Miyako sushi – 3 Michelin quality minus Michelin stars

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Kinmedai sushi

Calling a restaurant  “the best in the world” or awarding it with one, two or three stars  is a very Western notion. If you ask any well travelled foodie ( including me ) what is the best sushi shop in Tokyo, she would mention Sushi Saito, Sukiyabashi Jiro or other sushiyas which have 2 or 3 Michelin stars. If you ask that a Tokyoite, she would probably
laugh or look puzzled.

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I would have never heard of Sushi Miyako in Tokyo if not an email from one reader living in Japan. He sent me a tabelog link saying “that like many of the excellent restaurants in Japan, this place has no Michelin stars. ”  I booked the restaurant immediately I arrived in Tokyo this August ( or rather asked the Peninsula hotel, my favorite in Tokyo, concierge to book it for me ) and, after once again getting lost with my taxi in narrow Tokyo streets, there I was in front of the sliding doors of Miyako sushi.

The little place was full, quite loud and less “temple like” or fussy  than other top sushi shops I’ve been in Tokyo. Like, for example, the fish destined for  that evening’s sushi  was not in a wooden box, but under a plastic cover in front of you , just like you would see at more casual sushi shops. Or, the chef would disappear in the kitchen  for a few minutes to finish preparing his rice… The sushi though was as perfect and irreproachable as at 3 Michelin stars restaurants. The sushi master (quite young, considering that most of the sushi masters in Japan are over 50) is  a perfectionist who I was told by my dinner neighbour sleeps only 3 hours a night. I especially liked his rice – room temperature, just slightly sour, each grain perfectly defined.

The whole omakase , including sake and tea cost me 14 000 Yen, quite reasonable for Tokyo standards, considering that 3 Michelin starred sushi omakases can cost  up to 20 000 – 35 000 Yen…  Sushi Saito is still my favorite sushi shop  in Tokyo, but after visiting Miyako sushi, I have a feeling  that Michelin guide in Japan is sometimes irrelevant. 3 Michelin stars is really not what separates these two restaurants…

The omakase



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Edamame 


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Kare (flounder) and  katsuo (skipjack tuna) sashimi 



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Abalone sashimi 

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Hotate (scallop)


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Ikura ( salmon roe)


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Akamutsu ( yellow stripe ruby snapper)

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Ankimo (monkfish) liver

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Young kohada ( gizzard shad)

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Big kohada

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Tai ( sea bream)

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Kasugo (baby snapper)

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Chutoro (fatty tuna)

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Aji ( horse mackerel)

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Kinmedai  (golden eye snapper)

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Ebi (shrimp)

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Uni (sea urchin) from Hokkaido


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Uni from Kyushu

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Miso soup with clams

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P.S. Thanks for the address, Robert!

COMMENTS
  • Araya

    Thank you for a review .

  • Bruno

    The Tabelog rankings and the Michelin Guide are both very useful, but there are too many restaurants in Japan, and too many great ones, so Michelin stars and Tabelog’s top ONE HUNDRED are just the tip of the iceberg.
    Right now, most of restaurants occupying the top positions on Tabelog don’t have Michelin stars (the overall highest ranked restaurant in Tokyo today is a 2* Michelin, Jimbocho Den, number 2 is zero-stars Takajo Kotobuki, an old restaurant in Asakusa that serves game, number 3 is Bacar (french) and 4 is the introduction only Kyo-Aji), but it’s common to see a certain Michelin influence on Tabelog’s rankings and most 3 star places are highly regarded there.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/luxeat luxeat

    Thank you Bruno,very interesting!

  • Nigel

    Hi – the link for Burger at le Meurice seem faulty. regards.

  • David K

    I have always found Tabelog immensely helpful in planning trips to Japan. Works well with Google Translate also. Thanks for your great reviews. Try Mitani sometime or Araki, which unfortunately is closing and moving to London at the end of the year.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/luxeat luxeat

    Thank you David! I tried Araki, but they don’t accept reservations when hotel concierges try to book it…

  • http://www.RodzillaReviews.com Rodzilla

    Great post! It sounds like the quality compared pretty favorably to Sukiyabashi Jiro (and others) at a significantly lower price point, and more relaxed setting.
    I’ve been wondering, when eating sushi in Japan, are you using chopsticks or ever instructed to do so? I’ve seen both fingers and chopsticks used, but wondered if you noticed the majority of diners doing it one way or another.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/luxeat luxeat

    Thanks, Rodzilla! To be honest with you, I didn’t find Miyako sushi and Sukiyabashi jiro sushi so different that the latter is considered the best in the world and the other is not even listed in Michelin guide.Opposite, I preferred the rice at Miyako,as the rice at Jiro is really sour…
    Usually they propose both,chopsticks and a little wet towel if you choose to eat with your fingers, but I noticed that Japanese diners use as much chopsticks as fingers..

  • http://www.sfreelife.com Lit

    so glad you posted this as I was torn between Miyako and Hashiguchi.. i chose the latter and i must say i like it alot too. Hashiguchi is another no-stars, local-favorite sushi (it currently ranks #2, just above Miyako on Tabelog) – strictly no photography too.
    For me, the best part was the tsumami (sashimi appetizers before sushi), probably the best i’ve eaten. The nigiri deserves at least 2 stars too – Locals literally call it ‘dancing sushi’ because of its lightness.
    Will try Miyako next time and you should try Hashiguchi and see how they compare!
    My own judgement is that ‘no star’ is usually a better sign than 1 or 2 stars because it could mean ‘not available for rating’ rather than ‘not deserving even a star’ which would be impossible for places like these. My 2 favorite restaurants in Tokyo KyoAji and Matsukawa explicitly do not welcome michelin through their ‘introduction only’ policy.
    Strange about Araki, I can say for a fact that the chef LOVEs foreigners. You should just try calling them, the chef speaks respectable English.

    • Liza

      Lit, my hotel concierge is asking me for a “referral” to verify their dining experiences in Kyo Aji and Matsukawa because i’m a first timer trying to make a reservation. I don’t know anyone… how did you get your reservations in those restaurants?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/luxeat luxeat

    Thank you Lit, I will definitely try Hashiguchi next time! Yes,the concierge of my hotel even refused to call to Araki saying that a Japanese speaker should call for me..

  • Bruno

    Sushi Hashiguchi had one Michelin star in 2011, but lost it probably due to relocating to another address, from Kojimachi to Akasaka, last year.
    There’s no such thing as “not available for rating”. Michelin or any other guide can publish what they want and so they do. A restaurant can prohibit being photographed, and that’s all.

    • Dave

      Not true. Michelin will confirm with the restaurant before listing and some, for example, Kyo Aji and, until recently, Kadowaki have declined listings

  • http://www.andyhayler.com Andy Hayler

    Miyako looks great; there are so many fine restaurants in Japan. Mr Araki does indeed speak some English, but they were very awkward about taking a reservation, refusing to take a booking from a hotel concierge and insisting on a Japanese speaker being present at the meal; weird given that he speaks English. He is moving to London to be near his daughter, who is studying over here.

  • Andrea

    New graphic of the blog is simply great !

  • Almas

    Agreed!

  • Luxeat

    test

  • Peter Leong

    Love the new website design. But the old post pics are all gone.

    I am planning my trip to Tokyo in Sept 2013 and was going through the Tokyo post again.

    Been reading your blog for the past few years now.

  • Emma

    Just here to say that your new design is absolutely great, stylish…

    And that I wish I could go to Japan, the pictures are so mouthwatering…

    • luxeat

       Thank you, Emma ;)

  • Shungiku

    Hi Bruno,
    Takajo Kotobuki doesn’t just serve game, but a particular kind of wild duck only available for a limited season. In a way it is like the highly regarded wild fugu restaurants, althugh those offer a more subtle sort of pleasure and do not score as highly with the crowd.
    p.s. Like Kyo Aji, it also doesn’t take reservations without a reference, which makes it all the more desirable :)

  • Dimes

    Just made reservations based on your blog during my trip next week. I’ll let you know how it goes. I don’t speak much Japanese so I hope I make it through ok just asking for the omakase. How should I order an accompanying sake without breaking the bank? Cash only place I presume?

    • luxeat

       Yes, please let me know, very interested to hear what you think!
      Actually I have never had an opportunity to choose sake from a sake list (even at 3 Michelin stars sushi shops). Once you ask for sake, they just bring their own choice which usually costs just a fraction compared to the omakase price. As far as I remember they do take credit cards at Miyako sushi..

      • Anonymous

        Just a note to everyone, there is more than one Miyako sushi in Tokyo. Unfortunately my concierge picked the wrong one to make a reservation. I realized this too late and there was nothing left one week before my trip (4 day window). But I did get dinner reservations at Kanesaka and had the 20k omakase which was really nice.

        So don’t google Miyako sushi and take your chances, follow the tabelog link in the post!

      • Dimes

        Just a note to everyone, there is more than one Miyako sushi in Tokyo. Unfortunately my concierge picked the wrong one to make a reservation. I realized this too late and there was nothing left one week before my trip (4 day window). But I did get dinner reservations at Kanesaka and had the 20k omakase which was really nice.

        So don’t google Miyako sushi and take your chances, follow the tabelog link in the post!

  • eatphoria food consultant

    Can you tell me which part of Tokyo this was? I’m planning to go to Japan this January and hoping to get a seat there! Looks really interesting

  • eatphoria food consultant

    Ah okok. Thanks for the info! Really looking forward to finding this place :)

  • Alex Tsang

    Stunning pictures. Beautiful website!

    • luxeat

      Thank you ;)

  • helloman

    I’m getting hungry!! :)

    Just one question, how can i make my reservation here?

    • luxeat

      My hotel’s concierge booked it for me. Usually it’s not that difficult as Sushi Saito or Sukiyabashi Jiro for example. Hope you can get there!

      • helloman

        Thanks for the reply, I really hope to to gat there!!
        So i can make the reservation just when i get in tokyo? I Thought I shoud havemake the reservation earlier in order to find a table…

        • luxeat

          Yes, earlier you book, better!

          • helloman

            ah ok, so the starting point is to find some one who speek japanese that can book for me :)

  • Dee

    Hi this place looks wonderful but despite exhaustive efforts I cannot find an address for it as there are several with similar names. The tablelog website does not translate well.I’d be really grateful if anyone could supply it.Thanks!

  • mario

    No one answers at phone! its correct??

  • stanleythethird