Sushi Yoshitake in Ginza : Three Michelin Stars

VERDICT
A small shop dedicated to feeding a few customers with their best ingredients and skills- Japanese food at its best.

I was told Michelin stars do not matter in Tokyo – Japanese food do not need to be judged by the western standard, especially for something as traditional as Edomae sushi. While I believe this to be true, my curiosity about these shops that were awarded stars still needs to be fulfilled. Sushi Yoshitake was awarded the highest honor of 3 Michelin stars the year it entered the Michelin guide. It was my first 3 star experience, and it was perfect, not only because of the satisfying sushi, but also because it was not an overly pretentious experience.

The abalone liver dish they are so famous for was worth every drop. My taste buds vaguely remembers their akuzu red vinegar rice, distinct in its lightly gleaming red/brown stain – another specialty. Good sushi rice can be addictive. Each grain balances the fish, but also satisfies without feeling too heavy. Omakase course starts from 23,000 yen before drinks and tax. The course is not too filling, but still a worthwhile experience.

The environment is minimalistic, quiet but relaxing. I highly recommend it, and am likely to return though with only 7 seats, reservations should be well planned in advance.

Scroll down further for more Yoshitake experience + photographs.

SUSHI YOSHITAKE

Address : Ginza, 8−7−19, Chuo-ku 104-0061, Tokyo (3rd Floor of the Suzuryu Building)
〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座8-7-19すずりゅうビル3F
Phone : +81-03-6253-7331
Opening hours:
Mon – Sat  1st seating 18:00 – 20:00
2nd seating 20:30 – 2230

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DECISION

Stories of facing severity while dinning at a particularly world-famous-after-documentary sushi shop do not seduce me. I am also incapable of gobbling up any meal in less than 40 minutes. My experience with sushi has been with mostly gentle, slightly doting itames, patiently teaching a foreign girl about their ingredients and how best to eat them.

That said, my curiosity for sushi has grown exponentially (I did not like it until about 7 years ago), and I am still on a quest to try edomae sushi from as many highly rated chefs in Tokyo as possible. Tokyo, the vibrant capital, draws some of the best sushi chefs all over Japan – there is no better place to embark on a sushi tasting experience.

I do not specifically select sushi shops by Michelin stars, but by local reviews and ratings… and sometimes going on a hunch. When Yoshitake was arranged for me, I had a good feeling. Knowing that the chef is relatively relaxed is also a relief.

THE VISIT

I find making reservations at high end sushi shops stressful. A few are known to reject foreigners, and when nervous, I forget even the simplest Japanese. Sushi Yoshitake I hear, is slightly more open, perhaps because the chef speaks English. I grew increasingly excited before the date, especially about their amazing signature dish, the creativity of the chef coupled with his traditional roots, and most importantly the flavoring of his rice.

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Although we took a taxi to the exact address, it still took a bit of looking around the Ginza buildings on the street before a man in a suit standing outside a bar caught our (squinting) eye. He pointed to the entrance of an elevator that leads to Yoshitake and smiled, nodding at us while we strained to read the non-neon Japanese signs. Finally, we arrived and entered the small shop through a clean, wooden sliding door, I felt like I was climbing into a secret rabbit hole. Sushi Yoshitake has a cozy, zen decor. The whole restaurant only seats 7 guests at a light wooden counter, in close proximity to the itame.

The shop was quiet, and the meal was well paced. We broke the ice with our chef when asking his recommendation for dry sake. The meal then started with small portions of innovative appetizers, including their signature abalone liver, and each was both an aesthetic and delicious surprise. We then moved on to the solid, authentic pieces of nigiri sushi – and it was simply neta ネタ (ingredients) on rice at its best. The rice was perfectly seasoned, served at room temperature (I prefer slightly warm but the seasoning here, spot on.)

ON TO THE MEAL
The fantastic knife skills sets it apart from the competition, every dish is so refined, clean, and an culinary experience on its own. Ingredients may vary according to season

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A light start with Uni, on Yuba and Barley.

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Octopus, tenderly braised.

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The Sushi Yoshitake specialty – steamed abalone with its liver. Juicy, textured abalone has its flavor enhanced with the tasty richness of the prepared liver. It lived up to its hype, and once you are done with the abalone, the chef puts a small ball of rice atop the liver so your enjoyment is prolonged.

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Seared Katsuo (Bonito) that had a lovely, smokey flavor.

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Palate cleanser, chilled junsai broth

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Ika (Squid)

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Akou-dai (Red Rockfish)

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Kisu

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Chu-toro, can never go wrong with these.

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Kohada (Gizzard Shard) – these are usually prepared in vinegar, and I have always found them sour. But at Yoshitake, it was not sour and I finally understood why kohada is still a staple and testament to the chefs’ skill in Edomae sushi.

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Tori Gai (Japanese cockle, sometimes called Heart Clam in English)

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Uni (Duo of Sea Urchin, the top one is Mursaki I believe)

Sushi Yoshitake
KURUMA EBI! (My favorite! Japanese Tiger Prawn, Ill have them any way, boiled, raw even fried! Sweet and juicy. Lalala any picture of Kuruma ebi makes me happy.)

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Anago (Saltwater Conger Eel)

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Maguro Shiso Temaki (You can really see the color of the well seasoned rice)

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Tamago (Egg, prepared like a sweet custard)

The meal ended with a miso soup, a last hit of sake, and a photograph with the chef at his door front. As we left, my guest ran off to do some last minute late night shopping in Ginza while Ula contemplated ramen for a second dinner. I was just content to dream of sushi.

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