Sushi Kimura Revisited

Sushi Kimura is probably my favorite sushi-ya.

There, I said it.

This was my second visit there and it was just as good as the first if not better. There is so much to like about this place:

My first visit write-up: Sushi Kimura 1

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The location, at Futakotamagawa (try repeating it many times), which is far from the Golden Triangle of Ginza Sushi-yas.

The clientele, who tend to be residents in the nearby affluent district of Setagaya, and also happen to be unpretentious sushi connoisseurs.

The ambience and decor of the place, a simple low-ceiling room with a hinoki counter with interesting crockery, with a relaxed environment

The chef, Kouji Kimura-san, who through his hospitality and openness, provides a laid-back environment which still allows diners to focus on the food. He is unpretentious and is willing to share his methods, is always smiling, and has a good sense of humour.

And lastly and most importantly, the sushi itself.

The sushi there goes beyond just taste, which is by the way bloody amazing, every sequence and every piece tells a story. The flow of the meal in terms of flavor progression cannot be faulted. There is a beautiful marriage of tradition and innovation, where new techniques for aging the fish are pushed to the limits but the traditions of Edomae sushi are still respected, with the use of akazu (sake lees vinegar) and the use of traditional Edomae sauces, nikiri and tsume, to finish off the nigiri pieces.

Every piece is by itself amazing. But let me share those which really made my heart stop (in a good way, of course).

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Sawara (Spanish Mackerel) @ Sushi Kimura

Sawara, aged 2 weeks, provided a very silky texture and more profound hikari-mono taste. Vanishes in your mouth.

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Ika @ Sushi Kimura

Ika, aged 7 days, painstakingly cut into ribbons before your very eyes and molded into sushi; topped with egg yolk and soy sauce. This goes beyond the conventional wisdom that squid must be fresh. Some sushi-ya might leave the squid for a day for it to develop creaminess, like Nagayama-san of Daisan Harumi, but 7 days is a whole different story. The results speak for itself: a rich and creamy piece, with a silky and luscious texture, with the squid’s aroma being more prominent but not overwhelming. More importantly it blends really well with the earthy,tart and fragrant akazu shari. What a masterpiece.

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Aji (Horse Mackerel) @ Sushi Kimura

Aji, aged 10 days, again going against conventional wisdom that Aji is best served fresh. To age Aji requires a deep knowledge of the fish and the process, even more so than tuna, as Aji has histadines and amines which upon breaking down create histamines which may cause an allergic reaction and that distinct fishy odour. The typical sushi-ya will buy the Aji first thing in the morning at the market and prep it by removing the innards and cleaning it first thing upon getting back to the shop to prevent this undesirable breakdown from happening. I’m sure the same thing happens at Sushi Kimura, but how he manages to age it is beyond me. The results show a different side of Aji (it is still “Aji” in flavour profile), with the meatiness being more prominent and the pristine fat being less intense, almost mellow.

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Kohada (Gizzard Shad) @ Sushi Kimura

Kohada, aged 10 days, is one of those pieces that determine the sushi-ya’s level of skill, and at Sushi Kimura this does not disappoint. The flesh is rather firm and the vinegar note is strong, the taste almost sweet. This is the second best kohada I had, but I guess it is not fair to compare someone with almost 80 years of experience to someone with 25 years of experience….

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Tako (Octopus) @ Sushi Kimura

Tako, sliced on the thin side, served with a drop of divine nitsume. The hit of sourness and the aroma from the rice really complements the tako’s distinct fragrance. This piece can be said to be approaching or equal to the same level of tako that I had with the taisho of almost 80 years experience.

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Hamaguri (Hard Clam) @ Sushi Kimura

Hamaguri, in season, served with that complex nitsume again. Really melds with the sushi rice.

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Kajiki (Blue Marlin) @ Sushi Kimura

Kajiki, aged 50 days this time, is probably the ‘signature dish’ of Sushi Kimura. This piece is special because it highlights how aging creates new flavors in the fish, similar to how aging wine can create new flavors and aromas. The last time I had this it had a beautiful coffee note which gave way to a rich caramel “fatty” finish that went on forever. This time it tasted like cheese! And this time I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a photo, so this photo from my first visit will have to suffice.

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Kawahagi (Filefish) with its liver and spring onions @ Sushi Kimura
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Kampyo-Maki (Dried Gourd Roll) @ Sushi Kimura

This is the Kawahagi served with its liver and garnished with negi underneath. Apart from being delicious, the aesthetics of this piece is simply wonderful with the liver peeking through that translucent flesh, a result of slicing thinly. If you have gotten this far down this post, you would have noticed the aesthetics of Kimura-san’s sushi, which tends to be very sleek looking (I like) and large nigiri (I like). This piece, along the Kajiki, serves as hallmarks for Sushi Kimura in my eyes.

Kampyo-maki is served as the second last piece. Kampyo is another measure of a sushi-ya’s level, and Sushi Kimura’s kampyo is delightful. Beautifully soft kampyo with the tiniest hint of a bite and my favourite: the Kagoshima seaweed which is oh-so-smoky and deep.

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Tamagoyaki (Grilled Egg) @ Sushi Kimura

Lastly, to end the meal and awaken oneself from a sushi dream, tamagoyaki (grilled egg) is served. The tamagoyaki here is on the custardy side, and is wonderfully balanced: you can taste the essence of the fish and the egg in harmony swimming together in sweetness (just kidding, but the egg was delish).

You could tell that I had an awesome meal there. However, I have left out the tsumami section and some pieces so as to avoid ‘spoilers’. So truth be told the meal is actually better than what this post claims it to be. 🙂

At the end of every meal, as I walk back to Futakotamagawa station and take the train back to my hotel, there is always one conclusion that I always reach:

“The future of sushi is at Sushi Kimura” 

Overly-bold statement? Only the future will tell. Hopefully in that future we will still have blue-fin tuna though :(.

Date of Visit: April 2015

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