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Tokyo

Sushi Tsubomi

鮨つぼみ

Produced by Takashi Saito of famed Sushi Saito, the young chefs of Sushi Tsubomi treat their guests with an impressive fare. Opened as a stage for Saito’s apprentices to showcase their skills, its second owner Keiya Kawaguchi offers superb Edomae-style sushi built on classic techniques. Using seasonal ingredients, the omakase menu is served with a rhythm, with attention to texture, temperature and flow of flavors.

Named after the Japanese word for flower buds, Sushi Tsubomi was born out of Saito’s desire to create a place for his apprentices to shine. Its first owner, Makoto Maruyama, and his successor, Kawaguchi, have impressed gourmands with their excellent artistry. Also pursuing a master’s degree in Fisheries Management, Kawaguchi’s cuisine reflects his extensive knowledge about seafood and the industry.

Sushi Tsubomi opened its doors in 2018 in a quiet neighborhood of Higashiyama. Embroidered with the same pine crest as Sushi Saito, the noren curtain hangs over the entrance to welcome the guests. There are just 10 seats set around the beautiful counter made of Kiso cypress wood. The raised serving area is slightly slanted to make the food stand out even more. There is also a smaller private room where the second chef entertains the guests.

The character for sushi in the restaurant’s name uses a play on words with the letter for sake, emphasizing how delicious sushi should be accompanied with a delicious drink. The impressive sake lineup includes rare vintages from top breweries such as Eshikoto Tokoshie by Kokuryu Sake Brewery, distributed only to a select group of restaurants and stores. The restaurant also stocks Eshikoto Awa, a vintage that is usually only available in Fukui where the brewery is based.

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CUISINE

Inheriting the style of Sushi Saito

Made up of nigiris, small dishes and rolls, the seasonal omakase menu changes by the month. Inheriting the style of Sushi Saito, Kawaguchi first lays out all the sushi ingredients on a cutting board for the guests to see. It’s hard to hold back the excitement from all the flavors you’ll soon be enjoying.

The feast begins with a series of small dishes. Shako, or Mantis shrimp, from Hokkaido is simmered and served in dashi. It has a sweet and refined flavor. Grilled abura bozu, or butterfish, is first marinated in red and white miso, sake and sugar, and served with wasabi and grated daikon radish.

For his first two nigiris, Kawaguchi likes to serve white fish. I like to choose two seasonal fish that are different in texture and flavor so guests get to enjoy the contrast, he says.

He is also very particular about the temperature of the nigiri. He curates the order of the menu and controls the temperature of the ingredients based on the thickness and fattiness of the fish. The correct temperature brings out the best flavor of the ingredient, he explains. He molds each piece carefully into a beautiful oval to make sure that the rice and fish fall apart in your mouth.

The order of tuna courses usually begins with akami, or lean tuna, then onto fattier chutoro and otoro, the chef explains. The fish is sourced from Yamayuki, the same wholesaler as Sushi Saito. The day’s tuna was caught off the coast of Choshi in Chiba Prefecture.

Kohada, or gizzard shad is first marinated with salt then in vinegar. Kawaguchi makes sure the sushi has a stronger flavor during the summer months, while keeping the flavor lighter in the winter. The fish is best served at a slightly cool temperature for the best flavor. Sagoshi, or baby Spanish mackerel, is marinated as zuke, a traditional Edo-style method.

Conger eel is salted first in dashi for a plump texture. It’s warmed to the right temperature just before serving. Aka ika, or red squid, is softened with fine slits and served with a pinch of salt and sudachi citrus.

For the finishing courses, Kawaguchi likes to serve a futomaki roll with tuna, shiitake mushrooms, cucumber, egg and Japanese tiger prawns. A bite of sweet inari sushi wraps up the meal. INGREDIENTS As a former apprentice of Sushi Saito, Kawaguchi can procure from top vendors across Japan such as Yamayuki, which specializes in tuna. He also buys tilefish, rockfish and sea urchins caught in the Seto Inland Sea from fishermen in his hometown of Ehime. For the sushi, he uses aged Akita Komachi rice, flavoring it with red vinegar and salt. The red vinegar is made by Yokoi Brewery. Ida Salt comes from Numazu in Shizuoka. The fresh wasabi is grown by Sugiyama Farm in Umegashima.

Sushi Tsubomi cuisine #0
Sushi Tsubomi cuisine #1

CHEF

Keiya Kawaguchi

Keiya Kawaguchi was born in Ehime Prefecture in 1991. He became interested in the world of sushi as a university student working part-time at a local seafood restaurant. Following his passion, his first job out of college was at a fish market in Ehime. As he got to work with fishermen and vendors, he realized he wanted to become a sushi chef.

To master the art of Edomae-style sushi, he went knocking on the door of Sushi Saito. At age 25, he began training under Takashi Saito, one of Japan’s most renowned sushi chefs. He continued to build his skills as he worked at Sushi Saito during the day and Sushi Tsubomi at night. Recognized for his skills, he took over as the second owner of Sushi Tsubomi from Makoto Maruyama. Maruyama now works at Sushi Saito in Bangkok.

In addition to his work as a sushi chef, Kawaguchi has recently enrolled in a remote graduate program at Ehime University to study Fisheries Management. While Saito was surprised by the decision at first, he gave his full support when Kawaguchi explained how he wants to gain a better understanding of the industry and make a greater impact.

VISION
“It’s been two years since I inherited Sushi Tsubomi and carried on the work of the former chef, Makoto Maruyama,” Kawaguchi explains. “Going forward, I’d like to start expressing my own unique style.” With two years left for the graduate program, the chef hopes to focus more on training his second chef and other apprentices.

TABLEWARE

Sushi Tsubomi not only inherits the exquisite flavors of Sushi Saito but its refined aesthetics and dedication to hospitality. The beautiful plate where the sushi is served is a piece of Korean Karatsu. Many of the dishes used throughout the meal were a gift from Saito when Kawaguchi took on the restaurant. “Tableware is very important because it entirely changes the scene of that moment,” Kawaguchi says. He likes to select crockery made by mostly contemporary artists from various regions of Japan.

Course

LUNCH (Fri-Sun, 12PM only)
Tsubomi Lunch only course menu
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥23,000
¥23,000
Reservation Request
DINNER (6PM-/ 8:30PM-)
Tsubomi Dinner course menu
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥38,000
¥38,000
Reservation Request
DINNER (6PM-/ 8:30PM-)
Tsubomi omakase course menu served by sous chef at the second counter
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥38,000
¥38,000
Reservation Request

Tokyo

Sushi Tsubomi

鮨つぼみ

PRICE
¥23,000
~
CHILD
9
& UP
LUNCH
OPEN
MIN GUESTS
1
PERSON
~
GENRE
Sushi, Nakameguro
ADDRESS
1F, 1 Chome-21-26 Higashiyama, Meguro City, Tokyo 153-0043, Japan
OPEN
Lunch (Fri- Sun) :12PM, Dinner:6PM and 8:30PM
CLOSED
Tuesday and Wednesday
URL
NA
PHONE
NA

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