9 | 3 | 2.5 | 1.5
- 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)
- Despite being well-calibrated, the heavy vinegar may not be for everyone
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.
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.
Tako (Octopus) | たこ
Grilled Sawara (Spanish Mackerel) | サワラ
Hirame (Japanese Flounder/Sole) & Sayori (Japanese Halfbeak) | 平目, 針魚
Shirako (Milt) | 白子
Amadai (Tilefish) with Awaji Onion Soup | 甘鯛 淡路の玉葱スープ
Awabi (Abalone) | アワビ
Sumiika (Japanese Spineless Cuttlefish) | 烏賊
Shima-aji (Striped Jack) | 縞鯵
Akami (Lean Tuna) | 赤身
Chūtoro (Medium Fatty Tuna) | 中とろ
Otoro (Super Fatty Tuna) | 大とろ
Kohada (Gizzard Shad) | 小肌
Ikura | いくら
Ibodai (Butterfish) | イボダイ
Kuruma Ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn) | 車海老
Bafun Uni (Sea Urchin) | 海栗
Kasugo Tai (Baby Sea Bream) | 春子鯛
Kobashira (Shell Ligaments of a Surf Clam) | 小柱
Saba (Mackerel) | 鯖
Anago Tsume (Conger Eel) | 穴子ツメ
Tamago (Egg) | 玉子
So fellow foodies, where’s your favourite Jiro-style sushi?