Sushi M in Tokyo, when sake is as important as sushi

The classic Japanese format can also be innovative. The example is given by Nakamura's and Hanare's restaurant

Michimasa Nakamura, sushi chef, and Yoshinobu Ki

Michimasa Nakamura, sushi chef, and Yoshinobu Kimura, sommelier at Sushi M in Tokyo (photo Sushi M)

Sushi chef Michimasa Nakamura, of Tokyo’s Sushi Shin and Shin Hanare, has embarked on an ambitious plan to serve sushi in a completely new way. A partnership with sommelier Yoshinobu Kimura, the sleek new Sushi M combines luxe Japanese ingredients with a serious wine and sake collection that includes rare and exclusive bottles.

Nakamura has spent years forging relationships with artisanal fishers, who deliver their wares in peak condition directly from ports in Nagasaki, Kanagawa and Hokkaido. His subtle approach showcases the quality of the seafood while introducing new flavors and experimental techniques. 

Pairing is so central to the restaurant’s concept that Kimura, who worked for 10 years at two-Michelin-starred Narisawa, commands a drinks station behind Nakamura’s 12-seat hinoki wood sushi counter. He matches courses with laser-like precision, selecting the perfect vessel and ideal serving temperature for each sake. 

Two examples of pairing, with sake and wine 

Two examples of pairing, with sake and wine 

(photo Sushi M)

(photo Sushi M)

Michimasa Nakamura and Yoshinobu Kimura (photo Sushi M)

Michimasa Nakamura and Yoshinobu Kimura (photo Sushi M)

In keeping with the spirit of collaboration, Nakamura creates his recipes with pairing in mind. He carves a large squid fillet -- like jamon serrano -- into thin sheets before slicing it into delicate threads. The point is to create a balance of sweetness, umami and texture. Paired with Nirugame 96 sake from Aramasa Shuzo, the mouthfeel is as billowy and beguiling as a cloud.

Extravagance doesn’t come cheap, but where else in the world will you find rice-flour eclairs topped with caviar, or wagyu shabu-shabu draped over rice and finished with ikura? Worth the splurge.

Sushi M
At Home Square 2F
4-24-8 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Giappone
Tasting menu: 20,000 yen (165 euro)
Closed Sunday

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Melinda Joe

american journalist, she lives in Tokyo and travels around the world writing about food, sake and wine. She's a columnist for Japan Times, and collaborates with NewsweekCNNGourmet SwedenWall Street Journal
twitter: @melindajoe

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