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Hokkaido

Himeshara

姫沙羅

This brand new exclusive space is home to a somewhat intimidating chef with an incredible flair for perfection and a deep yearning to share the goodness of Hokkaido sushi with the world. It's secluded, it's unique, it's superb.

In the quiet tree-lined streets of Maruyama, Sapporo, a two-star sushi chef toils endlessly to share his Hokkaido-influenced Edomae sushi with the world. This suburb traditionally reserved for residences has flourished in recent years with high-end highly-acclaimed chefs seeking spacious locations for guests to truly relax, satiated by a total dining experience. Originally found in a multistorey building of the bustling Susukino district of Sapporo, Himeshara joined other culinary stars in the Maruyama neighbourhood in December 2017. Trading the compact space for this generous one, Himeshara can now shelter its guests from winter’s harsh cold in a cozy waiting area should they arrive early for their reservation.

The chef’s passion and particularity are apparent at every turn. Beyond the second door, a black-walled chic interior highlights an L-shaped counter with a gentle gloss. The shikkui traditional Japanese plaster walls have been coated with a substance called susa, made from the same fibers used to create washi Japanese paper, giving the walls a lustre and the whole space a somewhat spiritual feel . The nine-seat shared dining space is a single plank of hinoki Japanese cypress from the lush green forest of Kiso Valley in Nagano now. You know at first glance the hinoki, which is absent of any knots, is a truly rare straight grain piece of timber, incredible given the tree was 500 years old. Another unique aspect is that the restaurant is entirely barrier-free, with even the counter built at an appropriate height for wheelchairs. It’s all part of the chef’s desire to make his cuisine accessible to as many people as possible. Behind the counter, the spotlight is on a glimmering icebox, sparking excitement about what it will reveal during the meal to come. The chef believes firmly that sushi is more than dining; it is performance and every element is part of the show.

CUISINE

It's secluded, it's unique, it's superb.

For the fusion of Edomae techniques with Hokkaido’s abundant fresh seafood, Himeshara is a must. Layering local seafood with the Edomae style results in so many morsels that can only be enjoyed here. It is sushi like no other. The starting point is beautiful fresh seafood, which Tanaka then pares down to only the very best pieces before giving them Edomae treatment. And while other restaurants in Hokkaido may promote a similar style, Himeshara is on another plane. It took some time for chef Tanaka to shift his skills from Tokyo-sourced seafood to local Hokkaido varieties, but the result is magical.

Sushi can only be sublime when texture, flavour and aromas perfectly intersect. This necessitates a fastidiousness about the vinegared rice and seafood toppings, as well as their respective temperatures, which Chef Tanaka possesses in abundance. He invests as much time in seasoning the rice base as he does on the delicious seafood toppings, and always has two varieties of a akazu red vinegar at the ready, alternating to perfectly suit each piece of seafood. His rice is a blend of Miyagi Prefecture rice and one other varietal, a combination conceptualized by the chef himself to create a texture that unfolds in your mouth the moment you bite into it.

Heavy influence from the Sushisho style of his mentor Chef Nakazawa, means Tanaka also cleverly incorporates creative appetizer dishes amid his nigiri sushi. From incredibly fresh uni sea urchin to two-week aged fish, and from firm fish flesh to melt-like-butter toppings, Himeshara takes you on a journey through temperatures, textures and flavors that you will never forget. Among the dishes are some rather surprising and unique items. The first is a red vinegar rice oval simply wrapped in crisp nori seaweed. Chef Tanaka wants his guests to appreciate the rich aroma of this unparalleled gourmet seaweed from Ariake in southern Japan. The soft salty-sweet ocean aromas fill your senses and whet your appetite for what is to come.

Brand name “Botan” shrimp (botan-ebi) is so generous in size, the chef can wrap it around the whole rice shari, enveloping umami-rich ebi-miso innards within, and topping it with brilliant blue-green shrimp eggs. In one luscious mouthful, you can appreciate the full array of umami that these deliciously sweet shrimp have to offer. Then comes uni nigiri, showcasing the pure freshness and goodness of Hokkaido’s local delights. Your eyes will pop at the sheer volume of uni plumply perched atop the rice.

Himeshara cuisine #0
Himeshara cuisine #1

CHEF

Akira Tanaka

No doubt your first impression will be that Chef Akira Tanaka is a rather severe man of few words. As you begin to eat you can see his sincerity, passion and determination as he puts his all into making truly delicious sushi for you. And you may be surprised as you settle in that he gladly answers any questions with ease and kindness.

Born in Hakodate - the stunning port town in southern Hokkaido – with his imposing demeanour it is not exactly surprising to learn that Tanaka‘s father was a policeman. Tanaka was an excitable child, regularly causing trouble for his parents. He dropped out of high school and took himself to Nagoya at the age of 17, needing to be far away from all he had known. His older sister’s boyfriend at the time was a sushi chef, and he had once prepared a sushi meal for Tanaka’s whole family. That’s when the sushi infatuation began. Tanaka saw first-hand the great satisfaction in pleasing others through food. He learned the fundamentals of sushi over eight years at a Nagoya sushi restaurant, but did not neglect the importance of a varied repertoire, seeking experience in washoku traditional Japanese cuisine, and other cuisines as well.

Returning to Hokkaido at age 24, Tanaka still made time to roam the country in search of new ideas. This led to an encounter with a chef Tanaka now names as his biggest influence – Chef Nakazawa of Sushisho. It was Nakazawa who showed him that sushi is not about simply shaping seafood-topped ovals – it’s an entire cuisine. And it was Nakazawa who inspired Tanaka to open his own sushi restaurant in 2003. At first, he pursued Sushi kaiseki, infusing refined washoku taste in to his style, but constant trial and error eventually led Tanaka to the revelation that the key to his appeal is his Hokkaido connection. It occurred to him that all he did was take freshly caught local seafood and turn it into sushi. The focus was entirely on freshness; there was no special treatment for the seafood, and no application of his Edomae sushi skills. And at the same time there was no special significance to being in Hokkaido if he simply served Edomae Sushi just like in Tokyo. That is when he realized that his style and competitive advantage must come from combining Hokkaido seafood with Edomae sushi techniques – the style that has earned him much acclaim and a constant stream of highly satisfied guests.

VISION
The chef is far from believing his sushi is perfect, but plans to keep working to achieve nothing short of that. While there is no shortage of high-end sushi options, Tanaka is intent to serve sushi creations that entice customers back time and again. He does this following one simple tenet: addition not multiplication. That means reinventing traditional Japanese ingredients as new sushi creations, not introducing non-Japanese items such as caviar and foie gras. He intends to never veer from that course, all the while focusing especially on local seafood. He doesn’t feel the need to be number one in Sapporo, but his deep wish is to continue as the leader in Hokkaido-born Edomae sushi.

Hokkaido

Himeshara

姫沙羅

MICHELIN
2
STAR
PRICE
¥26,500
~
CHILD
18
& UP
MIN GUESTS
1
PERSON
~
GENRE
Sushi, Sapporo
ADDRESS
1F, 20-1-2 Minami8-jonishi Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido
OPEN
2 seating: 17:00- and 19:30-
CLOSED
Wednesday
URL
NA
PHONE
+81-90-6992-3247

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