By no means wild and unusual, but perhaps best described as unconventional. Unconventional pairings, unconventional methods, unconventional presentation. Translucent succulent hirame sashimi topped with generous truffle shavings, plump yet velvety uni, and a tummy-warming seasonal croquette all make you want to come back for more. One thing is certain, even if it’s your first time dining here, the chef makes you feel like you are one of his regular customers. That is the level of comfort and approachability you get at Sushi Ryusuke.
Always one for a challenge, Chef Yamane chose Ginza for his first foray as an owner/chef because he feels that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. There is so much choice in Ginza, especially in the finest sushi, but he felt sure he could bring something new to his customers. The somewhat dark staircase brings you to a simple sliding door which opens into a light, clean minimalist Japanese space. The soft refreshing aroma of the seven-seat counter – a single plank of hinoki – invites you to take a seat, leaving your shoes on. And there’s a small nook for your bag in front of your knees. It’s the small touches like this that make the space so welcoming and comfortable.
Try the mixture of unconventional and traditional.
The cuisine here is all about showcasing the best in Japanese seafood, alternating cool and warm dishes, sushi and otsumami, new combinations and comfort-style food.
Yamane finds inspiration for new creations in the wide variety of washoku that he enjoys every day. He tasted countless varieties of rice for texture and flavor before finally settling on the Yamagata-grown Akita Komachi variety. It is flavored depending on the fish that will top it – either a single white vinegar or a blend of three red vinegars from Yokoi Vinegar Brewing, a long-trusted brand in the world of Edomae sushi. Dark fish, white fish, six baby fish layered delicately and glistening with freshness – the chef serves with a rhythm that soothes and satiates.
While your taste buds will be tantalized by every dish the chef presents you with, there is one that will compel you to make a reservation for your next dinner before you even finish this one. Flounder with shaved truffle. With your appetite already stimulated by the aromas that waft during preparation, then you taste it. Flavor and texture like no other. The perfect temperature of the fish, topped with generous truffle shavings, and garnished with truffle salt so delicious that you will be following it around the plate to scoop up every last crystal.
You will also be treated to grilled dishes of large creamy meaty slices of abalone or sumptuously marinated ebodai Japanese butterfish, seasonal variations of velvety chawanmushi savory egg custard, and a rich creamy deep-fried croquette filled with crab, scallop or even squares of truffle depending on the season. A generous fleshy serving of anago from Tsushima in Nagasaki is charcoal-grilled and served two ways – with salt and swift brush of sweet tare sauce. It’s fluffy and crispy at the same time – a texture Yamane achieves by brining it overnight.
You may notice a distinct lack of condiments like soy sauce and wasabi on the counter. This is because the chef has already precisely flavored each component, enhancing their flavors and eliminating the need for wasabi or soy sauce. And ginger will only make an appearance if it’s the right moment to cleanse your palate for the next course.
When you work for a big sushi establishment, orders are made by telephone with specified suppliers who deliver all your ingredients. Now that Yamane has gone out on his own, getting to visit Tsukiji market every day is what he looks forward to most of all. Interacting with the fishmongers, selecting product with his own eyes – this is fun for Yamane.
Clearly he has forged some excellent connections at the market. This becomes clear when Yamane pulls out a small rustic brown bag of uni labeled ‘01’, indicating this sea urchin as the highest quality product at the auction that day. And when the sweet velvety uni is this good, Yamane showcases it as a standalone dish.
He also takes great joy in breaking down a whole block of tuna, feeling for the right place to make a cut, making meticulous little movements with his knife to create the perfect pieces. It is awe-inspiring to watch this knife-work, almost like an orchestra conductor flicking the baton. Yamane prefers maguro on the small size (around 70-80kg), because while larger ones have more generous layers of fat, the distinctive flavor dissipates. Yamane really focuses on the fresh flavor and for the most delicious flavors, you absolutely have to get the product at its peak.
Yamane selects various dishes for size, balance and weight through a specialty tableware dealer based in Tsukiji called Toshudo. All dishes are fired to order. He has no rules about certain foods served on specific dishes – he takes it one dish, one customer, one moment at a time. A beautiful thick yet elegant green chrysanthemum dish; a sandy colored dish textured with ripples like it has been shaped with the waves of the ocean. Yamane is especially taken with the dark green glaze reminiscent of green tea found in pieces of Oribe pottery from Gifu Prefecture and the dark, rugged contours of Bizen ware from Okayama.