I expected that Kimura would be different, since it specializes in aged sushi. I did not expect it would be so delicious, uncontrollably so.
Already with the otsumami, I started laughing because I could not control myself. Neither could the man next to me, we looked at each other and our look just said it all. The woman next to him was smiling warmly, in a way that seemed to indicate she knew something I didn’t. I asked her if it was her first time, and she made a round shape with her hands in front of her face. She was Kimura-san’s sister, and she comes often. Everyone started laughing, the chef also showing the round shape of his head with his hands.
The chef’s story is genuinely inspiring, as told by Tableall:
“The idea for ageing fish came to him as he lamented discarding whole blocks of his beloved white fish that had gone bad while waiting for customers. Despite having carefully chosen these pricey pieces at the market, he had to toss them in the garbage. But he grew curious about their flavor. Digging into the center flesh, which still had beautiful color, one taste revealed a sweetness he had never experienced in white fish. It dawned on him that the flesh becomes deliciously sweet just before it spoils. The only problem was the smell. Experimentation began: a new fridge, variable temperature settings, and constant assessment of how the fish and innards evolve to find the ultimate in aged sushi, sometimes with not great results for Kimura’s own stomach. But with advice from the tempura master to push the boundaries and be left with no regrets, he persevered. The discoveries he made through tireless research are now the key to his success.”
Luxeat also has a great post on Kimura:
“Kimura-san believes one can never love a restaurant from the bottom of his/her heart unless it’s his/her own. For example, when he cleans the toilet he doesn’t mind using bare hands. He doesn’t think you can be this committed if the restaurant is not yours. He believes if he employed someone, he would have to do everything all over again himself. Also, working hours at his restaurant would be very long, maybe about 22 hours per day. It would be against the law, so he cannot employ anyone. (…) I asked how is it possible to do such work with only 3 hours of sleep and Kimura-san said that it is possible, but he thinks he would die young. He said he has no stress and loves working on his own. He is a happy man when he is holding his knife, but in order to do everything himself, he has to cut his sleeping hours. This is less stressful than employing someone. If he finds some other method that makes this aging process easier, maybe he could work for less hours.”
I honestly believe that the only regret in my entire life is having spent money at other sushi restaurants instead of eating again at Kimura. It is my policy on this website not to discuss or review any restaurants that I did not enjoy, because it would be unfair to criticize something that I only tried once, that simply may not be my taste, or that I may have misunderstood. This is why all of my reviews seem positive. For every restaurant I discuss, there are multiple other restaurants I do not discuss. Similarly, I do not post pictures because I do not want to inspire jealousy, instead I hope that I can inspire you to reflect deeper, seek to learn more, and think for yourself.
If you have limited experience eating quality sushi in Tokyo, I am not sure if you would be able to see how extraordinary Kimura really is. Next to me, there was an American tourist who the day before had dinner at “Yoshitaki” (Yoshitake), and he did not seem to be impressed or to see what makes Kimura extraordinary. If you never had expensive sushi in Tokyo, I recommend Sushi Sho Masa. It is easy to book and it will help you appreciate what makes Kimura special.
One of the most inspiring, special, pleasurable, unforgettable and delicious meal of my life, where every dish was better than the last one. Thank you, Koji Kimura-sama. This was the first time where I could feel how sushi comes from a chef’s heart.
Reservations: Getting a reservation is very, very difficult. Some years ago, it would have been possible to get a reservation through a concierge, but now it is not possible. I believe that other than being invited by the chef or regular customers, the only way is to email Tableall and give them your availability, and if they get a cancellation from Kimura, they may offer it to you. Perhaps if you are available for 2 weeks you have a chance, but if you are only in Tokyo for a couple of days, it is extremely unlikely. I got my reservations by visiting Tableall every day and getting cancellations.
*I am currently making a test. Without pictures, this post was on the 5th page of Google, which is unusually low. I want to see if pictures will bring this post on the front page.
**I had the choice to try for the first time a new restaurant (Sugita) or to go back to Kimura. I chose to go back to Kimura later this month, and I cannot wait to see if I will feel the same as when I went the first time. Looking at recent Tabelog reviews, they seem polarized (5.0 / 4.0) which in my opinion is a good sign. Kimura is my favorite sushi restaurant, I hope it will live up to my memory and the high expectations I have created. I believe in his philosophy, as well as his smile. See you soon!
The only true voyage of discovery would be not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.
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