Trip Report: Japan 2012 – Day 11 – Travel Day Return to Tokyo and Sushi at Kyubey
And good morning. Taking advantage of the outside onsen in the early morning.
We decided to request the Western breakfast this morning. Presented with no less aplomb, it really suited our sensitive palates well: corn soup, a salad, tako slices, and assorted beans and mashed potatoes that looked like rocks ensured that the meal retained its Japanese-y character.
But what we want you to focus on is this basket of bread. Look at it. Long for it. It was absolutely the best. We ate the whole basket and contemplated asking for more. That good.
A moment to contemplate. They actually changed the flower arrangement when we were out the day before.
Okay, we couldn’t afford to stay at the ryokan our whole trip (or, indeed, even an additional day), so it was time to move on. But, first, a coffee at the bar. And, next, our return to Tokyo.
After making it down the mountain and catching the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, our first stop: Ganso Kujira-ya in Shibuya. Note: this section of the post might be somewhat controversial, because kujira means whale.
Thar she blows. Grilled whale steak.
And whale sashimi. Tasting note: the sushi is very… bloody, fishy, sharp. Not our favorite. But the whale steak was delicious.
And since we’re back in Shibuya, a reunion with a relic of American music retailing: Tower Records. Actually, the largest store devoted to music retain in the entire world.
Hawaiian music is fairly well represented there. Which makes sense because you have to fill a 7-story music store with something.
We returned to Asakusa to be greeted by the Golden Turd.
Actually, this is the headquarters of Asahi, called the Asahi Beer Hall (which is supposed to look like a mug of frosty beer or something) and the as-of-yet-unopened (now opened) Tokyo Skytree (at 2080 ft, the tallest tower and second tallest human made structure in the world).
We were there to ride in a boat to gaze at the cherry blossoms along the banks of the Sumida River. Lots of boats. Lots of cherry trees. But, combined, it didn’t make for the greatest of experiences. Frankly, it was kitsch, which was expected. But exactly how kitsch, that was the surprise.
The little bento they gave us as a snack on board.
And the highlight! This fake geisha (and by fake, we don’t mean Maiko, or apprentice geisha, but a hostess dressed in a kimono) appeared for a dance.
For 700 yen, the fake geisha would also pour out cheap sake into plastic cups for members of your party. We elected to not pursue this option.
Okay, on to dinner. Sushi at Kyubey, Ginza (Tabelog Top 5000).
This particular building has 5 floors. The higher up you go, the more powerful and influential you are; the peons eat on levels 1 and 2. We ate on level 2. Regardless, since this was the honten (main branch), I was hopeful of a greeting from the master chef, himself.
Sure enough: this is Yousuke Imada, AKA Mr. Kyubey, owner and proprietor. Image Credit: Random Stranger.
Each chef at Kyubey serves no more than 4 people at one time. Usually only 2-3. Image Credit: Ryan.
And as you can see, the counter space is very small. Plenty of chefs in the kitchen. Image Credit: Ryan.
The table is set. This is getting exciting. We started with a beer and resolved to order some sake with our omakase course. Image Credit: Ryan.
First cuts. The unadulterated sushi will be presented in order, followed by some pics of the chef and his skills. Image Credit: Ryan.
Chuutoro, or medium fatty blue tuna. Image Credit: Ryan.
Hirame, or halibut. Image Credit: Ryan.
Tai, or red snapper. Image Credit: Ryan.
Ika, or squid. Image Credit: Ryan.
Uni, or sea urchin. Kyubey actually invented this style of sushi, gunkan-maki, or soft ingrediants like roe or uni wrapped in nori, in the 1930s. Image Credit: Ryan.
Odori-ebi, or dancing shrimp. This particular sushi was wriggling off the plate not 5 seconds earlier. Image Credit: Ryan.
Akagai, or ark shell. Also, not pictured: ebi, or shrimp, which immediately followed this dish. Image Credit: Ryan.
Ootoro, or fatty blue tuna. Image Credit: Ryan.
Kohada, or gizzard shad. Image Credit: Ryan.
Hamachi, or yellow tail. Image Credit: Ryan.
Unagi and Anago, or freshwater eel and saltwater eel. Image Credit: Ryan.
Daikon, shiso leaf, plum sauce and sesame. Image Credit: T.
Hoso maki-zushi, or single-ingrediant sushi, with scraped blue tuna and cucumber. Image Credit: T.
Tamago, or egg. Interestingly, T’s came in 3 bite size pieces, Ryan’s came in 2. This dish is considered the true measure of a sushi restaurant; T didn’t understand this truism until this day. Absolute deliciousness. Image Credit: T.
The sushi with the deep fried head and tail of the shrimp eaten earlier. Image Credit: T.
A piece of grilled fish. Maybe also aji. Image Credit: T.
Some soup to drown your tears of sorrow in after realizing your meal is almost over. Image Credit: Ryan.
Haha, an extra order! Dessert: chuutoro and ootoro, onegai shimasu. Image Credit: Ryan.
Nasu, or eggplant, to close the meal. Image Credit: Ryan.
Kyubey is all about sushi showmanship. Here the chef is tenderizing the ika with blazing fast cuts. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here the live shrimp are waiting to be humanely executed. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here the akagai is in its final death throes as the chef has just thrown it to the wooden cutting board. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here the cooked shrimp are being peeled and prepared. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here, not pictured, is Ryan contemplating grabbing this entire block of Ootoro and stuffing it in his mouth before a chef could cut off his hand with one of the large sushi knives. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here is Ryan’s most disappointed self after realizing that he put the most delicious thing in his mouth that he ever ate and that he may never eat anything so good again. Image Credit: T.
Here the flash fried anago and unagi are being prepared; you could see the eel sizzling in oil as the chef was handling it. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here the daikon slices go flying. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here is the daikon, shiso, plum and sesame assembly line. This dish was surprisingly good. Image Credit: Ryan.
Here the scraped maguro is being spread on the hoso maki. Image Credit: Ryan.
And, too soon, it was time to go. Here is T refusing to leave the restaurant. They served us 15 sushi or so; each one was the best sushi we had ever eaten of that type (at that time). Absolute best.
Dessert: more coffee and mattcha and cake.
And now we’re here at the Roppongi club, Abbey Road, to see the Parrots, one of the most famous Beatles cover groups in the world.
We had damn good seats for showing up so late.
Each guy can sing. Each guy can jam. And, at the time, this is one of two Beatles bands that performed in the area – right down the street there was The Silver Beats playing at The Cavern Club (since closed).
Best of all, they still sell Zima here. Good night.