Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yanone Sushi, Kanda (矢の根寿司)

Boring post, good sushi. No, really good sushi. Great value sushi.

If you know some of my proclivities, you'll know how much I like my restaurant map. And I also really enjoy seeing it fill out over time (Shinjuku recommendations very welcome!). There's one region of the greater office area map that's been sadly lacking in 'fill', so I explored it a bit more today. And now I've got a nice fish head pin to add to the map!

Being called 'Nishikicho', I imagine that this part of Kanda was once given over to weaving (like the region of Kyoto where the big food market and the smallish weaving museum are now). Today it's given over to resolutely dull streets filled with small offices (granted, this is a good description for several square miles of Tokyo). Restaurants nestle in a bit; there aren't that many and they don't look that good, which is why I was double surprised when I saw a sushi place. It looked new and very spry, and the set lunches promised serious cost performance regardless of the quality of the fish.

The inside is timeless - in the sense that I think it looks the same any time of day, and you can't be sure what time it is outside. There's a sort of late-afternoon light about it, and the intimacy is heightened by the small counter and jumble of little rooms. I loved the huge fish-painted plate behind the chef as he worked at the counter. If I saw one of those, and could think of a use for it, I'd be compelled to buy it.

Lunch sets go 1-1.3-1.5, with slight differences in the fish selections and easy justification of the price (e.g. the mid-to-top transition featured middle tuna instead of normal red, your choice of higher grade silver fish (aji or saba instead of kohada), higher grade of snapper (kinme instead of ma) and 2 extra pieces of white fish. Any of these things is worth Y200 by themselves. My Y1300 set was, let me see, red tuna (excellent, practically chutoro), egg, scallop, eel (only lightly steamed, skin on, sauced. Dissolvingly soft, a little weird, but interesting), snapper, isaki (isn't this called 'grunt' or something in English?), shad (kohada is, isn't it?) and one thing I've forgotten, plus three pieces of slim-roll. Of these one was the new-to-me and quite interesting mountain potato with plum and shiso - had to confirm that with the chef, who seemed pleased to confirm that it's an oddity. The smooth and sticky texture of the potato stays in your mouth after the rice and seaweed are gone. Not in a bad way, unless you hate that kind of thing.

More to the point, the fish was very good. You could pay a lot more and get a lot less at other places, so why not make the trek out to Yanone? I'm only slightly disappointed to learn that it's part of a group. It's only a group of three, and they're all around Nihonbashi/Kanda, so you can feel better about that. One of the others is my last random sushi encounter, Sushi Hazu, just of Chuo Dori in Nihonbashi - a little more expensive, a little less fresh, at least on that visit. Scratch that, a lot more expensive and a lot less fresh now that I look back at the post. Good thing someone thought to write that down...


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