Those who have ever tried to book Tokyo top sushi shops like Saito or Sugita, might know how difficult or even impossible to book them unless you are introduced by a regular. I asked Andrew Gyokudari, the man who has over 300 sushi meals per year to recommend top sushi shops in Tokyo, which take reservations from newcomers. (reasonably in advance) Follow Andrew’s quest for the perfect sushi here: https://instagram.com/andrew_gyokudari
Chef: Ryusuke Yamane Born in 1979 in the Chiba Prefecture, Chef Yamane trained at Ginza Kyubey for eight years before spending time at various sushi restaurants before opening his namesake sushi restaurant in 2015. Popular dishes include the Kadowaki-inspired flounder sashimi topped with shaved truffles, the top sea urchin of the day from the market, and the fried croquettes. Chef Yamane switches between two types of shari depending on the type of neta being used.
Address: 7-3-13 Ginza, B1 Phone #: 81-3-3572-1530 Hours: 12:00 to 14:30, 17:30 to 22:30 Closed: Sundays, Holidays Cost: Lunch (11,500JPY or the dinner course) / Dinner (30,000JPY)
Chef: Takahisa Suzuki Chef Suzuki was born in 1975 in Shizuoka Prefecture and spent ten years at various sushi restaurants before joining the famed Sushi Aoki in Ginza. He then spent 12 years at Aoki, with the last three years heading the helm at the Nishi Azabu branch, before opening his namesake sushi restaurant in 2015.
Chef: Shinsuke Mizutani Chef Mizutani opened his shop in 2017 and spent time at various shops: head chef at Onodera Hawaii, sous chef at Sushi Ryusuke, apprentice at Tanaka and Tsubaki. His appetizer dishes are unique and delightful.
Address: 2-19-7 Azabu Jyuban, 1st Floor Phone #: 81-3-6809-6716 Hours: 12:00 to 14:00, 17:00 to 23:00 Closed: Variable Cost: 20,000JPY
Chef: Rei Masuda Masuda is a popular shop with branches in Kyoto and Hibiya. After a brief internship at Tenzushi, Chef Masuda moved from Kokura to Tokyo and started working at the famed Sukiyabashi Jiro for nine years before opening his namesake sushi restaurant in 2014. He is known to use neta not widely seen at other sushiyas.
Address: 5-8-11 Minami Aoyama, B1 Phone #: 03-6418-1334 Hours: 12:00 to 14:30, 17:00 to 22:30 Closed: Sundays, Holidays Cost: 28,000JPY
Chef: Harutaka Takahashi A Hokkaido native, Chef Takashi cut his teeth at Sushi Zen in Sapporo for three years before moving to Tokyo to work at Sukiyabashi Jiro for eight years. He opened his namesake restaurant in 2006 and is one of the most popular sushiyas in Tokyo and is not an easy seat to book but early evening seats at 5pm and late night seats at 9pm are relatively easy to book.
Chef: Nori Endo Endo trained at the famed Sushi Saito and spent time at various non-sushi restaurants (including Hasegawa Minoru) to learn about other preparations not typically seen at sushi restaurants. His popular signature dish is the fresh water eel nigiri, which historically is not served at sushi restaurants.
Address: 1-17-2 Ebisu Minami Phone #: 03-6303-1152 Hours: 12:00 to 14:30, 17:30 to 23:00 Closed: Variable Cost: 23,000JPY
Chef: Yukinori Mizukami Having spent 18 years as the sous chef at Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi, Chef Mizukami went independent in 2017. Many of the seasonal appetizers are wonderful and the nigiri sequence closely follows Jiro’s but a few of the suppliers have been upgraded. Strong but delightful shari.
Address: 3-8 Ichibancho, 1st Floor Phone #: 81-3-3230-0326 Hours: 11:30 to 14:00, 17:30 to 21:00 Closed: Sundays Cost: 20,000JPY (sushi only) / 25,000JPY (appetizers and sushi)
Chef: Koutaro Sakita Chef Sakita has a diverse background, having first worked as a fish monger in Kyoto, then training as a sushi chef at famed sushiyas such as Nakata, Kyubey and most recently, Nakajyou where he went to work at the Tsukiji Fish Market at Asahi to further sharpen his knowledge of fish before opening his namesake restaurant in 2017.
Chef: Nobuhide Takagaki Chef Takagaki’s background includes training at Sushi Shimizu as well as spending time on a fishing boat before opening shop in 2018. His sushi is simplistic but the one thing you’ll immediately notice is the shari which blends two types of red vinegar with plum vinegar.
Address: 1-30-2 NIhonbashi Kakigarachou Phone #: 81-3-6231-0923 Hours: 12:00 to 14:00, 18:00 to 23:00 Closed: Wednesday Cost: Lunch (4,000JPY or 7,000JPY) / Dinner (12,000JPY)
Chef: Hitoshi Kizaki Chef Kizaki started his training at Kyubey before moving to Tokami where he worked in both the Tokyo and Hong Kong branches. The red shari made its way over from Tokami but has a much firmer feel and lighter taste. You’ll still find many of the Tokami fan favorites here along with some original dishes. Kizaki’s wife also is at the counter and having worked at a sake wholesaler, she will customize your sake pairing after asking you several questions on preference.
Chef: Shota Oda Chef Oda took over the helm at Tokami in the Spring of 2017 to become the third executive chef at the restaurant. The specialty here is the prized tuna, especially the “tossaki” piece, which is the meat at the base of the tuna’s head, along with the crème brulee egg custard at the end.
Chef: Kunihiro Shimizu Shimizu is as old school of a sushiya as you can probably get. The hikarimono pieces such as gizzard shad are amazing. The shari and neta are large, as they were during the old days. It’s nice that they only take reservations a week in advance and also save two seats for diners who call the morning of but you’ll need a Japanese speaker to make the call for you.
Address: 2-15-10 Shinbashi Phone #: 81-3-3591-5763 Hours: 12:00 to 14:00, 17:30 to 22:00 Closed: Mondays Cost: 17,000JPY
Chef: Jun Ozaki Chef Ozaki opened in 2016 and has a steady fan base given his lovable character and entertaining theatrics. His popular “uni pudding” is in the process of being copyrighted.
Address: 4-5-11 Roppongi, B1 Phone #: 81-3-3404-1134 Hours: 12:00 to 14:00, 17:30 to 23:00 Closed: Sundays, Holidays Cost: 20,000JPY
Chef: Koji Sawada Sushi Sawada may raise some eyebrows when one sees it on this list as it’s known to be a tough reservation. It’s not. They take reservations on the first day of the month (for seats for the following month) and most people will never succeed in getting through. If you wait a week and then try calling, usually 20% of the seats are still available. I go every month and many times I see empty seats. Sawada is one of the best sushi restaurants in Japan and is worth making the call.