Sushiya & Sushi Ishiyama, Tokyo

thumbs  thumbs

15.5/20 What does it all mean?

 Food Icon 8 | Service Icon 3 | Ambience Icon 2.5 | Value Icon 2


Thumbs up

  • The most beautiful sushi performance I have ever seen
  • Takao Ishiyama-san can speak English, making it a great place for new and international foodies to experience sushi as it should be
  • Good value for money

Thumbs down

  • It’s not the best sushi in Tokyo (but it is still very good)
  • The lower price point means the seafood at Sushiya doesn’t feature the same premium quality varieties of fish

Recommended dish(es)

  • Kuruma Ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn) | 車海老
  • Chūtoro (Medium Fatty Tuna) | 中とろ
  • Otoro (Super Fatty Tuna) | 大とろ

TL;DR – Sushiya, run by Takao Ishiyama-san, is one of the youngest sushi itamaes in the high end sushi scene. Having trained under Kanesaka-san and Saito-san (the #1 ranked sushi in Tokyo), Ishiyama-san is a sushi master in the making. While the neta (fish) and shari (rice) has its flaws, Ishiyama-san’s fluency in English and lower price point, make Sushiya a great place for new and international foodies to experience sushi as it should be.


“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple” – Steve Jobs

If there is one most misunderstood food in the world, in my mind, it would be sushi.

While most of the world sees two ingredients, sushi, in its finest form, is culinary alchemy – cooked rice, raw fish, unadulterated pleasure. Many think that sushi is “easy”, but have mistaken simplicity with easy. As with anything that is simple, great sushi is incredibly difficult to achieve. With only two core ingredients, there is absolutely nowhere to hide – any flaw in technique will be revealed.

The late Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “you know you’ve achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away”. Sushi can achieve perfection not only because there is nothing you can add to a piece of shoyu-brushed sushi to improve it, but because it is made from only two core ingredients.

Beyond the fact that a sushi itamae spends the better part of the first decade learning how to prepare and cook the rice alone, perhaps part of the illusion is down to the fact that it looks so effortless to make. But like all great artists and performers, making their craft look effortless is what makes them the best.

Sushiya Art

The beauty of sushi; not just of the sushi itself.

Takao Ishiyama-san, from Sushiya, is one of such great artists. At the young age of 31, Ishiyama-san personifies why sushi is a transcendent, mesmerising and spiritual experience. Such simplicity, such elegance, such beauty. It is performance art of the highest calibre, a piece-by-piece dance to starch and sea; as if somehow, the more beautiful the performance is, the more beautiful the taste will be. And you almost believe it – though the sushi has its flaws, it is almost secondary to the performance itself. You feel that perhaps, for one fleeting moment, perfection really does exist.

The hallmark of great art and performance is that they open your mind, often forcing you to see the world in a whole new light. A meal with any respected sushi master in Japan will do the same. But none will be quite as beautiful as a meal with Ishiyama-san at Sushiya.

Update – Ishiyama-san has opened his own restaurant in Ginza in July 2018. Both the Sushiya and his new restaurant details are included below.

Sushi Ishiyama (鮨 いしやま) – New Restaurant
4F, 3-3-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 3538-3936.
Reservations only, book a few weeks in advance.

Sushiya (すし家) – Original Restaurant
6-3-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 3571-7900
Reservations only, book a few weeks in advance.

Sushiya Ikura

Ikura | いくら

Sushiya Nodoguro

Nodoguro (Black Throat Sea Perch) with Scallion Shoots | 喉黒 と芽ねぎ

Sushiya Shako

Shako (Mantis Shrimp) | 蝦蛄

Sushiya

Smoked Katsuo (Bonito) | 薫製鰹

Sushiya Shirako

Grilled Shirako (Milt) | 白子

Sushiya Crab

Zuwai-gani (Snow Crab) | ずわい蟹

Sushiya Anagao Shirayaki

Broiled Anago (Sea Eel) Shirayaki | 穴子白焼き

Sushiya Ankimo

Ankimo (Monkfish Liver) with Yuzu | あん肝

Sushiya Ishiyama-san

Ishiyama-san preparing nigiri.

Sushiya Kanpachi Nigiri

Kanpachi (Greater Amberjack) | かんぱち

Sushiya Shima-aji Nigiri

Shima-aji (Striped Jack) | 縞鯵

Sushiya Chutoro Nigiri

Chūtoro (Medium Fatty Tuna) | 中とろ

Sushiya Otoro Nigiri

Otoro (Super Fatty Tuna) | 大とろ

Sushiya Maguro Nigiri

Maguro Zuke (Lean Tuna Marinated in Soy-based Sauce) | 鮪漬け

Sushiya Ika Nigiri

Ika (Squid) | 烏賊

Sushiya Kuruma Ebi Nigiri

Kuruma Ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn) | 車海老

Sushiya Kohada Nigiri

Kohada (Gizzard Shad) | 小肌

Sushiya Aji Nigiri

Aji (Jack / Horse Mackerel) | 鯵

Sushiya Akagai Nigiri

Akagai (Blood Cockle/Ark Shell) | 赤貝

Sushiya Uni

Murasaki Uni (Purple Sea Urchin) | 紫うに

Sushiya Anago Nigiri

Anago (Sea Eel) with Salt and Yuzu | 穴子塩、柚子

Sushiya Kanpyo Maki

Kanpyo Maki (Dried Gourd Roll) | 干瓢巻

Sushiya Tamago

Tamago (Egg) | 玉子

sushiya_ishiyama_2

Peekaboo!

Sushi Ishiyama (鮨 いしやま) – New Restaurant
4F, 3-3-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 3538-3936.
Reservations only, book a few weeks in advance.

Sushiya (すし家) – Original Restaurant
6-3-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 3571-7900
Reservations only, book a few weeks in advance.

So fellow foodies, where did you have your first sushi epiphany moment?

Advertisements

28 thoughts on “Sushiya & Sushi Ishiyama, Tokyo

  1. I don’t think I ever had a sushi epiphany moment… sushis just came naturally into my life. I do remember the moment when I realized how wonderful sashimi tastes.
    I love your food photography by the way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t think of a favourite… just put me in a small town in Japan and my life shall be complete 🙂

        Like

  2. Beautiful article! I look forward to reading your features (past and future) and to try out at least some of the restaurants you have written on. From the looks of it, your recommendations will not disappoint. In fact, I wager your taste is levels above mine. (In other words, what you call “above average” is probably what I call “excellent”.)

    On another note, it was serendipitous for me to have read Jobs’ words on your site. I happened to be put into a train of thought that prompted me to write an article and use the quote that I just had learned from you.

    Thank you.

    Like

  3. Hello!

    I will be visiting Japan in April and I found your blog to be very helpful.

    I am looking to do a lunch at one of the more budget friendly sushi places. I am trying to decide between Sushiya, Sushi Tokami and Sushi Iwa. Which one would you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mary,

      Thanks for reading and I’m glad to hear my blog has been helpful for you.

      I would choose between Sushiya or Sushi Iwa (both are great options for your price level). Personally, I think Tokami has gone downhill and several people have told me about sub-par experiences there as well. Tokami’s Akazu (red vinegar) Rice is be a bit harder to appreciate and can be hit or miss.

      Let me know if you need any other advice!

      Cheers,

      Eric

      Like

  4. Hi there, love your write up on Sushi Ya! Am visiting Japan in October and really want to try out Sushi-ya. I understand that it is normal practice to get your hotel concierge to make a reservation on your behalf, is there any other way to make this reservation at Sushi-ya and how long in advance do I need to do so? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Thank you for the kind words. Reservations for all of October tend to open the month before (September 1). However, you can try giving them a call earlier and see if you are lucky. Hotel Concierge is the best bet, alternative a reservation service such as Voyagin or Pocket Concierge. There’s a link in my blog post, under Sushiya’s address 🙂

      Enjoy, and let me know if you need any other advice

      Eric

      Like

  5. Hi! This looks amazing, and a great review.. I am really struggling on where to go. My girlfriend and I would like to go to a high end place for dinner, and one for lunch (as it is cheaper). We are limited I guess by the places we can reserve at. If you were to pick one sushi place out of the following categories, which would you pick? (MUCH APPRECIATED!)

    LUNCH:

    Kanesake – 17,800Y (high quality sushi)
    Kyubey Ginza – 15,500Y (special sushi)
    Kuriyagawa – 8,900Y (Sunday and wednesday only).

    DINNER:

    Umi – 26,500Y
    Sushiya – 30,000Y
    Masuda – 35,000Y

    These are the the reservation deals. My girlfriend and I love sushi, but I wouldn’t say we are experts (at all!). We would also like to know what we are eating too I guess, but will eat anything.

    I would really appreciate your recommendations!

    Thanks!
    Jack

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Jack 🙂

      For dinner, I would personally choose Sushiya. However, everyone’s preferences are different. I’ve also written a review on Umi, so have a look at that and see which style you prefer. You can read the Umi review here – https://thepursuitoffoodperfection.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/umi-sushi-tokyo-review/

      In regards to lunch, I would probably choose Kanesaka (good for first timers, which I’m assuming you are – correct me if I’m wrong), or Kyubey. If lunch options were completely open, I would go for Miyaha (good quality but great value lunch)

      Just a final note on Sushiya. He’s actually moved into his own shop. Updated address is in the review.

      Cheers,

      Eric

      Like

  6. Thanks for the reply!

    I guess im constrained a little by what reservation sites have to offer! Yes it is our 1st time in a high end sushi restaurant, but we are good cooks and would consider ourselves having pretty good palettes etc.

    I think seeing as the guy from Sushiya has gone to set up his own place I will go for Umi (touch cheaper too)..

    I’m wondering out of these which will be best to go to for lunch?

    Kanesake – 17,800Y (high quality sushi)
    Kyubey Ginza – 15,500Y (special sushi)

    From the reservation site, it seems both offer ‘high quality sushi’, but the Kyubey has a one up from that named ‘special sushi’, also for cheaper as you can see.

    Would you say it makes sense to go there, or is Kanesake quite a lot better? Basically do you think Kanesake’s HQ sushi would be better than Kyubey’s Special sushi.

    Thanks again!

    Jack

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough. When I said 1st time at a high end sushi restaurant, I meant not from a palette perspective, but also from a Japanese custom perspective. I think for a first time it’s always better go get classical edomae sushi (rather than anything too crazy) with a place that speaks English so it’s less intimidating of an experience.

      I would personally choose Kanesaka. Sushi is marginally better, and more of an intimate experience. Kyubey is very famous and a less intimate experience (ie more people, more chefs), though not to say you won’t have fun there either.

      Cheers,

      Eric

      Like

      1. Kanesake sounds good to me.. I have just realised as well that at these places on reservation sites (might be kanesake included), I am not guaranteed a counter seat (which is a must!), I really would not like to be on a table at the back somewhere.

        I am using reservation sites JPNEAZY and Tableall..

        My options for a definite counter experience from a reservation site would be:

        Sushi Nakimura (Omakase course) – 29,700 yen / person
        Harutaka Sushi (Sushi Omakase Course) – 31,200 yen / person

        I am only gathering that Harutaka only has counter from looking at pics?

        Is Sushiya still worth going to without the young chef there? and does it only have a counter?

        This is really hard!

        I appreciate your help!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great advice.. So it seems that I will likely be able to get the main counter at Sushi Arai, as well as Harutaka – but they come at quite the price!

        SUSHI ARAI:

        Dinner
        Main Counter served by Arai san – ¥38,000 / per person

        Lunch
        Special Lunch Course in sub counter served by sous chef – ¥26,500 / per person

        HARUTAKA

        Dinner:
        Sushi Omakase Course – 31,200 yen / person

        Sushi and Tsumami Omakase Course – 43,700 yen / person

        The decision is very hard as these seem pricier than other places, but i’m sure it would be worth it. Any lasting thoughts on value for money and choice?

        Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. If you can get Main Counter at Arai, you should 100% take it (get an extra seat and invite me to come haha). It’s one of the hottest sushiyas right now. I would aim for the main counter, and not bother with the sous chef.

        For Harutaka, I personally would choose nigiri (sushi) only. Not to say his Tsumami is bad, I just think his nigiri is more unique and shows his style more. You can take a look at the pictures here and see whether you prefer Tsumami and Sushi or just stick with Sushi – https://thepursuitoffoodperfection.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/harutaka-sushi-tokyo-review/

        Cheers,

        Eric

        Like

      4. So excited! I’m hoping for Arai now, yea….

        One question, if you order Sushi without the Tsumami, so you still get the same amount of food?? As in will the sushi chef provide more since you are not eating the Tsumami?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Also, do you think there could be issues with being from the UK and not being served the same sushi as the locals? Seems silly, but I have read that about some other places.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I preferred Harutaka. Harutaka’s shari is more aggressive in seasoning (but balanced) though so it may not be for everyone.

    I haven’t been to Sushiya since Ishiyama-san left so I can’t comment. I would say that Ishiyama-san is a chef worth following/keeping an eye on. In my opinion, he is going to be one of the future sushi greats.

    If you’re looking at TABLEALL, Sushi Arai (if you can get the main counter), Sushi Kimura, Takumi Shingo and Sushi Nanba are all good options as well.

    Cheers,

    Eric

    Like

  8. You will not get the same amount of food, nigiri amount should be the same or similar, and you won’t be served any tsumami. Having said that, if you are still peckish afterwards, you can always request an encore of something you enjoyed, or maybe even something that you haven’t had (and they will accomodate if they can). They will just add this to the price at the end of the meal.

    At some places you will be served different things, but in my experience, that type of experience is the outlier. The places you mentioned should all serve similar things to all guest regardless of where they are from (with changes based on dietary requirements).

    Cheers,

    Eric

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s