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Sushi Mizutani

Seiwa Silver Building B1F, 9-2-10 Ginza, Chou-ku, Tokyo, Japan

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Editor's note: this restaurant closed in October 2016, when the chef retired.

This is in the basement floor of an unassuming office block. It is a tiny place with just ten bar stools around a wooden counter. No photos I am afraid, as for reasons that elude me they don't allow them. Brown sole was not particularly to my taste, as it had a distinct  chewiness to it. Far better was dotted gizzard shard, which resembled a tiny mackerel; this had a lovely, distinct taste (18/20). 

Cuttlefish was very impressive, far better than the one at Koju the previous night, without a hint of chewiness in texture (18/20). Maguro tuna was simply perfect, the best I have encountered (20/20). Toro in medium and fatty forms was similarly sublime (19/20). This was tuna heaven.

"Ark shell" clam or "bloody clam" was a little chewy, but had good taste (17/20). Hen clam and gaper clam were a little less to my taste, but clam is not my favourite thing. Japanese halfbeak was very good (17/20). Horse mackerel was fantastic, with great flavour, and far better than the Sukyibashi Jiro version (19/20). Abalone was non-chewy, a miracle in itself (18/20). Common Japanese conger eel was superb, with great depth of flavour (19/20). 

The bill was JPY 36,000 for two, with lots of beer included. The service was charming. No-one really spoke any English, but a waiter helpfully brought out a fish textbook and pointed to any fish that I didn't recognise, which I thought was really nice. I am not sure whether a place serving raw ingredients can ever, in my mind, truly be three Michelin star.  Of course there is the skill of sourcing the produce, cooking the rice, and slicing the fish optimally.  However if any sushi place should have three stars, then this definitely deserves it. It was emphatically better than Sukyibashi Jiro in every way, and the fish quality was just about perfect. A delightful experience.

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  • H Lin

    Mizutani-san retired on October 29th. The retirement date was chosen because this was originally the last date that the Tsukiji market was to be open (the move has been postponed). Mizutani-san was very negative about the move of the market. He started the last sitting by removing the two stickers he had saying no photos were allowed and the guests promptly proceeded to take pictures. The last sitting went on for 3 hours ending in an all-you-can eat and drink party with friends and ex-workers joining for the last hour. The meal finished with a cake being served, probably the first time ever dessert was served in the restaurant. The meal was good as usual but this was obviously a special evening. I disagree with the comments about Mizutani-san being a racist. During my visits there he has always treated foreigners with respect. He always made sure that they sat next to us so that we could help translate from Japanese to English in case that was needed. The only time I ever saw him visibly irritated was at 4 Japanese guests that were ill-behaved. The difference in treatment that guests received was due to frequency of visits, not race or nationality. He was nice enough to take me, a foreigner, to Tsukiji on multiple occasions as an example.

  • Tom C

    Had a wonderful meal here this week. I have a shellfish allergy and he was very accommodating in creating separate dishes for myself. It does feel intimidating having someone watch you as you eat, but you could tell he was only interested in ensuring you were enjoying yourself. We paid 40,000 JPY for both of us for dinner that lasted ~50 minutes. I'd gladly go again.

  • Thorsten Schliemann

    I am sorry you were treated without respect by the restaurant staff. But I think it was simply the common way for older Japanese men to treat foreigners. The big elephant in the room that is the Japanese island is that most Japanese men, at least those over 40, are plain and simply racists. As Sushi is a very Japanese food item, there might also be undertones of a stubborn national pride involved, which maintains that foreigners are like wild beasts who are genetically not able to understand Japanese cuisine. I know how dark this sounds, but after living in Japan for a couple of years (and learning the hard way it is best for one's sanity to avoid small restaurants and their bigoted owners after a while), I have come to the conclusion that in general, you are not welcome in this country, or only if you are ready to constantly confirm the Japanese people's misguided sense of superiority and exceptionality.

  • IAN WESTCOTT

    Thoroughly enjoyed the experience here. Very traditional indeed though not as rushed as some of the "shotgun" sushi places ( even three stars) where they start to scowl if you don' t keep up with the piece/minute rhythm for 20 pieces ( can be the fastest dollar/minute food spend of your life). Mitzutani was comparatively snail paced. I am very pleased that I went here prior to Sushi Saito as if was an excellent sushi but paled in comparision with Saito and cost twice as much. Saito cost JPY 26000 for two compared to 52000 for here ( no drinks other than tea ( an Saito constantly brought fresh brews whereas Mizutani one needed to prompt).

  • Name unavailable

    I've been to neither this restaurant nor Jiro's. But I guess it's an interesting anecdote to note that Mr. Mizutani appeared on a recent documentary featuring Jiro ("Jiro dreams of sushi"). It turns out that Mr. Mizutani was Jiro's apprentice. He worked at Jiro's place for ten plus years. On the film, you can see that Mr. Mizutani had some reservations about Jiro's way of running a restaurant, but still was very respectful to Jiro's work ethics and grateful for the experience as his apprentice.

  • Amol Parnaik

    Though enjoyable, I don’t think this place really justifies 3 stars. Sure, the sushi was great, but only a little better then some other sushi places I have found in Japan with no stars. Also, it was very expensive for what it was. Ryugin’s sushi was more enjoyable but perhaps that was because it was part of a grander meal.

  • David W

    I love this place! I have been twice, once in November 2008, and once in March 2009. The first time I went it was my first meal in Japan, and I speak no Japanese, but they made me feel very welcome. The scond time around I was lucky enough to have sitting next to me a Japanese gentleman who spoke very good English, and did some translating for me. Imagine my surprise when Mizutani-san told my impromptu translator that he remembered me from last time, and he could even recall (correctly) what my favourite fish had been the previous year! Highly recommended.

  • Jo Rodin

    I fully agree with your comment that if any sushi/sashimi restaurant deserves three stars - this is the place. A wonderful experience in mid-April 2009, and vastly superior to Sukiyabashi Jiro. Perfect sashimi, followed by perfect sushi. The service was friendly and very good (but do remember that service is by necessity different from a 'traditional' restaurant). Both Mr Mizutani and one of his younger colleagues attempted a few English words, and took their time to show the various fishes in a picture book. More importantly Mr Mizutani managed to retain the flavour of each item, and was careful in his use of soya and wasabi (as opposed to Jiro). Also: watching him work made us confident that he truly enjoys creating each piece. It came to 45.000 yen for two, including tea.

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