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Dec 19, 2012 05:51 AM

Sushi Ichikawa, review of the new one star sushi

Before continuing, I have to admit I enjoyed going to that sushi that is located far from my place.  It is 30mn from Shibuya station by the Den en toshi line to Futago Tamagawa, then to Kaminode by the Oimachi line.. and i had to take a walk down to small alleys, a canal, ... But the walk felt confortable, just thinking I was going to that sushi place..
The counter was full, and at the end of the diner, during the talk, we unterstood that we all were sushi Araki fan. Ichikawa-san at first was a disciple of Kikunoi, for 7 years, then I met him twice at sushi Araki. His omakase is at 16,000yens, style differs from that of Araki-san, the rice used was from Guma, his home place. The 'maguro wasn't same as at Araki-san, the close relation with the same broker was not possible, so he used more white fish, silver fish.. the 'shari(rice)' used is red vinegar, not as strong flavored, but with an accent of vinegar, as you eat the rice at temperature.. Recent trend is on firm rice, this one is a bit firm, and firm rice works well, very well with raw type of 'neta(fish)'.. well here the list of the dinner : 3-4 tsumamis, 16nigiris, two little donburi; one maki, very copious. 
Assortment of 2 sashimis
Katsuo(bonite) smoked with his skin,
kabu buri (turnip, amberjack simmered separately in a slight bouillon)
Kamasu  aburi (brochet)
Kasago (small daurade)
Kisu (Japanese whiting)
Shima aji
Buri no hara
Nodoguro misozuke, on vinegar rice
Saba zuke (thin 3 slices of mackerel)
Kohada (gizzard shad)
Akagai (ark shell)
Sumi ika
Sayori (halfbeak)
Uni donburi (sea urchin)
Anago shio(salt), tsume(sauce)
Anago(conger eel), kanpyo maki
Tamago(egg soufle omelet made with pink shrimp)
The Ichikawa-San show of cutting the whole block of 'katsuo(bonito)', separating the parts and serving you only the better (one third of it) is one enjoyment, also the aburi kamasu that is served on your hand to keep the moisture, these points I have enjoyed it also at Araki-San, Ichikawa-San is beginning, but surely he has his style and some kaiseki knowledge that can be founded in sushi in recent days like the miso roast nodoguro on vinegar rice .. and I particularly liked the classics : the 'kohada', the 'sumi ika' that are Edo classics, and difficult... what would be a life of 'kohada' without the Edo Mae sushi !!

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  1. Thanks for the review. I'm also curious about the new 2 Michelin star Sushi Kimura. Did you hear anything about it? I know it's also quite far from central Tokyo.

    5 Replies
    1. re: babreu

      Sushi Kimura, that's funny, i went there end of August for a lunch at 5250yens on a Sunday. This sushi was recommended to me by an ex journalist of Dankyu, during a 2hours talk about sushi-yasan (we did agree on some sushi, and also that sushi araki-san proposes 'dangerous' pieces). 
      And so I tried it(sushi Kimura). The nigiris are more milky and also have a big majority of white nigiris. Lunch was made of 12 nigiris (ika, suzuki, madai, ara, koze, kasugo, kohada, katsuo, ikuradon, kuruma ebi, kampyo, tamago). The koze, kasugo katsuo were good... but didnt appreciate the sour kohada and the suzuki !! 
      It will be interesting to see the how price evolve now..

      1. re: Ninisix

        What do you mean by "dangerous" pieces, Ninisix?

        About Sushi Kimura... no tuna? That's very interesting. Of course I love tuna, it's easy to enjoy a good belly, but I usually like to be surprised by a good squid or kohada, or a well prepared piece of tamago. The beauty of a good sushi meal in Tokyo is at being able to enjoy a wide variety of delicious fish beyond the usual tuna.

        1. re: babreu

          Yes the dangerous pieces at sushi Araki are too good, you will want for more, I tried to do reservation with 'no limit on time' to get the piece made of maguro and matsutake this autumn !! And couldn't book it ! 
          Yes there was no 'maguro' in the lunch set at sushi Kimura, but including it will no change or improve his set in my opinion ! The white fish is aged and get some sweetness, the balance with the 'shari(rice)' is good, even some pieces were not perfect, i did forget about not getting any tuna ! It is because it is unrealistic that it has his charm. 

        2. re: Ninisix

          I would love to try these two places. May I have their names in Kanji? I couldn't quite locate them on tabelog with the English names. Also, I wonder, is reservations at Umi still difficult to come by?

      2. Dear Ninisix, please can you explain what is "dangerous" pieces as I'm not familiar with this idea. I assume it isn't just fugu but something else?

        7 Replies
        1. re: Kavey

          Kavey, dangerous pieces are the special of sushi Araki, a little piece, a short season, at a full price omakase just to taste it,.. and I did have a 'grilled shirako(lactance, from fugu?)' served as nigiri on my hand it was so milky, and I didnt find it another sushi..

          1. re: Ninisix

            So it is sushi that is only served at one place and that is a speciality? I'm sorry, I'm still not understanding the term "dangerous"?

            1. re: Kavey

              Yes, it is.. The first, i have had the omakase, i was curious the second time of the 'maguro(tuna)' that Araki-san will use in different season as the set is half maguro., and I have had this piece with 'shirako'.. then after, from Araki-San fan, I have heard of this piece of maguro and matsutake.. Quite clever master!! Usually favorite or push your curiosity addiction, sushi-yasan at 23,000yens, it is a one try and repeating it is not so common except if it is your favorite.. 

              1. re: Ninisix

                @Kavey: Ninisix seems to have already explained that 'dangerous' refers to pieces that you have to order the more expensive omakase course to try, and "are [so] good, you will want [to order] more" - but can't, because of the limited season/availability of the fish.

                1. re: wekabeka

                  Aah. I did read the passages a few times, but just couldn't parse the "dangerous" aspect. Understand now...

              2. re: Kavey

                Ninisix is a cryptic sushi master. Widely experienced and usually on the mark. But takes time and practice to receive the full import of his wisdom.

                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  He is indeed a master, hence I was keen to understand the message. :-)
                  I have it now, with Beka's help.

          2. Hi Ninisix, can I please get your expert advice / opinion please - I'm trying to decide between Sushi Ichikawa or Sushi Kimura for dinner on a sunday night - which one would you say is more superior? Thanks~

            3 Replies
            1. re: hb1004

              I didn't try yet sushi Kimura dinner omakase - just went for lunch there -  but i will soon i hope.; If you want to try a range of different seafood, in my opinion, at sushi Ichikawa, you will have plenty.. sushi Kimura specialty is white fish nigiri, and age the fish. White fish is difficult to age as it contains more water, so he ages himself the fish. For sushi fan that is interesting work. The neta(fish) is mild and rice is firm, good in fact. Sushi Ichikawa is a disciple of Araki san, and many - as myself - want another Araki san. It is unfortunately not comparable to Araki san, but the set is at 16,000.-yens and is a very good combinaison. Still, if you are interested in white fish, I recommend you sushi Kimura   

              1. re: Ninisix

                Thank you for sharing your experience / analysis of the two places. Unfortunately I never got a chance to dine at Araki (despite my love for tuna!) and now he is moving to London...Is there another sushi restaurant you can recommend (on a Sunday night) that offers a similar experience?

                To give you a sense of my sushi preference - so far my favorite sushi place in Tokyo is Jiro Ginza and despite not a natural white / silver-skinned fish fan the pieces I had there were always excellent. Needless to say Jiro's ika, tuna (akami/chutoro/otoro) and uni (one of my favorites) were some of the best if not the best I've had anywhere. That said, while I appreciate top quality sushi, I haven't been to that many other top sushi places in Tokyo (I have not yet been to Sawada / Mizutani / Yoshitake). I ate at Sushi Hashiguchi before it relocated to its current location and wasnt particularly impressed...I will be dining at Sushi Saito for the first time later on the same upcoming trip - really looking forward to it.

                I tried booking Miyako sushi as I have heard / read many good things about it but unfortunately they are already fully booked... so, would you have a better suggestion to me for sushi on a Sunday night, or should I stick with either Sushi Ichikawa or Sushi Kimura?

                Thanks again!

                1. re: hb1004

                  Oh I am so glad that you liked Jiro Ginza! Difficult to find such beauty in other sushi yasan. Casual Tsukiji sushi might feel like industrial porn after that.
                  No comparison possible with Jiroo Ginza, but still, for some good nigiris and open on Sunday, I recommend you sushi Iwa(one star). I have a preference for good nigiris, and Iwa-san is done some good work in preparing the neta(fish): putting it at room temperature, aging, konbu zuke white fish... If you want, even lunch is cheaper, with first set at 4500, then 8000 yens. Here a link, in Japanese, with photos, of a review of sushi Iwa at 3 different times...