Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sushi Yoshitake Tokyo

There are many good sushi-ya(s) in Tokyo and to choose one where we want to eat may not be that easy. At first, I would like to try the less 'well-known' places among non-Japanese such as Mitani or Miyako. However, these places were already fully booked even more than one month before my selection date. In the end, I picked Sushi Yoshitake. I visited the Hong Kong branch a couple of years ago and had a great meal there especially the octopus and the abalone with liver sauce. Knowing my wife's palate, I know she would love those dishes too. If the branch was good, then the flagship restaurant overseen by the sushi master himself, Masahiro Yoshitake-san, naturally should be better right? Furthermore, Yoshitake Tokyo offering the same omakase menu at substantially cheaper price than at its Hong Kong counterpart. In Ginza, the sushi-ya provided an extra appetizer as well as 2 more sushi.  

Prior to this meal, I only knew that Sushi Yoshitake, located in the normal office building with ordinary entrance of Ginza area, only had one main counter that seats 7 people. As we entered the dining room, we're stopped by a junior staff. A few minutes later, Yoshitake-san came out, greeted and instead escorted both of us to a small door with a narrow passageway that could easily be mistaken as a closet for keeping guests' outer coats. Apparently, this narrow door would lead us into a smaller dining room seated 4 people at most. The sous chef introduced himself as "Dai" (a short of Daisuke) and he would serve our dinner since the main dining room was busy with Yoshitake's regular clients. My positive experience at Sushi Shikon helped me handle the situation calmly. I thought Dai-san could not be 'worse' than Chef "Kaki". Moreover, I already know that most of the dishes especially the tsumami (appetizers/snacks) have been prepared in advance from the main kitchen. So, I saw no point to make a fuss or felt cheated of not being served by Yoshitake-san himself. In addition, there were a few other pros as well: first, we had a private dinner since we're the only diners in this small room. Secondly, we were allowed to take pictures of the dishes with our cameras (not strictly from the camera phone). 


Salmon caviar served with smoked salmon, grated radish and okra - The ikura was excellent, the salmon was tender & smooth while the daikon & okra added interesting combination especially texture-wise. I generally love any dish with plenty of top quality ikura
(Lightly seared) red Snapper sashimi with special sauce (a mixture of fish bone, shoyu, & yuzu) and wasabi - A wonderful slices especially the contrast of the fish's crispy/charred skin and its clean/pure taste. The sauce enhanced the sashimi's flavor

Tender octopus with 'sweet' sauce - The tako was slowly braised for a long time (plus some 'massage') resulting in a tender piece that's enjoyable to chew in my mouth. It was really delicious because in addition to its 'soft' texture, the tako thoroughly absorbed the sweet sauce (a combination of some bonito broth + sake + kelp). A great dish
Steamed (black) Abalone served with its liver sauce - Yoshitake-san's best signature item and deservedly so. At this level of cooking, we can expect the mushi kuro awabi to be tender (a little bouncy in a nice way). The sauce was phenomenal; it was creamy, rich, & deep - simply out of this world. It worked perfectly with the awabi. After that, the itamae gave a dollop of sushi rice to be mixed with kimo sauce to create a wonderful "green risotto". An excellent dish: complex but in harmony!

Seared Bonito with horse radish, ginger and scallion - Similar to the sashimi dish, the katsuo's skin was seared to be smoky and crispy. The cooked bonito flesh has a deep flavor; nice
Mozuku seaweed (natural) and Sea urchin with chopped mountain yam and chia seeds (for slight crispy texture) - It serves as a transition dish before the sushi course began. The yama imo was 'starchy' and it rather dominated the overall flavor along with the nori. The uni acted as a good distraction 


Shin Ika (Baby squid) - It was pretty, clean and tender; awesome!
Grilled shin ika 'tail/leg' - The baby cuttlefish in this form was aromatic and delicious with a very good texture
Tai (Sea bream) - It's quite versatile with a balance of sweet & sour flavor 
Chu-Toro (Marinated and lightly boiled medium fatty Tuna) - It was well aged with gorgeous color; really flavorful. A splendid morsel

O-Toro (Fatty Tuna; also aged fabulously) - It's very difficult to go wrong with this especially when the Itamae served 2 layers of Otoro ;-) As you imagine, it was heavenly (creamy & oily yet not greasy) and umami!
Kohada (Gizzard shad) - Similar to my O-toro, "Dai-san" applied a double portion of kohada to create this piece. It has a balanced of strong flavor - could taste some variations of vinegar, salt and a bit of sweetness derived from the dried ebi powder    

Sanma (Mackerel pike with its liver & chopped shiso) - The cured sanma was quite tasty; its liver was very intense. I hardly ate this morsel in sushi, nevertheless interesting though not my favorite .. 
Akagai (Ark shell) from Miyagi perfecture - Firm & crunchy texture with enjoyable oceanic flavor and inherently sweet. Eating "kai" in Japan is always a huge pleasure 
Uni (Sea urchin) - It was a combination of aka (Autumn is usually the peak period for Aka uni) + bafun uni. In this case, the red sea urchin was indeed a bit sweeter and creamier than the green one. Both were still excellent and served in generous portion

Kuruma-Ebi (Japanese tiger prawn was accentuated with shrimp miso) - Another great piece. The prawn was delicious, juicy and of top quality (freshly prepared and immediately served). I like the addition of the 'green brain' below the ebi   
Anago (Sea eel) - The anago itself was soft, light and 'melting'. With the addition of the glaze, it became delightfully sweet and rich but not cloying

Temaki (Tuna hand roll) - The tuna was akami tsuke (equal portion of akami vs shari) and served with crunchy nori, shiso & ginger. The sign that the end was near ...
Tamago (Egg custard) - Sweet, a bit creamy and flavorful 'sponge cake'
Miso-shiru - Miso soup to conclude the wonderful meal  

Our meal was accompanied by cold sake - Hakurakusei junmai ginjo from Miyagi. It was a very satisfying meal - possibly my spouse favorite sushi-ya during this trip. Carrying the restaurant's top reputation, Daisuke-san delivered and executed each dish consistently well. Yoshitake uses two types of akuzu (red vinegar) for the sushi rice. The addictive shari looked beautiful in red/brown; it's 'al dente', served at (almost) body temperature/faintly warm that's in harmony with the prepared neta. Yoshitake-san was truly an expert at combining flavors, textures and temperatures. Our meal was well paced and also entertaining. Dai was talkative, amiable and shared plenty of stories from his life and cooking experience - so there's hardly a dull moment. He used to be the chef de cuisine of Japanese embassy in Washington DC for several years before returning to Tokyo. With his characters and personality (skill wise, they're on par), I would choose Dai-san over Kaki-san anytime as my sushi chef at Yoshitake (of course, I would still be curious what it's like to be served by the Yoshitake-san himself one day).

The decor was minimal and simple; the small-size room created an intimate ambiance.  For me, Sushi Yoshitake to sushi is like Ishikawa to kaiseki in terms of the top places that deliver non-intimidating experience for foreigners (with 'zero' Japanese language) who want to savor authentic Japanese cuisine. With fresh and impeccable ingredients, delicious food, and sincere hospitality, Yoshitake at Ginza should be the right 'entry spot' to those who want to savor high end sushi in Japan for the first time. For the pictures of the above food, you're welcome to follow the link below: Yoshitake Sep '15

Food: 95 pts

Service: 94 pts

Overall: 94.5/100

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