From luxury timepieces to the most exquisitely cut diamond jewelry, Yoshida (stylized as YOSHIDA) has been enchanting customers with its premium merchandise for more than a century. It comes as no surprise, then, to see that the same company now operates one of the finest dining establishments in Japan’s capital.
Sushi Tokyo Yoshida opened in the relatively quiet and inconspicuous Shibuya neighborhood of Hatagaya in June 2021. Housed in a three-story building on a traditional shotengai and nestled amongst rice dealers, greengrocers and barbers, the restaurant is not located in the sort of environment you would expect for such an upscale restaurant. There is nothing showy about the exterior, but there doesn’t need to be, as Sushi Tokyo Yoshida has a reputation for serving some of the most delectable dishes imaginable alongside wonderful wine and sake.
TW recently paid a visit to the elegant eatery to sample the sushi omakase course for lunch paired with more than a few glasses of wine. We’d heard such good things about the overall experience of eating and drinking there that expectations were very high going in. It’s fair to say it didn’t disappoint, met as we were with immaculate service, museum-like décor, top-notch vino and an array of divine seasonal culinary delights served on beautifully crafted tableware designed by porcelain master and Living National Treasure Imaizumi Imaemon XIV and venerable lacquerware producer Wajimaya Zenni. In a city boasting more than 4,000 sushi restaurants, Yoshida manages to stand out from the rest.
A Sushi Artisan
The outstanding experience comes courtesy of the exceptional quality of the produce and the remarkable skills of Daiki Fujimoto, the restaurant’s talented and affable head chef who trained both in Japan and abroad. Fujimoto is a sushi artisan, and it’s a pleasure watching him up close as he works his magic behind the refined wooden counter surrounded by samurai swords and expensive paintings. At the same time, our charming and knowledgeable sommelier, Akira Suzuki, makes sure our glasses are never empty as he guides us through the various kinds of wine that complement our dishes superbly.
We begin with sumptuous sea urchin and tuna, both temaki style, followed by a sweet crab meat dish with salmon roe. These appetizers are served with Terzavia Metodo Classico Brut, a Sicilian golden sparkling wine made from grillo grapes grown on 30-year-old vines near the ocean. Full-bodied and fresh with a fruity scent, it’s the perfect way to kick off the meal. The Tuscany wine that comes next goes down just as well. It’s paired with three kinds of sashimi, including keiji (young salmon), which is extremely rare and expensive. Only around one or two of these are found in a normal catch of 10,000 salmon. A real treat.
Up next is nutritional abalone, one of the world’s priciest shellfish, served with seiko gani — female snow crab — a winter delicacy with a rich and sweet taste that’s only available to eat in November and December. These dishes are accompanied by a refreshing glass of pinot grigio, a vigorous coppery red by acclaimed wine producer Damijan Podversic. We then switch to Vecchio Samperi, a white wine from Marco De Bartoli that is quite light in body and very aromatic. It’s paired with ankimo monaka, a maneki neko-shaped wafer filled with monkfish liver pâté alongside cashew nuts and pickles. An Instagrammer’s delight, it tastes even better than it looks.
From the cuteness of the ankimo monaka, we move on to a dish that might be off-putting to some: blowfish shirako. Known in English as blowfish milt or sperm sacs, it may sound too unpleasant to eat, but it is regarded as the “foie gras of the sea” in Japan. Boasting a sweet, melting taste with a custard-like texture, it is said to have many health benefits, including anti-aging properties and high levels of protein. The creamy oaked style of the American chardonnay it comes with matches the palate perfectly. Already getting quite full and a little tipsy, we’re informed by Fujimoto that all the dishes thus far have been appetizers, and our sushi course, with squid to start, is about to begin.
The King of Tuna
Though Fujimoto is in charge of creating the menu, the restaurant is supervised by Yukitaka Yamaguchi, president of Yamayuki, a famous intermediary wholesaler at Toyosu Fish Market. Known as the “king of tuna,” Yamaguchi is a sushi connoisseur who is very picky about the quality and tenderness of the seafood he buys, particularly the highly sought-after delicacy bluefin tuna. Speaking to Luxeat, he once described Japanese tuna as “a gift from nature” resulting from the country’s topography, which has many places where fresh water flows into the sea. The fact that Japanese tuna feed on other small, delicious Japanese fish is another reason for the mouth-watering taste.
And mouth-watering is the perfect adjective to describe the selection of maguro (tuna) sushi dishes at Yoshida. There are four plates, starting with akami, the leanest part of the fish. Next is chutoro, the belly area with a moderate fattiness, and otoro, the fattiest and most expensive portion of the tuna. The highlight, though, is the grilled otoro, which looks and tastes more like a lighter version of a well-marbled steak than a piece of fish. All these plates combine wonderfully with the Clos Du Val pinot noir, a powerful and refined red wine from Napa Valley with a long, smooth finish.
Switching back to white, we partake in Viteadovest, our second Sicilian wine of the afternoon, which is rich in umami flavor. It’s a lovely drink to gently sip as we enjoy our next selection of sushi plates, including some tender yet slightly crunchy blood clam, acidic gizzard shad, delicate garfish and, best of all, a luscious half-cooked Japanese tiger prawn that tastes out of this world. The same can be said of the rosy seabass grilled over hot coals in front of us. Simply sublime.
After a glass of Sicilian red to partner the rosy seabass, sea urchin and salt water eel, we finish the meal with Primosic Ribolla di Oslavia, a distinctive smooth and silky orange wine that leaves a succinct aftertaste lingering in your mouth. Arguably the drink of the afternoon, we have it with a negitoro taku roll (minced tuna with green onion and pickled daikon) and Japanese omelet before eating fresh strawberries and melon for dessert. It’s a satisfying way to round off an impeccable meal that surprised and delighted in equal measure. The menu, which changes seasonally, is a luxurious treat, and while there’s no denying that it’s pricey, it’s well worth experiencing at least once.