Opening a high-end sushi restaurant in Tokyo is no small feat given the crowded field and fierce competition for discriminating taste buds. Fortunately, Sushi Y in Azabu-Juban is more than qualified for the task.
From NYC to TKO
The intimate eight-seated establishment, which opened in January 2021, is the sister store of Sushi Yasuda, a Michelin-starred Japanese sushi restaurant in the heart of New York City.
Indeed, Sushi Y shares the same subtle yet refined modern interior as its American sibling: similar design elements in windows and doors, unique bamboo walls and counters, and of course, the same painstaking attention to detail that transforms every menu item into a true handicraft.
Leading the shop’s three-man team is master chef Takuji Terajima. Having worked in the sushi industry since age 16, Terajima has already amassed some 25 years of experience and techniques – short enough to keep him humble, but long enough to remove any doubt that he’s rightfully earned his place behind the counter.
Take the signature big fin reef squid nigiri sushi, whose simple appearance belies its labor intensity. Each piece is carefully cut over 100 times to soften the texture and enhance taste. “I do this more than two hours before serving it. Exposure to air helps sweeten the flesh,” Terajima explains.
A dash of pickled Japanese plum is tucked imperceptibly underneath, and the top is lightly dressed in Terajima’s blend of savory irizake and nikiri-joyu sauces, then dusted with natural sea salt imported from England. The squid is cut so finely, it’s hard to tell where the neta topping ends and the shari, or seasoned rice underneath, begins.
Terajima combines his techniques honed over years of experience, including working in sushi restaurants in five foreign countries (Canada, America, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand), with some of the finest ingredients available.
Rice, a crucial ingredient that comprises some 80% of sushi’s taste, was specially selected from a mineral-rich, sun-dried variety in Yamagata Prefecture, the heart of Japan’s snow country.
The rice is boiled in shikomi-mizu delivered by bottle from a brewery in Japan’s Northern Alps, while the accompanying vinegar is a blend of mild-flavored rice vinegar and akasu red vinegar, a traditional element of Edomae-style sushi that is made from fermented sake lees. The resulting shari is versatile and well-balanced, holding up just as well for other neta, including the Pacific bluefin tuna, another popular choice.
All courses are served omakase style, and whether patrons choose from the Yume course or the Kanaya course, certain items are the same for both such as the sea urchin croquette — an exquisite piece as delicious as it is beautiful.
Reservations are required.
The restaurant is just 5 minutes on foot from Azabujuban Station and 9 minutes from Roppongi Station.
For more details, visit the Sushi Y website.