Maki the most of it.
Sukiyabashi Jiro, or more commonly referred to as Sushi Jiro, is one of the most famous and hardest to get into restaurants in the world. And with scarcity, there’s demand. And with demand, there’s hype. So, is this uber-famous Tokyo restaurant worth the effort? Read on to get the 411 (and check your bank account before proceeding).
Plan Ahead--Way Ahead
The restaurant will start taking reservations on the first day of the previous month, so make sure you’ve told your hotel concierge well ahead of time and know exactly what day and what time you want to dine. It’s also wise to give them multiple options to ensure a spot for lunch or dinner.
Your Credit Card Concierge Is Useless
Chase Sapphire Reserve? No chance. American Express Platinum? Nope. The Black Card by American Express? Sorry. The only way you’re getting in here is having a friend on the ground who speaks fluent Japanese or a concierge from a 5-star hotel to help you out.
Don't Be Late
There are only 10 counter seats and if you show up past your reservation time, they will likely refuse you entry. Also, they have a strict cancellation policy, so if you’re late they will charge you the full set menu price. You have to secure the reservation with your credit card.
It’s Not Cheap
The meal costs 33,000 yen, which is a little over $300. You’ll get a souvenir napkin and a copy of that day’s menu.
Learn to Use Chopsticks Before You Go
Take a look at their website and make sure you cradle that fish properly or you will be admonished. And not just stared at. You will be told you’re doing it wrong.
INSIDER TIPThere’s a soft dress code for men, so throw on some trousers and long sleeves.
It’s Some of the Best Sushi You’ll Ever Have
Of course it’s good, but is it going to blow you away? Unfortunately, nothing can live up to the expectations that have been placed upon it. The rundown is this: It’s omakase style–you get 20 pieces of fish and a melon for dessert. Every piece is the best piece of whatever that particular fish is that you’ll probably ever eat.
There’s a Chance You Might Be Disappointed
It’s impossible to live up to the hype. The restaurant has three Michelin stars. Barack Obama ate here. Anthony Bourdain thought it was incredible. They made an entire documentary about it called Jiro Dreams of Sushi! It is definitely a victim of unobtainable expectations.
It’s a Short Meal
As stated above, you might be disappointed. The meal lasts about 35 minutes. That’s around $8.80 per minute at current exchange rates. The moment you eat the fish they serve you, the next piece is presented. If you take too much time to eat, you will be guilted with cold stares.
It’s Hard to Find
The restaurant is inside Ginza Subway Station at exit C6. Find the large yellow C6 sign, and go down the stairs and through a set of glass doors into another building. The restaurant sign is in Japanese with a big DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS placard. If you’re having trouble finding it, look for Birdland, the restaurant next door that has a sign in English.
INSIDER TIPYou can’t take photos inside, but if you ask nicely, the chef(s) might take a pic with you in front of the restaurant.
You Probably Won’t See Jiro
Chef Jiro Ono will most likely not be there. He’s 92-years-old and only comes in occasionally. If you’ve seen the documentary, you’ll recognize his son preparing your sushi.
If You Can’t Get In, Tokyo is Full of Good Sushi Restaurants
It should come as no surprise that there are hundreds of options for all budgets and quality. For the most interesting experience, wake up early (like 4 am early) and head to the Tsukiji Fish Market. There are dozens of sushi shops open around 5 am for omakase-style breakfast with the freshest fish right off the docks. Check out Sushi Dai or Daiwa Sushi for some of the best.
If you want what many consider to be a quality equivalent to Jiro, make sure you reserve a spot at the small and savory Sushi Saito. For 10,000 yen for lunch or 20,000 yen for dinner (around $100-$200), you’ll be treated to a fishmonger’s mastery unlike anything else. Reservations are pretty impossible, so make sure you have a 5-star hotel concierge to help you out.
Lastly, nearby the Shinjuku Train Station is Sushi Tokyo Ten. With super reasonable prices (around $50 for lunch and $75 for dinner), you’ll find succulent slices of raw goodness mixed with boisterous chefs in a non-stuffy environment.