The last time I was here, I had their value-for-money lunch. This time, we took time for their dinner omakase.
Once you are settled in front of the counter, the Itamae served you the customary starter and started you off the Omakase journey.
It consisted of 11 pieces of nigiri, 1 maki roll and miso soup.
1/ Tai (Sea Bream)
Tai season begins in the winter time, but doesn’t reach its peak until the first week of April. The fish is then called sakura-dai (cherry blossom sea bream) and fetches high prices at market. Delicately brushed with a soy sauce that hinted a sweet dashi taste, the sushi was eaten with the fingers. The chef insisted that we used our fingers to eat the sushi. It was exactly one bite, well balanced and perfectly room temperature.
2/ Chutoro (Tuna belly)
The cut served was closer to the akamai part then the chu-toro part. Nevertheless it was still fatty and satisfying to the very last chew.
3/ Ika (Squid)
Before this, I did not know so many different types of Ika (squids) are used as Sushi. Aori Ika was crunchy and did not have the slimy feel to those you get in Singapore. Served with salt.
4/ Kohada ( Gizzard Shad)
The preparation requires that the fish be filleted, deboned, washed with water, salted, rinsed with vinegar, and finally marinated in vinegar for an extended period of time. Many factors such as fish size, fat content, and even weather conditions are used to determine how long to salt and marinate the fish, and a good chef will know this mostly from previous experience, but also to a certain extent from instinct.
The final product can be amazing: full of umami from the omega 3 fats, acidic from the vinegar, but also deliciously sweet.
5/ Buri (Yellowtail)
In the winter months, buri is regarded as the fattiest and most flavorful shiromi (white fish) – its taste and depth of flavor can equal the best maguro, especially when carefully aged for a few days to allow for naturally occurring enzymes to break down the fish’s proteins and fats into amino acids such as glutamate.
6/ Hotate (Scallop)
What are unusual of these Hokkaido scallops are their size. Putting next to the regular sized scallop, they are almost twice as big!
They have the same sweetness and bit as the regular scallop. So it was all just a gimmick.
7/ Katsuo (Bonito)
Katsuo is best in the spring, as a lean yet flavorful fish with thin skin that can be kept on when served, then again in the fall, fattened up and full of umami. It belongs to the same family as maguro, but has a very unique, distinct taste that is quite intoxicating. It was garnished with grated ginger and served raw.
8/ Maguro Aburi (Seared Tuna)
At first looked, I thought it was wagyu beef aburi and proudly explained it to my guest. But this being Tokyo and a traditional sushi restaurant, the chef explained that it was maguro. I made this mistake once again.
9/ Amaebi (Deep Water Shrimp)
We were presented with two live amaebi. These were quickly deshelled and the ebi served on sushi.
The heads were not gone to waste. They were brought back to the kitchen to be deep fried and served later with the maki.
As the name implied, the shrimp was sweet to taste. As it had just be deshelled, the flesh was firm and crunchy.
10/ Bafun Uni (Sea Urchin)
In uni (sea urchin) world, “peasants” eat fishes and prawns while the “royalties” eat top grade kombu (kelp). The expensive Bafun uni partake kombu (you can imagine how umami the roe are), while the less expensive ones take fishes and prawns (still umami, but how could you beat kombu?). Different uni companies have different ways of rearing and grading their uni. This makes the price difference.
A trivial for you: Uni Gunkan 军舰 was invented in Kyubey. The founder of Kyubey invented Gunkanmaki, which is now a staple in all sushi restaurants. Edible history here. Of course, the creamy, umami uni was always good.
11/ Anago (Sea Eel)
Moving off red fish, we were coming to the end of the omakase, where the taste buds will be brought through more complex tastes. Anago was grilled to perfection and then served two ways on a sweet nitsune sauce and with a simple sprinkle of salt. Flavours onslaught to the palate.
Maki Course : Teka-maki
Classic end to the sushi. The nori was not mushy, signs of a really high standard sushi restaurant. The chef asked if we wanted to repeat anything or get more, signaling the end of the omakase run. Anything else will be a la carte from now.
A la carte : Kappo-maki
A la carte : Akagai (Surf Clam)
This is my favourite sushi, the ark shell. It’s like an oversized cockle with all the bloody parts removed. Akagai used to be in plentiful supply right in Edo bay, but sadly these days it has become scarce and very pricey. The shellfish is washed in vinegared water, then carefully butterflied and sliced. The clam meat is crunchy and delicious.
And finally, the dessert – which was kind of disappointing. The Japanese orange was really juicy and sweet, and packed with the deliciousness of orange, but we didn’t expect to end the meal with such an anti-climax. But again, my previous visits with Kyubey all ended with fruits. And this was winter, so we couldn’t expect anything else.
Kyubey provides great sushi for a reasonable price without the need for a long reservation queue. You do not need to go to other sushi restaurants with 3 stars from Michelin to enjoy top quality sushi in Japan. Of course, once you are accustomed to the quality of Kyubey, you can extend outwards to others.
Kyubey Hotel New Otani The Main Branch
Japan, 〒102-0094 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Kioicho, 4−1
Tel :+81 3-3221-4144
Date Visited : Mar 2020