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Sushisho Masa vs. Sushi Yoshitake?

Am working with concierge to make reservation week of Sept. 20. My concierge is trying Sushi Saito, but this seems to be a lost cause (all the more so since I recently read a blog saying he no longer takes concierge, first-time foreigner reservation).

I have asked for Sushisho Masa and Sushi Yoshitake, which seems reasonable to reserve ~7 weeks out. What are your thoughts on these?

We are only doing 1 high-end sushi dinner I believe. I have heard (and seen) great things about both; the nitpickiness I have read about "Yoshitake nigiri average/too dry rice," etc. doesn't really affect me, as I expect both places will be the best sushi of my life (never ate outside of U.S.A.).

Relative to each other though, which would you recommend? I like that both offer composed/non-raw dishes. Is Masa a better value due to quantity of pieces? Or is the preparation at Yoshitake better flavor? I do like vinegary rice, but again, my experience is limited mostly to the mid-high level sushi restaurants in NYC, and the rice seems particularly simple/bland. I know we can't go wrong with either, but just want to get your expert chowhound opinions. Thanks!

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  1. What is best would be a matter of personal preferance, no? So what you would prefer is hard for anyone else to answer.

    I am sure though that some knowledgable members here can tell you the difference between the two.

    Both are however written about here before. I am sure you can learn something from that.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Roysen

      Thanks. I understand there is no "objective" best, but I am not asking for that. Rather, I just am interested in hearing the experience from those who have been to both, and their subjective opinions comparing these 2 only (I have found much discussion on these separately).

      1. re: Roysen

        Given your numerous posts seeking the "best" I am a little surprised by your unhelpful response to the OP -- esp because the OP has clearly done some research and even had specific questions about the two places.

        1. re: ethan111

          Sorry that was not my intention at all. I have no actual experience at any restaurant at all. so I would not be able to help. My response was an attempt to help by providing the answer I also have received when I have asked about the best. I have learned that when you phrase the question like that you are unlikely to get any response. A better way of asking to get a response is to ask what the member's favourites are or which they prefer. That usually triggers a response. So I am not asking for anything best anymore.

          I hope that is helpful. I am again appologetic if I sounded negative. That wasn't really my intention.

          I would also like to add in the end that the Japanese chowhound forum is a wonderful resource. The known restaurants from the Michelin Guide have extensive information available. So does Sushi Sho Masa which is one of the more widely known sushi-yasan in Tokyo. So by suggesting to read the forum I was actually trying to help. I have been helped quite a bit by that myself and the questions I post are usually related to issues I can't find answers to elsewhere on the forum.

          A forum is based on sharing of information between the members. So both I and others would probably have no use for chowhound without the extensive amount of information sharing being done. That certainly is very good and it is of course also my intention that the OP should get help from other members on his question. I was just trying (maybe in a clumsy) way to share with him that my experience is that phrasing the question like that is likely to become unanswered.

          I can see after my response that the OP is looking for a particular piece of information he can not find on the forum, so I guess my tips was not helpful.

          I have then nothing more I actually can help with. If I had I would certainly help.

      2. Can't comment on Yoshitake but the 'sho' style is nice to experience while in Japan, since it doesn't really get reproduced elsewhere. Why not spend up at dinner for 'sho' and then have a more classic nigiri-based lunch which need not be too terribly expensive to be better than what you've had outside Japan (Ninisix has provided many many recommendations on this board) ?

        2 Replies
        1. re: shakti2

          Thank you. Yes, I think we will def. try for lunch at Sushi Iwa. From what I read, this seems to be the good value. Also, Sushi Taichi has been mentioned.

          But ultimately, the daytime lunch may be driven by sight-seeing location at the time, so I do def. want the 1 sushi extravagant dinner meal. I hope the concierge has success at one of them.

          Also, Worst case, we are def. going to the Fish Market, and I read about the less-busy but good places on here. We will at least get 1 sushi fix there which I am sure will be better than any American sushi we have eaten. Any particular lunch or Fish Market places you have in mind?

          1. re: iceslip

            At the fish market, I would either get a don-buri or noodles, or else walk a couple of blocks to have a proper lunch in Ginza, having had some entirely forgettable sushi at one of the less-busy places before. As to where in Ginza, here are some of Ninisix's recs with a focus on nigiri-based options (but re-check the address info to make sure it's current) :

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/891857

            Wrt to Iwa, just a heads-up that the chef also alternates with his HK location.

        2. I have only been to Sushi Sho Yotsuya (not Sushi Sho masa) and Sushi Yoshitake, the latter twice. I prefer Yoshitake over Sushi Sho .

          Below is my opinion which you should take it with a grain of salt.

          The neta is higher quality in Yoshitake than Sho. Yoshitake is famous for his awabi ( abalone ) and tako ( octopus ) dish. I also like their Kuruma ebi. The miso soup ( actually fish bone soup) at Yoshitake is one of the best miso soup I ever had but they didn't seem to serve it regularly.

          You do run in the problem that the Chef might not be there as he also has a restaurant in HK. There are a few highlight for Sushi Sho like the ankimo with melon and shirako. I heard there is a lot of hype around his famous wasabi ice cream but I just found it so so.

          For me, I prefer the classic sushi-yas flow in Yoshitake i.e first tsumami then nigiri versus the random flow in Sho style. Value wise , you probably get more out of it at Sho than Yoshitake as I was still left hungry after the Omakase meal.

          2 Replies
          1. re: silverlim

            I will add one thing about Sushi Sho Masa. I read in a blog somewhere. They sometimes serve Keiji salmon when it is in season (end of November). This is a very rare fish. Only 1 of 10000 salmon is considered Keiji. The fat content in Keiji is 20%-30% higher than normal salmon. I have put Sushi Sho Masa on my list too and I plan to ask on reservation if it is possible to get Keiji served. I will of course then need to make the reservation at a time when Keiji is in season.

            1. re: silverlim

              All very helpful, thank you.

              I am leaning toward Yoshitake, but you bring up an interesting point: I didn't realize the chef alternates between the HK and Tokyo location, thought he was always in Tokyo?

              However, even if he is not in Tokyo when we go, I am presuming the sushi with the assistant chef will be just as good to me--won't know what we are missing, added to the fact that we never have eaten sushi outside of NYC. What do you think? Chef Yoshitake's absence wouldn't be a dealbreaker?

              Also, my concierge said they are "working" on the reservations, and will get back to me. So who knows, may only get into one, or maybe even neither? 7 weeks in advance, they both are this popular?

            2. I am not sure that I can be of much help, but you have chosen the two places that I ended up reserving for my trip (during the same week). I narrowed it down to these two, and then decided to book both of them, as it seemed they were sufficiently different in style that it would provide two unique experiences. Initially, after my research of reading reviews and their accompanying photos, Sushisho Masa appealed the most to me. What I do not like about omakase is that there are often some items that I do not particularly care for (eg. Tako Ikura, Uni), and Sushiso Masa seemed to have fewer of these than some of the other places I was considering. Before I decided to go to both Masa and Yoshitake, I had planned on choosing one for dinner, and then trying Kanaseka for lunch, as they seem to have a lunch option at 10,000 yen (I think they might have a few options: 5k, 10k, and 15k(?)); I still might try to go for lunch there if I have the desire after my two sushi dinners.

              So my recommendation would be to take a good look at reviews and photos, and choose the place you think will be the most unique experience, that you cannot get in New York, and one that serves fish and other dishes that appeal most to you instinctively. Good luck.

              12 Replies
              1. re: fishskis

                How did you book? My concierge says they are "working" on it but have not gotten back to me for days. This doesn't make sense as I would think they can either get a reservation for 2 or they can't bc it is booked.

                1. re: iceslip

                  I booked them through my concierge. I am staying at one of the better five-stars, and the service from the concierge has been excellent. They were able to book everything I wanted, and have been wonderfully responsive. Please note that they did so with two months or more advance notice.

                  1. re: fishskis

                    Very disappointing to hear. We are also staying at top, 5 star hotel, but I have had very different experience.

                    No updates for days, and get the impression I am buggng them. I also gave 8 weeks lead time and just get response that it is being "worked" on.

                    I fear the high-end sushi dinner dream might be dead ha, these places are prob. booked up for sept. 20th week by now right?

                    I just wish they would let me know if both are booked so that I can suggest other places. Are you dining alone? Perhaps requesting for 2 people is more difficult since all these places are so small.

                    We really just want 1 nice sushi dinner, so even if not these places, so be it, but just want to secure something. I think I may start a separate thread inquiring as to back-up scenarios. Thanks again for the input.

                    1. re: iceslip

                      Maybe you should put mote pressure on the concierge at the hotel and tell your stay with them is dependant on them making the restaurant bookings? I mean if they make you feel you are bugging them, they are unresponsive while at the same time this reservation is important to your stay in Tokyo I would have asked to talk to thei hotel manager. It is after all job of the concierge to at least try to make the booking and provide you with some feedback.

                      1. re: Roysen

                        Yes, you have a good point; it is just that at this juncture, I do not want to pester them excessively, as I will require additional assistance beyond the restaurant reservations once we arrive, and don't want to leave a sour taste in their mouth.

                        They also told me a few days ago when I asked for follow-up that they are "working on it" and will be in touch "shortly" with their update. Thus, I feel like I should wait at least a few days before following-up yet again. My only confusion is what does "working" on a restaurant reservation mean? Either they make it, or they don't? Perhaps this is not how it works in Japan? In my next message, I will simply ask if we have a reservation at either of these two places or not. And if not, tell me so I can provide other requests (as the clock is ticking).

                        My wife isn't a foodie and while interested in trying a fancy omakase, she will not be disappointed like I will if we can't.

                        Even if these two don't work out, however, I still am sure I can find SOME good sushi omakase right with 5-6 weeks lead time?

                        From my research, the peculiar thing about Tokyo (which I did not expect initially) is the sushi seems to be at extremes: feast or famine--either $100s+ fine sushi-ya dining with the omakese for incredible sushi, or conveyer belt sushi which I have no desire to try.

                        Aren't there any places that one can just walk in for a good meal. Sushi Dai and the fish market are too long of a wait. But it seems the only high quality sushi requires +2 months lead time +great concierge service +luck. Is this actually so?

                        Even the recommended "easier places" like Iwa, et al. are still requiring months in advance booking for 2, hundreds of $ for dinner, etc., right?

                        My fear is by this week's end, there is no availability at Masa nor Yoshitake, and it will also be too late for other high-end places I would request from the concierge.

                      2. re: iceslip

                        This is surprising. I have found the level of service at Tokyo hotels to be far superior to most other places, particularly at places like the MO, SL, PH etc. There is no reason why you should not be able to communicate effectively with your concierge via email, and get responses within a 12-18 hour timeframe; if they are not doing this (assuming there are no technical issues, like their emails being screened as spam), then you should speak to the hotel manager or change your hotel.

                        1. re: fishskis

                          Yes, I am staying exactly at one of those places, as this is why I am particularly surprised.

                          Everything I read and heard from friends/colleagues prior to booking the trip was raving in terms of the concierge/high-end hotel service in Tokyo.

                          I guess I will give it another day as they said they would notify "soon" of updates as they are "working" on the reservations. Again, the notion of "working" on a reservation just does not make sense to me--if it was available, they would have booked and told me. If it is unavailable, wouldn't they notify me just the same?

                          I would like to give them other suggestions then to book.

                      3. re: fishskis

                        Would you mind sharing with us what hotel you are booked in at?

                        1. re: fishskis

                          I'm in the same boat as you, only I'm told I have to wait another 3-4 weeks for November reservations as calendars aren't open yet. Did you have a similar experience when dealing with concierge months in advance? I'm staying at The Pen Tokyo btw and they are very friendly and helpful. The concierge at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto is above and beyond though. Every last restaurant has been booked for Kyoto already. Same with Osaka, save for one spot that the St. Regis is trying to secure this week. Tokyo however, despite being the first point of arrival, is a blank slate. I hope I'm speaking with the right people. It just seems strange that popular restaurants in Kyoto and Osaka will accept res. for November but nowhere in Tokyo is opening their books yet.

                          1. re: OliverB

                            Hmm, it's probably because Tokyo has a higher saturation of visitors, and concierge will mostly likely be fielding an enormous amount of reservation enquires. Also, there is more demand from the local market to compete with for the same bookings.

                            1. re: OliverB

                              Luckily my concierge did come through. I think they just wanted to give me the full summary of all outcome before responding.

                              They also did indicate to me that for sushi restaraunts in Tokyo, reservations will open on the 1st of the month or 2 months preceeding your intended month. So this seems universal.

                              Other restaraunts not the case (agreed with Hyatt Kyoto, they instantly got a reservation at our top choice for dinner 2 months in advance and are very responsive).

                      4. Yoshitake is closed for part of September. they are open back up on Sept 24th. I have reservation for that evening.

                        I've never been to either so I can't make any recommendations.

                        I couldn't get into Saito either. My concierge said the day the opened for Sept reservations, the line was busy all day and by the time they got through, my available slots were already booked.

                        Sawada is closed for the period I am visiting in Sept.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: beardedmeerkat

                          WOW thank you for that info. Perhaps I spoke too soon then--the concierge also explained Saito was busy for days, and as I had put Yoshitake as the second choice, so maybe they didn't yet conclude that it was closed. Thus, they were still looking into it and Sushisho Masa.

                          Hopefully they can do Sushisho Masa, or at least notify me of the lack of availability. I was thinking maybe Sushi Kanesaka (although it is +$300/person right?), or maybe Sushi Harutaka (but have heard no vinegar flavor in rice, which is a big turn-off for me).

                          Pity if that is the case for Yoshitake. Can't win them all I guess (at least we are going to see the Sumo tournament which is that week). Thank you very much though beardedmeerkat for the info.

                          1. re: iceslip

                            I found the info from Yoshitake's website. Good luck!

                            1. re: beardedmeerkat

                              Thank you! The good news is that my concierge did come through--we got a reservation at Sushiosho Masa on our last night in Tokyo!

                              They indicated that as you did that Saito was booked, and Yoshitake closed. I am looking forward to the meal, looks like a great variety of items as well as flavorful preparations which I believe my wife and I will appreciate more than some other places. Now, the search continues for non-sushi destinations...

                        2. Sushisho style is very different. The flow is very random compare to the usual flow of otsumami followed by nigiri. Interesting style, good to give it a try if you haven't had it before.

                          Sushisho Yotsuya - I was given about 30 pieces, cost me about 24000yen, I drank tea.
                          Sushisho Masa - I was given about 50 pieces, cost me about 25000yen, I drank tea.
                          Sushisho Yotsuya has more different types of fish, whereas Sushisho Masa has much more pieces but a lot of them are same fish but different style of preparation. Types of fish a bit less than Yotsuya.

                          Sushi Yoshitake is the usual otsumami followed by nigiri. His otsumami has different play on the sauces. His awabi and liver sauce is addictive. His nigiri, for me, not so memorable.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: CaLBeaR1227

                            Thank you for the details. For us, Saito was our first choice but obviously impossible and fully booked. I then asked Sushi Yoshitake, but he is closed for the few days we are in Tokyo.

                            We did get our third choice which is Sushisho Masa. I am excited since everything I have read has been positive, and it is our final meal of Tokyo. It will be a large and special meal.

                            Also, I think for us, being American, we will appreciate all of the variety of preparation (i.e., some grilled, some raw) and flavor vs. some of the more traditional--for example, I had a colleague visit Harutaka and some other "classic" places and while he said the quality was very impressive, the flavors were more "simple" and "bland." He also said he didn't think the quantity was worth the very high costs. I think as Americans, we like large quantity (probably too much quantity haha), and good value and strong flavor. So I think Sushisho Masa will be very satisfying.

                            We only have budget for one extravagant meal, so other meals we are going to do cheaper yakitori-ya, ramen, etc. which I am equally looking forward to.