{tokyo} kyubey at ginza

9:41 PM sians 4 Comments

it's been a month since i last posted something. 

multiple projects at work and lacking the inspiration to write is to be blamed for my unexpected nano-hiatus from blogging. it's not that i have no material to write about - it's just that i am burnt out from a lot of things and needed a break.

i have a ton of food posts to share - some old, some new but for the sake of quickness to accommodate the hectic schedule at work, i shall try to keep the posts short, sweet and simple :) with as many pictures as i can. 

just a few more posts about tokyo, japan although the trip has lapsed almost a year now. but i just can't let the good stuff go to waste. 

few months ago, i shared a place that was the place to go in japan for the freshest and most delicious sushi: sushi dai. as much as i'd like to try as many varieties of japanese cuisine, i just had to slip in an extra meal slot for sushi. 

it was freaking amazing to savor sushi at tsukiji market, the source of the freshest picks of fish in the world and immediately thought that topping that experience would be impossible...

well, it was... until my second tasting of sushi at ginza, tokyo edged out my former choice slightly:

kyubey, you are an awesome possum.


btw, a lot of people spell it as kyubei {久兵衛} just in case you came across it - it probably points to the same place.

awarded a star by michelin guide in 2008, many food bloggers commended the restaurant as serving the BEST sushi in town. but i had to work really hard to find my way to the hub of deliciousness :p it's true - i guess it definitely would have helped if i learnt how the address system works in japan and also have the mind to ask locals for directions.

entering the restaurant, you will be greeted by staff who are dressed in the classic kimono. the restaurant was what i imagined a nice, top-end sushi restaurant would be - classic traditional signature japanese decor - brightly lit yet still cozy as the patrons would sit on the tatami floor comfortably in a lively, informal setting. interactions with the sushi chef master is a must and it was great that ours was really friendly and could converse in english somewhat fluently. each sushi chef would serve a maximum to 5-7 people at a time, ensuring the freshly prepared sushi is of the highest quality.

meet our sushi master for the day!

and his many coveted knives. i was staring in admiration at those knives. and of course at his skills with them.

since i was a stranger in a foreign country who knows little of their culture, i asked if it was alright to take photos and he was more than happy to oblige but added that i have to mindful to make sure i don't capture other customers in my photos.

the omakase {お任せ} (¥8400) seems to be the item of choice to order where you put for tasting fate in the hands of the sushi chef. omakase literally means "i leave it to you". two orders of omakase and we  strapped in for a heavenly culinary adventure.

but before we began, he inquired if we had any special requests and what i would love to try - our list included: fresh uni and our biggest favorite - otoro. {rmc} asked about salmon but apparently this wasn't the season for it.

a warm towel to wipe our hands before sipping on my glass of chilled green tea to quench my thirst from the warm summer day and taking a bite of the seaweed and daikon salad.

the perfectly cooked rice gets changed ever so often or refilled to ensure it is constantly warm. the rice is sticky yet you can taste every individual grain and the sushi chef shared that they only add vinegar and no sugar in the rice. no sugar in the pickled ginger either.

when the first piece of sushi was presented on the black counter (ideal as photo background), we were salivating. one thing i loved about omakase is the element of surprise - the anticipation of what awaits me to devour :)

maguro (tuna) - with excellent knives skills and a brush of soy sauce, this super fresh tuna was meaty and seasoned just nicely. just like the other sushi that follows, the sushi master just adds enough wasabi to each piece to accentuate the flavors. a wonderful preview of what is to come.

unfortunately, i can't seem to find my notes on what type of fish this fish was. :( but the huge hunk slice of fresh fish shone against the slightly tart rice.

ika (squid) with a  sprinkle of sea salt and a squeeze of lime. texturally interesting - a lil chewy but the freshness was highlighted by tartness of the lime.

next in line was the most entertaining of all the sushis - odori-ebi (dancing shrimp). super fresh shrimps that were still jumping while on the plate of ice that it made me laughed every time it did cos it would startle the people around me including myself.

our sushi chef asked if i wanted to try it raw or cooked - i looked at {rmc} and we both weren't sure. i tossed the question back at him and asked what's the best way to have it.

"lightly cooked," he said. and it was a done deal.

as promised, the sweetness of the shrimp was accentuated from the light cooking and the freshness was unparalleled. with a light brush of soy sauce and a squeeze of lime juice, it was a delightful bite.

as we were enjoying our sushi, they finally brought out warm miso soup with little clams in them. the miso soup itself was slightly earthy and i could taste the seafood flavor entwined in the rounded saltiness of the miso.

i was uber excited to see the next one would be the one we specifically requested: fresh uni (sea urchin) - creamy and packed with the flavor of the sea. i have no regrets asking for this cos it's superyummilicious. according to mr sushi master, the owner of kyubey was actually the first to serve sushi where the seaweed wraps around the rice. thank you, kyubey's owner for giving us something revolutionary :)

to make us even happier, our next in list - the otoro (tuna belly) greatness. the meltingly tender texture, moist and cool as it enters your mouth while your tastebuds takes a trip from the umami of the soy sauce to the slight bite of the wasabi and then the ever subtly tartness of the rice. ever so lovely.

summer is the best time for aji (spanish mackerel) where it is at its freshest and sweetest. true to the description of the sushi master, with a brush of soy sauce and a pinch of crushed garlic brought another dimension to the sushi tasting session.

one other thing i loved almost as much as uni and otoro is unagi (sea eel) and what could make it better than having one? having it two ways! the only drawback is not knowing which to eat first lol.

the classic and typical way it is served. the slightly sweet and savory unagi sauce that lightly and delicately coats the grilled unagi was a delight to the tastebuds.

its counterpart, slightly less conventional was simply sprinkled with just a good amount of sea salt, allowing the slight natural sweetness of the fish to shine without interference with subtle grilled flavor was featured.

what came next was not something i have tried ever before.

a combination of sesame paste and shiso leaf sandwiched between thinly sliced daikon. i wasn't too sure about it before tasting it. first bite and i loved it. the sesame paste was slightly sweet but the freshness of the crisp daikon and the herbaceous flavor of the shiso makes his a great palate cleanser.

assorted rolls - out of all of them, i really loved the middle two which i think are pickled vegetables - sweet coupled with a slight tartness with great bite to the mouth. the chopped tuna with spring onions was fresh and the japanese cucumbers with wasabi which had a punch behind the fresh crunch of the cucumber.

to end it the meal on a sweet note, we were served soft tamago (egg) which was still warm and comforting with every bite.

i love the attention to detail culture the staff at kyubey adheres to. while i was so engrossed with my sushi savoring, my iced green tea was getting diluted from the ice melting and halfway through the meal it was replaced with a fresh glass of chilled green tea, which i was very impressed by.

the sushi experience at kyubey is going down in my books as one of the best i've had with the freshest sushi and where perfection would be one of the words to describe it. i liked it so much that i kept the coaster from kyubey but only after i asked the sushi master rather timidly if he could kindly autograph the back of it, which he did :) yay!

in comparison, it is a lot pricier than sushi dai, in fact more than doubled the price but i think it might be worth trying it at least once. i definitely suggest lunch time since the prices are slight cheaper than dinner but reservations can only be made for 11:30 am. in fact, when we got there at about that time, we placed our names and the waiting list was about an hour, which we spent exploring the ginza area.

i rarely take thumbs-up pictures at the entrance of restaurants but kyubey definitely earned it. i definitely plan to return to this restaurant if and when i return to tokyo :) big love to kyubey!

kyubei | locations

8-7-6 ginza, 
tokyo, japan

{yummy-ness | 5 forks out of 5 }
{worth trying | omakase is the way to go}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.


Awesome review, thank you! Kyubey was my first “high-end” sushi experience many years ago, and while better sushi to be found elsewhere in Tokyo, the quality still remains excellent to this day. I was there again in May, and did a write-up here: http://thesushigeek.com/2016/06/16/kyubey-in-ginza-tokyo/

sians said...

@The Sushi Geek: Thanks for the compliment. This still remains as one of my favorite dining experiences and the rare restaurants that deserves a 5 out of 5 stars rating

Jessie S said...

Hello. I came across your post when I searched for Ginza Kyubey. I would like to ask, is it that they only take reservation in person? Like we have to do walk-ins only, to put down our name?

Thank you in advance for your reply.

sians said...

@jessie s:

Hi. To be honest, I didn’t try making a reservation via the phone since I didn’t have a cell phone number in Japan then. However, you could definitely try. Their site has a phone number you could try.

For the record, I did the reservation in person.