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Oct 15, 2007 03:22 PM

"Best Sushi" in Tokyo

Here are the top five shops as of 10/2007 according to the two popular user-driven Japanese websites- ASKU and Tabelog, which factor in several dimensions including food, atmosphere, value, etc. Since ASKU can sort based on quality of the food, I've starred (*) the only four in the whole survey that scored 4.0 or higher on a 5.0 point scale:


*1) Sushi Mizutani
Tokyo, Chuo-ku, Ginza 8-2-10
Ginza Seiwa Silver Building B1F

*2) Akasaka Unomaruzushi
Tokyo, Minato-ku, Akasaka 7-6-15
Akasaka Royal Building 2F

*3) Sushi Nakamura
Tokyo, Minato-ku, Roppongi 7-17-16
Komekyu (?) Building 1F

4) Sushi Tsukasa
Tokyo, Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 3-12-1
Takikawa Building 1F

*5) Sushi Hashikuguchi
Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Kojimachi 5-7
Kioimachi (?) Tower Building 2F


1) Sushi Satou
Tokyo, Minato-ku, Akasaka 1-9-15
Jidensha Kaikan 1F

2) Kozasa
Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Shinsencho 10-12

3) Otsuka Takase
Tokyo, Toyoshima-ku, Minami Otsuka 1-45-3

4) Sushi Matsunami
Tokyo, Taito-ku, Komagata 1-9-5
Matsunami Building

5) Yohei
Tokyo, Edo-ku, Oshima 2-24-5
Corpo Takahashi 1F

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  1. Thanks Silverjay, now if only I could afford great sushi.

    People are always recommending Midori-zushi to me. From what I hear it's reasonably priced and pretty good.

    4 Replies
    1. re: lost squirrel

      Yes, Midori is good and inexpensive. Though, I'm not sure if it's enjoying the reputation or is still at the top of their game. A good value place is Iroha Sushi in Naka-Meguro (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/347704) .

      1. re: Silverjay

        Looks good, I'll have to give a try sometime soon.

        I need to find more dining companions, there are just too many restaurants here.

        1. re: Silverjay

          Which of these or others are exceptionally good and exceptionally good value?

          1. re: kel

            I finally tried Midori last weekend. We went around 3:15 on a Sunday and had a 10-15min wait.

            Perusing the menu beforehand, I was shocked at the prices. It really is a cheap place. Once our order came, I was pleasantly surprised again. The food is quite good for the price, I will definitely be back. Unfortunately, the english menu has far fewer options than the Japanese. If you can read hiragana/katakana you are much better off.

      2. Definitely go to Midori in Ginza. Its soooo good and pretty cheap. ALWAYS busy, I mean real busy...line up along the whole block. I would go there right when it opens at 4:30pm or a little later in the evening.

        1. What would be a ballpark estimate, per person, for a nice meal at one of these restaurants? Thanks in advance.

          1. Interesting that the Michelin 3 stars - Sukiyabashi Jiro is not on the list!

            Did Sushi Mizutani receive the highest score? Its a Michelin 3 star!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Charles Yu

              Hi Charles,

              In TABELOG, it is a one star restaurant who gets the highest score ! Sushi Mizutani is third, Jiro is doing quite bad. See the number 1 of Tabelog, 鮨さいとう :


              I read some article, they are saying some of the 2 stars are actually not as good as 1 star ! The famous 久兵衛 can only get 1 star !

            2. Can anyone explain to me how 'Quality of food' really works in the evaluation of SUSHI Restaurant?! I may not be expert in Japanese food but I have eaten my fair share of great sushi from Vancouver and LA to Toronto and NYC not to mention Hong Kong and Tokyo. So, to me, great nigiri sushi is great nigiri sushi as long as the rice is cooked and seasoned properly, the wasabi use is freshly grind from the root, the fish is varied and ultra fresh, the size properly cut and drape over the rice and finally the soya sauce top quality house brewed. As long as these criteria are met then one should be pretty hard to distinguish and rate them. At least the so called top tier ones. Therefore, I am at a lost to see Michelin 3 stars being out-rated by non star establishments in some of the above blogs. Are there other things to look for in sushi that I missed? May be Michelin gave Jiro 3 stars because in addtion to fish and seafood they use Wagyu beef or foie gras in their sushi?

              30 Replies
              1. re: Charles Yu

                Hi Charles, maybe you can find some of the answer here, the article did some analysis of why Jiro is different from other great sushi places in Japan, looks like it goes beyond the ingradient and quality (rice, soya sauce, fish...) etc, as they are the basic stuffs. It also did some comparison of the feeling at Mizutani and Jiro. Robuchon once said "This is the best nigiri sushi in Japan" after eating at Jiro according to this article ...

                The article is in chinese :


                I think it is quite deep ..... enjoy !

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  I have not tried the 10 listed above, so not able to make any comparison. But I never had good experience with sushi in North America. Even the well know Nobu in NY, Matsuhisa in LA, and Tojo's in Vancouver were huge disappointment. I usually find the sushi cut too big, not ultra fresh, and often result in rather subtle fishy smell. On my last visit to NY, I asked the sushi chef why they always cut such big portions in North America, and I was told they need to suit American taste: big steak, big burger, big sushi.
                  While Jiro serve the usual highly-prized Toro and Uni, what I was really impressed is the quality of the lesser known sushi. Its Anago sushi is just the best Anago sushi in the world. One bite, and you can feel the anago literally melting in your mouth. I had the same Anago sushi in Kyubei on the same week and I can testify that the piece in Jiro is way ahead on this one. Even Aji sushi, which I normally disliked, is well handled with the fishy taste gone. And don't forget its Ebi from Tokyo Bay, and Tamago. I know Tamago sounds simple and easy but I understand they have made great effort there and the taste is just simply amazing that stands out from any that I had tried before.
                  Don't ask me what extra effort or secret recipe they have that makes them so good? I have no idea at all. I just know they taste great.
                  Jiro does not serve wagyu beef or fioe gras. That will be an insult to them. Strictly sushi/sashimi and nothing else. Even for beverage, the selection is only water, green tea or sake. No beer, no soft drinks there.
                  I think you should not be too concerned how the sushi is rated by Michelin or other guides. Everyone has personal taste. What I feel is important that there is a close rapport with the sushi chef , the ability to appreciate his work and his ability to know and satisfy your taste bud. I think in Japan, I often find the bonding and relationship to be very important. Once the chef gets to know you are really enthusiastic with his food, he will show some "off menu" dish to you. You get preference treatment. And I think that is even more important.

                  1. re: FourSeasons

                    I've never been to Nobu, but in all fairness, he's known more for his "fushion" sushi than traditional. And I'm not sure about the size thing as I've seen plenty of nice places in Japan serve generous cuts- certainly larger than what I've seen from the photos of the Jiro's and Mizutani's of the world. In Hakodate, where I had excellent sushi recently, the pieces were very generous without being cumbersome. And I agree that you will always get quality cuts and good personal service if you show the chef you are a knowledgeable diner. Though I've found on Chowhound people have strangely elevated the customer/ sushi chef relationship to that of a Jedi and his pupil. Realistically, every small restaurant I regularly visit in Japan, sushi or otherwise, remembers my preferences and will kick me something special now and then. But that's not why I go to these places.

                    Also, regarding the above list of shops, please keep in mind the lists are from user driven sites and not necessarily a formal survey.

                    I think an interesting place to begin looking at sushi quality is in these recent stories and books on Tsukiji. The buyers of the seafood are looking for something and seem to have standards and an understanding of what will make a quality sushi fish. And they are willing to pay a lot for whatever they are seeing. My last time in Japan, I spent a lot of time speaking with different chefs and asking them about seafood. The location that the fish was caught in, including the underwater currents they are exposed to and the nutrients they are consuming, kept coming up time and time again. Sourcing high quality seafood is obviously a bit of a black box, but the fact that there is a such a complex and competitive market perhaps talks to the existence of true differences in quality. And anytime you are dealing with quality raw materials, there is a premium put on handling them. Sushi requires deftness at selecting and preparing cuts, temperature, seasoning, timing, etc. And preparing and serving quality shari, the vinegared rice in sushi, is really a complex and subtle craft. Many places use a combination of two types of grain that need to be balanced in quantity, cooked and mixed in such away, and then mixed with a certain blend of vinegar.

                    An interesting and entertaining place to learn about the subtleties of sushi is a Japanese television drama called "Shota no sushi" (将太の寿司), which follows the escapades of a young sushi apprentice working his way up the ranks in a Tokyo sushi shop. I was turned off by the typical and predictable saccharine story line, but the educational portion was really well done. English subtitled versions are available I'm sure.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      Many thanks to you all 'Jedi Masters' - silverjay, Fourseasons and skylineR33!!
                      May be I have to re-vamp the 'eating itinerary' to my next Tokyo trip to include a meal at Jiro and a three o'clock morning call for my breakfast trip to Tsukiji. Does Jiro do lunch? Actually, do most 'great' Tokyo eating establishments do lunch especially on a saturday? Here in North America, looks like most good ones tends to focus only on evening dinners?!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Hey Charles, I am by no mean sushi expert, probably I won't be even able to tell most of the details and differences pointed out in the article above ! Those sophisticated artifacts seem not what I should be looking at these moment. But none the less, it is a interesting article to read.

                        I understand Jiro's lunch and dinner are the same at $25000 yen, please correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Jiro opens for lunch as well. On my last trip on Oct, the dinner cost Yen20k. Lunch is cheaper, I think it is 15-17k. But I do have to say I enjoy the dinner better than the lunch even though the chef claims the quality is the same. I don't know if the price has gone up now that Michelin has included them on the 3 star list.

                          1. re: FourSeasons

                            I just got back from Tokyo... My Sunday lunch at Jiro (Roppongi) was Y20,000. Was an awesome experience.

                            1. re: egybs

                              Hi egybs: do you know what the price is for dinner? I paid 20k for dinner on Oct and I know it is cheaper for lunch. Wonder if they raised the price due to Michelin factor. Also just wondering if reservation is difficult now. (I have no problem with the reservation on Oct)

                        2. re: Charles Yu

                          Charles, are you planning a trip to Tokyo and, if so, what's on your eating itinerary? I will be going in Sept 08 (haven't been for 15 years), in large part for the culinary adventure, but don't really know where to start with my planning. I read your posts on the Toronto board and, for the most part, agree with many of your views on the Toronto scene (we disagree about Susur). I would be very interested to hear your thoughts about your Tokyo/Japan eating itinerary.

                          1. re: EarlyDrive

                            Hello EarlyDrive,
                            Yes, I'll be heading out to the Orient at the end of February for 3 weeks. However, I havn't finalised my 'eating itinerary' for my 4 days stay in Tokyo. One thing for sure though, I'll be giving the Michelin 2 star contemporary Japanese restaurant 'Ryugin' a try. ( heard so many rave reviews about its tasting menu ). A strong 'may be' is the 3 stars French contemporary 'Quintessence'. I am curious to find out how a 'young lad' of 33 can achieve a 3 star status at such tender age. ( considering Joel Robuchon only gained his 3rd at 39 years of age, at that time the youngest chef to do so! ). As for sushi, I am tossing between 'Jiro' or Mizutani. I do realise the best Tokyo food experience could be having sushi breakfast at or near the Tsukiji fish market. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I have the will of getting up at 4 in the morning to make the trip. Finally, based on my past trips to Tokyo, I was most impressed by the quality of ' Italian' food there. May be the best outside of Italy including NYC! Consequently, I will definitely be trying to squeeze in an Italian meal. Either something casual like 'Ferrarini' or something more formal like Cucina Hirata ( 1 star ).

                            I know its a bit early for you, but, have you started your research yet? Any 'must try' ideas?

                            PS: Not just you my friend. Many CH disagree with me about Susur! Ha!

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Hi Charles,

                              Thanks for the response (just found it today).
                              I have just barely started research for it -- I'm now following this board for suggestions and am spending 10 days between xmas and new years' learning about Japanese cooking -- I always spend the months before travelling learning how to cook the food, what the ingredients are, etc., so I have a better base when I am in the middle of the cuisine.

                              I had also been thinking of trying Ryugin -- other than that, I'm just barely started.

                              I will be looking forward to your trip report!

                        3. re: Silverjay

                          Yeah ! 将太の寿司, I read that comic book series, also ミスター味っ子 - 味吉陽一. I appreciate the author's effect putting so many educational stuffs in it and on the other hand make it interesting to read and follow, without any violence like some other comic books. They are also available in Chinese.

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Hi FourSeasons and Silverjay,

                            I understand Tabelog is user driven, so maybe it is even more reliable ?! In Tabelog, user reviews seem to dissatisfy the service and atmosphere at Jiro as shown in the link below, some even give it a very low score. So maybe bonding and relationship is not that easy to build at Jiro for newcomer if that's the way to get exceptional food at Jiro ? BTW, is it now under management of Jiro's son as Jiro is already 82 ? Thank you.


                            1. re: skylineR33

                              My understanding is that the founder (father) manages the Nihonbashi branch and the sons takes care of Roppongi Hill one. Yes, the service is just so so, both the chefs are very serious, don't really talk and entertain much. The food really makes up for the lack of service and atmosphere. The bonding I refer earlier is not the one I had with Jiro, but with Nabura and another 2 izakaya that I frequented, and the local sushi houses in Singapore.

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                I know nothing about Jiro but the reviews of Jiro do mention lower values for 雰囲気.When I posted the above lists, Mizutani was the only one on both- it was #6 on Tabelog at the time. I was thinking to mention that actually as I thought it was pretty impressive. I saw an interview with him on Japanese television the other day and he was really humble and seemed like a very nice guy. He might have a "lower entry barrier" than some of the others. BTW, according to the report, nearly all of these Michelin starred places are booked solid for lunch and dinner into the new year.

                                1. re: Silverjay

                                  FYI I walked into lunch at Jiro (Roppongi) yesterday (Sunday) at 12:30 w/ no reservation and no problems. Worth trying even with no reservation.

                              2. re: Silverjay

                                It is not just the "fushion" factor, but the overall freshness is lagging behind too. In my experience where I travel to NY, LA, SF and Vancouver, I have not found one Japanese restauarant (and Chinese as well) that I can rate as "excellent". I would rate the best sushi/sashimi outside of Japan is in Taipei, probably due to its colonial past that trained many good chefs as well.
                                We have different taste bud. I certainly think the cut is important, I don't consider "big as generous" as the huge cut always left out the subtle great taste out.n And I agree absolutely that the sourcing is very important for the sushi houses. Deep sea fish is always better in freshness and quality.

                                1. re: FourSeasons

                                  Despite your personal experience, it's generally acknowledged that there are some excellent sushi shops in the U.S. There are born, raised, and trained Japanese chefs who simply prefer to live and practice their craft overseas. It stands to reason that as long as they have access to excellent local sources of seafood, they can serve at a very high level. I've only been once, but Sushi Yasuda in NYC was teriffic and as good as I've had at nice places in Japan. Like many fine places in the U.S., he sources things like maguro and other large fish from Tsukiji and then many other fresh items from great U.S. seafood destinations like Long Island, New England, and the Pacific Northwest.

                                  There's always people trying to qualify great sushi in fuzzy terms. Year or so ago someone on Chowhound made the bold statement that, although having been to Tokyo, eaten at Tsukiji and other local places, that Los Angeles, California offered the best sushi in the world. Many years ago I met a Taiwanese man who defended quite vehemetly his assertion that sushi (and all Japanese food!) was superior in Taiwan.

                                  I have no idea about Taiwan other than what I saw on a expose/documentary on New Years Day in Japan last year. It was called "Maguro Laundering" and documented the practice of Taiwanese fishing operations that illegally catch tuna and other sushi fish and launder them through sketchy organizations to sell through to the Chinese and Taiwanese markets.

                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                    Maybe you are right, there maybe exceptional good sushi houses in America that I have not had the luck to try one. All I say is from my own personal experience, whether in NY, LA or SF, whether in highly acclaimed Nobu or Matsuhisa, I was just disappointed with the overall standard there.
                                    I personally would not care what other people like to claim which is the best. And a documentary show certainly is meaningless to judge the top end sushi houses in Taiwan. What is most important is based on personal experience to try, rather than rely on others taste bud, or even judge the standard based on stereotype image. I personally would not rank Taipei's top sushi houses ahead of those I had in Tokyo, but certainly ahead of those I had in other cities. (I am not from Taiwan and certainly has no vested interest to defend the sushi business there) LA, unfortunately my opinion, is ranked quite low based on my experience.

                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                      Ok. Just FYI, Nobu is not a sushi restaurant as much as it is a Japanese fushion restaurant that serves sushi. He's created a mini high class global chain with Robert DeNiro with his namesake, style, and menu design. He's not behind the counter at these places. Your pursuit of excellence perhaps can be next pointed at namesake places where the proprieter selects the fish, mans the knife, and sticks close to Japanese "traditional" approaches that we all trumpet on this board.

                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        Actually Nobu was behind the counter when I visited Matsuhisa LA 13-15 years ago. (can't remember the exact year) I was actually quite impressed with the standard then. He was only well known in LA and among the celebrities, certainly not the global name now featured in all magazines. However, when I visited Nobu NY and Matsuhisa LA 1-2 years respectively, I just simply did not enjoy the food there anymore. Either my taste bud has changed over the decade or simply the standard is not as good as before since he is no longer behind the counter.
                                        I was just pointing Nobu as an example as it is the best known in the food scene. I can't remember the other names as they were introduced by social or business friends. Next time I will visit Sushi Yasuda as per your recommendation when I have the chance to visit NY again. Maybe that will change my mind.

                                        1. re: FourSeasons

                                          fourseasons, did u go to jiro in the main ginza branch or the roppongi branch headed by his son?? i heard the main branch is quite hard to get into as it was mainly for regulars and their referrals.. am i wrong??
                                          and do you need a reservation to get a seat in sushi mizutani for either lunch or dinner??

                                          1. re: Lucill

                                            Hi Lucill: I went to the Roppongi Hill branch. I have no idea how difficult it is to book the other one (I think it is in Nohonbashi, not Ginza), but since it is the original one founded by the father, I would assume it is more popular and better known.
                                            I have no idea about Mizutani since I have not been there too.

                                    2. re: Silverjay

                                      Silverjay, glad to hear that Yasuda is top notch even by Japan standards. He is still my top pick in the US and I have already bookmarked this thread for my future first-time sushi-and ramen loaded trip to Japan.

                                      I also know exactly what you mean by certain suspect LA posters with bold unsubstantiated claims that LA has the best sushi in the country bar none...without having tried sushi in NYC...but making the argument based on how LA was closer to Japan and therefore would naturally have better sushi. Or my personal favorite, someone on the LA board trying to tell me that they've "lived in Japan so-and-so years" and that Sasabune is how it's done in Japan and how's it's the most "authentic" sushi in the states. Unbelievable.

                                      Finally, to reinforce your point to FourSeasons, Nobu and Matsuhisa, even 5 years ago, was serving sushi far inferior to Yasuda. True top end places in the US include Kuruma Zush in NYCi for sashimi, Masa in NYC, and Urasawa in LA. Sushi Zo in LA is good, but for me, still a clear notch below Yasuda.

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        Hi Porthos : thanks for introducing the top sushi houses (based on your opinion ) in NYC and LA. If I have a chance to go to NYC and LA again, I will certainly keep those places in my mind. I have heard some good things about Masa, but my friend claimed he had to pay like US$300-400 per head, which I find quite ridiculous since I don't even pay that type of prices in the top restaurants in Tokyo, which i am sure are better than Masa.
                                        Just another question for those of you who lived in NY. I just got a copy of Forbes magazine that rank the All Star eateries in NY, which they classify to 4 stars, 3 stars, and 2 stars. Sushi Yasuda is not on the list at all. Nobu, which we are not impressed, is on the 4 star list. Neither is Kuruma Zush on that list (Masa is on 3 star list). The other Japanese names that were on the list include Sugiyama, Morimoto, Nippon and Sakagura. How do you ranked these 4 places? And why do you think Yasuda not on the list? Since Forbes catered to the corporate spenders, whose money is not a problem as long as the clients are happy, I would assume the best ones (even if very expensive) would be on the list.

                                        1. re: FourSeasons

                                          I think what you have there is a list of best Japanese restaurants (cooked foods, kaiseki, etc.) and not a list for sushi.

                                          The fact that both Sushi Yasuda and Kuruma Zushi are not on the list and that Masa was given a 3 while Morimoto was given a 4 pretty much tells you what kind of list that is and how much you should trust that list.

                                          Having a corporate account doesn't mean you know where to eat. Search Yasuda and Kuruma Zushi on the boards. The reports speak for themselves. And yes, Masa is reportedly $350-$500/pp and Urasawa is around $280-$300/pp. Yasuda is more in the $100-$200/pp range depending on how much you can put down (20 pieces usually cost me around $100/pp at Yasuda) and Kuruma Zushi can range between $100-$400/pp again, depending on how much and what you eat.

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            Well, all these "best" lists would always invite controversy. But don't you think they will definitely include top sushi houses as well on their survey? After all, all these food critics are paid to eat with unlimited budget everyday.
                                            I have just eliminated Masa, Urasawa, Kuruma from the list I would visit in future. I would certainly not want to pay those budget for Japanese food in NYC. I guess I would just narrow down to Yasuda since it is so highly recommended by you and Silverjay.
                                            P.S: Morimoto is on 3 star, not 4 star. And I first visited Matsuhisa LA 13-15 years ago, not 5 years ago as you wrote on earlier thread.

                                  2. re: Silverjay

                                    A side note:

                                    The Shota No Sushi TV episode where Shota and Saji first compete in a series of 3+ competitions (tai nigiri), they each pick out two tai's from Tsukiji Fish Market (one farmed, one wild) and they take it to a nearby sushi restaurant to have it cut up, sliced to sashimi and do a taste test comparison.

                                    Turns out that sushi restaurant was Iwasa Sushi from what I read off of Atsushi Koseki's "Best of Tsukiji Market" book that came out late last year with a Taiwanese/Chinese translation that hit the press earlier this year. Iwasa Sushi also happens to be a clams specialist store, and offering a set nigiri meal of 7 varieties of clam, one makimono and one miso shiru. Not cheap though, but 7 varieties of clams is to be applauded (and clams spoil easily).

                                  3. re: FourSeasons

                                    that last comment about the relationship between the itamae and the customer is the most important one and sadly the one most difficult for foreigners to access the pleasure of. the best sushi i have eaten was in large measure do an an exceptional itamae, who made me feel for a couple of hours like a king...all of the best places have great fish and rice..the ambience can very wildly...