In my previous review on Nihonryori Ryugin, I noted how dining experience in Tokyo can be a bit suffocating due to numerous Japanese formalities that may hamper your enjoyment at times. At Sushi Sawada, you are not allowed to take pictures or use your phones during your meal. When I at least tried to take handwritten notes on what I ate on a piece of paper, I got a little talking to from chef Koji Sawada, who said not so subtly that it’s a bad manner to write things down on the counter table and I should do it under the table should I desire. Add to the fact that I was the only non-Japanese diner in the six-person counter so naturally chef Sawada talked more to the other five Japanese diners, and I felt an air of slight discomfort while eating each piece that chef Sawada so deftly prepared. At the end of the meal, though, I felt a lot better; the sushi experience at Sawada is certainly one of the best I’ve had in recent years, and I can see the kind of dedication and craftsmanship from chef Sawada that makes me a huge fan of Tokyo dining scene. It’s no wonder that Sushi Sawada, a modest operation run by chef Sawada and his wife who is his assistant and manager, has been dubbed the favorite sushi place in Tokyo by the famed David Chang of Momofuku empire.
The omakase at Sawada doesn’t come cheap, at 31,000 yen per person. On the other hand, you get a lot of pieces (I can count 24 total) that chef Sawada prepares with such dexterity and speed (the entire lunch ended in slightly over 90 minutes, and I sometimes couldn’t see his hands in action, it was that fast!). I had some of the freshest and tastiest pieces on my lunch. The best groups are the different parts of tunas that chef Sawada sends your way; I absolutely loved the succession of chutoro, shimofuri and otoro pieces, with each literally melting in my mouth! Another highlight of lunch came in the form of various squid, clam and prawn pieces. I remember one squid piece that chef Sawada highlighted is a very fine delicacy in sushi world that was very outstanding, and also enjoyed the generously large torigai (cockle clam) and prawn pieces that I was able to barely eat in one bite. A couple of sea urchin pieces were also outstanding. There really wasn’t any pedestrian piece during my lunch, and I can tell that chef Sawada put a lot of thoughts and efforts into selecting the freshest quality. One thing that I will never forget is the end of the meal. I was beyond full at the moment, but chef Sawada came up with a bonus meal: a giant futomaki with numerous types of tunas (seriously, its diameter was about the size of a big mug cup). While I couldn’t obviously finish the piece in one bite, it was just so awesome that I savored every bite of it.
Make sure to use concierge service at a hotel you’re staying at to book a reservation (and make sure to secure it in advance). While chef Sawada’s wife speaks a little bit of English, it’s not much so you may have some communication issues if you don’t speak fluent Japanese. At the end of the meal, chef Sawada gave me his business card and very politely apologized that he didn’t speak fluent English (I in turn apologized that I didn’t speak fluent Japanese). At that moment, I was able to tell that he was a genuinely nice person who just takes his sushi craft very seriously, not some stern fellow who is out there to show the world how important he is. I came out of Sushi Sawada with a big smile, and hope to return on my next visit to Tokyo.
- Creativity: 9.0/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 9.5/10
- Flavor: 9.0
- Texture: 9.5/10
Address: 5-9-19 Ginza, Chuo Ku, Tokyo