- Cost: JPY 35,000, before drinks
- Size: 6 seats
- Reserved: About 6 weeks in advance
In lieu of photos (which Sawada does not allow), I’m positing the progression of my meal below.
- Wasabi, shio, shoyu, sudachi
- Hirame engawa
- Charcoal aburi shimesaba
- Cold smoked buri otoro
- Charcoal grilled kamatoro
- Hokkaido uni
- Maki - myoga, goma
- Maki - saba, shiso, menegi, ume
- Sumi ika
- Steamed awabi
- Aburi otoro
- Daikon oshinko w/yuzu
- Kuruma ebi
- Anago (wasabi, shio)
- Anago (tsume)
Is Sawada the best sushiya in the world? I cannot make such a judgment, as my experience in Tokyo is very limited. I can with certainty say that, for me, it was definitely the most serious sushi experience that I have ever had. Other sushi-yasan that I know have affectionately referred to Sawada-san as a “sushi nazi” due to his seriousness with the craft. As a case in point, Sawada's shop supposedly uses no electricity in food preparation; fish is stored in a traditional icebox, while cooked items are prepared over a bincho-tan grill.
My meal at Sawada contained very few surprises flavor-profile or fish-selection wise, as it was obvious the focus of the shop is on superlative technique. This shone through the superb otsumami, such as the bincho-tan grilled kamatoro, cold-smoked buri, and saba-menegi-myoga-shiso maki.
The shari is warm and strongly seasoned with gomezu, which is a conscious “traditional” flavor choice. As the meal progressed, the sharpness of this seasoning began to get a bit tiresome, but this was really a very minor gripe. The nigiri themselves were excellently balanced and beautifully presented, with several (particularly the kohada and akagai) being the most beautiful examples I have ever encountered. Also notable was a progression of 5 excellent tuna nigiri that climbed the fattiness scale from akami through kamatoro and were so rich they tasted almost like high-quality aged beef.
Despite the quiet nature of the shop, Sawada-san is quite friendly, and a reservation was relatively easy through a high-end hotel concierge (perhaps this says more about Tokyo natives’ impulse to pay the shop’s prices). The cost is a step above even other very-high-end Tokyo sushiya but is a worthy price for the experience.
Chuo, Ginza 5-9-19, MC Bldg. 3F