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Sushi Tanabe @ Susukino, Sapporo

The secret is out, the meal that clinched the last spot on my best meals of 2012. 

***

door

Sapporo was awarded a number of Michelin stars in the 2012 guide and I made it a point to visit at least one. Making reservations is hardly easy for their website is in Japanese and they require phone reservation. The miscommunication resulted in my reservation being invalid and it was surely horrifying not to have a table under such wintry temperatures. Thankfully the chef was kind enough to let us fill in the slot in between seatings. The small restaurant seats fifteen and we had to hasten our dinner.

head chef

The head chef and owner is Masashi Watanabe, who prior to his current venture ran a sushi restaurant at the luxury hotel Windsor at Lake Toya.

chef

We were however served by Chef Fujiwara who speaks fluent English. He managed to share with us his background – hailing from a prefecture near Kyushu, he considers Sapporo the perfect place to be a chef because of her access to fresh seafood.

mmmm

Set for gluttony.

appetizers

Appetizer set of fish roe, tofu with seaweed and marinated fish with roe was appetizing. For starters, hardly do I get an appetizer portion bigger than two morsels hence this was a surprise. The seaweed dish had sour notes which awakened the senses quite a bit. The fish roe was incredibly rich and full of roe, I was blissfully in love.

sashimi platter

Start of the sashimi platter.

flounder

dip

Sashimi of flounder, octopus head and cod sperm. All wowed and outshone each other. The flounder was all of sinewy and fresh, I never quite thought much of flounder though the translucent shade made it look like jellyfish.

octopus head


Octopus head had to be the most underrated part of the octopus for me. Tentacles aside, the encounters with this lethal seafood have been far and few and I scoffed at the head when placed on my plate. If I may crudely sum it up – it’s like siobak of octopus. The top layer is firm and the layers beneath are beyond comprehension kind of tender and soft – eliciting a loud “umai-wa!”. The Japanese colleague let slip on their informal musings over sake, he even said it with so much gusto I wish I could replicate it. At least the chef winked and stifled a giggle when I tried.

cod roe

Cod sperm or cod fish roe as I was informed by the chef arrived in a martini glass, soaking in a shoyu based broth. Looks like an abnormally shaped egg. The while nodules are sacs filled with yolk. Delicious, so delicious…sperm or roe, it was too good to resist.

appetizer

Grilled oyster was dealt with swiftly, in total kamikaze style – from cooking to consuming took all of twenty seconds maybe? I have gotten used to fresh oysters in Hokkaido by this point but it never failed to be amazed by how fresh they can get. Even with light grilling, I wish so hard for the shell to be edible too.

fried fish

Fried fish cracker, so fine and tasty...this would go perfect with beer!

I looked forward to the sushi course. Six precious pieces to seal the impression of the restaurant. They specialise in sushi I suppose, if not why set the expectations by including it in the restaurant’s name? The dessert could be substituted with something special, a rare kind of fish or so we were told.

ginger

Pickled ginger to kickstart the sushi courses - loved the acidity of it. 

flounder

tuna

horse mackerel

sushi

octopus

tuna

roe

ebi

root

eel

tamago

Mackerel, Squid, Tuna, Flounder, Yellowtail, Tamago

Sushi is not just rice with topping or a fixed number of presses back and forth. The soft rice and sliver of raw fish brings stories from the sea. Stories good enough to elicit vulgarities of pleasure and enough oomphs and aahs to render it an obscenely satisfying meal. The tamago was the smoothest and most even omelette eaten, ever.

napkin

Neatly and thoughtfully placed napkin to clean the fingers after eating them using them. Sushi like indian food does taste better eaten with our hands. 

miso

Earthy mushroom miso soup, heavenly! Loved the flavour and complexity of something so simple.

dessert

Kaki is a type of Japanese fruit and it turned out to be persimmon. Lusciously sweet, it is a no brainer why their fruits can command the prices they do. Pear sorbet was a humble second fiddle yet very clean and refined.

pweety

A pretty porcelain dish.

creme brulee

A creme brulee so french, yet done so delicately delicious.

roasted tea

Hot roasted tea to end the meal.

I wanted very much to do a takeout of a couple of items but they did not have enough rice for the next seating to grant that request – sigh!

Burpworthy happiness this was. Sushi Tanabe set the bar high for the next sushi restaurant to topple. Sure enough not every single course was mind blowing but I will remember this meal for a long time. I finally get the difference between a regular food joint and a Michelin starred one. Three stars and worthy of it. Fine touches indeed for the omakase meal. As I received Chef Fujiwara’s namecard and promised to spread the word to my fellow country men – here I am, returning the wonderful meal a favour.

Appetizer, 3 kinds of sashimi, grilled dish, 6 sushi, miso soup, dessert JPY 8,400
Appetizer, 3 kinds of sashimi, grilled dish, 10 sushi, miso soup, dessert JPY 10,500
Appetizer, 8 sushi, rolled sushi, miso soup, dessert JPY 5,250

Sushi Tanabe
Blue Nile Building 2F Nishi 3-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo Minami

A foodie born to eat, shop and travel. Forced to work.

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