Taking gorgeous to extremely new heights, the chance to bask in the exquisite ingredients and sheer talent of this chef are without a doubt worth the hefty price tag they command. Whether this is best described as the evolution of sushi or exploration in an entirely new genre is irrelevant; Tokyo can carry this indulgent style described by the chef himself as pure pleasure.
Kiyota has more than half a century of history and is one of a handful of highly distinguished restaurants in the fiercely competitive sushi space of Ginza. Owner chef Masashi Kimura, contemplating the next step in his life, took the bold move of opening this brand-new space in Ginza 5-chome in December 2018. Designed by world-renowned artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, the restaurant was initially only open to long-time customers of Kiyota, but the chef is now offering seats to overseas guests, presenting extreme sushi in the pursuit of perfection. He reveals the true pleasure of sushi: the chance to eat the very first and very best of each season.
The word hanare in the name Kiyota Hanare means “detached” and implies a strong sense of privacy and typically elegance, as well. Kiyota Hanare embodies those elements, but witnessing and savoring the extremely luxurious cuisine and omotenashi is the exclusive right of those who come to dine here, as photography is strictly prohibited.
The first sight as you alight from the elevator is a petite yet eye-catching five-ringed tower called gorinto – a traditional Buddhist memorial symbol with each ring representative of the five elements of nature. The inspiration for this work of art was the huge dead zone of the Baltic Sea. The timber slatted door slides to reveal a luxurious open space decorated with seasonal flowers and a counter beckoning you to take a seat. But first, you are led to relax and enjoy an aperitif in a secluded room beyond the main dining space. Removing your shoes, the soles of your feet will be tickled by the soft, sensuous touch of cashmere carpet. The five chairs contain distinctive camera parts in a design expressive of water and fire. Sipping your aperitif and savoring an amuse bouche at this pine tree table in this waiting space, a glimpse of the pine tree wall painting may be the best hint for the play on the Japanese word matsu, which can indicate both “to wait” and “pine tree”. This room that exemplifies the chef’s playful spirit can also be used, should you desire, for an after-dinner drink.
From the relaxing start in the waiting room, you move to your counter seat at the single plank hinoki cypress counter. Enjoy the soothing tones and touch of the timber stretching throughout the chef’s workspace, and then feel your eyes be swiftly taken to incredible paintings typically reserved for an art gallery. A series of seven, the paintings are perfectly placed so each guest can enjoy one to themselves. The contents of the paintings will not be revealed here – suffice to say it’s a touch certain to surprise and delight guests.
"The appeal of maguro tuna is stroke"
Epitomizing Kiyota Hanare’s cuisine is the maguro, or tuna. In the words of the chef: “If the appeal of meat is in its power, the appeal of maguro tuna is stroke. Wonderful acidity, aftertaste and aroma.” The unique shape of and skillful touches on his maguro sushi are the result of years of experience breaking down and shaping the fish into delectable morsels.
Placed on one of three different colored pieces of Wajima lacquerware, the black, gold and red tones set off the sushi beautifully in a course that starts with the amuse bouche and white-fleshed fish sashimi, followed by an unbelievable 20 to 25 pieces of nigiri sushi focused on premium maguro. With each rice oval weighing just 8 grams, guests can enjoy the sumptuous flavor of all the fish the season has to offer without feeling over-full. The chef also says it’s crucial that guests don’t grow tired of eating a certain flavor.
The amuse is a selection of seasonal delicacies on nothing less than a Rosanjin pottery plate, on this occasion including sea urchin, abalone, and engawa flounder fin. The rice for the vinegared rice ovals beneath each nigiri morsel is cooked in a copper pot and topped with an incredible array of premium ingredients, such as shinko young gizzard shad of early summer, layered in fillets showcasing their shiny silver skin or hoshigarei spotted halibut from Tokyo Bay. Special mention of course must be made of the premium bluefin tuna served by the chef: akami, handsomely shaped chutoro, and a shimofuri piece laced with beautiful fat like premium wagyu beef, on this day all from a 150 kg fish caught by fixed shore nets off Ishikawa Prefecture.
Kimura’s relationship with maguro goes beyond fastidiousness to infatuation. And the supplier who has always satisfied his passions when it comes to maguro is Ishiji – now at Toyosu Market – a wholesaler who stocks nothing but kuromaguro bluefin tuna caught in the Japan Sea. Kimura says there are two truly delicious seasons and types of maguro: the first comes during the rainy season of June to July, caught in fixed nets around Sado Island Niigata; the second is from Oma, Aomori, line-caught as autumn sets in. Asked about the most incredible tuna he has ever come across in his 50-year career, Kimura doesn’t hesitate to say the net and line-caught tuna of Oma, Aomori.
The sake selection is equally nothing short of stunning: original varieties not typically on the market from Niigata’s Hakkaizan brewery; and an incredible ongoing stock of several dozen bottles of Muni from Fukui’s Kokuryu Sake, which made waves hosting the sake industry’s first-ever private auction. The restaurant is fitted with a specialized sake refrigerator keeping bottles at a chilly minus 5 degrees, and if instead your preference is of the wine variety, you will find an incredible lineup including Montrachet from Cote de Beaune Burgundy, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, as well as Delamotte Blanc de Blanc champagne, from vineyards founded in Reims in 1760.
The tuna served at Kiyota Hanare, according to the chef, is delicious fresh and superb aged. Every single piece of tuna served at Kiyota since it was established in 1963 has been procured exclusively from bluefin tuna wholesaler Ishiji at the former Tsukiji and now Toyosu Market. Kimura proudly talks of never having cheated on his steadfast supplier. The relationship between chef and fishmonger is so deep that Kimura is even able to secure the extremely sought-after upper abdomen part called harakami – only two of which are found in each fish. Near the head on the underside of the body, with marbled fat throughout, this is the prized spot for the lusciously fatty otoro.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000