Friday, March 6, 2015

Bikkuri Sushi, Shin Yurigaoka (びっくり寿司 新百合ケ丘店)

I'll just get this joke out of the way up front: "This place is surprisingly good!"

Did you get that? Didja? Huh?

This particular branch in Shinyuri is a funny one of the 12 in the chain because it closes earliest (10:30, not 4 AM like many of them) and it offers delivery. It also has a magnificent sign outside, which is not only 40 feet high and lit up like a landing beacon, but also rotates.
Good heavens, look at those tasty treats.

Oh, there's ample parking as well, either on the parking deck under the sign or else in the lot across the street. This, my friends, is country living.
And this entry is like you're going to be whisked into another time and place. It's a bit humble-grand, considering what's inside.
And what's inside is a big crab. And a big eel on the floor of the tank (is that an anago?). Mr. Crab, as Peanut would call him, was very genki, climbing all around in search of escape from his cruel, glassy prison. He knows what's coming for him.
What's coming for me is the menu. This is a big place, which probably helps them to have a bigger menu, and it's also on the edge of where the city becomes the country, which makes it more of a destination. There was families partying together on the Saturday night when I snuck out for a meditative snack and flask.
What's a flask, you ask? Eh, you know what I mean. One of the most surprising (!) aspects of this place is the drink menu. They have more than a dozen decent labels of saki on offer, and another 6 as rotating specials. The master who served me had 'saki' listed on his nametag, so we had a chat about it, and he allowed as how they had some farther-off-menu stuff too. He showed me a fancy bottle of Hassen that he had in the fridge under the counter. Funny, a 4-go bottle with a different label, and he wasn't offering it to me, he was just bragging that they had it.

They put a cup in a plastic masu on a saucer, and pour until the overflow just hits the saucer. It's probably no more quantity, but it's a nice effect.

A really funny thing, fancy bottles of saki. Regular folks are really impressed by 'rare' saki, even though it's both cheap and easy to get if you look in the right places.

Pictured at left is my particular chef, looking in the wrong place.
And pictured at right is the starter, a nikogori of I don't know what and I only had one bite because sometimes you just don't have to eat things you don't like that much. Although those sometimeses are awfully rare in my case.
Like many other things, I have been Japanesified over the years into thinking there's a right way to do things. I don't hold with eating tuna first, for example. And you know all my theories on structuring your ordering so that the food comes in a nice sequence. Kaiseki flows that way for a reason, and I'm never amused when someone order fried food in the first round. It's a trap for young players.

So here you have what looks like a piece of snapper of some description (there are so many, who can tell?) or sea bass, but it's rare to see bass on a sushi menu (sea what I did their?). And a scallop and a red clam. I always order these things.

Early-season spring bonito. Late-season buri. The latter was so nice I ordered it twice. Which illustrates another of my philosophies - you can find accidental greatness anywhere. Recognizing it, enjoying it, and continuing to look for it are what makes life worth living.
I always get shiny / blue fish later in the day. And I always get mackerel. Kohada, not so much, but yes tonight.
I always get medium tuna too. Big fatty is too fatty for me, while middling fatty has the fish and the flavor and the fat, and is excellent when you get it on a good day.

That's it. A quick set of sushis and a jug of rice wine, with a good walk before and after, and plenty of time alone to meditate on life.
Like these apartments. So many stories, most of them sad.


  1. Thanks for the review, but it isn't "Saki" it's "Sake" !

  2. Wow, you're right. You would think that after 15 years of visiting and living in Japan and 137 blog posts where I noted that I drank 'rice wine', I would have figured out how to spell that. Thanks for the tip!