Araki ***, Tokyo
3 Michelin Star Sushi in Ginza
For tuna lovers, Araki is certainly THE BEST SUSHI IN THE WORLD.
And if you aren’t , Araki is still ONE OF the best sushi in the world.
In 2010, a sushi-ya little-known to the English-speaking community shot instantly to 3 michelin star status, rubbing shoulders with legendary Jiro, Mizutani and Saito. We , along with presumably the whole gastro-sphere, were shocked – “Who is Araki?”
Our research on the internet found just this single blog of the old Araki , situated in the outskirt little town of Kaminoge , 20 minutes from Shibuya. ( credit : http://letseatmeal.blogspot.com/2007/02/sushi-at-araki.html ) We thought this was one of those ‘little-known’ restaurants appreciated by just the locals (always a good sign) . Michelin Guide did mention that the chef has ‘an obsession with tuna.. serving 5 consecutive pieces of akami, chu-toro and otoro…” We were intrigued …
Flash forward to post-meal, speaking to the master Araki-san , we’d realize how ‘ignorant’ we’ve been to his reputation, in particular , astonishingly, not just within Japan. The chef was proud to namedrop a long list of international mega-figures , many amongst the Forbes billionaire ranking as his regular clients (to preserve privacy, we shall not reveal identities here) – even before moving to Ginza…. WOW….
In fact a day after the meal, he was heading to Florence for a week to ‘hang out’ with ‘friend and regular client’ Giorgio Pinchiorri of legendary 3 star Enoteca Pinchiorri.
Still, we weren’t prepared for the biggest shock he was about to reveal – ARAKI is closing PERMANENTLY in JAPAN! No more… he’s had enough.. he wants ‘to pursue my dream’…
..this dream, as we would later learn, was to, not just open a branch, but MOVE Araki to a foreign country. Initially, we heard that Araki was invited by Tetsuya Wakuda to jointly-open SUSHI ARAKI in Singapore. However, we have now gotten confirmation that this, in fact, was going to happen in LONDON! Exciting stuff….
So for all readers who have not been to Araki , we have this to tell you : G-O N-O-W or be sorry to miss out on the ‘best sushi there was’ … There’s absolutely no way that sushi at this highest level could be reproduced at any place, anywhere in the world , not to mention the seafood-deprived London! If sushi is your thing, then this is almost ‘El Bulli ‘- deja vu all over again! Now or never!
Of course, we’ve previously chosen Sushi Saito as ‘the best sushi in the world’. We’re sticking to that… but ARAKI is second.. to none! It’s just impossible to compare , let alone pick, the ‘better’ of the two. The contrast, however, is stark :
- While both serve edo-mae style sushi, Saito offers more predictable fish-selection with the exception of a couple of ‘rare’ sashimi and grilled fish (the best grilled Akamatsu ever!) Araki, however, has a very unique style, serving proprietary and signature menus like :
Toro-aburi sushi topped with seasonal Matsutake
Small Tamago-yaki (egg) as a palate-cleanser just after the ‘tsumami’ (appetizer/sashimi courses) . This is the first and probably the only place to serve Tamago even before a single piece of sushi is served…
5 consecutive pieces of TUNA (akami, akami-zuke, chu-toro , Chu-O-Toro and O-toro).
Thats not all … the finale was another ‘tuna-overload’ signature YAMA-ROLL (literally ‘mountain roll’) in which a concoction of marinated akami-zuke, pure akami and otoro were rolled into a distinctive-looking ‘mountain-like’ roll!
In total, we counted 7 different variations of TUNA – surely a world-record!! Not that we were complaining ; the Tuna(s) we ate at Araki were undoubtedly the best we’ve ever eaten. This is not just due to Araki’s ability to source the very best maguro but more importantly the ageing-process in which the chef allows the tuna to stand for many days before serving.
Naturally, not all courses were ‘best we’ve tasted’ …
The shari (rice) is slightly (i promise, just slightly!) saltier than we’d have liked…
And still, nobody could replicate the ‘light and airy’ texture combined with the perfect size, produced by Saito’s nigiri..
The Ebi is no match of Sukiyabashi Jiro
So is the Anago when compared to Sawada
But if tuna is your thing, then there’s no other sushi-place in the world that would satisfy you as much as ARAKI.