Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Umai Sushikan (うまい鮨勘)

It may sound odd to have sushi for breakfast, but that was our goal for our first full day in Tokyo.  Umai Sushikan is situated in the shopping area inside Tsukiji Market. The fish market has become quite a popular tourist destination, though signs are placed everywhere reminding one that it is a real place of business - so don't get in their way.  We woke up pretty early, and headed out towards the market that opens at 9am.  We walked around the little alleyways and looked at the various shops before checking out the few restaurant options.  Some had longer lines that others.  None of the places had names in English, so we took a stab and picked one that Keith thought he recognized from his research.


chawanmushi
Chef cutting fresh tuna.
There are several tables, plus seating at the counter, so the wait was not long at all.  We sat at the counter, with a friendly sushi-chef behind who makes and serves you the sushi piece-by-piece. One of the other chefs spoke very good English, so we had no problem communicating.  There are a few set menus available, so to make things easier and speed it up, we each chose one of those.  Keith ordered the Tenchoh Osusumi Nigiri - chef's choice sushi with broiled eel, chawanmushi and miso soup for 2980 JPY.  Chawanmushi (literally "tea cup steam" or "steamed in a tea bowl") is an egg custard dish found in Japan that uses the seeds of ginkgo.  It was a nice little appetizer to get the palate going.

His sushi platter came with 15 pieces including: otoro (fatty tuna), mushiebi (shrimp), crab, tamago (egg omelette), akagai (red clam), unagi (sea urchin), and tuna rolls.  Also, he was presented a full piece of broiled eel with a soy glaze and dollop of wasabi on the side.  His favorites were the otoro, sea urchin, and the tamago.  He also really liked the eel and thought it could have been served as a meal in itself.

I chose a smaller platter called Nami Nigiri, which was simply described as regular sushi with miso soup for 850 JPY. For that cheap price, I received 13 pieces including: tuna, salmon, shrimp, clam, tuna salad roll, and pickled plum rolls. The sushi were large generous pieces and quite fresh, as to be expected being we were right in the famous Tokyo fish market.  I loved the shrimp, tuna, and salmon pieces. The stark white fish had a most different texture - I think it may have been squid or something.  I found the tuna salad roll tasty, and funny at the same time, as I have never seen that in a sushi restaurant before.  To end the meal we were both given a hot cup of green tea in a cute clay vessel with sushi pictures on it.

All in all, we had a large sushi breakfast that filled us up for a full day of site-seeing.  The crowds were much larger as we left, so I recommend you going early on if you don't want to wait in line.  Umai Sushikan is in the alley to the far left (if you are standing looking towards to the entrance to the market).  If you are local to Tokyo, they also provide catering.

Total Rating: 3.93
Food: 4, Price: 4.5, Service: 3, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 3.5

What I ate:
Nami Nigiri
regular sushi with miso soup

Plus Keith ate:
Tenchoh Osusumi Nigiri
chef's choice sushi with broiled eel, chawanmushi and miso soup


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