Harutaka, Tokyo

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16/20 What does it all mean?

 Food Icon 9 | Service Icon 3 | Ambience Icon 2.5 | Value Icon 1.5


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  • One of the best examples of Jiro-style sushi (larger nigiri with a heavily vinegared, but well-calibrated shari (rice))
  • More relaxed and casual than Sukiyabashi Jiro
  • Easy to book (relatively)

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  • Despite being well-calibrated, the heavy vinegar may not be for everyone

Recommended dish(es)

Omakase only (chef’s selection). Notable pieces include –

  • Anago Tsume (Conger Eel) | 穴子ツメ
  • Chūtoro (Medium Fatty Tuna) | 中とろ
  • Otoro (Super Fatty Tuna) | 大とろ

TL;DR – Forget Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi. Not only is Harutaka the place to go if you can’t get into the original Sukiyabashi Jiro but it’s also one of the best sushiyas in Tokyo.


So you watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and you want to eat at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Well I have good and bad news.

The bad news is that unless you are incredibly lucky or incredibly well connected, you’ll likely never be able to score one of ten seats on the coveted sushi counter.

The good news, however, is that you do have options. Many options. Astoundingly, there are an estimated 5,000 sushiyas in Tokyo alone. And while Jiro most certainly is one of the godfathers of sushi, such is the calibre of sushi in Tokyo that, according to Tabelog (a local restaurant guide more reliable than the Michelin Guide, Tripadvisor or Yelp) it’s not even considered one of the best sushiyas in Tokyo. In fact, it’s not even in the top 20.

So which sushiya should you go to? Well, that’s a whole discussion in itself. But if you’re looking for an experience that is as close to Sukiyabashi Jiro as possible, you have two options.

You could go to the Roppongi branch, run by Jiro Ono-san’s younger son, which shares the name, layout and all but the quality of the original store.

Harutaka Takahashi

Sushi Itamae Harutaka Takahashi-san in action.

Or you could go to Harutaka, the favourite among Tokyo chefs and waiters. Known as the chef’s sushiya, Harutaka boasts an impressive list of regulars – Ryugin’s Yamamoto-san, Mikawa Zezankyo’s Saotome-san, and fellow sushi itamae, with Three Michelin Stars, Yoshitake-san.

Having spent 10 years working for the legendary Jiro Ono-san, Harutaka Takahashi-san serves one of the best examples of Jiro-style sushi – larger slices of the highest quality neta (fish) with heavily vinegared, but well-calibrated shari (rice).

There are, of course, some differences. Unlike his mentor’s restaurant, which serves only nigiri, Takahashi-san serves a full array of otsumami (appetisers) to start the meal. The biggest difference though, is the experience. Meals at Sukiyabashi Jiro are over in under 30 minutes, while Harutaka is much more relaxed and casual, in line with most of the other sushiyas in Tokyo.

So if you couldn’t get a booking at Sukiyabashi Jiro, don’t despair. An experience at Harutaka will likely be as good, if not better. But don’t just take my word for it. Three local Michelin-starred chefs can’t be wrong.

Harutaka (青空)
3F, Kawabata Building
8-5-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 3573-1144
Reservations only, book a few weeks in advance.

Harutaka Tako

Tako (Octopus) | たこ

Harutaka Grilled Sawara

Grilled Sawara (Spanish Mackerel) | サワラ

Harutaka Otsumami

Otsumami (Appetisers)

Harutaka Sashimi

Hirame (Japanese Flounder/Sole) & Sayori (Japanese Halfbeak) | 平目, 針魚

Harutaka Shirako

Shirako (Milt) | 白子

Harutaka Tilefish

Amadai (Tilefish) with Awaji Onion Soup | 甘鯛 淡路の玉葱スープ

Harutaka Otsumami

Otsumami (Appetisers)

Harutaka Abalone

Awabi (Abalone) | アワビ

Harutaka Sumiika

Sumiika (Japanese Spineless Cuttlefish) | 烏賊

Harutaka Shima Aji

Shima-aji (Striped Jack) | 縞鯵

Harutaka Akami

Akami (Lean Tuna) | 赤身

Harutaka Chutoro Nigiri

Chūtoro (Medium Fatty Tuna) | 中とろ

Harutaka Otoro Nigiri

Otoro (Super Fatty Tuna) | 大とろ

Harutaka Kohada Nigiri

Kohada (Gizzard Shad) | 小肌

Harutaka

Ikura | いくら

Harutaka Butterfish Nigiri

Ibodai (Butterfish) | イボダイ

Harutaka Kuruma Ebi Nigiri

Kuruma Ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn) | 車海老

Harutaka Uni Nigiri

Bafun Uni (Sea Urchin) | 海栗

Harutaka Kasugo Tai Nigiri

Kasugo Tai (Baby Sea Bream) | 春子鯛

Harutaka Kobashiri Nigiri

Kobashira (Shell Ligaments of a Surf Clam) | 小柱

Harutaka Saba Nigiri

Saba (Mackerel) | 鯖

Harutaka Anago Tsume Nigiri

Anago Tsume (Conger Eel) | 穴子ツメ

Harutaka Tamago

Tamago (Egg) | 玉子

Harutaka (青空)
3F, Kawabata Building
8-5-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (map)
+81 3 3573-1144
Reservations only, book a few weeks in advance.

So fellow foodies, where’s your favourite Jiro-style sushi?

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9 thoughts on “Harutaka, Tokyo

  1. When you wrote this review for Harutaka in 2016, you mentioned that Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten wasn’t even in the top 20 Tokyo Sushi spots – according to Tabelog. In checking today, it’s listed in the top 5.

    I’m curious if you have any insight on why it climbed in ranking to top 5 in less than two years? 2016 was well afer the movie and about two years after the Abe/Obama visit. Was there some recent Japanese TV coverage that put Jiro’s sushi-ya “on the radar” for Tokyo locals?

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    1. Hi Sushi Cossak,

      First of all, thanks for reading.

      In terms of why it’s top 5 now, there are a few reasons (a mix of fact, speculation and subjectivity).

      1. Tabelog has updated the way the rankings are calculated a few years ago, and this was the first time it got bumped into the top 5.
      2. Unfortunately, Jiro-san has been at the counter less and less these days. It has mostly been his son.
      3. Since writing, Harutaka has moved to a new location, some saying his new place being a bit cold and sterile. I personally don’t mind.

      Some parting thoughts, I have nothing against Sukiyabashi Jiro. Sushi is great, but service can be debatable (you either like the quick 30 min style or you don’t). I just want to show readers that there’s more to sushi in Tokyo than Sukiyabashi Jiro.

      Like

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