Good Eats

Sakana Isshin @ Tokyo (2022)

I was reminiscing of my first time there 7 years ago, and finally I am back! It’s like visiting an old friend after 3 years away. And I was welcomed with an excellent meal consisting of fish.

We always have a 6-7 course dinner set that included an appetiser, a sashimi, a couple of cooked dishes to go with the drinks, a simmered main course, maki and a soup. And we always leave it to the chef to decide what we are having.

Shirako in ponzu sauce and ikura

Our first course was the in season 白子 shirako. Shirako’s taste and texture are quite pleasant, like a piece of very flavourful tofu, meaning that many people who would otherwise be grossed out find it somewhat enjoyable. Shirako is fish sperm, and usually 真鱈白子 tara shirako or cod milt (a more graceful reference to the same thing) is used. It was not dressed with the usual ponzu in fact it was put on mashed daikon (radish) and topped with ikura (marinated salmon roe) and we were free to add our condiments.

フグ Fugu (Puffer fish) kaarage

We were served フグ 唐揚げ fugu kaarage as a snack with our drinks. Fugu is Japanese puffer fish that has a toxin that would kill if not cleaned properly. The fugu used tonight was prepared by a licensed professional and Chef Toyama just used the parts for kaarage. The taste of fugu is sweet and delicate bt it was totally overpowered by the kaarage coating.

鮪のたたき Bluefin tuna tataki

Next up, 鮪のたたき bluefin tuna tataki using the prized toro parts of the tuna. 原中 中トロ Haranaka-chutoro is a medium fatty part of the Bluefin tuna found around middle belly towards the tail. Haranaka-chutoro straddles between both otoro and akami, possessing the perfect blend of fatty and meaty.

Harashimo – the least quality of the toro part of Bluefin tuna

腹下 Harashimo is a very tendon-heavy cut and considered to be of moderate quality, at best. But Chef Toyama assured us this part was perfect for tataki and he was right. The chewiness and full flavour with moderate fattiness made a really delicious tataki.

真鯛 Madai

真鯛 Madai or red sea bream is called “the King of Fish” and has long been used in celebrations in Japan to bring in good luck, which is associated with its vivid red color and beautiful shape. Its status as a celebration fish is also supported by the fact that the word “madai” rhymes with the expression めでたい medetai meaning auspicious. And there’s no better time to eat it then during autumn.

A sumptuous もみじ鯛 autumn or “maple leaf” sea bream

もみじ鯛 Autumn sea bream is caught in late autumn from November to mid-December. As the name suggests, madai caught in this season of autumn has red scales like a maple, and the fat is the best due to the nutrients it has taken to survive the winter. And here the entire fish was served, including the liver and it was simmered in a beautiful broth with 百合根 lily bulbs and 赤もみじ棒麩 maple shaped gluten.

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.

Clear soup with Hokkaido scallops

And finally a clear fish soup with whole Hokkaido scallops rounded up an evening of excellent eats. Unlike Chinese fish broth that uses ginger to remove the fishy smell, Japanese fish broth uses none of that except very fresh white fish to make the stock.

In Japan when alcohol is consumed, it is customary that the drinks are always accompanied with some sort of foodstuff. The term sakana traditionally refer to food served to accompany sake. And boys did we have some sake! I am not a connoisseur of sake but these three bad boys were great with the 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.

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”, Chef-Owner Toyama Ryota 遠山涼太 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.

Reservation is a must; only 20 seats and 10 at the counters. Not a place for children though, it’s not kids friendly as people do smoke in the congested environment. Many clients will bring their female companions here for a dinner before they head out to Ginza, so do not be surprised at the clientele. It is an Izakaya after all. And Toyama-san does enjoy a drink or two as well.

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)

Visited Nov 2022

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