Over 2 hours and 40 precision crafted courses later, I left a tiny 7-seater sushi bar in the basement floor of an unassuming suburban block with an entirely different perspective on sushi, Japanese cuisine and a chef’s passion for perfection.
Sushi Sho Masa delivered an incredible omakase that sampled a range of seafood so staggering, I felt I consumed every single species of seafood in the ocean. From aged ootoro to creamy uni I left it all with the chef who also served up less obvious choices like monkfish liver - all of it was so so good.
Each and every piece was expertly trimmed to perfection and seasoned with just the right amount of salt smeared on or a squeeze of citrus that lifts the already stellar quality produce to levels unheard of outside of Japan. Watching the master in action is like seeing a brain surgeon conducting a small orchestra.
Most importantly, I took away something that few restaurants can provide: a learning experience. I was like a keen student watching Masakatsu-san teach us about the produce he uses, the use of freshly grated (on a shark skin board) wasabi to lighten oily fish and smashing shellfish on the chopping board from a height to watch it magically curl up from its fridge induced sleep. It’s incredible stuff.
The chef and his small team of 3 young male assistants were extremely accommodating for non-Japanese customers like us. The team made every effort to explain even the most obscure of fish names, sometimes by flicking through an encyclopaedia of seafood! So kawaii!
We also quietly giggled watching an assistant get scalded for missing the beat on a dish and scratched our heads when served a small wedge of a perfectly ripened tomato randomly between courses. Coincidently (and unsurprisingly), it was the best tasting tomato I’ve had.
By the time the chef cut a block of tamago, I knew the conclusion was near and my stomach also agreed it was about time to go. I turned to my Japanese businessman neighbour to my right and asked him if this is his favourite restaurant. He nodded slowly with much conviction and replied an affirmative ‘Yes’ as he kicked back into his seat. I respectfully nodded in agreement.
Another temple. You’d think by this time I’d get sick of it. Well, not if I’m visiting a branch temple of Sōtō Zen’s head temple!
The betsuin or branch temple is an interesting concept. It’s essentially a convenient way for people to visit a major temple without actually heading out there itself, especially if said temple is located clear across the country. In this case, Chokokuji, right smack dab in the middle of Nishi Azabu, is a branch temple of Eiheiji, one of the head temples of the Sōtō school. However, Eiheiji is in the boonies of Fukui prefecture, and thus not terribly convenient to visit on a moment’s notice. However, Chokukuji is centrally located and within walking distance of several subway stops and bus lines. Most importantly for me, it was within walking distance of Nogizaka.
Well, somewhat. I ended up walking through Aoyama Cemetery and wandering through Nishi Azabu before more or less stumbling across Chokokuji. While there’s not much noteworthy about the grounds, one of the temple structures contained a huge wooden statue of Avalokitesvara. I was suitably impressed.
h.NAOTO 今日は昨年度大波乱の仮装と有吉反省会で話題のあの方がようやく西麻布ギャラリーに来ました Today this person that last year participated in many costume parties and who became a topic of news because of ARIYOSHI’S Meeting for Reviewing
finally came to our gallery at Nishi Azabu.
明日から楽しみです ! Finally Shinya came to the store… What kind of costume will it be this year?! I’m looking forward to tomorrow!
After several failed attempts, I finally made it to Kurosawa Udon in Nishi-Azabu…
Run by the son of legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, the curry udon here came highly recommended by a friend. But every time I’ve gone in the past, they’ve been closed. Until last week!
While they have an extensive menu of differing noodle dishes, Hisao Kurosawa is known for two specialties, curry udon and menchi katsu, which is a deep-fried hamburger patty…
They were sold out of the super popular menchi katsu by the time I got there, but I was able to slurp down a bowl of their thick curry udon topped with kurobuta pork! Here’s a look…
I was surprised to find red and yellow peppers inside…
The thick noodles are all prepared on the premises…
The back of their bills all provide a reminder of the family’s legacy…
At 1200 yen, about $12.00 US, a bowl Kurosawa’s curry udon is a little pricier than some of the local ramen, but for films fans looking to soak up some ambiance in a classic Japanese setting, it’s well worth the cost.