Daisan Harumi

1-17-7 Shimbashi, Tokyo, Japan

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Sometimes there is a wide discrepancy between Michelin and the main local kanji guide, tabelog, with regards to restaurant gradings.  An example of this is Daisan Harumi, which is not in Michelin at all, yet in 2011 I gather that it was the highest rated sushi restaurant in Tokyo for value for money in tabelog.  Its chef/owner, Nagayana Kazuo, is a noted sushi expert in Japan, and has been running this restaurant for 45 years continuously, though this is its third physical location.  The chef makes his own pottery dishes that the sushi is served upon, and harvests his own seaweed; the latter, which he also sells, is sufficiently praised in Japan that there is apparently a two year waiting list for it.  He is noted in particular for the quality of his mackerel and yellowtail, though neither of these were in season when we visited (winter is the optimum time for these).

Tucked away in a quiet side street in Minato-Ku, the restaurant itself has ten seats arrayed around a wooden counter where the sushi is prepared, plus a single table and a small separate dining room upstairs.  We began with red snapper sushi, which was very good, though a fraction less good than the one I had eaten the night before at Sushi Yoshitake (16/20).  Golden cuttlefish was better, tender and having almost a creamy hint to the texture (18/20).

The tuna sushi was served as both maguro and chu-toro, the medium fatty version.  The maguro was excellent (17/20) but the chu-toro was disappointing, the flesh of the piece that I ate having just slightly sinewy texture, which should not happen (13/20).  We were back on track with sushi of a thin fish called Japanese halfbeak (17/20) and then tried sushi of a cooked pen shell, which is related to a scallop, though it appears to lack the glorious sweetness of scallop (14/20).  Cooked Japanese tiger prawn sushi was very good, these wild prawns being quite rare, and having excellent flavour (17/20).  Gizzard shad, an oily fish reminiscent of mackerel, can have a metallic taste but this was very good (17/20).  This was followed by a rather dull cooked shellfish which has no English translation, and the fried head of the wild prawn.

The final sushi was nori roll of tuna, which was fine, and what turned out to be perhaps the best dish, a nori roll of sea urchin.  This was some of the best sea urchin I have tasted, creamy and delicious (18/20).   Egg custard concluded the meal, as is traditional.  Overall this was very good sushi, if a little uneven in places, and our meal cost just ¥7,000 (£55) for the food, which is a fraction the price of some places in the city.


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