Best Cheap Sushi in Tokyo – Yachiyo Zushi
Well, best cheap sushi in Tokyo so far. I’ve got a few contenders but the lunch set at this place is impossible to beat. The variety of sushi that can be found in your typical sushi shop in Tokyo is overwhelming. You can sit yourself at a conveyor sushi shop and just marvel at all the little plates passing by. Decisions must be made though! My advice, let the chef and the wholesale seafood markets do it for you. The lunch menu here is not open for discussion. You can choose 12 pieces for 9USD or 15 pieces for 12USD. Once you’ve chosen the chef simply hops to it. If you’re sat at the counter you can watch and try to guess what’s about to be made for you. There is some calculus that is occurring here that I am unaware of but seems to involve a few fancy pieces of fish paired with some more common pieces that are still incredibly delicious. Also, some cucumber.
Flights of Sushi
Look at all of that. Those three makizushi on the end count as “one piece” so you’ve got a lot of sushi on your plate. I’m going to let the photos do most of the talking in this post. There are a lot of photos, my apologies to your data plans. Despite having lived here for 10 years I still find myself pointing at sushi and saying “huh”? I’ll post these in order of least to most adventurous. There were a few surprises on this platter and also my first time to try raw milt. Which is a word I had to google. Which I immediately regretted. Some how the English description made it all the more real. It was still delicious though.
The most basic sushi there is. Bluefin Tuna is good year round and never fails to please. If you’re a suhsi first time and just want to dip your toes in this is where you start. Delicate texture, awesome flavor and it’s pleasant appearance makes maguro a constant crowd pleaser. The lunch special came with two pieces of maguro but each from different parts of the tuna. The cheek and the fatty belly area are the most prized cuts. Most sushi places will make you a platter of just different cuts of maguro.
Salmon sushi is one of my all time favorites and Yachiyo Zushi serves up some of the best. Buttery, tender and absolutely delicious with soy sauce and wasabi. This is another go to if you want to start slow. I think salmon tastes very different when cooked. I enjoy all forms of salmon but raw salmon is the least salty and “fishy” way to eat it in my opinion. So even if you don’t like grilled salmon, you may like it raw.
Sea Bream is a fish that is very common in Japan and finds its way into a lot of cooking. Ebisu, one of Japan’s seven lucky gods and deity of the ocean is typically pictured holding a sea bream. It’s a big deal fish and it’s delicious. It’s got a very nice texture to it and is in my opinion the least “fishy” of your basic, thick cuts of raw fish used for nigiri sushi.
My personal favorite sushi when it’s in season in Autumn. It’s usually seared on the outside and raw on the inside. Katuso is bonito, a member of the tuna family. If you look at the cooked edges it looks exactly like canned tuna. Trust me, it doesn’t taste like canned tuna. Katsuo is not eaten with wasabi. This guy is best eaten with grated ginger and soy sauce.
Negi Toro Maki
I keep fighting the urge to write “one of my favorites” at the beginning of these paragraphs. This is a simple maki zushi. Minced maguro and green onions on rice and wrapped in seaweed. A constant crowd pleaser The texture is much softer than a regular cut of Maguro as its been pulverized by a large, steel sushi knife.
It’s just an egg. I know that may not seem very exciting but this is a very good egg. If you look at it close enough it hints at how complicated it is. How do you cook an egg so uniformly throughout? How is it so square? Why is it slightly sweet? It’s still just egg though. As I said, they’ve paired some pretty fancy types of sushi with some less cost heavy entries that are still quite good.
I know this photo isn’t in a dish like the others but just look at that! This was so good! Here is a little pro tip: Silvery, shiny fish is served with ginger and soy sauce. Don’t wave down the chef and ask for the wasabi. It would be like complaining that the chef forgot to put ketchup on your taco.
We’re leaving the bunny slopes and heading over to the reds. Here is squid sushi. If you’ve ever come across grilled squid you’ll know it has a bit of a pungent aroma. Raw squid does not. It is however a bit more work to chew on than the previous entries on this list. The chefs go to great pains to get this guy ready to be eaten. See the criss cross pattern on the squid? That’s where the chef ever so delicately kissed it with a very sharp knife in order to make it easier to chew. Cant have been easy.
Shrimp is odd looking raw and splayed out this way but it tastes amazing. It has a buttery texture and is slightly sweet. Remember to pinch the of the tail off when you eat it. So don’t put the whole thing in your mouth straight away. Have some decorum.
Kohada – Gizzard Shad
That’s the best I could do for a translation. This fish is complicated. It’s only called Kohada when served as sushi and then the actual fish has several different names depending on its size. With a name as delicious sounding as gizzard shad its no wonder they went and decided to pickle it. This technically isn’t raw, it’s pickled. Salty, but not raw. If you like Spanish sardines and tapas, you’ll love this.
I hope you enjoyed that piece of squid sushi earlier because here is another one. This time, it’s the super crunchy, yet chewy, leg…tentacle? I’m not too clear on this but here it is anyway. Personally my least favorite but the flavor is excellent. This piece of sushi seemingly does the impossible by at first being rubbery/chewy, then crunchy and still somehow winding up stuck between your teeth. Worth the experience, yes. Also that photo is crazy looking.
This sushi is not actually as weird looking as it is at first glance. It’s weirder. This is a type of shellfish that has a red coloring, tastes slightly sweet and is very toothy. It’s typically butterfly sliced so those aren’t tentacles, like I thought when I first saw one of these. You’ll know the chef has akagai if you see him slapping something pink against the counter a few times before slicing it up. Apparently this tightens the flesh and allows the butterfly slicing to make it curl ever so delicately. Presentation and all that.
Shirako – Cod Milt
Here it is, delicacy time. On the very top we have some crushed radish with a bit of ponzu in it, a citrus soy sauce. The shirako tastes a bit like melted cream cheese with just a bit of oceany brine so you still know it’s seafood. There is a slight sweetness and a hint of oyster. Shirako means “white children”. Can you guess where this is going? Say hello to milt sushi. Have you ever had fish eggs? Caviar or cod roe? Well, shirako is the stuff that the male cod sprays all over the cod roe to give us more cod.
Kappa, Tekka, Oshinko – Back on the Bunny Slopes
I know this isn’t in keeping with my “easiest to queasiest” order of sushi but I always enjoy saving this little guy for the last. From left to right we have cucumber, maguro and a piece of pickled radish rolled up in seaweed. The perfect, simple end to a pretty massive and cheap lunch.
There you have it, my go to choice for the best cheap sushi in Tokyo.
Things sort of went from zero-sixty right after the squid legs.
Here is a pretty cute blog I found about someone’s first experience with Shirako if you’re “hungry for more”. The Strangest Food I ever ate. Pretty straight forward title.