Over a year ago, I took my parents to see the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It was fantastic documentary filled with gorgeous food imagery that immediately inspired me to seek a similar sushi experience in Tokyo. I’ve been fortunate enough to eat some great sushi throughout my life but after watching the movie, I realized that there was a whole different level of sushi that I was curious to try. I wanted to see if sushi could be “that much better”.
Many people asked me if I was going to try to get into Jiro Sukiyabashi while I was in Tokyo, but after looking into it, it’s seemed like it would be more challenging (hard to get in to and less friendly to non-Japanese). I’ve heard the pacing is very fast and that it’s very expensive (as opposed to just expensive). After researching the Michelin starred choices in Tokyo, I chose Sushi Kanesaka because they are less serious, english friendly (although I would have been ok if it wasn’t) and allows you to take photos (seeing as I was dining alone, it seemed like a shame not to be able to share it with others).
After getting lost so many times during my first few days in Tokyo, I did a trial run on googlemaps to show me how to get there. I was happy Sushi Kanesaka was within walking distance from my hotel as it was turning into a gloomy evening. As I walked alone through bustling Tokyo, I started to get nervous that this meal, the one I was most anticipating on this trip wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. I’ve been dreaming of this upper echelon of sushi ever since I watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and was hoping it would result in an “a-ha” moment for me. I also pondered whether or not I was overdoing it in Tokyo, considering including Sushi Kanesaka, I would have conquered a total of 4* Michelin in under 48 hours.
As I walked down the stairs that led me into the restaurant, all nervousness subsided. I knew this was going to be a meal of a lifetime.
I was seated at the counter and I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t being served by Kanesaka-san, but was seated in front of his 2nd, Sanpei-san. I quickly got over that, knowing this meal would be exquisite nonetheless. I had chosen the ¥20K menu in advance as I settled in, I was asked if I had any dislikes (NO), quickly served a beer and was immediately served my first course.
The first 5 dishes were over before I knew it. I was having a hard time concentrating on the wonderful flavours of the food being presented to me because I was absolutely mesmerized by Sanpei-san’s preparation of the sushi.
The meal was over and it was indeed epic.I enjoyed the pacing and progression of the meal. It was fast, but not rushed. I ate things that I’d had before, but were almost unrecognizably the same thing. I’m sure most people think of the rice ball that sits under piece of fish as the vehicle, and most of the time, I think of it as filler. At Kanesaka, both the fish and the rice are equally important. I was reintroduced to the notion that the proper balance between each component is what elevates sushi to the next level. I listened as Sanpei-san explained that when he serves a man and a woman the same set menu, he must pack the rice a bit more for the man, so that the meal can be equally filling for both but done in such a way that neither notices that one piece is bigger than another. I love learning this kind of information.
I know eating a meal like this is not in everyone’s price range, nor would a lot of people be able to appreciate the special nuances between good sushi and sushi at this level. But I am a sushi snob, and after watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi I felt justified in my snobbery. After my meal at Sushi Kanesaka, I feel like I am in an elite club of people who are lucky enough to experience the best of the best.