At the heart of Tokyo’s gourmet mecca is a true sushi establishment that is carrying on its decade-long streak of Michelin wins. The exquisite meal at Sushi Kuwano is a delicate and refined experience, curated by a master chef who takes each day like his first day on the job. His studious and humble nature continues to evolve the old sushi craft and keep his dedicated fans in awe.
Founded in 2005, Sushi Kuwano sits on Konparu-dori, a narrow street in the prime Ginza 8-chome block, alongside many incredible restaurants, not to mention the famous Kyubey right next door. Stepping out of the elevator on the third floor of a building, a majestic noren drapes over the entrance, welcoming guests including some of Japan’s prominent writers and artists.
Set in an elegant decor, only nine lucky guests get a seat at the corner hinoki counter. From every seat, your eyes can follow the chef’s skillful strokes as he prepares each dish. The beautiful counter that stretches across the room is polished by a craftsman once a year. The subtle details like the one-flower vase reflects the Japanese sense of hospitality.
Having refined his skills at renowned establishments like Itohan and Kisen, Chef Tatsuya Kuwano is a true veteran of the art of sushi. With his gifted hands, he creates delicate morsels of sushi and exquisite tsumami dishes. Beside him is his wife who, as the okami of the restaurant, attends every guest with great warmth.
Decade-long streak of Michelin wins
Omakase menu only at Sushi Kuwano. The dishes are simple in appearance but are a product of true craftsmanship. The parade of small appetisers served before the nine sushi courses demonstrate the chef’s mastery in traditional Japanese cuisine.
To start, a little cup of mozuku seaweed cleanses your palate, followed by bites of edamame, ginko nuts and seasonal greens. The sashimi assortment selects the best of the day’s catches, while the steamed abalone is cooked to perfection. The scorched kobashira, foot of the clam, has become a favorite among fans, passed directly from the chef into the guest’s hand.
Complementing the crisp and clean sake selection, savor rich and deep flavors of sea delicacies like salted mullet roe, fermented snapper and flatfish liver. The two bowls of poached octopus are each cooked in different flavors for comparison, whether it be bancha tea or cherry blossom petals.
The grilled fish are cooked over crackling charcoal, accompanied with a tasty vinegar sauce, accented with refreshing flavors of new onions, spring onions or raddish. The seasonal pick ranges from bonito, tuna, new Pacific saury and belt fish. Saltwater eel is scorched and topped with beautiful ribbons of cucumber and drops of sweet sauce.
Sushi Kuwano’s sushi is elegant and refined. The shari rice morsels are small to allow it to blend well with the flavor of the fish. The grains are prepared using two different types of red vinegar. The bucket of rice floats over warm water to keep the rice at the perfect lukewarm temperature. Shrimp, typically just boiled, is prepared using an entirely different approach. Cooking using similar methods to crab, the shrimp meat is juicy and sweet. The day’s pick was wild shrimp from Oita. Another signature sushi is mackerel. Prepared in exactly the same way as the day the restaurant first opened, the oily fish is topped with a translucent sheet of white seaweed.
Thanks to his long-established relationships with Tsukiji vendors, he can get his hands on the top-quality catches from across Japan. The variations of tuna from fatty chutoro to lighter red akami come from Shiogama. The lightly-salted yellowtail are fished in Misaki, while the snapper is from Aomori. Sea urchin from Rishiri is so creamy and potent in flavor.
Not tied to any particular region, Kuwano sources all his ingredients from the Tsukiji market. His wife’s family is a vendor there and often helps him find the best produce. He has dealt with many stores over the years and has yielded great relationships.
The seaweed used for sushi is Edomae roasted seaweed from Kisarazu. The aged koshihikari rice comes from Niigata, but at times he uses a blended brand. He pickles the new ginger from Kochi between June and August. The roots are picked whole to give it that soft but deep flavor. Some fans are addicted to them.
Over the years, Kuwano has collected sakeware from Tosai, an established pottery store in Kyoto. Founded in 1936, the store specializes in Kiyomizu ware and continues to protect an old craft. “I like simple sakeware,” the chef says as he shows the variety of pieces. He likes to keep bottles used for cold sake separate from those used to warm the drink. The restaurant stocks a selection of six to seven sakes, but the starting bottle is almost always the dry junmai of Sawanoi, a Tokyo brewery. He also likes to serve seasonal favorites like summer sake or akiagari in the fall.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000