Blonde Voyage Nashville Dreams Of Sushi
Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills
6 Chome-12-2 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan
Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the critically acclaimed documentary that had food enthusiasts marveling over 85-year-old Jiro Ono, the greatest sushi chef in the world. Chef Jiro Ono is the mastermind and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro which is located in a Tokyo subway station. Not only was he the first sushi chef to have three Michelin stars bestowed upon him, but who would have believed the Michelin inspectors were seeking out fine fining in underground rail stations? It's a shame that Michelin doesn't offer four-star ratings as Chef Ono is on a constant search for perfection which is one reason dining at his restaurant is such a privilege.
When one thinks of Japanese cuisine, Jiro Ono is one of the first, if not only, chef that comes to mind. Planning my trip to Japan, I wanted desperately to experience sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Not only is it one of the toughest reservations in the world to score but most reservations are made through introduction dining. Even though it was a bucket list item, this American tourist didn't stand a chance. However, Jiro's son, Takashi Ono, has an establishment in Roppongi Hills where it's a little easier (just a little) to secure a reservation. After a few phone calls and a great deal of persistence, I confirmed my reservations at Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills.
Every blog and review I read about Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills mentioned how difficult it was locating the restaurant. Heeding the advice of about a hundred other diners, we hopped on the train about 45 minutes prior to our reservation.
By now, you know I am directionally challenged (aka the girl that STILL uses google maps in her hometown). Two girls + two online maps= a lot of confusion. We popped into the luxury shopping center where one of the information attendants was kind enough to pull out a paper map and give us step by step instructions. Major sigh of relief.
Despite our navigational challenges and map mishaps, we were fifteen minutes early and the first party to arrive. Escorted to our seats, we were asked if we preferred beer or saké with our meal. With no additional details provided, I opted for the saké. Word to the wise: choose your beverage wisely as you will not be offered anything else throughout the meal.
Patrons have the option to choose from two menus: nigiri only or nigiri and sashimi. Given the fact that this could be my first and last time in Japan, I decided to go all in and order the nigiri and sashimi.
Before I embark upon this adventure under the sea, I feel that it's important that you know a few things.
1. I am far from a seafood enthusiast. As a matter of fact, I detest salmon. While I've had the privilege of enjoying wonderful seafood from around the country, living in a landlocked state like Tennessee will make you reluctant from ordering it on a regular basis. Throughout my meal, there were a few bites that I reveled in and a couple that I could barely handle. This meal reminded me why I seek out adventures like this, to expand my mind and my palate.
2. The dining experience at Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills was approximately an hour in duration. While I put forth my best effort, there were a few bites that I didn't capture. Some may call this a total food blogger fail, but I challenge you to try to eat twenty plus bites and remember all of the various fish!
3. Chef Takashi Ono serves sushi at a rapid pace. He immediately noticed that I slowed down and began to make my bites with half of the rice. To be honest, I wish I would have started out that way. If you begin to feel as if you won't make it until the end of the meal, feel free to make that request. Rest assured, I wasn't the only one.
Who's ready to venture into the sea?
Chef Ono and his apprentices began our service and my first dish was presented: Aji and Akagai. Under the impression I could share my sashimi bites, I leaned in to grab a piece to pass to my friend. Immediately, Chef Ono was glaring and advised that those bites were for me and she would have the opportunity to experience that fish later.
Ah yes, the rules. Noted. In addition to sharing, Chef Ono has specific "rules" surrounding the practice of eating sushi. Without hesitation, he will tell patrons that they do or do not need soy sauce/wasabi or will ask patrons to refrain from using the restroom once a bite has been plated as it is served at the ideal temperature.
The Octopus sashimi was perhaps one of my favorite bites of the evening. Apparently the massaging makes the flavors impeccable!
Call me basic, but Tuna will never be the same after having the tasting flight at Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi Hills. Chef Ono served three types of tuna Akami (lean tuna), Chutoro (medium fatty tuna) and Ootoro (fatty tuna). Before I could snap a photo of the Akami, I devoured it. #Foodbloggerfail However, I made it a point to capture photos of the other two, both of which melted in my mouth. I am officially ruined and American sushi will NEVER be the same.
As I mentioned earlier, I detest salmon. Imagine my face when Chef Ono presented Ikura (Salmon Roe) as my next bite. Taking a large sip of saké, I picked up my chopsticks and went all in. Total surprise and relief. While the eggs popped in my mouth, it wasn't as fishy or salty as I expected.
Our next course Kurumaebi was by far one of the evening's stand out courses. This Japanese Tiger Prawn reminded me more of langoustine than any shrimp I've ever had. If this was a course that I could have revisited, I would have absolutely done so.
Uni is yet another one of those bites that truly challenges my palate. I've had some great Uni (last seen here) and some that left me reaching for my glass of wine. This Uni had a smooth and creamy texture and was absolutely remarkable!
Little did I know that two of my more challenging courses were ahead: Hamaguri and Anago. Despite the fact that I've racked up a few passport stamps, I'd never tasted either dish during my travels. Both were topped with a sweet soy sauce that complimented the texture. Others may have a fondness for these, however, the texture and the taste challenged me.
As our adventure came to an end, Chef Ono served Tamago which is a sweet egg omelette which is reminds me of a lighter pound cake. Even those these bites were small, it was one of my favorite desserts in Japan.
What an experience. Despite the fact that I didn't get to experience Chef Jiro Ono himself, I had an amazing time. While I may not be a seafood enthusiast, the quality of the fish was flawless. My only regret is the speed in which we had dinner. I would have preferred not be rushed along from course to course but rather have a moment to savor the flavors and discuss it with my partner in dine. After all, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Tariff: Nigiri Meal ¥25,900 ; Nigiri + Sashimi ¥30,000. If you're flying all the way to Japan, splurge and go all in.
Can't Miss: Personally, I loved to Octopus and the tuna flight was to die for. I am forever scarred and American sushi will never be the same.
Potential Pass: I mentioned them above, but the Anago and Hamaguri really pushed me to the point of no return. But who am I to say no to one of the greatest sushi chefs around?
Until Next Time!