Budget Friendly Sushi in Akasaka v. everywhere else I went this winter
I’m back in Tokyo after a month of traveling. This past December I visited friends in Seattle and then made my first ever trip to Iceland. Stunning and expensive. Then back home to Arizona for Christmas with an ever expanding family. Fantastic and too short. Then it was off to Thailand with Takao for 2 weeks of eating, drinking and catching up with friends. Incredible and so very cheap. Also humid. And fantastically sweet. If you think America consumes too much sugar take a visit to Thailand. As far as I can tell they have completely replaced all milk with sweetened condensed milk. Fun fact, until 2013 Pepsi outsold coke in Thailand as it’s sweeter. Then a local company called Est made a Thai version (even sweeter) and then Pepsi lost its marketshare to Coca Cola. Mommy Dearest is probably spinning in her grave.
So, after a month of pickled herring with cranberries in Iceland (pass) Tamales in Arizona (more, please) and weaponized chili in Thailand (wet wipes, now!) I was extremely ready for some budget friendly sushi in Akasaka.
Itamae Sushi – (pretty) cheap and incredibly delicious
Itamae Sushi is located near a whole bunch of hotels and just a short walk from Akasaka Mitsuke Metro Station. The area is pretty ritzy. Some of the fancier hotels are nearby and the Emperor basically lives around the corner. In a giant forest hidden from view. Pretty baller. Itamae Sushi is “Akasaka cheap”, it is by no means the cheapest sushi place I have been to but it is certainly not then most expensive. My meal was still under 10 USD. Itamae means “counter front”. There is ample counter space here where you can watch the chefs working their magic. There are tables as well. What struck me as most impressive about this place was how they have set up their English menu.
I’m not usually too impressed by picture menus. Itamae however combines the photos with some really helpful English explanations. There was an entire page dedicated to their feelings and approach to Bluefin Tuna that was actually pretty interesting and written by someone with Native level English and an intense hunger for sushi.
Takao ordered the maguro platter for about 18 USD. 12 pieces of some of the tastiest, meltiest bluefin I’ve ever had. If you’re looking for budget friendly sushi in Akasaka, no need to skimp on flavor. On the top row we have akami, the darker red bluefin meat. On the bottom left is otoro, the Cadillac of maguro cuts. It’ll start melting as soon as your breath hits it. Next to it are 2 pieces of chu-toro. Then we have negi-toro, minced bluefin and green onions wrapped in seaweed. The far right is tekkamaki, small cuts of bluefin wrapped in rice and seaweed. Sushi buffs may notice this photo is taken from the back. The akami should be facing the eater.
Snow Crab, Salmon and Negi Toro Bowl
Raw salmon is a hard one for me to say no to. This bowl was under 10 USD but tasted like a hundred bucks. It had my name all over it. We have salmon on the left. Then bits of shredded snow crab and on the right negi-toro. For a kaisendon, or seafood bowl, it’s perfectly fine to just pour a bit of soy sauce on top and then add wasabi to the top of each bite with your chopsticks. This was gone in moments. Budget sushi in Akasaka is the perfect lunch.
It’s not a meal without miso soup
Budget sushi in Akasaka doesn’t mean they get to skimp on the side dishes. Both meals come with miso soup and a small, garlicky salad that was really tasty. The miso soup was really good. It was more robust than most miso I’ve had. Possibly thanks to the single shrimp head floating in my soup. This place is awesome, highly recommended. Also, it’s open til 3:30 AM. Budget friendly sushi in Asakasa after a night of drinks and karaoke sounds perfect to me. There is a massive Karaoke place just 2 minutes away.
Budget Friendly Sushi in Akasaka – Itamae Sushi
Maguro Platter – around 18 USD
Salmon, Tuna, Snow Crab Bowl – around 10 USD
11:30 – 3:30
If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper sushi lunch check out this place.