories of sushi which to quote her "out of this world". I hope you try both and share your experience back here!