Tokyo Travels: Day 2 (Part 2)

After spending some time at Tsukiji Market and Ginza's shopping area during the first part of Day 2, off we went for our lunch at a sushi restaurant in Ginza called Kyubey. How the shopfront looks like:

[Disclaimer: This sushi restaurant is not officially halal-certified so if you are was-was then please do not patronize it. You may also skip the next portion about the restaurant.]

One of the things that we knew we wanted to do in Tokyo was to experience omakase at a respected and well established sushi restaurant. Omakase is a Japanese phrase which translates to "I'll leave it up to you" - which means you entrust the whole course to the chef and will let him select the dishes to serve you, based on his professional judgment. (I don't know if this applies to every restaurant, but at the one we went to, you can tell the chef if you have any allergies, dietary requirements or a specific sushi you want to have included in the course)

So naturally, we did some research online. Most of the restaurants had certain limitations: Must make reservations at least 1 month in advance, must be Japanese or must bring along a Japanese-speaking friend, must expect to spend at least $300 onwards per person. Unfortunately, we didn't want to reserve in advance (in case our itinerary changes at the last minute), neither of us can speak Japanese and we didn't want to pay $300 onwards per person for a meal because we weren't sure if it will be worth the hype (Oh, we were such fools)

Which was why I was excited to stumble across Kyubey from online reviews here and here! (1) They only take reservations for 11.30am slots daily, anything after that you must walk in to the restaurant to make reservations (2) They have English-speaking chefs and welcomes tourists (3) Their omakase meal during lunch costs ¥8,000 (S$94.00) which is a price we're comfortable with (After taxes and service charge, we paid about S$120.00 per person, which is still within our budget of S$150.00 per person for an omakase meal)

The reason we went for lunch is also because of a tip I read online - Go for lunch instead of dinner because the price difference is substantial. This applies to most established sushi restaurants in Tokyo (but not for the famed Sukiyabashi Jiro, which I will mention later)

Reservation Process

By the time we arrived at Kyubey, it was already noon and I was ready to be turned away with no reservations. I almost puked out of nervousness when the kind server at the door told me that our names were put down  for reservations for the 1.30pm slot! Which is the last slot for lunch! We got lucky lor! We turned into the wrong lorong while looking for Kyubey and could have easily arrived minutes later and missed out on reservation slots.

Arrival & Waiting Process

When we came back at our reservation time, we were ushered to a waiting room on the 4th level. There was a fair mix of locals and tourists (you could easily tell who was what) and I think the waiting time took about less than 5 minutes? Then the server called out names one by one to go up/down the lift to our assigned seats. As a couple, Saliheen and I were called together and then we  were brought up to our assigned seats on the 5th level. 

Pre-Meal Process

Once we arrived at the 5th level, the servers took our bags and coats/jackets for safekeeping at some cubicles at the back, and then we were ushered to our seats (There were 10 in total for the 5th level). We were seated at the far end - which we were grateful for - and introduced to our chef for the day, who attended to us and one other couple seated beside us (4 pax to 1 chef). 

At this point, I wish I can show you picture after picture of the sushi we had but unfortunately we were so enthralled by the new experience, so dizzy from the burst of flavours and consumed by the adrenaline of discovering how much more delicious the next sushi would be sampai we abandoned picture-taking altogether hahaha! You will get better visuals if you check out the links here, here, here, here and here.

Only two pictures of the otoro! WHICH MELTED BEAUTIFULLY IN OUR MOUTHS WTF. I mean, just look at that colour and marbling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think we had about 11 sushi for the whole omakase course - I can't remember the exact order we had the sushis and what sushis we were served but it included mackerel, uni (sea urchin), anago (saltwater eel), ika (squid), ebi (prawn), swordfish, a selection of maki sushi (cucumber, radish, minced tuna), tamago roll and radish and shiso leaf as a palate cleanser towards the end. There were only 2 dessert choices at the end of the whole course - Saliheen had red bean soup and I had fresh strawberries. 

I don't even know how to start raving about this restaurant, its service, its food presentation and most importantly, taste. This is one of my life experiences that I will never forget and will never stop raving about. Everything was amazing and meticulously thought out... it was like a piece of art performance!

From the impeccable service from the servers (who always seemed to serve the side dishes at all the correct timings with a smile and a bow), the way the sushi was presented (how and when; apparently the pace and the order of sushi being served to you according to their flavours makes a difference in the whole experience) to our personal interactions with our chef... everything was just beautiful and complementary. Sigh. It's really no wonder why the Japanese are known for their sincere service and warm hospitality.

Picture with our chef! I don't usually smile with teeth but he made us say "Uniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii" while taking the picture haha. Didn't get his name so we plan to use this picture and ask for him again when we return to Kyubey. When we return eh, bukan if we return :P

Besides Kyubey, we are also now dreaming of dining at Sukiyabashi Jiro, which is a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Tokyo and is claimed to have the best sushi in the world. You can watch a documentary of its owner called "Jiro Dreams of Sushihere. Costs ¥30,000 (S$353.00) per person, doesn't matter whether it's for lunch or dinner (We're willing to pay more now that we've discovered the food and the experience is worth that price-tag)

Online articles/reviews make dining at Sukiyabashi Jiro sound intimidating but we really hope to try our luck! Even better if we can convince Saliheen's friend (who is Singaporean Malay but can speak Japanese because his wife is Japanese) to tag along and be our Japanese-speaking friend hehe.

We left Kyubey after an hour, and waddled around Ginza with our fat tummies! We purposely scheduled Ginza on Sunday afternoon because we read (here) that Ginza closes part of its roads and turns into one giant pedestrian walkway during the weekends. I think we have something similar in Singapore (Pedestrian Night in Orchard?) but Saliheen and I seldom venture out to town so we don't know if it is as cool and lively as Ginza's.

After another hour plus of lepaking on the roads, we headed to Higashiya because I wanted to try their desserts! Niat hati nak duduk dalam their cafe but there were two ongoing wedding parties when we arrived so the whole place was booked. Had to settle for takeaway but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise...

... because it was only after leaving Higashiya that we realized we were behind schedule!!!!! Haha kental bacin. We were supposed to go see the Tokyo skyline after that and wanted to get out of Ginza by 4.00pm so we could  have enough to time to travel and arrive at our next destination and catch the sunset before the sky gets dark at 5.00pm. We were still hurriedly walking into Ginza station at 4.30pm seh haha.

Will share pictures of our next destination in Part 3 of Day 2! Sorry this post is dragging out but I don't know la how to make my entries shorter, always got so many things to say.

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