Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro – Tokyo, Japan
If you’ve seen the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi then you’re well aware of who Jiro Ono is. I’m completely convinced now that it’s nearly impossible to get into his sushi restaurant. However, we DID get a reservation at his son Takashi Ono’s restaurant, Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro in Roppongi. There are 8 seats at the counter and rules to go along with dinner. No perfume and you must be on time or they will cancel your reservation after 30 minutes. The rice is purposely prepared so that it’s warm when you eat it (side note – if at any time you feel yourself getting full, tell the chef and he’ll make your rice serving smaller going forward – big help considering how much you have to eat!). The ambiance is not that of your typical sushi restaurant in the States. No music or mood lighting. It’s all about the sushi. Anything else is purely a distraction. Chef Takashi Ono was very personable and talked to us during the whole meal. Was it worth the price and hype? Absolutely!
Our dinner consisted of the following: Flounder sashimi, clam sashimi, abalone (awabi) sashimi, marinated mackerel sashimi, flounder nigiri, squid (ika) nigiri, needle fish (sayori) nigiri, lean tuna (maguro) nigiri, medium fatty (chutoro) tuna nigiri, fatty (otoro) tuna nigiri, sardine family fish nigiri, large scallop (hotate) nigiri, raw horse mackerel (aji) nigiri, Ikura nigiri, tiger prawn (kuruma ebi) nigiri, Japanese geoduck (mirugai) nigiri, octopus (tako) nigiri, sea urchin (uni) nigiri, hard shell clam nigiri, small scallops nigiri, saltwater eel nigiri, egg nigiri.
Sushi Kashiba – Seattle, WA
I had the pleasure of eating here on my birthday this year…what a treat! This is Chef Shiro Kashiba’s new sushi venture located next to Pike Place Market where the old Campagne used to be.
If you don’t know anything about Chef Shiro, let me give you a quick little breakdown. Before starting his own restaurants in Seattle, Shiro spent many years working alongside his sushi mentor Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi), who many consider to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He eventually made his way to America, convinced that in the Pacific Northwest he could keep the integrity of the way sushi is made in Tokyo. He was right! Fast forward to today – he has opened four restaurants, Sushi Kashiba being the only one he owns today, and has been nominated for the James Beard Award twice.
My husband and I decided to go with the “omakase” menu – chef’s choice sushi dinner. Overall it was enough food, not too much, not too little. Everything was outstanding!
Sugarfish – Beverly Hills, CA
BEST. SUSHI. EVER.
My mouth is salivating as I think about my meal at Sugarfish. Honestly, it was the best sushi I’ve ever had. I may not know everything about sushi but I will tell you that I’ve eaten it around the world. From The Tsukiji Market in Tokyo to Seattle, I’ve sampled a lot of “the best” and this by far is THE BEST out there!
There are three menus to choose from: Trust Me/Lite, Trust Me and The Nozawa. Think of it as small, medium and large. You can order a la carte but price-wise, you get more for your money with the prefix menus and you will most definitely want to add more to it once you’re done. I chose the Trust Me and my husband got The Nozawa. Each included edamame, tuna sashimi, albacore sushi, salmon sushi, yellowtail sushi, halibut sushi, a toro hand roll and a blue crab hand roll. The Nozawa also included a “Daily Special” as well as a few more pieces of the sushi. My favorite was the tuna sashimi and the albacore sushi. The sushi is served nigiri style (fish on top of the rice) and the rice was warm (I’ve never experienced that and it was such a great surprise). The fish couldn’t have been better quality. It seriously melted in my mouth. I remember 1) being speechless as I ate it, 2) telling my husband that you wouldn’t even need teeth to eat this sushi and 3) that if I had to choose my last meal on Earth this would be it! They don’t take reservations so go put your name in and have a drink or walk around. Worth the wait for sure!
Kondo – Tokyo, Japan
I knew this was a 2 Michelin star tempura restaurant but I didn’t know much more than that. Surprisingly I was able to make reservations just a day in advance for 6 people which was even more shocking when I saw how small the place was. There was absolutely no English signage so had it not been for our taxi driver pointing it out to us we probably never would have found it.
Once inside we were seated around the tempura bar with a front row seat to tempura delights being fried in front of us (also Chef Fumio Kondo unbeknownst to us). With three menu choices to choose from, we decided to go big and ordered the largest of the three, the “Yomoji” menu which included – an appetizer of 2 Japanese dishes, sashimi, tempura (7 vegetables, 4 fish, 3 shrimp), and Kakiage (a mixture of scallops and honewort fried in batter). It was an aggressive order but our thought was “go big or go home!”.
Highlights were the shrimp, tuna sashimi, and tempura vegetables. My least favorite dish was hands down the first appetizer which included two types of raw fish (which were very good) and then a large snail and fish liver. I’m not a fan of liver to begin with and this one didn’t do anything to change my mind. That being said I tried it to be polite and moved on:)
With each piece of tempura that we were served, we were told to eat half with a little salt and the other half dipped in the tempura sauce which had fresh diakon in it. Overall I enjoyed the simplicity of the salt. Everything was so fresh and cooked to absolute perfection. Watching the chefs delicately prepare each dish was a treat.
Sashimi, fish liver (I believe monkfish) and sea snail
Steamed tofu with yam, gingko nuts, and potato
Kisu – flat white fish
Some sort of fish/eel wrapped in shiso
Fruit for dessert
Matsuhisa – Aspen, CO
On our recent trip to Aspen for the Food & Wine Festival, I made sure to secure reservations at top restaurants in town to ensure an amazing culinary adventure from morning to night. On our second night there we ate at Nobu’s Matsuhisa which was PACKED! And full of culinary celebrities which was a fun treat. Our meal was incredible from start to finish. I would definitely order everything we had that night if we went back! Earlier in the day when we went to see Bobby Flay do a demonstration we happened to sit next to Nobu himself so I leaned over and told him we were eating at Matsuhisa that night and he couldn’t have been nicer. Talked to us for a while, even showed us photos of his granddaughter. Needless to say he was so friendly when he saw us there that night and even sat down and chatted us up for a while.
Rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce
Mixed mushroom toban-yaki
King crab tempura “Amazu” sweet ponzu
There were so many different mochi flavors to choose from but we settled on root beer (amazing!), mango and green tea. Perfect dessert!
How cute is Nobu?! Love him!
Morimoto – Napa, CA
My husband and I were lucky enough to have Morimoto do the sushi for our wedding welcome party but we had never been to the restaurant in downtown Napa itself. I recently went with a friend and I’m already dying to go back. I didn’t even have any sushi! I started with the Spicy King Crab with tobanjan aioli and micro-cilantro…wowzers!!! I can see why my friend had me order my own and didn’t want to share:) It was rich but not too crazy of a portion if you go with a lighter entrée which we did. Otherwise it would be a great starter to share with a group.
For our entrée we split the Tempura Calamari Salad which was perfect! The calamari was cooked perfectly and not too heavy considering it was fried. Yum!
To end the meal we splurged on the “S’mores” which I think was new to the menu. Definitely a great choice…I don’t think there was a morsel left on the plate:)