by Arina Kuznetsova
In the heart of Tokyo, right across from Kabuki-za, there’s a building with a tiny little sign and a curtain in front. It’s a place that can easily be passed, but one that opens the door to the amazing tradition and unforgettable taste of real Edo sushi. The chef at Yoshino Sushi is a true master, reflecting the experience and traditions that have been in his family since 1887.
Tokio Endoh is the great grandson of a sushi master who started out as an apprentice in a little shop in Yokohama before becoming the owner of sushi restaurant in Ginza. He welcomes his visitors with a friendly smile and pleasant greetings in various languages, including English and Spanish.
On a fresh autumn evening, we start our dinner with a Gokujo sushi set that includes seven varieties of fish such as renowned blue fin tuna (honmaguro-chutoro), juicy shrimp (kurumaebi), and mouthwatering eel (anago). The chef personally chooses all produce every morning from the close-by Tsukiji market. As the evening progresses, Tokio proudly tells us the enthralling story of his family business. From surviving the great earthquake of 1923, to the reconstruction of Showa- dori, through to their struggles with post-war government regulations on fish distribution, the Olympic Games of 1964, the population and economic boom, and other up and downs in Yoshino’s history.
The set is complemented with home-made ginger, specially ordered from Wakayama prefecture and sliced into unusually large pieces. Marinated in a unique salt and sour sauce for four weeks, it brings out the taste of the sushi in a way I’ve never experienced before. Other delicacies are also brought in from all corners of Japan. The freshly grated wasabi, with its sweet flavor and soft aroma, comes from Amagi town in Shizuoka prefecture, which is known as the largest wasabi production region in Japan. The water used to prepare the mild green tea is from the springs of Mt. Fuji, and rice is chosen from the high quality brands of Niigata.
It is very rare to find a sushi restaurant that offers all natural organic ingredients served on beautiful traditional tableware, that is also foreigner friendly. This makes Yoshino Sushi the best-kept secret in Tokyo. A visit to Yoshino will be sure to impress not only your foreign guests, but your Japanese friends as well. Group reservations for private dinners should be made one week in advance.
WHAT TO EAT
Edo special course sushi (¥5,000), Gokujo sushi set (¥8,000), Yoshino sushi course (¥10,000). All sets include soup and desert. Individual pieces of sushi can be ordered, however the selection and price varies daily depending on the market price.
WHAT TO DRINK
I would highly recommend the Bishu sake. Delivered straight from the factory in Okayama prefecture, it can only be found in one place in Tokyo — Yoshino Sushi. The restaurant also offers three types of traditional Haku shika sake: Sennenju, Shirakiku Bishu and Daigingo, a splendid Gingo Kogen Beer from Iwate prefecture and a renowned international award winning Yamazaki-12 years Suntory whiskey and Chablis French wine.
WHO GOES THERE
Over the years Yoshino Sushi has welcomed members of the royal family, actors from the Kabuki theater, Mifune Toshiro from Seven Samurai, as well as business executives, doctors, and ambassadors.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST?
¥15,000-¥25,000 for a set dinner per person.
WHO TO ASK FOR
Tokio Endoh, owner and sushi chef.