Kioicho Mitani 紀尾井町三谷
Maybe you haven't heard about Kioicho Mitani yet, but i am sure high-end sushi lovers know Mitani in Yotsuya — a sushiya that is almost impossible to get in, all the time. Reservations for Mitani Yotsuya are taken two years in advance, phones are answered from 10am on the first working day after Japanese New Year (Jan.1st). Please don't be surprised, all the eight seats are usually taken within few minutes.
Yes, for a meal in two years later.
Mitani Yotsuya has been on my list for a very long while. In early 2016, when i was still an exchange student (for 6 months) at Keio University in Tokyo, i called the restaurant for a reservation in 2018 for myself, alone. I got through Mitani Yostuya at 9am right before my class begins, and i was told reservations are acceptable by call from 10am. When i called backed at around 12pm as soon as i left the class, i was told 2018 has been fully booked, for the entire year.
In July 2016, Mitani opened a new branch in Kioicho, so-called Kioicho Mitani. Unlike most other sushiya 'chains', the master chef Yasuhiko Mitsuya also frequently works at Kioicho Mitani. I visited Kioicho Mitani for the first time in early December in 2016, less than five months after it had been opened. At that time, master chef Yasuhiko Mitsuya was sick for a long period, i wasn't lucky enough to try his sushi, and we heard from the sous chef that he didn't work everyday at that time.
Well, wish Mitsuya-san can stay healthy and live long, more importantly to foodies like me - i wish Mitauya can come back soon/more often, and to serve delicious sushi as long as possible.
Anyway, i was still very excited about the food to be served soon.
The new Kioicho branch was very well-decored. It is spacious, bright and clean. And of course, smells delicious as most sushiyas are. I visited during lunch time and the entire counter (likely twelve) was occupied shortly after we seated. Lunch and dinner are running a same Omakase menu priced around 30K JPY per head.
Mitani is also famous for wine pairing, which is quite rare at a sushiya. I am not big on alcohol, but i decided to give it a try!
The meal started with seven ostumami - all marvellous, probably the most memorable otsumami i have had besides Saito's. While in comparison, Saito's are more simple, and more edomae-style, while Mitani's are less traditional.
The first dish was plateful bites of Bafun uni from Hokkaido, really fresh and umami. One of the highlights of the meal was the followed tara shirako 'paste' cooked in anago (sea eel) dashi, besides its aromatic smells, the texture was gorgeously creamy as you can see from the photo. Served with a pinch of salt from Kyushu on the side, the entire dish was nothing but AMAZING. This was argubly one of the best shirako dish i have ever had. So divine and unforgettable.
Kegani, or Japanese hairy crab, is something i will never get bored of. Then arrived deep-fried Tachiuo, which has a very thin and crispy battering, while the flesh inside was still semi-sashimi texture, perfect for my liking. Chef told us they got a really large Tachiuo, about two meters long. The high-flavor karasumi on the side was well-balanced with the Tachiuo.
Winter is also the best season to eat Ankimo (monk fish liver). I found the Ankimo was really unique as few restaurants served as a spoonful of 'paste', while the taste was deep and umami, very creamy texture to melt on my tongue.
The last two dishes before we move on to nigiri sushi - saba and kinmedai. Saba was perfectly grilled, its skin was deep-fried to create an extra crispy texture. Underneath the cracker-texture skin was succulent fish, with a high flavor of saba itself. This was another highlight of the meal. The last but not the least, grilled kinmedai on a bed of uni gohan (sea urchin rice) which was also fantastic. Kinmedai was rich and tender, the hardness of the rice undearth was to the point, the texture and flavor of the entire dish under the help of sea urchin was simply inresistable.
Each otsumami dish was served with a class of alcohol drink, which i found interesting but really sync with the food. I highly recommend you to try the wine pairing here for a integrated experience!
After having seven fabulous ostumami dishes, nigiri was then served. Started with the lighter ones such as Hirame with kombu-jime, a creamy and clean piece of sumi-ika. Kan-buri was only available in this season, it has a richer texture and deeper taste, definitely one of my personal favorite of the meal.
Move on to people's favorite toro part. Both the Akami and Aburi Otoro were pretty nice but i may not consider them outstanding. As least i won't ask for more. Among the three pieces of toro, my favorite was the Chutoro arrived later, it was served with sea salt which nicely enhanced the tastes. Kohada was also pretty good to match my taste, very nice cut and the sourness was right to point.
Regarding to the shari, both the texture and flavor were exactly to the right point. Nigiri here weren't taste that sharp as Jiro style sushiyas, but it stands out in its own way.
I am not a big fan of maki sushi (sushi rolls) as i consider them 'waste calories'. But Mitani's maki(s) absolutely changed my view in some ways. I asked the chef not to serve me toro maki, but when i see the chef cut it into two halves, and topped one with uni, i changed my mind. I told the chef i love uni, and he topped uni for both maki for me! What else should i ask more?
The toro and uni maki makes me quite eager to try their kanpyo maki (served later). The kanpyo was really crunchy and delicious. One of the maki was sandwiched inside the deep-fried tofu skin, which gives a sweeter taste. I loved it.
My favorite piece of the meal was Anago (tsume). This was the best Anago i have ever had ( to me it is much better than Kiyota's quite strong-taste Anago). Very moist and creamy texture full of umami and naturally sweet flavors, perfect to marry the warm shiroshari. All three of us requested another two pieces of Anago although we were quite packed after a lot of food and drinks here.
The last but no the least was a sweet ending brought by Tamago-yaki (grilled sweet omelette). Serisouly, this was the best tamago-yaki i have had. It was made of eggs from Aqua farm Chichibu in Saitama. Each egg is priced at JPY 500. Usually chefs make this with prawn dashi, but this one only uses egg, dashi, shoyu and sugar. You can clearly see the thick layers of the drooling tamago-yaki. It was SO good that all of us asked two more pieces again.
A meal at Mitani costs slightly less than 450,000 JPY with wine pairing. It is a bit expensive compare to most other sushiyas but it worths the penny.
I will probably give Kioicho Mitani 85 out of 100 - 80 for nigiri and 95 for ostumami and wine pairing. Obviously, ostumami here was really strong, as least when it comes with wines. My friend didn't had pairing but he also quite enjoyed the meal. Nigiri was weaker compare to the ostumami, i don't think the nigiri here were 'WOW' to me, but definitely free from shortcomings and errors. Right after the meal, we all booked our next visit - i think this is quite clear how we liked it.
Kioicho Mitani 紀尾井町三谷
Address: 東京都千代田区紀尾井町1-2 紀尾井テラス 3F
Hours: lunch & dinner, Flexible Holidays