Tokyo Table Trip

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Maybe because sushi restaurants are a face-to-face business, there are pros and cons to every restaurant.
The evaluation of a sushi restaurant is simply calculated as follows: "Taste affinity x Owner's affinity.
Even if the taste is 10 points, if the owner and the chef do not get along, the overall score will be 0.
On the other hand, if the taste is average but the owner and the chef are close friends, the restaurant will receive a score of 70 or so.
Like the above, depending on the multiplication of the scores, there is a considerable variation in the evaluation.
That is why you should not worry too much about what other people say about a sushi restaurant, and instead putting your own feelings first in judging whether a sushi restaurant is good or bad.
Among such sushi restaurants, there is one that is the most controversial.
Fans and antagonists are split down the middle, and a cold war is being played out on the Internet.
That restaurant is called Hashiguchi in Akasaka.
Will I become a fan of this highly controversial sushi restaurant?
Or will I become an antagonist?
Whichever way I go, I am sure to gain a lot.

Just the other day, I was walking toward the restaurant with this thought in mind.
The restaurant is located in a secluded area behind the Akasaka Imperial Palace, about a 10-minute walk from Akasaka-mitsuke Station.
As I opened the automatic door and entered the restaurant, I could smell the distinctive scent of a good sushi restaurant.
On the right is a waiting room.
The place is air-conditioned and very comfortable.
I waited for the restaurant to open in a relaxing atmosphere while admiring the cactus on the interior.
At 6:00 p.m., the friendly hostess came out and showed me to a room with a counter.
There were nine seats at the polished counter.
In the four cases of seeds on plates lined with bamboo grass on cooling coils, colorful fish were neatly arranged and looked very tasty.
A single-flower vase is placed behind the tsukeba, creating a dignified atmosphere.
Toshiro Hashiguchi, the rumored "osho" (the owner of the restaurant), looked straight at me and said, "Irasshaimase (welcome). Thank you for waiting.
Hashiguchi is a master sushi chef with 45 years of experience in this field.
After graduating from high school in Kagoshima, he moved to Tokyo to work as an office worker. He became a sushi chef when he was invited to work part-time at a sushi restaurant by an older coworker.
Starting at a sushi restaurant in town, he worked at several restaurants including "Kanpachi," a prestigious sushi school at that time, and then became an ace chef at "Sushi-dori Hama" in Nogizaka.
Then, in 1992, he moved to Ginza to join "Sushi Aoki" as an independent chef.
In 2011, he moved to the current location.
He has a great face like an actor with large eyes and nose.
His body resembles that of an athlete, and his well-developed glutes are clearly visible in his back view.
And his hands were as big and thick as gloves.
Craftsman's hands, I thought.

When Hashiguchi saw that I had ordered tea from the hostess, "Shall I make the sushi?' Hashiguchi asked.
It seems that this restaurant is very flexible and will accept either omakase or your choice.
'Yes, please give me all of today's sushi dishes," I said. 'Please give me all of today's sushi dishes. I'll leave the order up to you," I contnued.
Hashiguchi took out a flatfish from the case and made a brilliant nigiri with a few moves.
Then he brushed the surface of the sushi, which had been coated with nikiri, with his thick finger.
'Here you are, makogarei.' 
I immediately put the sushi on a long, kyoyaki plate.
What is this sushi?!
A single tear welled up in my eye.
It's too delicious...!
The rice was perfectly salted.
The sushi rice contained the natural flavor of the ingredients.
The balance between the two.
The temperature of human skin.
The lightness of the nigiri that crumbles in your mouth.
There is nothing to judge at all!
Hashiguchi saw that I was wiping away my tears, and he kept making sushi at a brisk pace.
'This is Hirame, here you go.' 
'This is Kombusame here you go.'
'This is fresh squid, here you go.'
'This is salmon roe, here you go.'
'These are asari clams, here you go.'
'This is kobashira, here you go.' 
'This is Akami, here you go.'
'This is Chutoro (medium fatty tuna), here you go.'
'This is Ootoro (fatty tuna), here you go.'
'This is Aji mackerel, here you go.'
'This is Kuruma Shrimp, here you go.'
'This is Sea urchin, here you go.'
'This is Sea eel, here you go.'
'This is Egg nigiri, here you go.'
The timing of his work while watching the customers' appetite is precise.
The highlights were Kohada, vinegar Aji mackerel, vinegar sardine, abalone, and the millet clam.
I cried again with the lingering taste of sweetness.
I have never had sushi like this.

Now, have I really become a fan of "Hashiguchi"?
Or have I become an antagonist?
There is no need to tell you.
I am a big fan!
It's too magnificent.
People say that sushi will sink or that it dances, but this is not the time to say such things.
Nowadays, there are plenty of other restaurants that serve sushi that sinks.
It is not a point of interest or noteworthy.
What is great about Hashiguchi is the exquisite balance between the sushi rice and the ingredients.
It's just that it's on a whole other level.
The natural flavor and sweetness of each fish is brought out to 120%.
There is no unpleasant smell.
Particularly, the shiny fish and shellfish are outstanding.
The craftsmanship is beyond compare.

As a novice but big fan here, let's examine what the antibodies have to say.
The most pointed out thing is the lack of sincerity in customer service.
It is true that Hashiguchi does not talk to customers more than necessary.
Their reactions are vague.
When I say, "Delicious! They do not react.
However, they are never unfriendly.
If you look at Hashiguchi's mouth when he is making sushi, you can see a smile on his face.
His expression is full of satisfaction.
It is as if he is saying to himself, "Delicious, delicious," as he lovingly makes the sushi.
I believe this is Hashiguchi's way of making sushi.
Incidentally, I was determined to leave a mark in Hashiguchi's heart when I asked him for 10 more pieces of sushi only a little after finishing the entire course .
Hashiguchi, as expected, rounded his eyes in surprise.
The seesaw game with the chef is one of the best parts of a sushi restaurant.
And if you do talk to him, he will tell you everything you need to know.
His casual attentiveness to the customers is also quite cool.
To a customer who spills soy sauce on the counter, he would say, "Don't worry, our counter will be clean even if we wipe it off later. Please don't worry about it."
To a repeating customer who complained that he couldn't get a reservation, he would say, "I wish I could get you a reserved seat for the year, but I'm"
When he sees a customer who is drunk and heated up and is about to take off his jacket, he immediately calls the hostess and asks her to help him.
He never neglects his customers.

On the way home, I told him that I admired him for being able to run a restaurant like this without any help from anyone else.
Hashiguchi grinned and said, "We don't have a lot of young people coming in."
"But now that I'm getting older, I realize that life is like a pendulum. There are good things and bad things. But if you work hard, you will be rewarded. That's what I think."
As I witnessed Hashiguchi's way of life, in which he sublimates the purity of his craftsmanship in the depths of Akasaka, I felt as if I had seen something that I was losing in my life.
That is how every single piece of sushi Hashiguchi made, every single word he spun, and every second that passed by, came to me with a purity that was almost suffocating.
The sincerity of his sushi craftsmanship still burns on my retina with a long aftertaste, like the sun that never sets.

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Comments Icon comments 20b52f1dd59ace07b92433da2a385e6f7392eb2937032eebc2a0bd0b67c69516 12


what's the booking policy for Yamazaki now? Is it intro only? Looking to book for Dec 2023 if it's still possible!

about 1 year ago 1675539703

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I have had the pleasure of visiting Hashiguchi twice, in 2017 and 2019, and would happily have visited more often if not for it being slightly tricky to secure a reservation as a foreigner. It is truly a special place. Purity and sincerity are a perfect choice of words. I agree that the hikarimono and shellfish are truly wonderful. On my first visit when I admired the hikarimono chef was thoughtful enough to serve me iwashi nigiri plainly and then with vinegar to show me more fully the different tastes of the day's fish.

I greatly admire the choice to have staggered seating, flexibility with the course, and the level of attention to the enjoyment of the guests. It is such a different experience to the more typical set seating and set menu with flurries of ostumami. It's surely the most tranquil and calm place to enjoy delicious sushi.

almost 2 years ago 1658260960

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I also LOVED Hashiguchi.

Saito-san (@Leo Saito), what other restaurants would you recommend (maybe even for lunch) for those who love Hashiguchi and hikarimono?

Here is my review:

Sushi Hashiguchi
Tokyo, JP

Reservation obtained through hotel concierge.

Sushi Hashiguchi was LEGENDARY.

Unfortunately, the chef doesn't allow any pictures. He doesn't accept any awards either so he has no Michelin stars.

Sushi Hashiguchi is located in the residential suburban neighborhood of Akasaka. You walk into the restaurant and the world around you fades away.

Sushi Hashiguchi is run by a husband, wife team - sweet, friendly people who deliver a wonderful experience.

Sushi Hashiguchi has a 4 . 32 on Tabelog and ranks in the top 15 sushi restaurants in Tokyo. Yet they have no Michelin stars (anti-establishment type of place) and does not allow photography. The wife did provide me with a pencil and paper to record my notes.

We arrived a few minutes early and sat in a small waiting area. When it was time for the meal, the wife came to gather us and led us to the main room with a beautiful sushi counter set for 8. We sat with a Thai family and were later joined by Japanese patrons. I chatted with the girl next to me throughout the meal about traveling, anime, restaurants, and Japan. She was a great companion for the evening.

There was one thing about the sushi counter that really caught my eye - how the ingredients were displayed and presented to the customer rather than facing the chef. There is one picture of this online. The cases were filled with shellfish and fish - four types of hikarimono staring me in the face. I chatted with the chef for a bit in Japanese and did my best to translate for the family to my left. Itamae Hashiguchi asked if we wanted sushi and sashimi and if we preferred omakase (a la carte seemed like an option albeit an inferior one). We agreed to sushi and sashimi and waited for the meal to begin.

The Meal:

-Aji (fresh) prepared with soy sauce, scallion, ginger
-Kuruma ebi (boiled w/tail)
-Kawahagi in liver sauce

-Hirame (kombujime)
-Sumi ika
-Aji (pickled)
-Chutoro (Aomori)
-Otoro (Aomori)
-Shime Saba
-Su ika
-Tekka maki

Menu: ~50k yen (we had been expecting 30k yen so we were surprised but there was no itemized receipt so we're not sure what happened).

Whereas Hakkoku featured mostly fish, Hashiguchi featured a wide array of seafood in multiple preparations.

The sashimi course was magnificent. Generous portions of the highest quality seafood - dishes like 3 thick cuts of chutoro that knocked our socks off, aoyagi with excellent texture, a massive clump of fresh, thick slices of aji quickly marinated in scallion, ginger, and soy sauce, kuruma ebi cooked to perfection with slight sweetness, and kawahagi mixed with liver sauce. This was the most impressive collection of sashimi and raw fish preparations I had ever eaten.

The meal continued with the sushi course and featured a combination of new fish and repeated fish in new preparations. Even the repeated items felt new. The chef served a number of nigiri, of which some highlights were his sumi ika, aji, chutoro, and otoro.

Itamae Hashiguchi is known for his "dancing sushi" and his nigiri compress once he puts them on the counter due to the light pressure he uses when constructing the nigiri. It is a fun phenomenon to witness. Additionally, his rice is very lightly seasoned - the only negative I could find in the meal. That said, each chef has their own style - my preference for a bit more seasoning did not interfere with my ability to enjoy the nigiri.
Our meal at Sushi Hashiguchi was a symphony. With 30+ years of experience, Itamae Hashiguchi is a true master of his craft and delivers a world-class meal for an appropriate price. It is the best sushi I have ever eaten. If you get the chance, eat here.


I heard about Sushi Hashiguchi from Eric at The Pursuit of Food Perfection.

He ate at Sushi Hashiguchi in 2015. It's amazing how consistent these Tokyo restaurants remain compared to the steady decline of NYC eateries.

about 1 year ago 1675434775

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Sorry, wrong thread - please delete or ignore.

over 1 year ago 1663955549

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Saito San, planning to visit Tokiwazushi later this year thanks to your great writeup. May I ask what your thoughts are on Nakajyo, as I might consider visiting both during the same trip? Do they really often purchase the best fish compared to shops like Kiyota, Arai, etc? Or is there another restaurant in Yokohama that you think is more interesting and worth checking out at this time? Thanks!

over 1 year ago 1663955518

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