Hatsunezushi (Hatsune Sushi). It’s a 2 Michelin star rated restaurant in Tokyo. It’s a diamond in the rough and a 40 minutes cab ride from Shinjuku.
It’s run by Chef Katsu Nakaji, a 3rd or 4th generation sushi chef, and his wife. He prepares the sushi and his wife handles everything else in the restaurant. The hospitality of the Chef and wife is amazing. He’s probably the most down to earth Michelin rated chefs I have ever met. He’s a type of person you could go watch the game and drink beers with on a Sunday. He’s always cracking jokes and a pretty jolly fellow. Think Santa Clause but Japanese.
It came without the pretentious attitude and felt like eating at a family member’s house.
Hatsunezushi (Hatsune Sushi) is an eight seat sushi bar filled with friendly locals. The Chef serves only sushi. In other words, there are no appetizers or any other dishes. He uses slightly firmer rice and red vinegar. The red vinegar makes the rice… well…red. He has his technique down to the tee. Hatsunezushi (Hatsune Sushi) starts off the omakase with certain fishes due to the temperature of the rice and the meal progresses as the temperature of the rice simmers down. He doesn’t have a kitchen staff. It’s all him.
In addition, you eat the sushi upside down. In other words, the first thing that hits your taste buds is the fish and not the rice. At Hatsunezushi (Hatsune Sushi), doesn’t put the sushi on a plate but he personally puts it on your index finger after he prepares it. I’m not going to touch on all the dishes because they were all memorable. However, I’m going to touch on the most unforgettable ones and the ones that dissolved in my mouth like shave ice on a hot Summer day in Taipei.
- Red Snapper – This was amazing and simply perfection. The red snapper is usually firm in texture but Katsu got it to be buttery and sweet in flavor. It was pretty astonishing how he did that. He said he only uses soy sauce and salt to prepare his fish. I replied, “Can I get another?”
- Uni – Uni usually comes with this silky and rich texture. However, the way he prepared the uni made it fluffy and evaporated in your mouth after two seconds. You close your mouth and it was gone. The uni was half baked, pure heaven and the texture was nothing I ever encountered. A pure feeling of bliss like a teenage boy losing his virginity.
- Fatty Tuna Belly w/ Soy sauce – You put it in your mouth for 5 seconds without chewing and it dissolves in your mouth without a single movement of your jaw. There is a slight wasabi after taste but it was gone like someone who owed you money.
- Fatty Tuna Belly – This was pretty awesome. It was buttery, rich and tender. He was a different contrast from the one prepared with soy sauce. It melted away like a woman’s make up in a Vegas club.
- Tamago – The best tamago I’ve ever had. Period. It was fluffy, cake like and surrounded the rice. The rice breaks down the tamago as you chew and dissolved in your mouth after 3 bites. The texture tasted like clouds in the sky. Simply perfection.
The one thing that I really liked about Chef Katsu as a person was he allowed me to take pictures of every single sushi he prepared. What’s so special about that? Well, he held it in his palm every single time for 16 courses with a huge smile and no complaints. How many Michelin Chefs do you know who would do something like that? Actually who do you know who would do that for you? Hatsunezushi (Hatsune Sushi) easily makes my top 10 dining experience in my life as of this review.
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- Service - 9.5/109.5/10
- Presentation - 9/109/10
- Flavors - 9.5/109.5/10
- Ambiance - 9/109/10
- Decor - 9/109/10
Hatsunezushi is probably the best sushi experience of my life. If not, the best. It’s a pure Edo Omakase dining experience. The technique, the hospitality of the couple, the friendly locals and the sushi were all amazing. It came without the pretentious attitude and felt like eating at a family member’s house. It was just real laid back.