Sushi Satake in Ginza, Tokyo

Sushi Satake is a relatively new sushi-ya that opened in August of 2016. Chef Takeshi Satake trained at Sushiden and Kyubey prior to opening his own shop. The restaurant is located in a quiet (and somewhat drab) part of Ginza's 8-Chome, not far from Tsukiji and Shiodome. No fancy retail stores and restaurants are to be found in this neighborhood - you'll mostly find characterless office buildings around here. The shop itself is very nice and features a single counter that sits eight.

About a year ago, chef Satake started experimenting with serving hot shari (sushi rice), finding that steaming hot rice paired particularly well with tuna. This break with tradition (along with the shop's reasonable pricing when they opened) created quite a bit of hype with Tokyo's sushi enthusiasts, and so Sushi Satake has become very popular and has quickly climbed up the Tabelog rankings. Due to this newfound popularity, the restaurant's prices went up at the beginning of June. I was able to visit the shop for lunch in late May, just before the price hike.

The lunch menu consists of two otsumami (appetizers), about 9 pieces of nigiri, a bowl of rice with cooked nodoguro, and a soup. I found the "hot shari" gimmick to actually work really well - I really enjoyed the very warm shari with the two pieces of maguro, and overall the differing shari temperatures with different types of neta worked for me. But I found the neta to be of varying quality, and a few pieces were lackluster. The shako was quite good and paired well with the akasu shari and, other than the akami and toro, was my favorite piece. 

Sadly, I also had to endure the worst otsumami of the trip at Satake: two big pieces of hatsu-katsuo drenched in a unsavory nori tsukudani paste that completely overtook the katsuo flavor. I typically don't mind tsukudani paste, but here it didn't taste good and had a really slimy, unpleasant texture. 

I think Satake is a good shop, but the 4.21 Tabelog rating (at the time of my visit) is obviously inflated due to the "hot shari" hype. I find it incomprehensible that this shop has a 4.21 rating while a much better shop like Tsukiji's Sushi Keita has a 3.68 rating, and just goes to show that Tabelog rankings are far from perfect.

As mentioned earlier, I was able to visit at the end of May before the shop's pricing went up drastically. As a foreign visitor, I was forced to make my booking via Pocket Concierge, they would not allow my hotel concierge to make the booking directly. I paid around ¥12,000 for lunch and found that price point to be fair. However, Since June 1st, the new lunch pricing for the same menu has gone up to ¥12,000 + tax for Japanese customers, while foreign customers now have to pay ¥18,630 via Pocket Concierge (which includes tax and a very small pour of nihonshu, or other drink of choice). Foreign customers are basically forced to pay significantly more money for an arguably lower quality meal - something that is not really acceptable in my mind. I was the only foreigner at the counter during my visit, and the only customer subjected to the katsuo-drenched-in-nori-tsukudani abomination. Japanese customers were served the katsuo as nigiri sushi. At dinner time, Japanese customers are charged ¥25,000, while foreign visitors are forced to pay an exorbitant ¥34,155 via Pocket Concierge. 

All in all, I'm happy to have visited Satake and I enjoyed my lunch there. I don't plan on returning any time soon, though, especially considering the new prices and the Pocket Concierge "alternate" menu that foreign customers are forced to purchase. There are many other sushi-yas in Tokyo I'd rather visit at this price-point. 

Below you will find photos of most of the items served during my lunch, along with some additional comments.  

The two otsumami on the "foreigner" menu: two tasty pieces of shiromi sashimi, followed by two pieces of hatsu-katsuo drenched in a unsavory nori tsukudani paste that completely masked any katsuo flavor.

The akami (left) and toro (right) paired very well with the hot shari, and were delicious.

Shako is usually one of my favorite neta. This piece was enjoyable. 

The meal concluded with a tasty bowl of rice topped with cooked nodoguro and a clear soup.


Sushi Satake - 8-18-16 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo