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Dec 23, 2013 09:19 PM

Sushi Taichi update

Yesterday, I went to sushi Taichi. Chef was quiet stressed by the number of visitors not speaking Japanese ...
About half of a sushi experience is the contact with the chef and with the regulars, listening to the flow of things is what makes a sushi-yasan charming. It is of course difficult to realise, as some people just plan to enjoy suchi's taste. But it is especially important for small sushis like Taichi. I remember some Chowhound discussion about grumpy chefs (to foreigners) ...
I do not know how to pass such message, I realise how difficult it is to say, but as Chowhound has a large public, I thought I could post it here : if you are not speaking Japanese, better target relatively large sushi yasan (for ex. Sushi Ko Honten Ginza ). You will have excellent quality sushis, environment and service (english speaking menus, ...). And if you still want to enjoy smaller shops like Taichi, consider going together with someone who speaks Japanese - it will definitely be a nicer experience anyway.

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  1. This guy must be pretty, pretty, pretty excited about the 2020 Olympics.

    I understand the situation here, especially if the tourists are continually badgering the poor guy in English, but I can only imagine the outcry if I owned, say, a small cocktail bar in NYC, and expressed "stress" that tourists with poor English skills were patronizing the establishment.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jmatt

      I would venture to guess most nyc restaurants would have more than a bit of trouble serving people who cannot read, speak, or use utensils. :)

      But then, most of them do operate at a level where they can be enjoyed by any primate who likes salt, fat, and noise. ;->

      On the other hand, it does seem like if you want to take money from visitors (because the Japanese sure don't spend enough of their stash), you should find a way to make it work, or at least not complain about it.

      A more generous view - maybe you've never been in a position before where you're getting all these calls and you didn't appreciate the impact it would have on your quasi-dining-club.

      Not a simple matter, but things will shake themselves out with time.

      1. re: Gargle

        You're right, but I'd bet that the average tourist who has the money to come to Japan and eat at a pricey Sushi-ya probably has at least a passing knowledge of Japanese restaurant etiquette. But maybe not.

        I wonder if the chef's "stress" was just Ninisix's read of the situation or if he actually complained about customers to another customer---while they were there, no less. If the latter, that's just amazingly unprofessional.

        1. re: jmatt

          1. I wouldn't bet on that at all.

          2. I really think if half the people around a small counter can't speak at all that could be pretty stressful to the chef/director-of-entertainment.

          3. Yes, there shouldn't be any explicit complaints made, I doubt there were, and again - if you're happy to take money from people who will impact service then you should do your best to make things work.

          1. re: jmatt

            No he didn't complain about customers who were there,.. The subject came for different raison, some sushi-yasan place are so small and you have so much direct interference with the chef that it's more than eating, you're going for them. And I feel responsible for not taking time, he usually he feels responsible to answer the regulars, and that is too much right now, I didn't imagine so. He just refused to have more publicity, that's all !

      2. Don't you think it a lot depends on the chef? My meal at Sushi Sho only had 2 diners who could speak Japanese fluently and Nakazawa-san seemed to be cool with it and embrace the dynamic of his clientele
        By the way, how is the food? I was told that the chef is very proud of his uni quality. Sushi ichi opened a Sgpr branch a couple of years ago. Perhaps, this could be the reason of popularity increase of sushi ichi among foreigners. Did you meet more asian or western faces there?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bu Pun Su

          I think I was mistaken of Sushi ichi vs Sushi taichi - sorry for any confusion

          1. re: Bu Pun Su

            Yes, sushi Taichi and sushi Ichi are not the same... At sushi Ichi, the counter is 12 seats, there are 2-3 chefs working behind it. At Sushi Taichi, the counter is very small, 'L' shaped, where one chef alone can stand. And yes, this is might be taken as egoistic, but I prefer to not be separated from the other customers. Now, when there are only 2 locals among mostly foreign customers(=sushi Sho), well, that feel too much. Not exactly the image expected when going to a 'traditional' sushi place in middle of Tokyo ... Actually, even in Paris in early 90's, Taillevent avoided reservation if it led to more than half foreigners at a given time, explaining experience is not limited to just cooking and serving.

        2. Not necessarily the case for me ... I spoke only an extremely basic level of Japanese and I have been to several sushiyas (English speaking and non-English speaking) in Tokyo ... a couple places that I enjoyed the most are places where the itamae-san spoke only a few words of English or no English at all. Also, I do believe these sushiyas make an effort to limit the amount of foreigners they take per seating, saving seats for their regulars and locals ...