Although I appreciate austere atmospheres and minimalist cuisine, sometimes it is good to have a truly opulent meal. Sushi Sho Masa provided what I would call a sushi feast.
This was one of the best meal I had in Tokyo and the sushi restaurant I would most recommend for a first time in Tokyo. The chef has a perfect balance between a quiet pursuit of perfection and an ultra approachable and helpful attitude. With only a small counter (half the size of the original Sushi Sho), the service could not be better or more attentive. I would say this was the best service I have had at a sushi-ya. The quality of the fish was excellent. They were happy to tell me how they marinated each fish, for how long, and show me a picture of the fish in a book. For each of the 55+ dishes, they alternate between sushi and sashimi. They are extremely dedicated, transparent and friendly. I am grateful that they are not in the Michelin guide. You may also look for the original Sushi Sho and Sushi Sho Saito.
Sushi Sho Masa inspired me to learn more about all the different fish and the ways to prepare them. I have reproduced here a list of different fish, according to their season, from the wonderful book Sushi (2012, ISBN 4756241344).
Herring (nishin), icefish (shira-uo), spotted halibut (hoshigarei), Japanese whiting (shirokisu), golden cuttlefish (sumi-ika), spear squid (yari-ika), bonito (katsuo), red sea bream (madai), mantis shrimp (shako), sea urchin (uni), common Orient clam (hamaguri), Chinese mactra clam (aoyagi), clam muscle (kobashira), scallop (hotategai), Japanese cockle (torigai), seam bream fry (kasugo).
Gizzard shad fry (shinko), striped jack (shima-aji), yellowtail amberjack (hiramasa), flying fish (tobi-uo), sardine (ma-iwashi), marbled sole (makogarei), abalone (awabi), octopus (tako), flathead (magochi), bigfin reef squid (aori-ika), Japanese jack mackerel (ma-aji), sea bass (suzuki), fat greenling (ainame), conger (anago), chicken grunt (isaki).
Mackerel (saba), young cuttlefish (shin ika), thread-sail filefish (kawahagi), Pacific saury (sanma), greater amberjack (kanpachi), salmon roe (ikura), geoduck (mirugai), pink shrimp (ama-ebi).
Japanese amberjack (buri), Pacific cod (madara), saw-edged perch (ara), striped marlin (makajiki), Japanese halfbeak (sayori), gnomefish (kuromutsu), red gurnard (hobo), Pacific Bluefin tuna (maguro), olive flounder (hirame), gizzard shad (kohada), Ezo abalone (ezo-awabi), blackfin sea bass (hirasuzuki), Japanese tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi), pen shell (tairagai), blood cockle (akagai).
Each fish is described in detail in the book, which makes it a fascinating read. For example, this is what the book says about uni:
“Uni from the Sea of Japan are best in summer, while those harvested of the east coast of Hokkaido peak from late autumn to the end of spring. Identifying the tastiest specimens is especially tricky with sea urchin. Freshness, form, color and appearance offer no clue; flavor is all. The short-spined sea urchin is yellowish-brown, fine-grained, and comes apart easily, but is rich and sweet with a slight salty tang. The northern sea urchin meanwhile is yellowish-brown and coarser, firmer fleshed than the red sea urchin, and more attractive, but not as sweet. Uni, seaweed and soy sauce make an outstanding combo, further improved by a generous garnish of wasabi”.
Do you know the difference between sumi-ika (golden cuttlefish), yari-ika (spear squid), aori-ika (bigfin reef squid) and shin ika (young cuttlefish)?
What about different types of tuna? "We have four species of tuna. There is yellow fin tuna, followed by the bigeye tuna, which is lean tuna, but which has a good, bright red colour and is found all around the world. Then there’s the south bluefin tuna, which lives in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. And lastly, there is bluefin tuna, which is the best tuna. Bluefin tuna can grow up to 2 metres in length, or sometimes 3m."
Address: 4-1-15 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo
Do note that it is located at least 10 minutes walking from the metro station.
Reservations can be made through pocket-concierge.jp
The only true voyage of discovery would be not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.
Den, Kichisen, Kurogi, Dozono, Manger, Tagetsu, Goryukubo, Saiho-ji, Ogata, Ren, Kohaku, Ajiro, Saito, Tai-an, Kasumicho Suetomi, Suetomo, Sasada, Ichita.