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Sushi Shinonome


Using classic Edomae techniques, Chef Wataru Nakahara’s sushi brings to life the riches of Hokkaido delicacies. His craftsmanship is found in the subtle details such as the homemade kombu salt on the sea urchin and the shallots hidden in the salmon nigiri. Set in a tasteful ambiance, Shinonome promises a memorable evening during your visit to Sapporo.

Recently renovated since opening in 2016, Shinonome is located in a quiet residential neighborhood near Maruyama Park. The restaurant sits on the second floor of a building where you will find a small sign, handwritten by the chef himself. The name, Shinonome, comes from his hometown in Higashikawa-cho in the highlands of central Hokkaido, famous as one of the cleanest water sources in Japan. “Shinonome also means dawn. The name reminds me not to forget my original intentions of opening the restaurant,” Nakahara says.

Surrounded by Kyoto ochre-colored walls, the restaurant’s interior is minimalist and elegant. Brass pinspot lights hang over the beautiful Tenryu hinoki counter. The chef places each sushi onto the rectangular Iga ware plates. The sushi glistens under the gentle spotlight.

To accompany the flavorful meal, there are more than 20 different sake to choose from, including vintages that are best served warm. You can also enjoy local vintages such as Misenzakura. There may be some seasonal sake that are not listed on the menu so please be sure to ask for the day’s recommendations.



Life the riches of Hokkaido delicacies

At the heart of Shinonome’s sushi is the vinegared rice, which uses a special blend of aged Nanatsuboshi and Yumepirika grains grown by his family in Higashikawa-cho. Nakahara carefully polishes the amount of rice he plans to use just for that day. The rice is cooked in a kamado, a traditional firewood oven, using spring water from Asahidake. “I cook the rice carefully so it has this satisfying texture as you chew,” he says.

Unlike a typical sushi course that starts with white fish, Nakahara first serves squid, his favorite topping. He also likes to serve stronger flavored dishes like sea urchin and tuna during the beginning of the meal. Soft-flavored fish are served towards the end. "Strong flavors are easier to savor when you're hungry, while milder flavors are easier to eat when you're full," he explains.

The monkfish liver appetizer shows off his craftsmanship. Served with a purée of Narazuke pickles and figs in a red vinegar sauce, the layers of flavors are simply magnificent.

What makes Nakahara’s sushi unique is how he interprets classic Edomae-style techniques to create his own unique approach. Bafun sea urchin is flavored using homemade kombu salt to bring out the natural umami. Wrapped in a crisp sheet of seaweed, the roll is passed from the chef’s hand to the guest’s.

Sumi-ika, or golden cuttlefish, is prepared by making deeper slits with a knife so it has a light texture. For Aori-ika, or bigfin reef squid, on the other hand, the slits are finer to create a sticky texture. Seasoned with salt and vinegar, gizzard shad is glistening and shiny.

Daisuke is a special brand of king salmon from Rausu. To balance the rich flavor, Nakahara hides some shallot with the wasabi between the fish and the rice. The surprising combination is delicious. The pickled ginger, served on the side, is cut into small bits not slices.

The tuna of the day comes from a 140-kg fish caught off the coast of Shiogama in Miyagi Prefecture. The akami is clean with a great aroma. The fatty toro is sweet and rich, melting away in your mouth.

Nakahara likes to source high quality produce not only from Hokkaido but froml across Japan. He uses fish brokers and also buys directly from the Toyosu market. He prefers tuna that is moist with a good aroma, and packed with umami. The rice is a blend of aged Nanatsuboshi and Yumepirika rice grown by his family in their hometown. The vinegar is a blend of Fuji Vinegar Premium, Fuji Vinegar and a 15-year-old red vinegar from Iio Brewery in Kyoto. The Mitsuru Kinari soy sauce is made in Itoshima. Fresh wasabi comes from Azumi.

Sushi Shinonome cuisine #0
Sushi Shinonome cuisine #1


Wataru Nakahara

Wataru Nakahara was born in 1983 in the Shinonome district of Higashikawa-cho, an area known for its clear waters and stunning nature. His earlier career was far removed from the world of sushi, first working for a media company specializing in special effects for movies and commercials. He then worked for a magazine publisher but he felt unsatisfied from the lack of interaction with customers. He started fishing as a hobby, which quickly grew into a passion that led him to switch careers completely.

He moved to Tokyo to attend a culinary school and start training as a sushi chef. Over the next five years, he trained under four chefs, learning various techniques and knowhow of running a restaurant. He returned to Hokkaido in 2016 to open his own restaurant. Even today, his simple mantra is to make delicious and beautiful sushi for his guests. VISION
It’s hard to foresee what’s ahead but I will like to continue running Shinonome for a long time, the chef says. He adds that he plans to keep on studying and experimenting with his sushi so he can entice more customers and visitors to Sapporo.


Nakahara’s has spent years perfecting his sushi rice. The rice is a blend of Nanatsuboshi and Yumepirika rice grown by his parents and brother at their hometown of Higashikawa-cho. He carefully polishes the rice everyday just for the amount he plans to use. The rice is soaked in spring water from Asahidake and cooked in a kagama furnace. Behind the open counter, long ears of rice from the farm are arranged in a beautiful Suimeigama vase for the guests.


Shinonome Omakase course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
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Sushi Shinonome


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Sushi, Maruyama Koen
2F, Japan, 〒064-0801 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Minami 1 Jonishi, 22 Chome−2−15
5PM-8PM (Last entry)


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