I struggled with whether I was going to write this post, but I toughed through it!
If you’ve been reading our Japan posts, other than Sapporo, you might conclude that we’re super uppity on New York City sushi, and the biggest naysayer on sushi-in-Japan, or anywhere else for that matter. I didn’t want to give you more reason to support that incorrect conclusion.
Here’s the sushi breakdown by city (NYC vs Japan):
- New York City Sushi – Great in the higher end spectrum ($150+) for ANYONE, local and foreigners. But not good at all for “cheap” sushi ($30 and below) at all.
- Sapporo Sushi – Great for both high end ($150+) and down-the-middle (around $50) for ANYONE, local and foreigners. No idea about “cheap” sushi ($30 and below), we did not look. It was our first trip to Sapporo, so we wanted to go to the best.
- Osaka Sushi – Blah for high end ($150+), great for down-the-middle (around $50), and great for “cheap” sushi ($30 and below). We looked real, real hard for high end sushi, but there was not that many to be found. High end omakase is just not that prevalent in Osaka. Middle and cheap end sushi, tons, TONS! Osaka has fantastic food, really. From a food perspective, I LOVE this place, from a city to live in perspective, no thanks. It’s been heavily infiltrated by the Chinese. I know I’m going to get a ton of backlash from this but, I have to say it… The Chinese from Mainland China is not like the Chinese in America, or the Chinese in Hong Kong, who are more like Americans or Europeans. They understand respecting other’s personal space. They understand the concept of common curtesy. We all look “the same” (yes, more backlash), but mannerisms matter. Walking through Dotonbori is a perfect example. There will be those that whispers quietly to their friends, or into their cell phones, that holds onto their trash seeking out an open trash receptacle or vendor that will take it. And there are those that smokes and toss their cigarette buds AND trash right onto the streets, or leaves it “near” an overflowing trash can, that screams down the block, that SPITS and BLOWS THEIR NOSE without a tissue across the way, into the air/street. It is DISGUSTING. Rude and stereotypical as it may sound, I do NOT want to be associated with those that do not know how to act. Wow, sorry for the diatribe, but that’s what I do! 😊
- Tokyo Sushi – Great for high end (300+) sushi FOR LOCAL ONLY. If you’re a foreigner, GOOD LUCK getting a reservation! Great for down-the-middle (around $60) for everyone, and same deal, don’t know about their “cheap sushi” space. Never tried to look…
We visited Sushi Ginza Kanesaka for their 15 piece, 20,000 Yen, roughly 180 USD lunch, as we couldn’t get in for dinner. We don’t care much about Michelin ratings when it comes to NYC, but for those that do, Sushi Ginza Kanesaka is a one Michelin Star rated restaurant. Michelin for us, is only good for foreign places where we can’t do proper research due to the language barrier, so for places like Japan, it’s one measure…
It’s a nice place, though basement level in Ginza (financial) district, it was super polished, and with spectacular service. Like most other Japanese sushi-yas, they too do not accept tips, so the cost is the cost. This is what makes omakases in Japan so much cheaper! The tip! That and the sake mark up. If you’re a drinker, the same bottle of sake that cost 200 USD, would only run you about a third of that in Japan. It’s NUTS. Sushi in Japan for these two reasons alone, is heavily discounted. but if you “insist”, they will happily accept whatever tip you want to give!
I talked A LOT today. A LOT that was completely irrelevant to Sushi Ginza Kanesaka. Talked about sushi from one city to the next, about Asian cultures, about cost structures, wow… Sorry!
Back to Sushi Ginza Kanesaka. To be 100% honest, I don’t know that we’ll be returning. Side by side, the sushi is DEFINITELY better than that of Sushi Miyaba. Definitely. More variety, better preparation, better execution. But they’re also a whole lot costlier. $12 per piece vs $5.6 per piece. YES – BIG DIFFERENCE. I honestly can’t imagine us to visit either or again though. When you’re on vacation, when you’re there only once a year, or once every other year, you don’t want to “waste” the very few meals you have. You rather pay a little more and get top quality…
- KIRAME/HIRAME – I thought this was a HIRAME, but chef said oh no, HIRAMEs are left eye flounder, this is a KIRAME, a right eye flounder. In Spring and Summer months, the KIRAME is supposed to be fattier and tastier. REALLY? Who knows, I truly cannot tell the difference. It was very good, but no better than a normal HIRAME in the hands of a proper chef. Nobu-san from Kanoyama does this well…
- SHIMA AJI (Striped Jack) – Very, very happy with this SHIMA AJI. Sliced somewhat thin, but maintained it’s crunch, and gumminess. Very nice.
- MADAI (Seabream) – This was KOBUJIME, marinated in KOMBU! I LOVE KOBUJIME style whites! Lovely texture, as always MUCH better than the KIRAME/HIRAME.
- AORI IKA (Squid) – This was a denser, chewier than normal cut of AORI IKA. It was good, but not “great”.
- CHUTORO (Medium Fatty Tuna) – REALLY GOOD. A very nice melt in your mouth cut, that was not the slightest bit chewy/veiny, and not a bit of funky after taste.
- OTORO (Super Fatty Tuna) – Another fantastic cut. Like butter!
- AKAMI ZUKE (Soy marinated lean Tuna) – VERY good. I just realized, we haven’t had much AKAMI on this trip. I don’t think we’ve had ANY AKAMI ZUKE. I wonder why…
- KURUMA EBI (Japanese Tiger Prawn) – LOVE my KURUMA EBI. So great. Today’s meal is kicking yesterday’s meal’s ass (Sushi Miyaba)!
- AJI (Japanese Mackerel) – This was an incredibly light cut of AJI, beautiful flavors, and nice crunch. Chef did something interesting with this. He put spring onions both on top AND in between the fish and the rice.
- HOKKAIDO UNI – Decent, but nothing stellar. To be honest, if you go to Japan, don’t make Hokkaido your first location, UNI everywhere else pales in comparison.
- KOHADA (Gizzard shad) – Decent, not overly marinated where all you taste is vinegar. I have to say, I don’t know why, but I LOVE when they braid my fish. Takes a tiny bit more work, but it allows the fish to hold onto more of the ginger/soy sauce. Good stuff!
- HAMAGURI (Clam) – UGH. Why would anyone put eel sauce on an otherwise perfectly good clam? WHY?
- SHIRA EBI (Sweet White Shrimp) – Haven’t had SHIRA EBI in a while. I wish I could say this knocked my socks off, but I think it’s more appropriate to just classify as “good”. Slightly gummy, not all that sweet, just ok…
- TORO TAKUAN – TORO was great quality, and roll was still plenty tasty, but this was a TINY bit of TORO and a whole lot of rice…
- TAMAGO – On the sweet side, which I like, but nothing stellar.