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Jan 26, 2014 03:28 PM

Sushi Yasan Contingency Plan


Long time lurker, first time posting. I've read most if not all of the posts regarding high-end sushi yasan in Tokyo (Thank you, Ninisix). I'm visiting Tokyo in March and I'm very interested in eating some of the best sushi (and other food) in Tokyo.

My host landed me a reservation at Sushisho Masa, but we're patiently waiting for February 1st, to *attempt* to land reservations at Sushi Sawada and Sushi Saito...

My host tried to call Sushi Saito for the past week (03-3589-4412) and he said he could not get through. Does anyone know if Sushi Saito's new location is open? I read in the board that the phone number is still the same. I was searching to see if anyone ate at Saito recently, but I came up short.

If I can't get reservations to Sawada and Saito, I've had a few other sushi yasan's in mind. I'm sure reservations are difficult for the following as well, but what would be a good alternative to Sawada and Saito in relations to the sushi yasan's listed below? I came up with these lists from various blogs and other posts on this board.

* Sushi Yoshitake (as difficult as Saito for reservation?)
* Sushi Ichikawa
* Miyaha (Masato Shimuzu-san from 15 East (NYC) suggested)
* Sushi Umi
* Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

Any advice will be greatly appreciated, thank you!

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  1. Saito is still closed. It will be reopening at the new Ark Hills location in February.

    As for other options, Yoshitake isn't difficult to book. In the past, I've been able to get seats with only two weeks advance booking.

    I haven't eaten there, but Miyaha might be a nice alternative to the highly polished, 'sushi shrine' ambience of some other stores.

    My advise: you've read all the information, so make a decision based on what appeals to you. Be brave. No matter which one you choose, you're going to have great sushi.

    26 Replies
    1. re: wekabeka

      Hi wekabeka,

      Thanks for your reply, I was afraid that Saito was still closed. I'm wondering when in February he will open... I will ask my host to continue to call Saito before my trip.

      I'm sure I will have great sushi where ever I choose, but I just want to make the best decision. :)

      Would you recommended Ichikawa over Yoshitake? I've considered Jiro, but I don't want to be done with a meal in less than 30 minutes. Then again, that's an experience in itself.

      1. re: leduarte

        I am going to Saito next week at his new location. He is taking bookings but only from his regulars and it is not by phone. I appreciate this is unhelpful but I would rather you save your host's time and not inconvenience them. Indeed, once he does start taking phone calls again, I suspect he will already be fully booked in March.

        In any event, there are plenty of fantastic sushi-yas in Tokyo. I personally enjoyed my meal at Ichikawa a lot (I went before the curse of Michelin) but I have since read mixed reviews.

        I would personally go somewhere where you can interact with the chef, if you don't speak Japanese; Kanesaka and Iwa should not be too hard to book and serve a similar style of sushi to Saito.

        1. re: toktoktok

          Hi toktoktok,

          My host contacted me last night saying that Saito was only accepting reservations from regulars, I'm very sad that I won't make it to Saito on my trip.

          I've asked my host to try booking Yoshitake and Jiro, but he said that he has not succeeded in the past to book a spot in Jiro. I will also look into Iwa, thank you!

          1. re: leduarte

            Hi just wondering do u mean he's already taking phone calls? Coz from my understanding his new shop doesn't open until feb 1 hence no one would be picking up phone calls till then. And what do you mean he's only taking bookings from regulars? Is this temporary or permanent? Thx a lot!

            1. re: jmui852

              I think because its his new location and a grand opening, he is only accepting reservations for his regular customers for now. Its not permanent, but he probably wants to open up for his regulars for a "soft" opening.'

              My host was calling Saito all week long and they finally picked up and notified him that they weren't taking reservations for new customers yet.

              1. re: leduarte

                what time did ur host call? ive been trying to call them the past 2-3 days but no one picked up.. thats why i thought no one would pick up until they open in feb...

            2. re: leduarte

              Sushi Saito, last December, I ve heard reservations would be possible end of February, but now it says they accept phone calls from Monday. Sushi Iwa is very good, I didn't have time to visit it recently, but I will certainly soon. It is also open at lunch. For nigiri, the neta(fish) are less complex than Saito, and I do prefer Iwa-San over Saito-San.

          2. re: leduarte

            I would regard Ichikawa and Yoshitake as very separate experiences. Ninisix has written at length about both of them on this board, and I see that toktoktok has provided you with some insight, so I suggest you take that information and make decision based your own personal preferences.


            That said, if you lack proficiency in Japanese, Yoshitake would be the best option for you as the chef speaks English. Their sake list is better, too - which is always a deal breaker for me. ^^

            1. re: wekabeka

              Oh yes, I've read all those links, thank you! I will try Yoshitake for sure. If I can't get a reservation at Jiro, then I will try Miyaha. I know I will be happy with the choices I make.

              Are there ANY sushi-ya that I can walk and take a seat at the bar? I'm assuming reservations are almost a must in most sushi restaurants.

              1. re: leduarte

                Sushi Saito is ranked first top Tabelog category restaurant for 2013, so it will be more difficult than ever to book a dinner there. Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiroo I used to recommend when there were only few clients seating. Now that is too much crowded, I don't want people to force the reservation anymore... Sushi Miyaha, I have had a lunch last year, is a nostalgic one ! Himself an old man, a 200 years old sushi yasan. Lunch is very reasonable at 5000yens, dinner is at 30,000yens. Maguro wasn't impressive - it is better at sushi Yoshitake - but the chef have prepared some speciality pieces that you want to go for !! Ask your hotel to have one-two of his dinner served at lunch ! Old way, sushi was for simplicity, no artifice - I think "new" way as more complex ones. Old ones are not about sushi "firework", except Miyako sushi, but there, it's chef is young, and very enjoyable, that might be the reason !!
                Sushi Ko Honten Ginza, you might have chance walk in, but in my opinion, it is very different if you have chef Sugiyama serving, so just before leaving, ask your hotel to call, about 30mn before is alright, as it is always better to reserve !

                1. re: Ninisix

                  Hi Ninisix,

                  I could not get reservations for Sushi Sawada and Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten because my host was on a business trip on February 1st.

                  I've managed to book the following:

                  Sushisho Masa
                  Sushi Yoshitake
                  Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi

                  I'm sad that I won't have a chance to eat at Sawada and Saito on this trip, but I am still excited about the reservations I have. I know Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi has mixed reviews on Chowhound, but what are your thoughts?

                  I asked my host to make reservation at Sushi Iwa for lunch because I want to buy him a meal for his troubles of making the reservations for me.

                  1. re: leduarte

                    Glad you chose sushi Iwa at lunch, I've tried to call last week, and unfortunately it was fully booked !
                    Sushi Sukiyabashi Roppongi, go at 11:30 or else late lunch. Same for dinner the same, when the counter is quiet, that's not the same thing ! You will have an idea of warm 'shari(rice)' of Jiroo with his vinegar point that can be only tasted when warm, if the pieces get cold, you won't taste any... work is better at Ginza for sure, but still, when I wanted to go to sushi Sukiyabashi Jiroo Ginza, and couldn't get a reservation, I went there.

                    1. re: Ninisix

                      My host called Sushi Iwa yesterday and he booked the lunch reservation for the both of us. You should try calling again.

                      1. re: leduarte

                        I tried to reserve sushi Iwa with a too short notice for a Saturday lunch, well, I will have to wait until next holidays ..

                    2. re: leduarte

                      I don't mean to bash any place I've only been to once, but I really cannot recommend Sukiyabashi Jiro in Roppongi. It's not that the sushi was bad (well, the rice was sloppy), but the son's attitude was really off putting. He knows that a ton of foreigners go there based on their fame and it's definitely gone to his head. The man just talks and talks and obviously has a high opinion of himself. Sadly, other friends living in Tokyo have confirmed similar experiences. It really is in my mind a tourist trap. There's a reason why you can get reservations at that location.

                      I'll let others opine more on other recommendations. I liked Mizutani (only been there once though). Not "top tier" by many, but I have never had a bad meal at Kyubey, any of their locations (as long as you're at the counter and not table).

                      I miss Shimizu-san at 15E. Do you have his current list of recommendations?



                      1. re: jjcha314

                        Does he have anything to do with shinbashi shimizu? Was recommended by a friend but has anyone been who can share their experience? Couldn't find too much info online...

                        1. re: jmui852

                          Sushi Shimizu Shimbashi, I do recommend it at lunch. Its chef doesn't speak English, and won't do any special effort!

                        2. re: jjcha314

                          Hi Jason,

                          Thank you for the heads up, I will go with an open mind and try to enjoy the sushi.

                          I don't have the list on hand, but it was just an excel spreadsheet with a list of famous restaurants in Tokyo (not just sushi yusans). He told me to try Mihaya if I liked nigiri sushi.

                          Hopefully I eat at 15 East once more before my trip to Tokyo.

                          1. re: leduarte

                            Yes, that's the list. I think he updated it about a year or so ago. If you're a regular at 15E, which is one of my favorite places in the world, I think you're really going to enjoy your trip to Tokyo.

                            1. re: jjcha314

                              Thank you!

                              15 East is my favorite sushi-ya in NYC, I've even tried Nakazawa and I was not impressed at all. Can't wait to eat all the good food in Tokyo.

                          2. re: jjcha314

                            If you understand Tabelog, you can understand this passionate attitude about Father/Son, it is also strong with Japanese patrons ! I told him directly that I liked his father, and went a dozen times. He admitted to me he wanted to follow his father's step, to which I frankly replied that is would be a difficult thing !
                            He's too passionate, don't listen to his talk... And go there when his shop is quiet ! When I first went there, there was - at first - only a couple besides myself. The 2nd time was at 13:00, and crowded. He was with his oeuvre going twisted, and it made me laughed several times, like when the assistant behind brought too rapidly the bonito, and he stopped him ... For me, not referring to the patrons is difficult.
                            I have more difficulties with a chef being pride of virtuousity like Mizutani San rather than passionate like Takashi Ono !! Hard work as a young trainee bears a lot of influence on later skill, I believe, and Jiroo's being famous is not a easy task, even after 20years practice !
                            And sushi Sukiyabashi Roppongi is located 20mn from the ELC American School (no objection with foreigners clients!), it is better to go early 11:30, and at lunch for the 17000yens omakase !!

                            1. re: Ninisix

                              Hey Ninisix have you been to Shimizu? I tried looking but couldnt find too much about it other than many famous chefs love eating there. Mind sharing your experience there?

                              1. re: jmui852

                                She's mentioned it many times on these boards. Try doing a search.

                                1. re: jmui852

                                  Sushi Shimizu, I had lunch a number of times, red vinegar, nigiri sized in old fashion big size, neta as the old Edo Mae style like use of kisu. Maguro was very good, the chef is young, and has good nimble fingers in a powerful hand. But even young, he is not the type you can ask to for green strong tea at the end ! He's a good chef, but be aware he might refuse reservation

                              2. re: jjcha314

                                I do agree his passion is difficult as chef, a bit artist, but not 'decerebre' !

                              3. re: leduarte

                                if the 'artist' side is scary (well, he can be a bit inconsistent), you may as well go the the disciple Harutaka. There, you will have a high end sushi a bit more club like , and still experience style of Jiroo.