Review: Sushi Sawada, Tokyo, 2 Michelin Stars

Review-Sushi Sawada Tokyo 2 Michelin Stars-Entrance

 

This Review of Sushi Sawada, Tokyo, with 2 Michelin Stars, is from my recent visit on a site inspection visit to Tokyo. To put it in context, we've also dined on prior visits at Sushi-Sho Masa (arguably 2 Michelin stars, although not Michelin rated as the restaurant hasn't allowed in Michelin inspectors); 1 Michelin star Sushi Iwa, and 1 Michelin star Sushi Wakon at the Four Seasons in Kyoto.

 

Sushi Sawada Location, Hours, Reservations, Cost and Policies

Sushi Sawada (さわ田) is located in Ginza at 9-19 Ginza 5-chome, in the MC bldg, 3rd floor (address in Japanese:東京都 中央区 銀座 5-9-19 MCビル3F). It's only a 1 minute walk from exit A5 of Ginza Station, and about a 18-20 minute walk from the Shangri-La Tokyo. It's closed on Mondays, and open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 12-2pm for lunch, and 6pm-8:30pm for dinner (5-7:30pm Saturdays and national holidays). Sundays it's only open for lunch from noon-2pm. For lunch, exclusively sushi (nigiri) omakase is served; dinner includes sashimi and other appetizers in addition to nigiri.

I'd heard excellent reviews of Sushi Sawada, so I was excited to try it. Fortunately, we were staying at the Shangri-La Tokyo, which has a good relationship with Sushi Sawada and is more easily able to reserve it for guests than some other hotel Concierges. Keep in mind though that there are just 6 seats, so it's imperative to make an advance reservation. Expect to pay around JPY 25,000 per person for lunch and more for dinner (not including drinks); it's strictly omakase (chef's choice) and if you're somehow not full from it, you can make special requests at the end, which will be added to your bill.

Note that Sawada-san is very strict about several things:

  • Strict cancellation policy: for my lunchtime reservation, the full cost (JPY 25,000 per person) would apply for any cancellation 9 days or fewer before the reservation date
  • No reservations may be made for people under 20 years old (hence my husband and son ate at a different sushi bar)
  • No photos may be taken in the restaurant at all (hence my photos only of the sign, the entrance door, and the business card)
  • No perfume or cologne (this is a common rule for all good sushi bars, as it not only bothers other guests but interferes with properly savoring sushi)

Review-Sushi Sawada Tokyo Ginza

 

Sushi Sawada Lunch Omakase

Since I couldn't take photos or notes, I can't recall all of the ~20 nigiri we were served, but these included Sayori (needlefish); Ika (cuttlefish); Akagai (red surf clam); Mirugai (geoduck); Awabi (abalone); two types of Uni (sea urchin); Akami (lean tuna); Chutoro (medium fatty tuna); Otoro (fatty tuna); Kohada (gizzard shad); Ebi (jumbo prawn); Anago (salt water eel) and of course Tamago (sweet egg omelet) to finish.

Absolute highlights for me were the Akami (expertly aged), Chutoro, Anago, Hokkaido Uni, and a piece of Chutoro that Sawada-san lightly broiled by placed a metal grill with white hot embers over it for a few seconds. I don't know that I've ever enjoyed tuna so much, the flavor was simply incredible. I also loved how the wasabi (from Shizuoka, which Sawada-san praised as having the best wasabi) was freshly grated, not only at the beginning of the omakase, but a couple times during it–I've never had fresher or better tasting wasabi.

At the end of the omakase, Sawada-san asked each of us if we'd like anything else. I was pleasantly full–it was just the right amount of food for me, and I came very hungry, having eaten an early breakfast. He thanked each of us, and since it was the first time for the couple seated to my right and me, he presented us his business card. The napkin, which I understand is made by his wife (who assists him in the restaurant) was also ours to keep, as a souvenir.

Review-Sushi Sawada Tokyo 2 Michelin Stars-Business Card

 

The Verdict

I have to confess that overall, I still prefer our experience at Sushisho Masa, but it's also important to point out that we visited Sushisho Masa for dinner, whereas I dined at Sushi Sawada for lunch. I also had sky high expectations for Sawada, and while I eat everything, I just don't enjoy chewier pieces such as cuttlefish, clam, geoduck, abalone, or even shrimp as much as softer fish amd seafood such as tuna, uni, eel, etc.

Finally, in my opinion there was a little too much wasabi on some of the pieces, and it marred the incredible quality of those nigiri for me. Clearly Sawada is a favorite of many sushi connoisseurs, both for lunch and dinner, but if splashing out, I'd advise going for dinner. I was somewhat disappointed at Sushi Iwa as well, which we dined at for lunch, and while lunch seems like a relative deal, I think the better experiences at Tokyo's top sushi bars tend to be for dinner.

What is your favorite high end sushi bar in Tokyo?

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