If you catch the train between Shinjuku and Tokyo Main Station, you will come through Yotsuya. I have always wondered about this station. Instead of an urban jungle, you come through a green valley of trees, tennis courts and basketball courts. A quick search of the internet comes up with Sushi Sho, the fabled sushi bar that banned one of the Michelin reviewers. We were keen to check it out on our last trip but the average price of 20,000 – 30,000 Yen (per person that is) deflated our goal.
We ended up picking Sushi Bar Yasuda at Aoyama. The prices are more reasonable starting from 6,800 Yen. I booked hastily by email at 10pm my time. By about 1am (my time and I was already in bed), he had already sent his reply.
Tokyo addresses can be difficult for foreigners so we planned on catching a taxi from the station. A sudden 10 minute torrential downpour caused issues as well. No empty taxi went past for 10 minutes so we decided to walk there. Luckily it was down another main road and a short 10 minute walk.
Yasuda san spent some 20 years in New York with his own rather famous sushi bar. He is sort of semi retired and had enough of running staff day in day out in the Big Apple. As he said, the countless times of cutting sushi was taking his tolls on his hands. Back in Tokyo, he now runs the bar with his wife and an apprentice of sorts in a small place that seats about 15 people and only 5 nights a week.
We were offered sake from his own town of Chiba and the sushi rice is also from there.
His English is impeccable from the decades in New York. There was another small group of Americans next to us. For about 10 minutes, Yasuda San was reserved. He would serve us the sushi politely and went back to his preparation. After that, he warmed up with the slight banter and started to tell great stories. We were so interested in his stories that we forgot to take pictures of many of the servings.
He told many stories. One involved Robert Downey Jr who frequented his place often and at one stage was showing off a new girlfriend every month. He reminisced about starting with nothing in New York back in the eighties and working for 2 dollars an hour and so forth.
He then said that some patrons went to another much more famous sushi place in Tokyo (probably the most famous of them all) and were scorned for being late or that they couldn’t ask for more servings. Here at Bar Yasuda, anything goes. He sources his sea food from everywhere and anywhere he can get his hands on. I asked him about the impending move of the fish market. And he said it did not bother him – no nostalgia whatsoever.
The group next to us was served 3 different kinds of sea urchin, including ones from Russia.
One time, some quiet person with 10 other men in black came to his establishment. He concentrated on the men in black, thinking they were important business men. As it turned out, they were the security team for one Jacques Chirac – former French President, who was eating quietly. Ariel Sharon, former Israel Prime Minister, held the record for having the most servings at his place – some 40 servings, he said.
He told more stories, but they are best told from the man himself. We had a great time.