Edo style sushi at one of Japan's most well respected sushiya in the heart of Tokyo's Ginza district. The main branch (Ginza) has been open for 80 years, since 1935 they have opened 5 additional locations throughout Tokyo and the rest of Japan, and an additional Ginza location across the street. Kyubey is consistently sold out with reservations hard to come by, especially for foreigners (they do not accept reservations from overseas and they require someone who speaks Japanese to place the reservation), I was fortunate enough to have 1 seat open up when I arrived for dinner.
Prices range from $40 to $230 for Lunch and $100 to $300 for dinner. Menus are all set courses with a selection of either Nigiri (rice ball with fish) or Sushi Kaiseki (Appetizer, Sashimi, Grilled Fish, Assorted Sushi, and Soup). For my meal I selected the Kyubey Nigiri ($150) which consisted of 18 pieces of sushi, Miso Soup, and a intermezzo.
This was my first meal in Tokyo and while all my other meals were incredible, this remains one of my most memorable meals. I've had some great sushi in Toronto, but coming to Tokyo, was completely eye opening. One of biggest factors to sushi is the emphasis on rice. Many of us see the rice ball as just filling, and the fish as the star, but in Japan much more emphasis is placed on the rice, from how it's washed, cooked, and seasoned, to the temperature it's served at. It's perfectly seasoned to complement the fish toppings and being served at body temperature acts to contrast with the cold fish. The texture is soft and pollowy without being mushy or overly sticky, it maintains structure giving it a great mouth feel, again to contrast the texture of the fish. You are given a small bowl to place soy sauce into, however each individual pice of sushi is seasoned by chef right before serving, while it is recommend to eat to sushi as is, you have the option in dipping it in the soya sauce, fish side only of course.
Sushi is designed as hand food. The table sitting consists of a hot towel to wash your hands, and a wet towelette to wipe your hands after each piece. Whether you're eating at a $200 sushiya or a $10 ramen restaurant, service is impeccable. At Kyubey, they noticed right away that I was left handed and quickly rearranged my table setting and moved me over one seat as well. Also, each piece of sushi was served facing towards my left hand to make it eaiser to pick up. As I do with most meals, I have my phone and camera by my side, as most of us do, I usually place it on the table off to one side. No big deal right? Minutes after moving seats and rearranging my table setting, they had also brought out two towels, one for my phone and one for my camera to the placed on. When I asked why this was one, I was told that items should have a soft place to be placed on so as not to be damaged. They weren't worried about the table but rather my phone and camera. Where else do you find this kind of attention to detail?
Everything was insanely fresh. Serious next level stuff. Thank you to Chef Hayashi for an incredible first meal in Toyko!
Table setting before being rearranged for me.
Seaweed, Soy Sauce, Seaweed
Medium Fatty Tuna (Chūtoro)
Lightly brushed with soy sauce.
Red Snapper (Tai)
Sea Urchin (Uni)
Amberjack/Yellow Tail (Hamachi)
Sweet Shrimp (Amaebi)
Marinated in Soy Sauce
Spanish Mackerel (Sawara)
Marinated between two pieces of nori. Tuna might be the star when it comes to sushi, but this was my favourit piece in the entire meal. I've always love mackerel, but the seasoning process of being sandwiched between the nori brings out another level of flavour. The subtle aromas of the nori come through the balance the stronger flavours of the mackerel.
Still moving prawn with a choice of either fresh (raw) or boiled), of course I went with raw.
The meat of the pawn is still twiching as you eat it.
Fatty Tuna (Otoro)
Melt in your mouth. Nothing like it.
Sea Eel (Anago)
Grilled sea eal dusted with Yuzu zest, one plain, one with a soy sauce base sauce.
Hand sliced Dikon with Shiso Leaves, Miso, and Sesame. Watching Chef Hayashi horizontally hand cut the dikon was impressive, single stroke, prefectly even.
Deep Fried Head. Nothing goes to waste.
Lightly torched Fatty Tuna
The best miso soup I've ever had. Each restaurant/chef/family has their own version of miso soup. This has been the most unique and flavourful soups I've had. Filled to the top, it's not until you get half way though that you see these little surprises. These small baby clams adds a layer of brine and flavour to the dish. Got two bowls of this!
Medium Fatty Tuna, Cucumber, Dried Gourd (Kanpyō Maki), Pickled Radish (Shinko Maki)
Beautifully sweet, soft, and spongy.
Chef Hayashi is one of the itamae's at Kyubey Ginza, he's been a itamae for 20 years.