Gourmet Trips

Wholehearted Fish Cuisine

さかな料理一心 Sakana Ryori Isshin literally means wholehearted fish cuisine. This is one of my favourite place in Tokyo for fish. I have been here more than dozen time, and every time I was not disappointed.

There are many outstanding “fish” restaurants but Isshin (“One Heart”) stood out among all as specialising in Sakana (肴) or drinking cuisine, so that’s a bit more unique. Strangely Sakana also means fish in Japanese, so Isshin specialises in Fish Cuisine for Drinking, if that make any sense to you.

Tempura vegetable

The first course was some simple tempura of shiso leaf and egg plant. This will be the only vegetable we will be eating tonight

Whale meat sashimi 鯨肉刺身

Whale meat sashimi 鯨肉刺身

The Japanese have hunted whales since at least the eighth century, since the practice is mentioned in the Kojiki (古事記), Japan’s oldest document, dating back to that time. 鯨 or くじら kujira is usually served in specialty shops, but I was surprised to be served this here. It was served straight up with no seasoning.

Whale tastes much more like its hairy cousins like reindeer and moose on land than its gilled neighbours in the sea.

Sweet braised sea whelk つぶ貝の甘辛煮

Sweet braised sea whelk and snow crab leg つぶ貝の甘辛煮

The sea whelk つぶ貝 tsubugai has a sweet and sharp flavour of ginger and soy sauce, and is perfect with sake. The texture was a bit chewy but not like gum, more like mochi.

Selected sashimi and grilled ayu 厳選刺身と焼き鮎

Selected sashimi and grilled ayu 厳選刺身と焼き鮎

Ayu 鮎 is my favourite grilled fish and can only be found in certain seasons. The english name “sweetfish” indicates that the flesh is sweet to taste, some would even say it tasted like grilled watermelon. The taste of ayu has to do with the food from the surrounding it grows up in.

Ayu is an anadromous fish so it’s born in a river and grows up in the ocean and comes back to its native river again. And you need to have pristine rivers for them to survive with moss growing on the boulders for food. Therefore wild ayu is endangered.

Specially selected sashimi 厳選刺身 came with salmon roe that they marinated themselves, so you can see the cluster of roes instead of individual pearls. Everyone got a portion that included ikura, chutoro, kinmedai, ika and hamachi.

Braised kinmedai, burdock and kelp 金目鯛の煮付け ごぼう 昆布

Braised kinmedai, burdock and kelp 金目鯛の煮付け ごぼう 昆布

Burdock root is called ‘Gobo’ ごぼう in Japanese and looked like a branch with roots. It’s cooked in a similar way to a carrot and tastes pleasant albeit a little earthy. It simmered very well in a stew. Burdock is seen as being very good for the health, especially for the liver and the skin. Seaweeds supply iodine to the thyroid and it help to protect against radioactive elements in the air, water, and food chain. Seaweed is also has high alginate content which can aid the body in detoxing heavy metals.

This course is a very popular way of cooking fish. The Kinmedai (Splendid Alfonsino) 金目鯛 is a deep sea fish with bright red skin and exceptionally large eye, it’s hard not to spot it in the market setting. The whole fish is gutted and filled with gobo and then stewed with seaweed and a sweet braising sauce. Kinmedai is a delicate fish with a fatty overtone. Braising took out the oil that added the flavour to the burdock.

Tekka maki 鉄火巻

Tekka maki 鉄火巻

Originally, tekka means red heated steel. A Japanese word, tekka-ba 鉄火場 means a place for a gamble, and it is said that the word derives from players becoming heated up like heated steel. According to an explanation, the name of tekka-maki 鉄火巻 is derived from being eaten in places for gambles. Similar origin as a sandwich 😉

Oyster in clear fish stock 牡蠣のうしお汁

Oyster in clear fish stock 牡蠣のうしお汁

The oyster soup was made with three ingredients – fresh oyster, ginger and dashi stock. Its taste is exceptional among the soup made from shellfish. The flavour of the sea, the crisp texture of fresh oyster, and the umami of the dashi stock are unforgettable.

Chef-Owner Toyama Ryota 遠山涼太

The shop has no English menu, and the staff does not speak any English. You have either to bring Google translate or a Japanese friend or learn Japanese. There’s no printed menu, just the daily specials written on the blackboard over the counter and slips of paper pasted all over the wall, so that made it even more challenging. But if you just said, “Omakase”, he will make sure you get a very good dinner. Be prepared to pay around ¥10,000 per person without drinks but the seafood is of very high quality, and they don’t hold back punches when they serve you the best catch of the day.

さかな料理一心 Sakana Isshin
東京都 千代田区 外神田 6-11-1 カワハラビル 1F
6-11-1 Sotokanda Chiyoda Tokyo
Tel : 03-3836-3103 (+81-3-3836-3103)

Date Visited : Jun 2017

2 comments on “Wholehearted Fish Cuisine

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