Susukino Sushi Kin
Susukino Sushikin was born out of pure passion. Instead of going through formal training, Yasuaki Matsuhashi chose a self-teaching method where he would go and try out the best sushi bars in Tokyo and then attempt to figure out their recipes entirely on his own. The countless trial and errors have made him an expert of subtle flavors and complex techniques, allowing him to curate his own original menu focused local Hokkaido catches.
Originally ran by his father, Susukino Sushikin opened as a casual local eatery in 1972, right by the Susukino crossing in the center of Sapporo. The restaurant transformed into a high-end restaurant after Matsuhashi took over in 2000. With a vision to offer an exclusive experience, the menu is the chef’s omakase meal only and the number of guests is limited to just eight people that can fit across the counter.
Contrast to its modern exterior, the restaurant is set with traditional architecture and classic Sukiya-zukuri details. One of the walls are fixed with yukimi-shoji, or snow-viewing screens, which are made of half glass and half shoji panels, allowing guests to view the snow outside. The ceiling is slanted to mimic a roof of a house, creating a warm and welcoming ambiance.
While focused on Hokkaido produce, the chef has a great eye for finding rare ingredients from all over Japan that get flown into the Toyosu market in Tokyo. Also a great English speaker, he can share the stories behind each recipe as well as his extensive knowledge about the Japanese fishery industry.
Born out of pure passion
The chef’s seasonal omakase menu flows through a series of six or seven small dishes, followed by about a dozen nigiris. Each dish is presented on beautiful tableware, selected specifically for that occasion.
Thick slices of Ezo abalone is cut with wave-like curves to give them great texture. They are first steamed and then bathed in dashi broth, with creamy liver sauce draped over them. He likes to use the local catches from Ezo through the cold months and black abalone from Kyushu or Chiba during the summer.
Next is a cup that brings together two incredible flavors. Heaps of salmon roe are topped with melting morsels of sea urchin and a tint of fresh wasabi. Every spoonful is bursting with sweet umami. Steamed monkfish liver is cut into a square and served with watermelon narazuke pickles. The contrast of the salty liver and the sweet pickle is simply divine.
Every piece of nigiri that follows is a work of craftsmanship. “There’s a specific flavor that I ‘aim’ for when I prepare each piece,” the chef explains. For example, the akami portion of the tuna is rested anywhere between a week to ten days, or sometimes as long as three weeks, depending on the condition of the fish and the specific flavor he wants.
The chutoro tuna is sweet and creamy with just the right amount of fat. It’s so delicious he likes to serve it at two different timings during the meal. Otoro fatty tuna is rich but elegant in flavor and has that beautiful ruby tint. “The perfect nigiri is when the rice gently falls apart in your mouth while still having that great texture,” he says. “I like to serve the rice a touch warmer than the temperature of our skin.”
Fished in Amakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture, the shiny strips of gizzard shad are marinated in classic Edomae style and sliced with beautiful slits. Baked egg is full of umami from grated shrimp, white fish, taro yams and home-made sweet sauce that have been blended in. The slice is soft and moist, almost like dessert.
Contrary to expectations, about 70% of the restaurant’s fish comes from the Toyosu fish market in Tokyo. Matsuhashi points out that the best catches from Hokkaido are actually found in Toyosu, and not locally. For example, only about 4-6% of Hokkaido sea urchin are what he considers the highest-quality, but all of it gets shipped to Tokyo for higher prices. He finds it frustrating that the current system makes him have to buy local produce in Tokyo and have to bring it all the way back to Hokkaido.
“It’s a myth that when you come to Hokkaido, you can get the best of local seafood at a cheaper price,” he explains. “I’m torn by this dilemma.” But thanks to his hard work of sourcing for the highest quality Hokkaido catches in Tokyo, he is able to put together a seemingly “local” sushi menu. Chunks of umami-packed tuna is sourced from Ishiji, one of the top vendors in Toyosu. The chef prefers catches tunas that are caught off shores of Oma in Aomori Prefecture and are about 150 kg in weight.
For shari rice, he consults the rice vendor to create an original blend, mixing grains from Hokkaido and Akita. He likes to use those that are relatively firm and holds up well. The vinegar is a mix of three types of red and rice vinegars. The wasabi comes from key regions like Naka-Izu.
The drink selection is equally superb. He picks three types of dry and crisp Champagne. For wine, he offers only white such as Chardonnay from Burgundy or Sauvignon Blanc from Napa. The sake choices are focused on local made, including Kamikawa Taisetsu, Niseko and Hokuto Zuiso.
Matsuhashi has an exquisite taste for traditional ceramics, which are carefully selected and curated for the seasonal meal. One of his favorite is a set of sakeware by Sakaida Kakiemon, a national treasure potter. The flower vase is a rare Bizen ware by Kei Fujiwara, with fresh flowers beautifully arranged by his mother. “I’m often drawn to earthenware,” he says. “I try to avoid anything that looks too luxurious.”
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥4,000