Inomata-san is already a very famous sushi chef in Tokyo, and he is definitely one of the top young chefs to watch . His shop is located far away from central Tokyo in Kawaguchi. (Is Kawaguchi even still considered to be in Tokyo proper? I don’t know! All I know is that it was freakin’ far from my hotel in Nihonbashi!) In any case, Inomata is becoming famous for a few reasons: his sushi is delicious, he sources some of the best hon-maguro available, and he is becoming a master of jukusei - aging neta to draw out the best possible flavors.
I had the chance to try Inomata-san’s sushi recently. Here are my thoughts:
Yes, absolutely, definitely, the sushi IS delicious.
The aging worked for me. The chef knows his stuff, some of the shiromi which are typically a little neutral tasting to me were full of flavor, and the hon-maguro was a bit funky from the aging, but in the best possible way. It is not easy to strike a good balance with aging neta, but he manages to do so.
the 鯨 nigiri was amazing! The only other place where I’ve truly enjoyed 鯨 is at Sushi Keita. It was stellar here: mineral, good iron taste, gamey, full of flavor.
The hon-maguro (bluefin tuna) is as good as I’ve tasted anywhere. Top quality. Most of the hon-maguro pieces were marinated in soy sauce (zuke) and incredibly balanced.
The shop’s atmosphere is super-relaxed and very fun. Chef Inomata is a hardcore shokunin, but he is still quick to crack a smile and joke around. His wife is great too, and speaks English well. She says “I learn English, and he learns sushi!”. Perfect. I was the only foreign customer on the night I visited. Everyone had a great time, and everyone drank too much. Bottles of nihonshu and white wine were passed around the counter as if we were all old friends.
Talking about nihonshu: I think Inomata offers a truly enjoyable selection of sake, including some I’ve not seen anywhere else. I’m no nihonshu expert, but wow did they taste good!
No otsumami are on offer. It’s straight to the point here: nigiri all night! Personally, I love this.
The price to quality ratio is off the chart. I paid less than ¥30,000 for my meal, which included a ridiculous amount of booze. Add this to top quality maguro and top quality uni, and in Ginza, the same would have cost ¥50,000.
The shop is really, really far from central Tokyo. It took a bit more than one hour each way from my hotel.
No otsumami are on offer. It’s straight to the point here: nigiri all night! Some might miss the appetizers?
The nigiri construction is not super refined. Take a look at the photos: it is a bit “rustic”. Personally, when the sushi is that good, I could not care less.
Below you will find photos of all the sushi presented to me, in the order they were served. I think. Again, I consumed a lot of booze that night, and might have missed a photo or two. Oops.
1-12-23 Saiwaicho, Kawaguchi, Saitama
Note: As of 2019, Sushi Inomata is only open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and holidays. The rest of the time, chef Inomata-san can be found working at Hatsunezushi.