- Cost: JPY 25,000, before drinks
- Size: <10 seats
- Reserved: About 5 weeks in advance
Tokami is probably most notable for three things:
(1) Sato-san exclusively uses red akazu in seasoning his rice. This is primarily to pair with the shop's calling card, which are its maguro selections (see #2 below). There are a variety of sushiya in Tokyo that exclusively use akazu but none in my experience where the flavor is as strong as at Tokami.
(2) One of the partners is a tuna broker, and the shop’s maguro offerings (including the introductory otsumami, which is a hand roll with a mousse-like texture of neck-otoro) are considered to be excellent. Some of the most famous sushiya in Tokyo, including king-of-the-heap Sushi Saito, are rumored to use the same tuna supplier.
(3) The restaurant sits in the original space that housed Sushi Mizutani – the basement of the Seiwa Building in Ginza. While this isn’t terribly important in and of itself, I have heard from some people in the sushi business that getting access to a “historic” location like this as a young chef is a big sign that something is going right.
Tokami is overall a unique style and not necessarily comparable to the popular “Jiro”, “Kanesaka” and “Shou” schools of sushiya that seem to dominate the tabelog rankings these days. My meal there included a well-executed series of otsumami (most notable: the aforementioned hand roll, steamed abalone with liver sauce (a Yoshitake riff), ozaki wagyu, and grilled sanma).
The nigiri are slightly larger and the shari has a slightly "rounder" shape than what many might consider to be "standard" in Ginza, but I found the sushi to be very well-balanced. Several pieces (particularly the tuna, sanma, and aburi kamasu konbujime) reached best-ever status in my book. While the preference for akazu was a bit too strong in some pieces (though not nearly as sharp as, say, the gomezu-seasoned rice at Sawada), the quality of shari was generally very good, if not excellent. The one lackluster item was the tamago - it wasn't close to the level you'd expect from a top-tier sushiya, and I would have preferred a store-bought version to what I was served.*
My experience with Tokyo sushiya is quite limited, but in my book Tokami was a better experience than other more expensive shops with more Michelin stars.
Sato-san is extremely friendly, open, and earnest, and also speaks decent English. With only one itamae and a single server, the experience felt very friendly and intimate and is one which I would highly recommend. My hunch is that getting a reservation here will become more difficult as word spreads.
*Since my visit, I understand that Sato-san now serves a unique "brulee-style" tamago, which has been much better received by diners.
Sushi Tokami 鮨とかみ
Chuo, Ginza, 8-2-10 Seiwa Bldg. B1F