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Best of the Best Sushi Omakase Options

Am soon to embark on my second trip to Tokyo/Japan and am looking for people's thoughts on where to go for a top end sushi omakase experience. Came across the list in the attached link and have already had Kyubei and Jiro recommended to me but any other thoughts would be appreciated (along with an indicative price per person - I'm thinking up to Y30,000 per person should do it):

http://homepage3.nifty.com/maryy/eng/...

On my first visit in 2003 I did a few sushi options in and around Tsukiji which I liked a lot and will certainly be doing more of these as well as all the great non-sushi options as well.

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  1. Oh and if anyone knows any places in Kobe where we can have a top quality kobe beef experience, that would be much appreciated too. Is the beef likely to be cooked on a hot stone, served tartare/tataki style, cooked sukiyaki/shabu shabu style or is a range of preparations likely?

    Thanks.

    3 Replies
    1. re: oonth

      The concensus among my business associates in Osaka and Tokyo is Japan's best kobe beef is served at a little place called Ishizawa in Nishi-ku, Osaka. I've eaten there a couple of times. I had never had such soft beef in my life--it melts in your mouth! I also had the best carrots and broccolli (organic) there (which may not be served to the general public. My former client knows the owner very well and we get special dishes).

      A few years ago the lunch combination was less than 1000yen and two years ago it was a little higher, but still very affordable.

      It's near Koseinenkinkaikan--the closest subway station is Nishi-ohashi (Nagahori Line), but you can also walk from Yotsubashi. It's really a little place and looks more like a coffee shop. It's not in any guidbook and they don't have a web site.
      Address: 1-33-14 Shinmachi, Nishi-ku 06-6538-6952

      1. re: oonth

        Usually it's grilled teppanyaki-style. Here's a whole list of places in Kobe and nearby Kansai for beef: http://www.bento.com/kansai/kc-region...

        Ohnishi (shown below) and Itoh Dining, both in Kobe, are good value for money.

        1. re: Robb S

          Ohnishi, Kobe - it's a neighborhood type of place. Itoh is a little fancier.

           
      2. Kyubei and Jiro are the most well regarded places in Tokyo. I'm not sure it's possible to do better, unless you're thinking of convenience and have a particular part of town you want to dine in. 30,000 YEN per person should do it. Besides price, you'll find a completely different atmosphere than Tsukiji and the quality is better too. Just an FYI, "omakase" in Tokyo is a bit different than NYC. Saying "omakase" in a restaurant in Japan often confers a level of familiarity between the chef and the patron. It's not a sort of tasting menu. This post does a good job on the term- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356331 .

        1 Reply
        1. re: Silverjay

          Thanks, this is all very helpful. I had a sense that the true meaning of the word "omakase" has been bastardised in NYC in as much as it is now a buzz culinary word that is applied in scattergun fashion to just about every tasting, degustation and chef's menu around.

          I'm looking forward to the contrast of places like Jiro/Kyubei with Tsukiji places - I'm 90% low maintenance (hence my enjoyment of understated Tsukiji joints, that plus the fact that you can enjoy fresh as you like 6am sushi after a late late night) and 10% high maintenance. I'm told that in Japan the quality of the kohada is a good yardstick of the quality of the sushi ya's fish overall so I'll be looking to put this to the test during my visit.

          BTW, thanks also for the input with the "No Shellfish" post. I had an anaphylactic reaction to shellfish 5 years ago and so have to stay away from all forms, more's the pity, but will now be better equipped to explain myself with the correct Japanese - last time I just reeled off the Japanese names of items I couldn't eat. Managed to make myself understood most of the time and couldn't believe how wonderfully accomodating the local people were in their efforts to understand me. I can't wait to be back in the country.

        2. In addition to Jiro and Kyubei, you might also want to try Harumi Sushi. It compares favorably with my experience at both Jiro and Kyubei and pricewise, it's also about the same.

          Harumi No. 3
          Shinbashi 1-17-7
          Resona Bank Shinbashi Branch
          03-3501-4622

          1 Reply
          1. re: HKTraveler

            HKTraveler - thanks for the recommendation for Harumi. I stay in Shinbashi, so it will be convenient for my next trip. Is it near the train station? Is it open for lunch? Is it a chain (is that why it's called Harumi No. 3)?

          2. It is close to the train station and the dai-ichi hotel. They seem to have 3 shops. When i was there, the main chef was in No. 3. That was during lunch hours on a weekday.

            1 Reply
            1. re: HKTraveler

              Great. Thanks! I stay at the DaI-ichi, so this couldn't be any more perfect for my next trip.

              1. Thanks for all the recommendations here. I ended up going to Kyubei (main restaurant rather than the Annex) last Saturday lunchtime. Paid Y10,500 for a medium size sushi/sashimi moriawase with a flask of junmai ginjo nihon-shu and the sushi ya in front of whom I was sat spoke some English which was a help. All the fish was good and some of it was stellar, in particular a chopped sayori sashimi dish that I had towards the end. I also enjoyed the mixed seaweed salad that I was served in a bowl at the outset and which was topped up by the sushi ya in the same way as the gari top ups on the sushi counter. Another nice touch was the way in which some of the pieces/items were dusted with freshly grated wasabi - the chef used a fine brush to dust wasabi off the grater and on to the fish, nice showmanship and good flavour.

                Overall I'm pleased that I went to one of the top end places although I was equally impressed with my [random] Tsukiji and other sushi experiences around the city. I was also very impressed with the standard of sashimi in the various izakayas that we went to, we had some great buri (must be in season), maguro and saba amongst other things.

                11 Replies
                1. re: oonth

                  Just curious, do you remember the places that you went to near Tsukiji?

                  1. re: eatfood

                    Not off the top of my head but I have the business cards back at home so I will post the details later along with some vague directions. Both places I went to were actually in the market itself, one of them was in or adjacent to Building 6 where the more famous Daiwa Sushi is located but the queues for that place and other sushi bars in Building 6 were long and I didn't have time to wait.

                      1. re: E Eto

                        I personally know the OP of that thread actually.......The two listed that I heard mentioned most on tv and in print while I was in Japan were "Sushi Dai" and "Sushi Bun". But I don't think you can go wrong with any of them listed though.... I love Tsukiji, but it's become rather touristy (domestic and international) at these shops over the last couple of years. Not to say you can't have great stuff around the market and anyone visiting should definitely check it out, but the best sushi in Tokyo will always be found at the high end places like Kyubei, etc.

                      2. re: oonth

                        Haven't been able to track down the card for the first place in Tsukiji that I tried (where horse sashimi was available now I come to remember, wish that I had tried some in hindsight) but the second place is called Yamazaki (03-3541-1105) which is in Building 6 and is most easily accessed from the Ichibabashi Gate.

                        Another [non Tsukiji] sushi place we went to for Sunday brunch is called Sushizanmai which is part of chain but perfectly respectable sushi and some very well priced "setto" (set price) options. About Y800 for the settos as I remember it.

                        Personally I loved the o-toro sushi that I bought from Mitsukoshi food hall for lunch one day and also the saba batera sushi bento boxes from the train station vendors.

                        1. re: oonth

                          Sushizanmai - I went to their tsukiji branch and I thought it was excellent.

                          There were no lines (unlike some of the stores inside the market), the fish was fresh, and the prices were reasonable.

                          1. re: eatfood

                            I went to the one in Shinbashi (under the railtracks) near where we were staying. To be honest after a while I'm sure it's a question of splitting hairs when comparing and contrasting sushi places in Tsukiji/Tokyo. The big difference I find between eating sushi in Tokyo and say New York or London is that in Tokyo you do well to find bad sushi anywhere whereas in NY and London you find plenty of mediocre/bad sushi outside of the more expensive restaurants.

                            1. re: oonth

                              When I was there in November, there was a guy working behind the counter (not my guy) with the hairiest arms I've ever seen. That's the last time I eat at Sushizenmai. You can have my stamp cards if you want.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                Too funny. And this was a Japanese dude?

                    1. re: oonth

                      I visited Kyubei in Ginza the 2nd time this week and at the end of my lunch, I had decided to have lunch again in 3 days time. The waitress told that no bookings are made for Sat and that is it is a first come first serve basis. Somehow, I decided to call them again on Fri only to find out that they are fully booked!! I can't help but feel "discriminated" just coz I am not Japanese!! I am feeling so pissed that I have decided to find a forum to write and tell everyone about them.

                      1. re: Flai

                        Did you misbehave or made a foo out of yourself the first time?