Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sushi Isshin (鮨一新) - Asakusa

This happened waaaay before we saw the film "Jiro dreams of sushi", but I've been going on for a while about how there's these awesome Japanese sushi restaurants where the chef serves you one nigiri sushi piece at a time in an 'omakase' type meal. This revelation met my hubby's closed ears until around a month ago, when he came across an awesome Youtube clip on the 'world's best sushi' and it talked about these sushi omakase (at Jiro) where edomae style sushi is served. Since then, all I had been hearing about from hubby is how we HAVE TO eat at one of these awesome places!

We managed (with the help of our friend's Japanese girlfriend) to book ourselves into two Michelin star restaurants which do sushi in the way my hubby was hoping. The first of the two that we experienced was Sushi Isshin in Asakusa. The place was located a little far from the main street in Asakusa, probably around a 15 minute walk from the nearest subway station. It's tucked away in the small streets which are lined with amazing looking Jap restaurants. Walking into this restaurant, no one really asked our names or if we had a reservation, they just assumed it was us turning up for the right time. This was odd... but it seems like the norm in Japan.

We were quickly seated at the sushi bar. The whole restaurant had around 10 bar seats and a small table tucked in the corner which may (or may not) seat 4. The chef talks to you and serves you personally. The 'talking' bit was a bit strained due to our language barrier but we managed to get the main points across (e.g. 'sushi' 'hai').

We fell into the option of the sushi omakase and with the help of a fellow diner who was sitting next to us (who happened to know a bit more English and also had this amazing sushi app), we eventually figured out what we were eating :) Below are the snapshots of the awesome sushi we were served that night. Soy sauce is lightly brushed on by the chef, so no extra soy sauce dippings allowed. Also, pros eat it in one bite (fish side down on the tongue) and with the fingers... hence, that's exactly how we enjoyed each piece :)
Kohada (spotted gizard shad) - the most popular edomae-style sushi in the kanto region
This fish was amazing in it's texture. I loved how the skin was so shiny and went down the throat really smooth. The taste was quite strong compared to other fish...almost a smokey feel but not quite... 

Makagore (marbled flounder) - really silky smooth
shirawo? (ice fish) - this wasn't too much to my liking. I think it was more stringy in nature.

Aji (horse mackeral) - this was my hubby's favourite. It was really smooth and the ginger and shallots added really good taste to it. For me, it tasted a bit like a really yummy piece of Hainan chicken rice :)

Kajiki (blue marlin) - this seemed to be lightly seared on the edges and ever so slightly marinated with something. The seared bits provided an interesting texture. 

Zuke (marinated tuna) - I believe that this is tuna which has been soaking in some sweet soy based marinade for ages. It results in a truely amazingly flavoursome and smooth slab of fish. Mmm

Otoro (fatty tuna belly) - This was my first experience of Otoro. When people say that it melts in your mouth and it's crazily flavoursome, believe it!

kuruma ebi (kuruma prawn) - according to our dining friend's sushi app, this type of prawn can grow up to 20 cm! It's crzay bit and quite tastey. The chef leaves in the huge line of orangey roe stuff for extra flavour.

Hamaguri (clam) - thicker soy sauce was brushed on. Tasted quite yummy :)

Anago (conger eel) - Yes, I normally don't eat eel (and I normally don't like rice) but being so intimate with the chef means that it would be rude to not eat something. So in my mouth the eel went... and... it wasn't too bad. Tasty, a bit mushy - i'm guessing that's how good eel is meant to taste coz my hubby loved it~

Clam soup with coriander - The clams tasted really yummy... the soup taste a bit sake-ish. We weren't sure if we were just meant to eat to clams or whether we were meant to drink the soup :)

 Kampyo maki (dried gourd sushi roll) - this was officially our last sushi for the night. The gourd vege was marinated in some sweet sauce, making it like a sweet finish for the night.

Bottarga (salted dried compressed roe) - The maki was meant to be our last dish, but as our fellow diner had the sushi & sashmi omakase and he was crazily enjoying and recommending the 'bottarga' grilled slice he was eating, the chef was nice enough to offer us a taste. I was too excited to taste it that I ate most of it before remembering that I had to take a photo! It was really really rich, salty, crumbly and tasted like the yolk of a preserved salted duck egg.

Our lovely chef for the night
 Our introduction to sushi omakase edomae style was amazing! Even though we couldn't talk to the chef as much as other patrons, he was always super nice, polite and smiley. We were expecting to drop 15000 Yen each for dinner (as that's what we had read on other sites) but to our surprise, our combined dinner was less than that price (must be because we got the sushi only omakase, without the sashimi)! Fist Pump Moment!

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 9/10
Ambiance - 8.5/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 35/40

Sushi Isshin Asakusa
4-11-3 Asakusa,
Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-5603-1108


Cara.S said...

drooools!! so amazingggg!!!

Unknown said...

Wow! It was just like Teppanyaki!

Sashimi would be even more tasty and less filling.