The Sushi Sho Mafia Sweeping Over Tokyo
The Sushi Sho group has been a powerful presence in Tokyo's sushi scene for the past few years.
Chef Nakazawa, whose name is well-known across Japan as one of the most respected sushi chefs, secured his firm grip on the heart of Japan's cooking scene with his unique style, refined over many years of trial and error. His unique techniques are as follows: 1) Use cured (aged) fish; 2) Offer both nigiri sushi and side dishes; 3) Use either red or white vinegar seasoning in rice depending on the fish being prepared.
Unfortunately, Chef Nakazawa, the head of the Sushi Sho group, has left for Hawaii on his mission to "recreate quality Edo-mae sushi using fish from overseas," but you can still enjoy the new standard for Edo-mae sushi set by "Nakazawa Ryu" in the restaurants of his apprentices across Tokyo.
"Sushi Sho" spans over 30 different restaurants where you can enjoy nigiri sushi and sides made with fresh seafood by skilled chefs, and they are great starting points for beginners who aren't very familiar with the world of high-quality sushi.
Below we'll be introducing the main shops from Tokyo's premier group of sushi chefs for sushi fans across the world planning to visit Tokyo soon.
#1 Yotsuya Sushi Sho
This is the main location for the Sushi Sho group, cared for by Chef Nakazawa for many years. It's currently run by Chef Keita Katsumata, the young hope for the group who was Nakazawa's second in command for many years. Chef Katsumata also has experience working at "Kitcho Arashiyama," a famous kappo restaurant. He has tried a variety of new ideas of his own while still faithfully following Nakazawa's style, and we look forward to what he may achieve in the future.
#2 Takumi Shingo
This restaurant is run by Chef Shingo Takahashi, the "head" of the Sushi Sho group who was Chef Nakazawa's right-hand-man for around 15 years. As it is the restaurant in the group that most faithfully replicates the Nakazawa style, it's highly regarded by sushi gourmands. The iconic dish at Takumi Shingo is its tuna. Their exquisite tuna nigiri are cured to bring out the best of the tuna's fragrance, and we're looking forward to visiting during the winter, when tuna is in season.
#3 Sushi Sho Saito
This restaurant is run by Chef Toshio Saito, and it was supported by Chef Nakazawa just shortly after the opening of Yotsuya Sushi Sho. It, along with Takumi Shingo, are the group's highest-ranked restaurants by gourmands. Chef Saito has experience working in New York and is proficient in English, so he has a large foreign following as well. The side dishes that Chef Saito, who has an extensive knowledge of types of fish, expertly weaves between his pieces of sushi are top class in Tokyo. We highly recommend this restaurant to sake lovers.
#4 Sushi Murase
This restaurant is run by the group's "young hope." Despite having not studied directly below Chef Nakazawa, this restaurant's young chef has a firm grasp on the "Sushi Sho technique," learned from other restaurants in the group. Chef Murase, who is still young for a chef and owner, is very selective, and he makes use of 3 different types of soy sauce depending on the fish in question. Sushi Murase is also open for lunch, which is unusual for restaurants in the Sushi Sho group, so it's comparatively accessible. It makes for a great lunch stop while sightseeing around Roppongi Hills.
#5 Takumi Tatsuhiro
Chef Tatsuhiro Nishi opened this restaurant in 2010 after training at Yotsuya Sushi Sho. The rice shaped by the restaurant's modest chef is incredibly delicious, and I've heard that the rice he uses is a carefully selected blend of Sasanishiki rice and Sasashigure rice. Unfortunately, the restaurant's omakase course that used to be 16,000 yen now costs 20,000 yen, but it's still great to have a "Sushi Sho" group restaurant at Shinjuku Station. An elegant dinner here makes for a great ending to a day shopping in Shinjuku.
#6 Ichibancho Teruya
This restaurant is run by Chef Teruya Iida, who trained at "Sushi Sho Saito." Chef Iida, who is very meticulous when making nigiri sushi, uses rice that is comparatively al dente in the Sushi Sho group. It's a lovely finish, in which the rice just falls apart in your mouth.
Even if you end up drinking plenty from the restaurant's wide variety of available sake, its cost performance is the best in the group at 25,000 yen. Additionally, the owner spent his high school years in New York, so he's fluent in English, making this a great stop for foreign tourists as well.
#7 Sushi Sho Masa
This restaurant is #1 within the group with regards to number of foreign tourist visitors. Its omakase course can sometimes exceed over 40 items with great quality, so you end up drinking more and more.... I always end up drinking too much when I come here.
The restaurant is located in the heart of the city, and it's even open until late at night, which is unusual for sushi restaurants, so it's a very accessible restaurant. I end up visiting night after night for my favorite dish, kohada.
#8 Fudomae Sushi Iwasawa
This is the newest restaurant in the group, opened in March of 2016 by Chef Iwasawa, who was the second-in-command at "Sushi Sho Saito" for a long time. The restaurant's dishes carefully adhere to the Saito style, earning it high marks from gourmands. It's a welcoming environment, perhaps because of the owner's warm disposition. I'm sure that in no time at all it will become an extremely popular restaurant where reservations are hard to come by. Be sure to visit soon if you're hoping to stop by!