Friday, March 11, 2011

Suzuki Sushi, Hongo (鮨すず木)

Down near the end of Hongo Ginza, past the fancy cured-meat purveyors and extremely hearty ramen dispensatories, a quiet little house with a fading noren waits. With bamboo. And the sign says 'sushi', but there's no menu.

The 'design aesthetic', such as it is, is the timeless one that pervades Japanese restaurants of a certain type - earth-colored walls with wood trim, little wall decoration, an accent here and there. Suzuki san has gone with a little flower vase as an accent, and the contents made me laugh. Do you recognize them? Flowering wasabi stalks. Seasonal, interesting, perhaps destined for eating later - a perfect match.

If it seems dull inside, it's just to keep from distracting you from the food. It doesn't come across in these pictures, but the display in the case is really appetizing (and cooled with fresh ice, not a mechanical fridge). The freshness is palpable, or visible, or perhaps even risible, especially the silver fish on the right and the white ones down on the left. I was trying to play it cool, because this feels like a very good place, so I just snapped quick pictures when Suzuki san wasn't looking.

Then I blew all that by getting individual shots of all the nigiri. I got the upper set plus an additional piece of snapper, and I was veeery happy with the results. The set included chu and oh toro, plus excellent snapper - none of those being guaranteed in lunch sets. The akagai was everything it should be. The egg, delicious. The saba, interesting with that thin seaweed layer, and I'm very glad I ordered it separately.

The roll was really good too. Hard to say why when there's so little going on there...but it tasted special somehow.

After taking all these pictures, Suzuki san was visibly but politely thinking I was a nut, so I went the full monty by asking about dinner. And then he was visibly uncomfortable talking about the price, but suffice to say that you can have this quality for lunch at a quarter the price of a (more elaborate) dinner. This is a bit of a hidden gem, and neatly inhabits the space of sushi places I want to find - not at the crazy top end of price, but with the occasional top-end quality item surprising you.

Simple, humble, and very, very good.

So that was a pleasant way to spend lunch after a hectic morning. Of course things got a little crazy that afternoon.

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