The restaurant consists of multiple floors in two separate buildings. Each floor contains just one sushi bar with about 12 seats and 2 sushi chefs. (They have a rule that a sushi chef can serve no more than 6 people.) So, even though the restaurant is actually large, the ambience is very intimate. Luckily, we made reservations a few days prior to ensure a coveted seat. We arrived nearly an hour early to the main entrance and I was worried we'd be turned away, yet they happily greeted us and escorted us across the street to the other building and we were seated at the bar on the lowest floor.
We decided to choose the Omakase set menu (chef's choice) for 10,500 JPY per person. It came with nigiri, assorted sushi, and soup. Our sushi chef was super friendly and spoke English very well. As an amuse bouche of sorts, he presented us with "French fries" that were actually sticks of fried fish spine and bone pieces. The chef explained the calcium in the bone is "best for women's health."
He then asked us what we cared to drink and Keith preferred a cold sake. Soon, a server presented us with a bottle that they picked for us "as recommendation." This was a sign to the high quality service we were to be treated with all night. The sake was clear and very strong, yet still drinkable on its own. I could tell it was higher quality and more refined than the other cloudier variations. Next, we were presented with a bowl of pickled seaweed as our opening "salad." It was tasty and used as a palate cleanser throughout the evening.
A younger sous chef who mostly grabbed supplies for the main chef, was told at the beginning of our meal to make more wasabi. Using a shark skin covered board, he ground the green root lightning fast by hand and the fresh eye-burning scent wafted in the room. He then explained to us that putting wasabi in your soy sauce is a no-no. Instead, for nigiri, you are supposed to just rely on the wasabi inside the nigiri because the sushi chef has already put in the perfect amount of wasabi. The only time you use the wasabi that they give you is when you eat sashimi. You are supposed to put a dab of wasabi on the fish slice, fold the slice in half with the wasabi on the inside, dip the folded sashimi in the clear soy sauce, and then eat.
|Row 1: kampachi, toro|
Row 2: hirame?, uni
Row 3: ebi, clam
Row 4: aji, bonito
To quote Tiny Urban Kitchen: "With my eyes closed, I quickly grabbed the sushi and stuffed the entire piece in my mouth. I chewed faster than I had ever chewed in entire my life, at the same time desperately trying to squash visions of "twitch twitch" in my mouth." The raw shrimp was sweet, but left a weird film and mouth-feel. I think I could have handled it better with some rice.
Later on, we were presented with the shrimp's head and tail that were saved and then deep fried. I was more brave this time and popped the crunchy head in my mouth. I was expecting odd textures or oozing elements, but instead it just was like a crispy shrimp cracker.
Midway through we were presented with our bowl of soup. This was a break in the course, to allow us to digest a bit and give time for the next course to be ready. The soup was a simple clear broth and had mushroom, carrots, and fishcake in it. It was a little bland for me and so I barely touched it in order to leave more room for the rest of the stellar sushi.
As a segue, I nibbled on more of the fish bones and Keith was presented with eel liver, as this is "best for men's health." The chef refused to give me any ("For men only!," he quipped) and I did not mind, as they looked strange and Keith said the flavor was very strong and unappealing.
After all the nigiri pieces, we had a small set of sushi rolls featuring pickled radish, toromaki (tuna belly roll), cucumber, and pickled plum. For each piece, we also noticed that the rice is served actually a bit warm and slightly vinegared - the same as the rice in the earlier nigiri pieces. Each grain was visible and perfectly cooked.
I agree with the Tiny Urban Kitchen who commented: "In the end, so much of the omakase experience is your interactions with the sushi chef. Many sushi chefs in Japan hardly speak a word of English, and will only take reservations in Japanese. Even if the food is amazing, you miss out on half the value of an omakase if you can't talk to the chef at all about the food you are eating. Kyubey is one of the best choices for a foreigner to enjoy a true omakase experience. Even if you don't get a chance to try every new exotic sushi preparation, you will have an incredibly fun, informative, and awe-inspiring meal." There was no doubt that this was the most incredible sushi we have ever had in our entire life. Overall, we had an incredible meal at Kyubey. You get almost personal service from a very experienced sushi chef (they all have to train 12 years before they can come out and make sushi for customers!) and the food is unbelievable.
Total Rating: 4.78
Food: 5, Price: 4, Service: 5, Ambience: 5, Accessibility: 4.5