Tokyo’s Most Iconic Sushi Restaurants

It may well rank as Japan’s most prolific and omnipresent export, over the likes of Toyota automobiles, Sony gadgets, Uniqlo casual wear, manga, anime and Godzilla. Give it up for sushi.

Like Japan’s post-war economic miracle, when the country, to the world’s surprise, suddenly became a global player in the automotive and electronics sectors, sushi’s culinary dissemination has come fast.

Think about it. Go back three decades. Outside of some very select metropolitan centres, just how prevalent was sushi? Truth is, as a viable dinner option, sushi was in a diminutive niche and practically non-existant in the likes of Adelaide and Albuquerque.

Some thirty years on, sushi and, indeed, Japanese cuisine’s hegemony is secure and almost taken for granted. The Melbournes and Montreals of the world have not one type of Japanese restaurant now, but several, with standard sushi and sashimi almost humdrum in the face of soba, izakaya, okonomiyaki, tonkatsu, shabu-shabu, udon, and yakitori joints.

Sushi, however, is still regent but, admittedly, more controversial than ever. As diners become more savvy and “Ocean Wise”, as it were, to reckless practices that damage marine ecosystems, some restaurants and chefs have had to give sushi menus a rethink.

And yet, Japan’s (and the world’s) appetite for bluefin toro and unagi rages on. And trips to Tokyo without a cursory nibble at one of the city’s bellwether sushi purveyors feel woefully inadequate.

The key is to make a rational decision about where to eat genuine, authentic sushi in Japan’s capital. Happily, we have done the research for you. No need to wander from of your Narita accommodation with question marks and an empty stomach. Just make a reservation in advance and, preferably, at one of these iconic (and costly) sushi restaurants in Tokyo.

Tsukiji Fish Market

[Image credit travel.nationalgeographic.com]

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tokyo’s venerable fish market, the largest in the world, is best at dawn, as mongers and buyers conduct an age-old auction ritual to see who gets to take home prize tunas. The market contains several small, very busy sushi counters, where the fish is duly fresh.

Sushi Takumi Okabe

The man with the knives at Sushi Takumi Okabe was the mentor of Masa Takayama, whose eponymous Manhattan sushi shop is a consistent Michelin three star and, arguably, the most expensive restaurant in North America.

Sushi Mizutani

Juno Ginza Seiwa bldg 9F, 8-7-7 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

There is an ascetic quality to the most celebrated sushi restaurants in Tokyo, with Mizutani a poster child. The Michelin three star chef was a protégé of Sukiyabashi Jiro. Expectations are thus impossibly high, and invariably met.

Sushi Mizutani Ginza

[Image credit: tokyofooddiary.com]

Araki

5-14-14 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

Ginza’s best sushi restaurants know better than to make any concessions when it comes to ingredients or technique. Araki’s prices reflect that stringent mindset but this is why the restaurant is a bucket list constant.

Sushi Saito

Nihon Jitensha Kaikan 1F, 1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo

Jean-Luc Naret, the tough-as-nails director of the Michelin Red Guide, once famously proclaimed that he wanted to make Sushi Saito his own. The restaurant is a favourite with diplomats at the nearby American Embassy.

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

[Image credit alifewortheating.com]

Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

Tsukamoto Building B1F, 4-2-15 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo

The most famous sushi chef in the world has a trove of honours, was the subject of a popular documentary and is in the Guinness World Records. Born in 1925, the star of Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the oldest Michelin star chef ever and, incredibly, is still at it from behind the counter of his modest restaurant below the streets of Ginza.

Jasmine’s recent Japan tour has taken her to many top sights and locations around the country. She has experienced so of the best Japanese food, amongst other things, and hopes to share it with readers.
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