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Jul 15, 2014 12:56 PM

Salmon at any sushi-ya in Tokyo?

I know salmon is not a fish usually served at sushi-ya's in Tokyo because there is no salmon in the waters around the city. I do actually love salmon and was hoping that there are som good sushi-ya that might seve salmon even though there are no salmon caught around Tokyo. I am actually even more particular than that. What I am looking for is called a Keiji salmon or infant salmon. It is only caught at the end of November and has an unusally high fat content (20-30%). I wonder if this is served at any sushi-ya in Tokyo? I know they do in Hokkaido.

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  1. Salmon is one of the most popular sushi items. Has nothing to do with what is caught around Tokyo. Most of the stuff at sushi shops isn't caught around the waters of Tokyo.

    19 Replies
    1. re: Silverjay

      Never seen it at the higher-end establishments. Same with unagi, always anago.

      1. re: Uncle Yabai

        Oh that's right, we only talk about high-end establishments around here now.

        1. re: Silverjay

          Gotta check off all the stars, that's the objective.

          1. re: Silverjay

            We are not talking about just high end. I read about this on the web, so take it with a pinch of salt. If it exists it would be great.

            1. re: Silverjay

              I hope there is nothing wrong in posting about the issues that is of interest to me. I assume everyone else also does so.

            2. re: Uncle Yabai

              I've seen masu a couple of times, but it's fairly unusual.

              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                Point of clarification. Never seen it at the higher-end establishments in Tokyo. As Roysen mentions below, it seems the Tokyo crowd doesn't do the frozen salmon bit, so not usually served at top-flight places in Tokyo.

                In Hokkaido, different matter altogether. Salmon sushi is widely available at many fine establishments, and if you can score some wild Hokkaido king salmon, you're in for major treat. I had it at the Sushi Zen Honten in Sapporo. Never thought salmon could taste that special.

                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  I totally agree. I think fresh salmon nigiri or sashimi can taste fantastic. If you are able to score a piece from the belly it is even better. My experience is not from Japan obviously but from other countries.

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                    When I'm in Tokyo, I guess I like to slum it at the non-top-flight places and eat aburi salmon toro. It's tasty.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      I love grilled salmon belly, the fattier the better.

                      And it's interesting how greatly it varies in quality from place to place. It's actually a decent yardstick for judging the quality of an izakaya that serves it.

                      1. re: Robb S

                        Hi Robb.

                        Would you mind sharing some Izakaya where they serve from good to great grilled salmon belly in Tokyo? My personal opinion is that the firmer texture salmon is preferable to the overly fat one although I certainly perfer belly to any other part of the salmon.

                        1. re: Roysen

                          Well ISTR always getting good grilled salmon belly at Washoku En branches in Shiodome and Marunouchi. Apparently Ibiza in Ebisu does a good version. And I think I remember very good salmon at Teyandei in Nishi-Azabu.

                          Like with chicken wings, a lot of places will take it off the grill too soon, before it's crisp enough. It takes experience to get the timing and the heat levels just right, although obviously starting with good-quality ingredients is also important.

                          1. re: Robb S

                            Thanks Rob! Highly appriciated.

                            1. re: Roysen

                              No problem - I will try to make a note of any salmon belly of superior quality that crosses my path in the future....

                        2. re: Robb S

                          I agree...Though I was actually thinking about aburi salmon sushi.

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Ah, sorry - the aburi sushi is great too.

                            1. re: Silverjay

                              Would you mind educate me in what aburi is?

                              1. re: Roysen

                                In this context, it means the fish has been seared with a blowtorch.

                  2. Just so you won't say you don't get no service around here:


                    鮭児 (keiji salmon) served at a high end sushi-ya in Tokyo (I don't know this particular sushi shop


                    Of course it's also available in various Hokkaido-style restaurants. e.g.


                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Gargle

                      I never even hinted at not getting any service from chowhound. Chowhound has been most helpful. I also assume it is a question interesting to everyone loving salmon. Why is it salmon is more rare in Tokyo?

                      1. re: Roysen

                        Well, I was just trying to give you pointers to places where you can get what you wanted (baby salmon) after you kept going on about how you weren't getting anything done. Sorry.

                        Salmon isn't "more rare" in Tokyo. It's a problematic fish, and almost all of what's on offer in the cheap sushi places was farmed in Norway or the US, then shipped off to be processed in Chinese factories you don't really want to know about, pumped with volumizers, frozen, and shipped to various places (I imagine even Norway) to be sold at sushi chains like Zanmai, Parisian markets, or US supermarkets.

                        1. re: Gargle

                          I'd be interested in learning more. Googling "salmon volumizers" (without quotes) turns up no information on this practice. All I see is that salmon are sometimes deboned by hand in China.

                          1. re: Robb S

                            I am from Norway. I know the salmon industry here very well and also the salmon industry in Canada very well. The farmed salmon here is very fat and they have infuced it with volumizer to make more money because salmon is sold by the pound. These volumizers contains mostly salt water and unnatural ingredients to keep the salmon fresh longer. These unnatural ingredients are so called "E-ingredients". The farmed salmon has also been infuced with so called food makeup to look more red and apeticing. These are also so called "E-ingredients". These "E-ingredients" are chemical and unnatural ingredients often considered cancer hazardous and tastekilling. They are also considered diabetes hazardous. Some of them are even illeagal in some countries although I don't know if this is the case with those used in salmon. It might sound appealing that the farmed salmon is fatter and of course the fat is a healthy kind of fat. Normally the higher fat content will also make it more tasteful. However this is not the case with farmed salmon. The reason being the food the farmers are giving their salmon. The food is very one sided and contains ingredients which are cheap and normally not all natural or organic. This makes both the meat and the fat of the farmed salmon quite substantialy less tasteful compared to the wild salmon which eats all natural ingredients, more varied diet, higher quality diet, gets much more exercise by moving over substantialy much lagrer areas and because of that develop a much higher tastecontent than the farmed salmon. There are however some salmon farmers which produce ecological salmon with much higher taste and quality. In Norway there is a brand called "Salma" which is very good but also very expensive. There was a long article written in a Norwegian newspaper about this a while abo written by the head chef at the Norwegian restaurant Maaemo. This is the only two Michelin star restaurant in Norway. He also wrote that even Salma was not even near the a quality that would pass at Maaemo. He didn't think it was worth its price compared with wild salmon.

                            I have dined a lot at sushi restaurants in Sao Paulo, Brazil (the city outside Japan with most Japanese citizens). At a restaurant there called Jun Sakamoto I one got a wild salmon caught in Chile. The quality was out of this world. The texture was as firm as an high quality Ika (outside Japan). I have never before or since experienced anything like that in Norway farmed or wild even though Norway is famous for its salmon.

                            1. re: Robb S

                              You can google polyphosphates, for example.

                            2. re: Gargle

                              Thank you. I am very thankful for the information you have provided. The plans for my trip have changed. They are no more just high end.

                              1. re: Roysen

                                That gives you a lot more options for great food while you're there. Some of the best meals I've had in Japan were at mid-range restaurants. Some of the most enjoyable meals were at low-end places, but those experiences were really more about the company than the food.

                          2. re: Gargle


                            I took a look at the sushi restaurant you recomended here again. This choice seems very attractive to me. Not only do they offer Keiji salmon, but they also offer tail meat from whale which is also something I am looking for. I think this sushi-yasan actually will end up on my list.

                            I think I might have found out the name myself. It seems to be called Sushi Tsu.


                            Anyone with experience or knowledge of quality. I can see that Tokyo Concierge Service recomends them as a top 10 in Tokyo.

                            1. re: Gargle

                              I was at Sushi Tsu last night, and can confirm that they do indeed serve keiji salmon.

                            2. At the risk of exposing myself as a philistine I confess that I ate at Sushi zanmai in Shibuya's udagawacho about a block away from Tokyu honten.

                              I passed it everyday for a couple of years on my way to work, but never stopped in before last month. It's open 24 hours and is cheap as hell. It was not bad and did I say cheap as hell? I'm sure you can get some salmon there.

                              Sushizanmai Shibuya Tokyuhontenmae Ten-
                              III Saito Bldg, 1F 5 Udagawatyou Shibuya-ku 34 Tokyo

                              1 Reply
                              1. Ok, one of my fixers gave me this lesson.

                                "Shake" means cooked or sushi/sashimi salmon in Japanese. "Sake"-same spelling as alcohol- means live salmon or salmon Before cooked. The peak season for shake is from Sep-Nov. There are small parasites in fresh salmon meat, and parasites are dying after proper refrigeration process. The same reason, high end sushi bars, they hate using frozen fish. So you never get salmon at any high end sushi bars in Tokyo."

                                1. If you're adjusting your schedule to make a trip to Hokkaido, just get it there and don't sweat it in Tokyo.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: E Eto

                                    I am adjusting the schedule by removing Matsusaka (two days) from the schedule entierly and then shortening the schedule in Osaka by two days. That leaves five days in Hokkaido. So I am certainly looking for recomendations for Hokkaido.

                                    1. re: E Eto

                                      In terms of salmon belly, you are most certainly 100% right