Shame on me for failing to immediately post these photos but I’m still processing the stunning omakase from Tuesday. (Today is Friday by the way.)
Every now and again, I have an unforgettable meal I can’t stop thinking about for days on end. My lunch at Shutoku 秀徳 was definitely one of them. I’m terribly concerned my photos and words won’t do this place justice…
The citrus pictures is sudachi. Not pictured is kabosu. These two citruses are mainly used outside of Tokyo and in Tokyo when yuzu isn’t in season. Osaka, uses sudachi year round. Only a few sprinkles from the grated rinds releases an unbelievable, delicate citrus aroma.
Now on to the show – get ready for some major sushi porn.
The handroll at the end is not pictured because by the time I remembered to take a photo, it was already in my mouth. I put it down to take a photo but the photo is not presentable (there’s a huge chunk missing haha).
Three days later I still don’t have words to be able to properly articulate how blown away I was by this itamae-san sushi chef. From his knowledge to his knife skills this was one unexpected experience I stumbled onto by accident. Left booking a dinner (all the best stuff is saved for dinner. Prices are of course, more expensive).
Shutoku is the third and newest of the original Kunishige Sushi Restaurant inside of the market. Kunishige Sushi’s reputation spread by word of mouth. It is a ten seater bar in an alley of the market and unless you know of the location, you will walk right past it.
They are closed on Tuesdays, which messed up my plan. I was fumbling with the Tsukiji map figuring out where to go (I set a weekly schedule for budgeting purposes) when the Kuroneko (Japanese Fed-Ex / UPS) delivery man who just happened to be unloading a haul from his truck saw me with my map. He kindly informed me Kunishige-san is closed and suggested I go to their sister restaurant. Sister restaurant? I repeated, Sure he said, it’s just as good – if not better, than the honten (the original restaurant). Sold. It’s in the alley right next to Kimuraya bakery.
I find the bakery, take a right and stand in front of the beautiful traditional Japanese doors. There are minimalist decorations, an iron umbrella stand. Its name in characters 秀徳 is carved in a majestic wood sign. There aren’t many restaurants on Tsukiji proper that look like this — most are run down and tattered. This places looks expensive.
I googled and look up the price range and was a bit surprised it fit within my budget. So I went in and was seated in front of young chef Aoki. We immediately started chatting and as it turns out, he trained at Tsukiji and just returned from living and working in Vancouver. He said he felt he reached a creativity peak in Canada and wanted to learn more by returning to Japan. As much as he loved life abroad, he missed the varieties of the fish and ingredients he has access to in Japan and especially at Tsukiji.
There are three Kunishige sushi bars, Shutoku is the most expensive. The cost is justified by the quality.
Oh and they use akazu rice vinegar too (akazu is five year aged vinegar) Since akazu is less acidic than regular rice vinegar, it immediately reveals the quality of the fish. Traditional Edomae Sushi (sushi from Tokyo) used to only be made with akazu rice. That is no longer the case. There are a handful of places in Tsukiji, though, that follows traditional Edomae Sushi.
Shutoku is pricier than other places in the market but definitely worth it. I paid $40 for my 12 course omakase. That is a steal considering how incredible the fish and most importantly the chef were. In the States this would easily be between $150-$200 or more. Strong statement, I know, but that’s how amazing this meal was.
I’m highly looking forward to my dinner. The dinner, will determine if Shutoku will replace some of my most memorable sushi dinners (in both Japan and, the US. I’ve been to most, including Masa in NY, Urasawa in LA and Jiro in Tokyo).
Kinoshige Shutoku 紀之重秀徳
E2 on the universal Tsukiji Map