8 | 3 | 2.5 | 2
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
Ikura | いくら
Nodoguro (Black Throat Sea Perch) with Scallion Shoots | 喉黒 と芽ねぎ
Shako (Mantis Shrimp) | 蝦蛄
Smoked Katsuo (Bonito) | 薫製鰹
Grilled Shirako (Milt) | 白子
Zuwai-gani (Snow Crab) | ずわい蟹
Broiled Anago (Sea Eel) Shirayaki | 穴子白焼き
Ankimo (Monkfish Liver) with Yuzu | あん肝
Ishiyama-san preparing nigiri.
Kanpachi (Greater Amberjack) | かんぱち
Shima-aji (Striped Jack) | 縞鯵
Chūtoro (Medium Fatty Tuna) | 中とろ
Otoro (Super Fatty Tuna) | 大とろ
Maguro Zuke (Lean Tuna Marinated in Soy-based Sauce) | 鮪漬け
Ika (Squid) | 烏賊
Kuruma Ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn) | 車海老
Kohada (Gizzard Shad) | 小肌
Aji (Jack / Horse Mackerel) | 鯵
Akagai (Blood Cockle/Ark Shell) | 赤貝
Murasaki Uni (Purple Sea Urchin) | 紫うに
Anago (Sea Eel) with Salt and Yuzu | 穴子、塩、柚子
Kanpyo Maki (Dried Gourd Roll) | 干瓢巻
Tamago (Egg) | 玉子
So fellow foodies, where did you have your first sushi epiphany moment?