- Cost: JPY 25,000, before drinks
- Size: <12 seats
- Reserved: About 5 weeks in advance
Miyaha came recommended by a sushi chef whom I hold in high regard. The sushi-yasan there is 9th generation at his craft and rumored to be hanging up his knives in the near future. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I arrived for a reservation and a half-full sushi counter to be served not by the master (as all the other guests were), but one of his three itamae. This may have been due to the fact that we were the only gaijin in the shop, or that our reservation time (7:30pm) was on the later side of the shop hours.
I think in general it is a bit unfair to outright discount a sushi meal for not being served by the head chef – indeed, at some famous Tokyo sushiya (notably Sukiyabashi Jiro, Shou, and Kanesaka) customers are more likely to be served by the itamae than the master, which doesn’t seem to impact the rave reviews these shops continue to pull in. That being said, I have to admit that this was a disappointment for me, and may have colored the rest of my experience at Miyaha.
The style of Miyaha is more along the lines of a “traditional” edomae sushi shop where the otsumami are relatively simple, “typical” flavor profiles are maintained, and the nigiri are on the larger side. In the case of some pieces, like the kuruma ebi, they were comically, unmanageably large. I honestly couldn’t tell if this was due to the fact that the itamae assumed we Amerikaijin were most accustomed to behemoth nigiri pieces, or if it was just a hallmark of the style (I tend to think it is the latter, since I’ve seen a similar style in other sushiya outside of ginza).
Regardless, the balance of neta and shari on some pieces was better than others, with standouts being the tuna, hamaguri (served in its own dashi), and katsuo, alongside some notable duds, like the kasugo. Again, it may just be the style, but some flavor choices, like the super-strong vinegar marinade on the shinko, were overwhelming for me. The shari itself (despite being plentiful) wasn’t terribly notable, with a medium-strength flavor and with some texture to the rice (though in some instances the grains were less distinctive and more gluey).
The otsumami were good but brief, and contained few surprises outside of aburi torigai, which was new for me and an excellent mix of textures and flavors. I did notice that we did not receive some otsumami that other diners did, such as some small fried fish, and what looked like a small anago donburi. Again, this may have been due to the “late” hour of our reservation, but did not add to our enjoyment.
In all, Miyaha serves good sushi in a style that is a real contrast to the ginza-centric sushiya that seem to get all the press, but it is not a place I would recommended to first-timers or gaijin (even those who can speak decent-enough Japanese for a sushi counter, like myself). The cost of the meal for the quantity (which was honestly, mostly rice), variety and care was just not on par with other similar shops I’ve been to in this price range, and there are other more reasonably-priced options (see here) if you’re seeking out this style.
Miyaha 宮葉 (みやは)
Minato, Hamamatsucho, 2-11-8