新橋 清水 Shinbashi Shimizu
Add: 2-15-10 Shinbashi, Minato Ku / 港区新橋 2-15-10
Hours: 12pm~, 5:30~9:30 (L.O.)
Price: [lunch] 8,800+ yen [dinner] 15,000+ yen
Visited: Oct 2016
Among the myriad of high-end sushi restaurants in Tokyo, what foreigners are most familiar with are probably Sushi Jiro and Sushi Saito. Sushi Shimizu, on the other hand, is also highly ranked by the local Japanese (#34 on Tabelog’s top 50 sushi restaurants in Tokyo, just 6 spots after Sushi Jiro), but one can hardly find any non-Japanese information or reviews online. Why?
在東京衆多高級壽司店裡，一般外國人比較熟悉的不外乎是壽司之神すきやばし次郎（Sukiyabashi Jiro）和鮨さいとう（Sushi Saito）。而我這次去的新橋清水，雖然在當地人的圈子內是一座難求的名店，不過在網上卻很難找到非日語的信息和評論。爲什麽？
Let’s take a look first. The tiny sushi bar is located in a small alley not far from Ginza. It’s a space that fits only 8 customers, and inside the sushi bar is chef owner Kunihiro Shimizu. There are no fancy decors, just a simple bar, and behind it hung wooden boards listing today’s freshest ingredients.
Shimizu-san entered the trade when he was 18, and after 11 years of working at Shimbashi Tsuruhachi, he started out on his own in 1999. In fact, he was awarded one Michelin star in 2012, but as someone who doesn’t want his restaurant to be on any food guides, he complained to Michelin and had his star taken away the next year. Instead of running a sushi bar that’s world-famous and becomes impossible to book, he’d rather have it stay as a casual place where his regulars can come as they wish.
清水先生十八歲入行，于名店 “新橋鶴八” 工作11年後，1999年自立門戶。清水其實曾經在2012年被米其林評爲一星餐廳，不過他並不希望出現于任何餐廳指南上，所以氣憤的向米其林投訴，隔年隨即被撤銷了星星。長年來低調經營的清水先生，希望自己的餐廳不要成爲高高在上，需要好幾個月前就要訂位的拘謹名店，而是他的熟客可以隨意進來享用美味壽司的輕松地方。
Regulars of Shimizu can book in advance, but everyone else must book the day of – you can start calling after 8am to try your luck. As to why there are rarely any foreigners, it’s because Shimizu’s reservation policy has a couple of foreigner-unfriendly rules: you must speak Japanese, you must book with a Japanese local phone number, and they do not take reservations from hotel concierge – and these eliminates probably about 90% of the foreigners who want to come. It sounds very anti-foreigner, but it’s basically because Shimizu-san and both his staff speak only Japanese, and it would be very troublesome for them as well as for the customer if they cannot communicate with one another, making the experience less than perfect.
A friend’s friend happens to be a regular here, so I was fortunate to score a reservation (totally did a happy dance). As is typical at sushi bars like this, there’s no menu, and everything’s done omakase-style, though of course you can request specific items that you are craving for as long as it’s available that day. The rice at Shimizu is flavored with red vinegar, giving it a beautiful rosy color and acidic taste, and the texture was perfectly chewy. As in the old days, Shimizu-san places the sushi right on the counter for customers to pick up simply with their hands.
Each piece of sushi at Shimizu was a delight, though I was especially swooned by this anago (sea eel) sushi’s fluffy soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture. On an unrelated note, because the shrimp and sea eel sushi are larger in size, they have both been cut into two for the ladies – a small yet considerate gesture.
Lunch at Sushi Shimizu starts at 8,800 yen while dinner is around 15,000 yen, the actual price depends on how much and what you eat. For lunch, we had about 14 sushi, and the price came up to be a bit over 10,000 yen without drinks, which is excellent price performance ratio. The only trouble is that I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get another reservation next time I visit Tokyo…
新橋 清水 Shinbashi Shimizu