On our first trip to Tokyo I was amazed by how good sushi can be. I was a sushi fan prior to our trip but Chris had never tried it. We found a restaurant right outside the Tsukiji fish market and had what I believed would be the best sushi of my life. I savored every bite and worried Chris didn’t realize what an amazing meal this was since it was his first sushi experience. When we left Tokyo, with no plans to return, I feared I would never have sushi of that quality again.
Fast forward a few months later. Chris was planning our honeymoon and we had decided on Thailand. We could fly there via Hong Kong or Tokyo. I would have chosen the shortest route, Hong Kong, but Chris had other plans. He had read about a small sushi restaurant located in a subway station in Tokyo that had won 3 Michelin stars. The owner, Jiro Ono, is considered to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He was even featured in a movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. His restaurant was also featured on Anthony Bourdains No Reservations. It didn’t take much convincing to get me to agree to have an extended layover in Tokyo so we could try this amazing restaurant.
Sukiyabashi only has 10 seats with service only twice each day (yes only 20 people a day can eat there!). Jiro has very strict rules extending from how the food is prepared and served to how you get one of his highly desired seats. First, we called Yoko, our tour guide we had used on our first trip so she could call the restaurant for us. We also asked if she would accompany us so we’d have a translator on hand, plus we loved her company and knew she would make this special meal that much better. This was in April (our trip was in December) and we found out the earliest they allow reservations is 1 month in advance and they must be made by your hotel. Thankfully we were staying at a hotel that was familiar with Jiro’s and a month out they called first thing and we were in!
On the flight to Tokyo we watched the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It’s a great documentary. Though you may never have the experience of enjoying Jiro’s sushi you should check this documentary out. He is such an interesting man and seeing how he runs his restaurant and trains his chefs it’s no wonder he’s won 3 Michelin stars. It also gives great insight into the Japanese culture and incredible work ethic.
Even after seeing the movie you can’t appreciate the remoteness of this award winning restaurant until you see it with your own eyes. Walking down the subway stairs to this tiny location was unreal. We were the first of the 10 diners to arrive.
Each day Jiro selects the best fish at the market to serve and develops a unique menu based on his finds. Every part of the meal is choreographed and served in a specific order to ensure you get the optimal enjoyment from the meal. It is expected you will eat at a fairly rapid pace, making this meal last on average around 20-30 minutes (we broke this rule and took a bit more time!).
This was truly a once in a lifetime experience. We were the last to leave, soaking in every moment. Yoko spoke with the elusive Jiro and when he heard we had traveled there on the way to our honeymoon specifically for this meal he graciously agreed to take a photo with us. I don’t think this meal will ever be topped and likely will be the best meal of our lives (fitting since it was the kickoff to our honeymoon).
What is the best meal you’ve ever had? What food if any would you consider traveling half way around the world to try?