Sushi Chain to Put on Your Radar

Living in Tokyo it’s good to have a few sushi chain on your radar, especially if  you are parents and dining out with kids. Some popular sushiya on the budget side include Midori Sushi, Sushi Zanmai, Sushiro, Choshi Maru, and Kurazushi. One to know about is Uoriki, which is not only a sushiya, but also a seafood retail shop, so the company is buying a lot of seafood and can offer sushi menus at a good value.

Uoriki is unbelievably cheap for what it is offering. The set lunch in the upper right photo was only 1,290 JPY ($13). Check out the size of the anago (simmered sea eel). It also included ikura, chutoro, scallop, and shrimp.

The bottom photo is of silvery skinned fish, which took me a long time to get used to, but now I love these. At lunch this was only 750 JPY and consisted of: Pacific saury, horse mackerel, sardine, Pacific mackerel, and gizzard shad. As these are the fishy in flavor, they are often garnished with ginger, garlic, chives, or even pickled in salt and rice vinegar to make them more palatable.

A very easy branch of Uoriki Sushi to get to is in the Shibuya station building in the Tokyu Toyoko-ten depachika. There are a few shops on the Chuo line which we frequent. The take-away sushi is also very cheap and is usually made without wasabi so it is kid-friendly. Wasabi is served on the side.

The name, Uoriki 魚力, literally means strong fish. What a great name for a seafood retail and restaurant chain.

Uoriki Sushi

Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 2-24-1, Tokyu Toyoko-ten Depachika B1

渋谷区渋谷2-24-1 東急百貨店西館B1F

Other branches (in Japanese):

http://www.uoriki.co.jp/tenpo/index.html#insyoku

I was recently interviewed for this piece for Saveur magazine, by Laurie Woolever:

http://www.saveur.com/conveyor-belt-kaiten-sushi

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Sushi on Sunday in Tokyo

*** updated 2016 November

As Tsukiji Market is closed on Sundays many sushi restaurants also take the opportunity to give the staff a day off. That doesn’t mean that sushi isn’t eaten on Sundays in Tokyo.

There are several places to look to for sushi on Sunday and national holidays. Check out hotels, department stores, and large train stations. Here is a shortlist of where to go on Sunday for sushi in Tokyo.

すきやばし次郎 Sukiyabashi Jiro at Nihonbashi Takashimaya is a branch of the famous Michelin 3-star Sukiyabashi Jiro in Ginza. Nigiri or chirashi sets start at 3,150 JPY – a bargain compared to what you will pay in Ginza.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-4-1, Nihonbashi Takashimaya Honkan (Main Bldg.) 4F

03-3211-4111

11:00 – 19:00 (last order at 18:30)

Sukiyabashi Jiro is also at Roppongi Hills.

築地青空三代目 Tsukiji Aozora Sandaime at Ginza Mitsukoshi is a branch of a third generation restaurant from Tsukiji’s outer market.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-6-16, Ginza Mitsukoshi 11F

03-3561-7021

11:00 – 23:00 (last order 22:30)

魯山 Rozan at Shinjuku Isetan

Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-14-1, Shinjuku Isetan 7F

03-3226-0115

11:00 – 16:00; 17:00 – 22:00 (last order 21:15)

Call ahead to make sure these restaurants are open. This was posted in 2012.

Updates (2016 Nov 3)

Seamon is a sushiya with branches in Ginza and in Nihonbashi that is also open on Sunday. I haven’t been, but several clients have and say they like the sushi here. Details in English here:

http://www.eok.jp/restaurants-bars/fine-dining/japanese/seamon/

On national holidays and Sundays, we sometimes go to the cheap chains. They are often popular with families, so best to allow time to wait in line if you go at peak meal times – 12 noon for lunch and 6 p.m. for dinner.

Sushi Zanmai with branches throughout the city.

http://www.kiyomura.co.jp/

Midori Sushi with branches throughout the city.

http://www.sushinomidori.co.jp/tenpo_e.html

Tokyo Sky Tree Solamachi Food Shop Highlights

Tokyo Sky Tree is the city’s most popular tourist destination. The world’s tallest tower (for the time being) the communication tower replaces the landmark Tokyo Tower.

Solamachi, at the base of Tokyo Sky Tree, is very exciting mall to visit with so many shops it’s hard to come up with a short list. It has over 300 shops including Eataly, as well as Niki no Kashi and a dagashiya for old-time Japanese sweets. If you do visit, here are my gotta go shops:

1. Lupicia for its amazing teas. I first came to know Lupicia from chef Seiji Yamamoto at Nihonryori Ryugin. The restaurant served a cherry flavored green tea (sakurambo vert) that was delicious and I have been a fan ever since. 1F-EastYard-44

2. A store that specializes in salt, Ma-suya, from Okinawa. Over 70 salts from Okinawa and 300 salts from throughout Japan. A salt sommelier can advise which salts are best suited to certain dishes. 4F-EastYard-34

3. Hasegawa Saketen is one of my favorite sake shops in Tokyo. The collection is great, staff are knowledgeable and approachable.  And this branch has a standing bar.  1F-EastYard-47

4. Tobu Department Store. This department store is said to have 70 original “Sky Tree goods” that can only be purchased at this store.  4F-EastYard-48

5. Qu’il fait bon specializes in seasonal fresh fruit pies and tarts. 2F-EastYard-48

6. We are big fans of Uoriki for good sushi at a great price. 2F-WestYard-19

7. The original branch of Mamegen is in Azabu-Juban. If you go, be sure to pick up a bag of the “shio kaki” salted and deep-fried rice crackers. And be sure to check out the wide variety of flavored beans and rice crackers. 4F-EastYard-32

photo is from Solamachi website

8. Who can resist the great packaging at Mameya Bankyu? Inside find roasted beans in flavors like cheese pepper, wasabi, or curry. 4F-EastYard-44

9. The original shop of Nihonbashi Nishiki Hourin in the basement of Tokyo Station almost always has a long line. Known for its karintou, a sweet cracker that comes in great flavors like kinpira gobo, sumi charcoal, and black pepper. 2F-TowerYard-33

photo is from Nenrinya website

10. Chiisana Baum Tsuri- by Nenrinya gets my vote for one of the best original sweets. This baumkuchen shop, Nenrinya, has created mini baumkuchen on a stick. Must take me back to my youth and the Minnesota State Fair. 2F-TowerYard-41

B Kyu Gourmet – Cheap Eats in Tokyo B級グルメ

Ramen

Here are some of my favorite restaurants that won’t break the bank. This article first appeared in Metropolis on November 5, 2009.

http://metropolis.co.jp/dining/local-flavors/the-b-list/

The most sought-after tables in recession-hit Tokyo can be found at so-called B-kyu gurume restaurants. These eateries typically specialize in a single cuisine—soba or tonkatsu, for example—served in simple settings without the lacquerware or heavy linens found at more upscale establishments. While B-kyu gurumerestaurants have always been around, the economic downturn has sparked a new interest in them, as reflected in the flurry of books, magazines and TV programs documenting the best finds throughout the city. Here are some of our favorites.

Nihonbashi Sapporoya

For an exceptionable bowl of ramen, try the hiyashi chukka goma dare (¥1,000) at Sapporoya in Nihonbashi. This basement restaurant, with only a few communal tables and chairs, serves up a large bowl of chilled noodles with tomatoes, cucumbers, ham, bamboo shoots, egg and more, topped with a creamy, nutty sesame-soy broth. The hot bowls of noodles are also excellent, notably the miso butter corn ramen. B1, 3-3-5 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3275-0024. Open Mon-Fri 11am-9:30pm, Sat 11am-4pm, closed Sun. Nearest stn: Nihonbashi or Tokyo (Yaesu exit).

Kanda Matsuya

Kanda Matsuya (pictured) has been serving up rustic, handmade soba noodles for three generations. While connoisseurs would advise simplicity with the mori sobaserved on a bamboo tray with a dipping sauce (¥600), we can not resist the ten-nanban, a hot bowl of soba noodles topped with shrimp tempura (¥950).
1-3 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3251-1556. Open Mon-Fri
11am-8pm, Sat & hols 11am-7pm, closed Sun. Nearest stn: Ogawamachi or
Kanda. www.kanda-matsuya.jp

Tsukiji Market’s Nakaya Donburi

Tsukiji Market is filled with B-kyu gurume restaurants. While throngs of visitors are queued up at Daiwa Sushi and Sushi Dai, we prefer Nakaya Donburi, located just up the street. Nakaya specializes in rice bowls topped with seafood—make sure to ask about seasonal (shun) items that are only available a few weeks of each year, or check the handwritten menu outside the front door. Popular donburitoppings include creamy uni, vermillion-colored ikura, and fatty tuna, or you can combine all three for just ¥1,700—a steal. 5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3541-0211. Open daily 6:30am-1:30pm (closed Tsukiji hols). Nearest stn: Tsukiji.

Santa Tonkatsu in Shinjuku

The tonkatsu at Santa in Shinjuku is unique—the panko (bread crumbs) are julienned instead of finely minced. Ask to be seated on the lower floor at the counter to watch the chefs frying the pork cutlets and thinly slicing the cabbage. The premium rosu katsu teishoku is just ¥1,680. 3-33-10 Shinjuku. Tel: 03-3351-5861. Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm and 5-9:30pm, Sat-Sun & hols 11:30am-9:30pm, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Shinjuku or Shinjuku Sanchome.www.shinjuku.or.jp/kirin/washoku/santa

Asakusa Yoshikami

Located near the historic Asakusa temple district, Yoshikami feels like a retro diner, with round stools lined up at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. These are the best seats in the house for a view of the toqued chefs creating the restaurant’s popular omu-raisu (¥1,250), the classic yoshoku dish of ketchup-flavored rice enveloped in a soft omelet. The tender pieces of beef in a rich demi-glace sauce will have you dreaming about Yoshikami’s stew long afterwards (¥2,350). 1-41-4 Asakusa, Taito-ku. Tel: 03-3841-1802. Open daily 11:45am-10:30pm. Nearest station: Asakusawww.yoshikami.co.jp

Shibuya Tokyu Food Show’s Uoriki Sushi Counter

For fresh sushi at bargain-basement prices, head to Uoriki in the Tokyu Food Show depachika, inside Shibuya station. Don’t let the age of the chefs behind the counter fool you—these elderly gents are adept at molding the rice and slicing the seafood. We love the maguro zukushi with three parts of tuna—akamichutoroand ootoro—for just ¥1,190. B1 Tokyu Department Store, 2-24-1 Shibuya. Tel: 03-5428-3813. Open daily 10am-9pm. Nearest stn: Shibuyawww.uoriki.co.jp