Eating sushi is an integral part of Japanese culture experience. And if you are planning to treat yourself in Tokyo, make yourself an advance booking at the Jiro Sushi.
Everything you need to know of Jiro Sushi Japanese Restaurant
The documentary about Jiro Sushi
Jiro sushi documentary made me fall in love with Jiro's work ethic and his passion for sushi making. I silently vowed that one day I too will eat at his place, making it onto the list shared by Obama and such, and put on my wanderlust list. That "one day" happened last April when I went t0 Jiro Sushi Japanese restaurant, though it's not at the main branch in Ginza.
Jiro Sushi booking process
The booking confirmation came with an instruction, including being on time; has a specific schedule and to not wear perfume.
That day we reached Roppongi really early, I didn't want to mess up the reservation after going through the lengthy effort to book it. We had more than an hour, roamed around the posh area, checked out South Indian culture paintings at Mori Art Museum Japan and went back to the restaurant half an hour before the scheduled time. At exactly 11:30 AM the restaurant door opened.
A waitress dressed in all white came and asked us if we had a reservation? Yes, we did and in we went.
The restaurant is small, It won't fit more than 10 people. It's fine though; that day it was only us and another couple. We were greeted by Jiro's son, Takashi-san.
I couldn't stop smiling. It's a rare occasion for me to be star struck by someone famous, usually because I am oblivious. This time it was different. I had seen this man in the Jiro Sushi movie.
Takashi-san Jiro Sushi's son
Takashi-san asked us what we wanted to drink. I opted for the sake. What was today if not a celebration? He greeted each of us again, this time in our mother tongue, and proceeded to tell us that he had memorized 40 greetings in different languages because he wanted to greet his customers who greet him in Japanese, in their own language. Double star struck.
Takashi-san was humble and kind. He had lots of smile lines, similar to the characters in the manga series I used to read back in Indonesia. It took him 10 years to learn the art of making sushi by hand. It looked simple in my head and reminded me how my mom and aunties used to feed me hot rice balls when I was young.
My sake came and I gulped down my first cup. It was not even noon yet. I was nervous.
Full Course of Omakase at Jiro Sushi
Omakase (pronounced oh-mah-kah- seh), simply put, means the chef's choice, it's a multi-course meal where we let the chef choose our food for us. Also, unlike most sushi places, the chefs take their time to have a conversation and to explain each dish that they choose for us. This was the second time I had an Omakase meal in Japan. The first time was when I had once in a life time breakfast experience at sushi dai.
"Sushi and sashimi or only sushi?" We all chose sushi and sashimi. He asked whether we had a specific allergy or dislike anything in particular. Having had tears of refusal when I swallowed sea urchin at SUshi Dai the last time I was in Japan, I opted it out.
They bought the seafood fresh from the market every morning, to be served on the same day. I guess that really mattered because I was "oooh" and "aah"-ing every time I eat a piece of it.
Remember when I said I refused the sea urchin earlier? Takashi-san managed to convince me to try it, he said their sea urchin is different, has no fishy smell nor weird taste, is different in color and it's good quality. I hesitated at first, it's the texture that I don’t like, but agreed to try it in the end because I am at Jiro Sushi! I had it, though it didn't change my mind about the texture is weird, it really was good. Sweet and fresh.
If I must choose an absolute favorite, it would be the second to last course, the shrimp sushi. The shrimp was kept alive until the very last minute to retain the freshness. Takashi-san instructed us to eat the tail first and then the head. His reason? The head is sweeter and yummier.
The meal ended with homemade tamagoyaki, which is essentially a baked egg; it’s a traditional breakfast dish in Japan. Jiro Sushi's tamagoyaki was served in the shape of a cube. Soft and fluffy. Compared to a basic cake, it tasted less sweet but much nicer. I couldn't think of a better dessert to tie the bow to this phenomenal meal.
The four of us: a Taiwanese, a Hong Kongese, an Indonesian and an Indian started chatting. We talked a little about Japan and a lot more about the sushi that kept re-appearing in front of us.
There was a waiter who was standing nearby just to clean the sushi platter and put my chopsticks back if I forgot to put it on the holder. Despite having the chopstick police who's on his feet and works with such efficiency, we didn't feel rushed at all. We chatted leisurely and took our time to eat the most delicious sushi in our lives.
The whole eating experience and vibe were so relaxed and pleasant. Maybe the sake effect finally started kicking in.
We thanked the sushi crew, took a picture with Takashi-san, and walked off from Jiro Sushi in an ecstatic mood. When we regained our senses we agreed that it was an afternoon and money well spent.
For now, let me and my tummy beam with happiness every time I reminisce about my best sushi experience which is now being memorialized as a printed picture on the fridge.
The cost to eat at Jiro Sushi Tokyo
Upon confirmation, in 2007 we AUD120 and then AUD600 for 2 people 12 Full Course of Omakase at Jiro Sushi.
How to go to Jiro Sushi Japanese Restaurant?
Make reservation months in advance through the online website. On the day take the train to Roppongi station and get down at Roponggi Hills exit. The restaurant is located at 6 Chome-12-2 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan. It's not terribly hard to find, but you gotta ask around.
Jiro Sushi Again?
We went here as Fafa's birthday treat. Before this, I had only seen him eat sushi once, which was a week before at Iwasa Sushi at the Tsukiji market. Unfortunately, this means the standard of his sushi, and birthday gift will be hard to match from now on!
I, myself, don't have much sushi eating experience in Japan. There was a sushi joint on my first time in Japan, Sushi Dai on my second time in Tokyo, Iwasa Sushi mentioned above and the sushi at the airport on our last day in Japan. All were above standard, but Jiro Sushi easily topped the list. Heck, not even just in sushi or in the Japanese meals category, Jiro Sushi is one of the top 10 best meals I have had in my lifetime. It's definitely the most expensive, even more so than the Indonesian food I and my cousins had in Switzerland.
Speaking of the cost, I think about it sometimes, and given a choice, would I do the experience again? For the first time? HELL YEAH! It's worth every single yen. There are people who go to Japan just so they could eat at Jiro sushi!
But, will I go for a second round? I am not sure. I want this to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience unless I manage to save up to go to Subayaki Sushi and being served by Jiro himself.