Sushizanmai

Despite Sushizanmai being an extensive restaurant chain, they produce wonderful sushi at a very reasonable price. Especially at night when it can become very expensive to eat in Tokyo.

There’s one conveniently located in Roppongi, a short walk from where I’m staying.

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Electing to sit at the counter rather than a table so I can watch the chefs at work, straight away I’m served an appetizer of mixed sashimi.

One of the waitresses is very helpful and speaks excellent English. In fact, most of the menus have English translations.

But having learned to read the hiragana, katakana and kanji scripts, I enjoy trying to understand the Japanese names.

Preferring to eat nigiri sushi (にぎり 寿司), I generally start with salmon (サーモン). It’s soft and delicate and melts in the mouth.

Tuna (とろ) is also a favourite and they have several to choose from with varying amounts of fat: the more the better apparently.

Tonight I’m feeling adventurous so I also order Live Horsemarckel [sic] sashimi (活あじ 刺身). They literally pull it out of the tank and plate it up fresh-as-fresh can be. It’s nice but not as tasty as my other choices.

But then I get the shock of my life when the rest of the fish returns shortly afterwards, deep-fried: head, fins, body, tail & all! I’m told it’s already salted and it’s served with a small wedge of lemon. Nice and crispy and surprisingly good. Well worth the experiment!

For something else a little different I also like temaki sushi (手巻き), especially the salmon roe (いくらみなと港). It’s a hand-roll with a fresh, crisp seaweed casing and a delicious filling of roe mixed with a little mayonnaise. Yum!

I’ve also tried herring roe on kelp (子こ) before. Unusual in its texture but also very good.

Personally, I prefer sweet shrimp (甘えび) over the regular one. And true to its name it is amai (sweet).

All this feasting is washed down with a bottle of draft Kirin beer.

The old guy who serves me looks like he’s been doing it for 50+ years. He speaks excellent English yet still puts up with my pathetic attempts to pronounce all my requests in Japanese.

Sitting at the counter, observing the chefs create each piece, is like watching musicians in an orchestra. Their hands deftly move over the fish, slicing and cutting carefully. Making each creation with precision and panache.

My preferred sushi to finish the meal is sea eel (あなご). Despite the connotations associated with the slimy fish, it’s sweet and delicious; like a tiny dessert.

To summarise:

13/20 food (taste) : no doubt here is better sushi in Tokyo but this is superior to what I’ve been eating in Sydney

15/20 food (selection) : a terrific range of options

15/20 staff : very friendly and very helpful as they speak excellent English

13/20 atmosphere : lively; fun to watch chefs at work; smoking permitted in one section so try to avoid that area

15/20 price : a meal will probably set you back anywhere from ¥1000-3000pp (plus drinks) depending on how hungry you are and what you select

71/100 total : a weekly dinner is definitely in order

This place is worth regular visits. Working through the menu will take quite some time.

Kim*

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  1. Pingback: Tōkyō | day 1 | travel photography

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