Tokyo Table Trip

Logo discover 8a060a5a25d78a2d81322b0a16884eb1c05869ebadb772a16350e198984e5cfb

As I walked from Tatebayashi station in Gunma to Sushi Obana, I couldn’t help feeling a bit worried. I asked myself many times if I had the correct address. It would be a major disaster if I got the address wrong as in that area, trains are less frequent. There was no way I could make it to the restaurant in time unless I got the address right. I rechecked the address many times when I was planning this visit, but as I approached the venue, I couldn’t help feeling that it didn’t look like there would be any sushi restaurant nearby. At the last turn around the block, I became even more nervous. I had reached the address, but it didn’t look like a sushi restaurant. It looked like a home office or a retail shop. I was prepared for the worst. I read the metal sign: It said Sushi Obana. What a relief! I had arrived 30 minutes before its opening time at 12:30.

When I walked in, I was greeted warmly by Obana-San and his wife, who are great hosts. Their warm hospitality put me at ease right away. In all top sushi restaurant, sushi chefs are in favor of warm lighting. Sushi Obana’s interior is unorthodox in that it is filled with lots of natural light. I’m surprised by how down to earth Obana-San is. Obana-San speaks good English and made a very kind effort to explain things, although it was obvious that he might not have seen many foreign visitors at his shop.

My meal started with Junsai, young lotus leaves commonly found in Zhe cai 浙菜 (one of eight major Chinese cuisines representing cooking in Zhejiang province), and abalone broth jelly, which opened my taste buds with natural umami flavor. It’s obvious that Chef Obana preferred his cooking to have all-natural flavors. Then, boiled Ezo abalone was served. Obana-San announced ‘this is my signature. No salt nor additives, just boiled.’ Abalone was soft and had natural deep umami flavor. Then, more o tsunami was served, including one of the biggest botan ebi. Its surface was so shiny. Then, he brought out a really beautiful box of uni with no. 1 sign. It must be auctioned as top quality from the market. He said something like ‘uni parfait’ and prepared uni on top of uni risotto. I enjoyed his o tsumami with all-natural flavors. His delicious Shako has lots of roe inside.

After a series of tsumami, he started serving nigiri. All of his neta was of top quality, especially his tuna. He told me that he shared the tuna with his good friend, Nakajo, in Yokohama. In the middle of the nigiri, he started making gunkan. Then, he brought out the vessel containing something that looked like caviar, but it was not caviar. As much as I love food, biology, and marine science has also been my interest. I was so inspired when I saw something like Sea Angel ‘cleone’ in Hokkaido for the first time. Anyway, Obana-San introduced his next ingredients as Taraba Tamago, namely, the eggs of the King Crab. I did not know that this could be on the fish market. The clutch of crab eggs are hidden under the Taraba crab’s abdominal flap, and it takes a year before her larvae are released. I did not think it would be available commercially. It has a really deep umami flavor and lovely texture. His squid mille-feuille nigiri just melted in my mouth. Between the nigiri, he served one kaiware (radish sprouts ) nigiri. Maybe this was a palate cleanser. Then, he brought out another highly-priced murasaki uni with 'No. 1' written on the box. It had a perfect shape. When Obana-San presented his highly prized ingredients, he was not disagreeable at all. Many of today’s famous chefs have an attitude because they know how famous they are and that their material is top level. The highlight is on them, and their customers are the audience coming to see the stars and their greatness. Obana-San regards his customer as the star, and he likes to serve his customer with the best available ingredients he can find. I almost sensed his thought that his customers are the stars and that he wished them to enjoy the meal.

My lunch bill was nearly 30,000 Yen, without the drinks. It is pricy for lunch, but I got what I paid for, as all the ingredients were top-class, and it included three different servings of uni. His customers were people in the neighborhood, plus hardcore Japanese sushi geeks in the region, who made the pilgrimage to savor one of the best neta dishes in the country.

Booking at Sushi Obana was not a fuss, unlike booking other top sushi restaurant. Just ask your hotel to call ahead. I know that it is quite a ride from Tokyo, but if you factor in all the time that one spends chasing and following up, visiting Sushi Obana is much less stressful and less time-consuming. Sushi Obana has the top neta, and it deserves to be visited at least once. I know that Sushi Obana is one of the best-kept secrets of some celebrated food bloggers. Leo was the one who generously unveiled Sushi Obana to TTT readers and who kindly asked for my first-hand report.

As Sushi Obana is a bit far, a day trip from Tokyo is possible for a hardcore sushi fan. I would recommend the Ashikaga Flower Park in spring, as a side tour. You could also have an early breakfast or brunch at Shibahama らーめん 芝浜 in Kiryu (please check their opening hours before planning the trip, as their soup may run out before 1pm,) before a nice dinner at Sushi Obana. Or one could stop at Sushi Obana for dinner on the way back from Tokyo, after a long day in Niigata.

◆Sushi Obana
Address:5-1 Otemachi, Tatebayashi-city, Gunma Prefecture
Phone: 0276-72-1604
Nearest Station:15 minutes on foot from Tobu Isezaki Line's "Tatebayashi Station"
Hours:
[Tue〜Sat]
17:30~21:30
[Sun]
12:30〜17:00
Closed: Mondays

Writer:Localtaste

Local taste had taken a long journey searching for delicious meals long before the dawn of social media, roaming from one city to another from the Far East to the west, over 160 cities in four continents and more than 400,000 miles during the last 37 years.
His dining spots over thousands of restaurants range from eating in a hole in the wall in Asia to all ten Michelin 3-star restaurants in Paris. More than decades was spent on chasing for perfect xiao long bao.
Because he is not in food business nor food writer, his article won’t be found elsewhere but exclusively on tokyotabletrip.com as a tribute to Leo Saito’s altruistic deed to help international visitors discover the beauty of Japanese cuisine.

Add a comment

  • Add photos

Comments Icon comments 20b52f1dd59ace07b92433da2a385e6f7392eb2937032eebc2a0bd0b67c69516 4


guest

Hello saito-san and localtaste and everyone, i would like to ask a few questions regarding Sushi Obana as i am going to try to make a reservation at this restaurant.

1. Would July be an OK month to visit this sushi restaurant?

2. On Sunday lunch what time does this restaurant open? In the article above it says 12:30pm however on Tabelog it says 12:00pm.

3. If my flight out of Tokyo Narita airport is at 6:30pm (which means I have to be there by 5:00pm at the latest), will it be possible for me to visit Sushi Obana then go straight to Narita airport from there by train?

thank you very much

6 months ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 3
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

guest

1. I believe it would still be okay. Am sure obana-san would still have some wonderful materials. But the hon-maguro and ikura might not be the most in-season stuff.

2. I just checked the namecard i gotten from obana-san. Lunch starts at 12.30pm. Not every information on tabelog is correct.

3. A meal there would take arnd 1hr 30mins to 1 hr 45mins. If you rush off immediately after a meal, you should still be able to make it by train.

6 months ago
Eab8dbbd 6732 4948 b852 ca447c818547

localtaste

1. Yes. July is summer. U can enjoy abalone, white fish, and uni.

2. Obana opens at 12:30pm. But u could ask if they could start at 12pm so u can catch your flight. Starting at 12:30 would be too risky.

From my experience, I booked 12:30 but I arrived 11:55am as I was afraid that I might get lost so I went there early. At other sushi ya, they wouldn’t seat me but Obana seated me and the meal could start almost right away. Obana San Andreas his wife are super friendly.

3. How experience are u traveling in Japan? The trip from Gunma would require some train changes and the schedules doesn’t run frequently so leaving the shop early doesn’t help as much. If u are experienced, it might be ok. U need to be very precise and can’t miss any tight connection. If not, I don’t recommend it.

One alternative is to take bus but there’s only one bus. It might be possible yet doesn’t leave much time cushion. If there’s accident on the road or delay, u could miss your flight. In case u could do online check in / mobile boarding pass, this could help.

6 months ago
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

guest

Thank you very much @guest and @localtaste!

6 months ago

csm198611

Have heard that Chef Obana graduated from Kyubey, and then became the head chef of Tokami who coached Hiro san of Hakkoku. Is it true? Seems like a very impressive CV!

10 months ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 1
Aoh14gglkxvqb czer66gl7ufqrkfopllbrv4zgnufrf s50

Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

Yes, Obama-san trained at Kyubey and then was involved with opening "Sushi Tokai". (The name "Tokami" is said to have been created using the first initial of the wives of the chefs at "Singapore Aoki", "Yamayuki", and "Obama".). It seems he has a very good pipeline with the largest tuna merchant in Japan "Yamayuki".

10 months ago

guest

Hello Saito San, I would like to know this as well. However, I will be visiting Japan in early October. Could you please tell me when does their Ikura season start and end? Thank you!

11 months ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 3
Aoh14gglkxvqb czer66gl7ufqrkfopllbrv4zgnufrf s50

Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

I believe salmon roe nigiri will be offered during visits throughout October.

11 months ago
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

guest

So it won't be available in November?

11 months ago
Eab8dbbd 6732 4948 b852 ca447c818547

localtaste

@guest if the chef doesn’t feel it’s the best, he might not serve it.

11 months ago

Leo Saito

chief editor, TokyoTableTrip

The "ikura (salted salmon roe)" that makes its entrance into the season from now on and overflows with this restaurant's creativity is a wonderful neta that is given rave reviews by all the visitors to this restaurant. If you are a sushi fan, the ikura is worth a visit for one meal!

about 1 year ago

Icon thumbup c50a5e69a172939d8f181c07defd87a40f8b5ea08aa95e4f5248647e539d2f91 Like!
Icon rply g 931a7da4f2fb72f6c47b91ce1a6ff6f0d639792b78b042247406a09dbc121382 Reply 3
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

guest

I think the title of this article is wrong?

about 1 year ago
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

guest

How long their ikura will be served? I plan to visit Obana on November, is it still a good period?

Thank you so much

12 months ago
User default d6f8776075bbcbf91b3886fd7b0aeb86c94956e290bd9b9223466618a8cd47a2

guest

Second that. How long their ikura will be served? I'm planning late november japan trip

11 months ago