If you remember only one thing, remember this: Go straight here. Sushi Sawada is tucked away in a third-floor office location that’s not easy to find, but good God, is it worth the hunt. The six-seat restaurant has two seatings, one at lunch and one at dinner (so get your hotel concierge to secure a reservation). Guests will be hosted by chef Sawada and his wife, no one else. While chopsticks are offered, the Sawada-san’s preferred method for eating his sushi is with your hands. The twenty-course omakase will take you somewhere around two and half hours to complete, but the experience of eating quite possibly the finest sashimi and sushi in the world will stay with you for all your days.
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chūō
Sushi Dai is located at Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Fish Market, where chefs and tourists show up at the crack of dawn to get their hands on the freshest fish in the world. You can either get up at 4 a.m. to get there by 5 a.m., or just let your jet lag work for you and stay up all night (sake and beer help in this effort). For around $40, you can have an omakase meal of the freshest sushi anywhere. Afterward, tour the market and watch the auctions for tuna, salmon, and other cuts of fish. Also be sure to check out the Aritsugu knife shop around the corner. But move fast—Tsukiji is scheduled to be relocated starting in the fall of 2018.
Sushi is deceiving. Thinly sliced raw fish dressed in a spoonful of sauce or placed atop a mound of rice sounds simple. Enthusiasts know better. Achieving the delicate balance of flavors that complement but don’t overwhelm the fish is a complex art form. Chef Takaaki Sugita keeps his omakase menu interesting by including unusual cuts like ankimo (monkfish liver), iwashi (sardine rolls), and his famous kinmedai (golden eye snapper)—a prized fish in Japan. Sugita had his heart set on becoming a sushi master since his school days. The twelve years of training are discernible in his impeccably seasoned and sliced fish. It’s a Michelin-starred restaurant, so be sure to book well in advance. Images courtesy of luxeat.com.