I really love to go to a sushiya for the first time. I love that feeling of excitement - the "butterflies in the stomach" feeling. I love having to hunt down a hard-to-find shop in a Ginza back alley. I love entering the shop for the first time, passing through the noren curtain and wondering if the chef will be friendly, if the sushi will be as amazing as I hope it to be.
My recent lunch experience at Sushi Ryusuke surpassed my expectations in every way. To sum it up briefly: incredibly delicious, somewhat unorthodox sushi served by a funny chef, and priced very reasonably. Can't ask for any more than that!
Chef Ryusuke Yamane apprenticed for many years at the world-famous Kyubey before opening his shop in August of 2015. He's one of the new crop of young, promising chefs who opened sushi shops in 2015 and 2016, along with Suzuki, Amamoto, and Arai amongst others. Although the chef apprenticed at Kyubey, Sushi Sho appears to have had an influence on his food, as he alternates between akasu shari (sushi rice seasoned with dark red sake lees vinegar) and komesu shari (sushi rice seasoned with rice vinegar) depending on the neta (sushi topping) being served - à la Sushi Sho. He is also known for occasionally using some non-traditional ingredients and for offering some unexpected dishes. For example, half-way through my lunch he served me a deep-fried crab croquette! Did it work with the flow of the meal? Not really. Was is delicious? Absolutely!
Typically, I'm not a huge fan of the Sho style - I find that being served a lot of otsumami (cooked or raw appetizer style dishes) in between nigiri courses throws off the pacing of the meal and obstructs the flavor of the nigiri. But here, only a couple of otsumami where served in between the 16 nigiri courses. The two styles of shari were both delicious and complimented the good quality neta. The akasu shari worked particularly well with Yamane-san's great chu-toro, and the rather piquantly sour komesu shari paired spectacularly well with the ika and kohada. The uni, which was served along with deliciously crunchy nori as gunkan-maki, was just out of this world.
Chef Yamane-san is very friendly and quite funny. He doesn't speak much English, but tries his best to converse a little. During my lunch he kept cracking jokes about Arai-san - they worked together at Kyubey and are friends. His shop is located in a small Ginza backstreet, in a completely nondescript building (the business above it is called "Hawaiian Healing Relaxation Room"...), down a flight of stairs in the building's basement. But, in typical Ginza fashion, once you enter the tiny, seven seat restaurant, you're in a different world - the counter is gorgeous, the restaurant comfortable, the atmosphere jovial.
Total cost for the meal, including 16 nigiri, 3 otsumami, a kanpyo maki, soup, and plenty of nihonshu (sake) came to ¥14,690 - or roughly $130 US. An incredible value!
Below you will find photos of all the courses served, in order.
B1F Daiyon Kanei Building, 7-3-13 Ginza, Tokyo