Sukyabashi Jiro Roppongi 銀座 すきやばし次郎 (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 6-12-2 Roppongi, Minato (in Roppongi Hills Resident B)
Type of Meal: Lunch

After watching the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I was determined to visit Sukiyabashi Jiro and try the beautiful creations that kept slow motioning through the screen. I knew I had to do it soon given Jiro Ono was already pushing 90 (he currently holds the Guinness World Record for world’s oldest sushi chef). So, when we visited Tokyo over the holidays we tried to do the impossible – get a reservation.

Now, you may be thinking, “just pick up the phone!” Unfortunately, it’s not that easy given reservations are only accepted in Japanese. Plus, with only ten seats, the odds of getting a spot are very slim. Alas, we weren’t able to get into Jiro’s flagship Ginza location. During our visit, it was especially difficult as the Tsukiji fish market was closing and moving to a new location; so with no fresh fish, Jiro would be closed as well. Essentially, there were only three days we could get a reservation and they all filled up.

Luckily, we scored a table at Takashi’s (Jiro’s younger son) Roppongi location, a good enough consolation. Since he also trained under his father, it’s said the techniques and ingredients mirror the main store; although, the Roppongi location was only awarded two Michelin stars versus Ginza’s three.

Once we entered, the first to arrive, we were brought to tables beside the counter and presented with a cup of green tea. After another pair arrived, we were all seated at the counter and given a hotel towel and tiny dish of blanched greens (I believe it’s the flowery part of Chinese broccoli or gai lan), which was simply flavoured with some salt and perhaps yuzu.

Some rules of thumb I learnt while preparing for the meal; after all, I wasn’t going to embarrass myself in front of Takashi! The plate on the counter should not be lifted, rather use chopsticks or your fingers to pick up the pieces after the Chef leaves them. Secondly, it’s impolite to bite a sushi in half so eat it whole - the only ones I couldn’t do this for were the shrimp as they were simply way too long. And lastly, there’s no need to dip the nigiri sushi into soy sauce or wasabi, it will arrive with the appropriate condiments, just trust the chef. Coincidentally, since I had already watched the documentary, I knew these suggestions but is always good to have a refresher.

To begin, the apprentice asked if we wanted to have sashimi (without rice) or nigiri (with rice) first. The automatic answer is “whatever the chef suggests” so sashimi it was. Luckily, at the Roppongi location, Takashi’s apprentice studied in Australia so was able to explain in English what we were eating.

Up first was a platter with hirame (flounder) and akagai (ark shell clam). The flounder is very delicate so I started with it first to warm up my palate - crisp and clean tasting the hirame was a good start. On the other hand, the akagai seemed much scarier looking. But, when biting into it, I was pleasantly surprised and found it crispy (like biting through light cartilage) and also quite light tasting. Some shallot shavings were served with it and added a nice herby onion taste.


Following were two pieces of saba (mackerel). Despite being raw, it almost has a seared taste and the flesh softer than other fishes. Interestingly, it was the only fish that was butterflied.  Regrettably, everyone only spoke in low murmurs and at the beginning Takashi appeared so serious that I didn’t want to ask any questions. Near the end he opened up and started having a conversation with us (translated through his apprentice) and even offered to join us for a picture. So, it appears he takes a while to gauge how you’d like to interact with him. If only I knew sooner so I would have asked why mackerel is the only fish that’s butterflied; perhaps to let more of the soy sauce seep into the middle of the fish?


Afterwards, two pieces of shako (mantis shrimp).  It didn’t appear to be raw but also not fully cooked. In the end, there really wasn’t any distinct taste but the sweet glaze on top was tasty.

That was the last of the sashimi and we soon moved onto my preferred pieces – nigiri sushi. Up first, hirame (flounder) again, which was interesting as you could contrast how the taste changes. With the rice I found the fish became stronger tasting as perhaps the warmth begins to melt the fish fat a bit.


Before moving onto all the other sushi let me describe Jiro’s rice. If you’ve watched the documentary you will know it’s supplied by one person who will only sell this particular rice to Jiro, as the supplier claims they are the only restaurant that understands how to prepare it. It’s a creamier consistency yet retains its distinct shape. Moreover, Jiro adds more vinegar with the rice so each bite is full of flavour yet not overwhelming.

But, what makes it outstanding is the warmth, about body temperature, on account of each piece being carefully moulded by Takashi for a precise amount of time before being served. It’s that slight heat that opens up the flavour of the seafood on top and when placed in the mouth doesn’t shock it. Rather, my tongue instantly started savouring the flavours of the seafood and vinegary rice.

Next, a piece of ika (squid) which was almost as tender as some of the fishes, but still had a slight bite to it.

Following a sayori (needlefish) which was one of my favourites of the day; I particularly enjoyed the clean crispness … it’s hard to describe but I found it almost refreshing.

A dreaded piece of “giant” scallop came next. I was scared it’d be gummy, but of course Jiro isn’t your run of the mill restaurant. Rather, their scallop was thinly sliced, scored and ended up being tender and not gluey at all. Jiro’s apprentice was nice enough to bring out the scallop to show us how large it actually was.

Then came the start of the tunas, the acclaimed fish of the sushi world. Admittedly, I felt slightly guilty given these gigantic fish are endangered from the overfishing. But, when at Jiro’s I had to try it to see what the fuss was all about. Firstly, was akami (lean tuna) with a brilliant red colour and whose texture is more akin to what is served in Toronto. It was fairly delicate but had an extra flavour to it – it was only later that a blogger explains Jiro marinates their tuna in soy sauce.

A slight upgrade in fat content came next with a piece of chutoro (medium tuna), which was very tender and fuller flavoured on account of the increased fattiness.


In reality, the otoro (fatty tuna) wasn’t served until just before the tamago. However, in the interest of keeping the progression going I’ll describe it next. Otoro is indeed the closest thing to melting fish and it simply disintegrated into my mouth leaving a wonderful fish flavour. I’m so glad Takashi served it in roll form so I could try it three times – remember sushi must be eaten in one bite! 

All in all, I have to admit the tuna is good. But, I feel a similar consistency can be achieved by heating up the fish a bit (such as the blowtorching technique used by JaBistro). Of course it isn’t the same, but if it means not killing off a species of fish perhaps we as humans need to be more open minded to it.

Next, was a spotty looking kohada (shad gizzard) a smaller fish in the sardine family. Although still good, it wasn’t once of my favourites as it definitely had a stronger fish taste from all the skin served with it.


Another clam was served afterwards, this time mirugai (giant clam), but this one lighter tasting and even more crunchy than the akagai. I enjoyed the change in texture after all the more tender fishes served previously.


Subsequently, a piece of aji (horse mackerel), which although looks bloody was actually a light manageable fish. Unlike the saba, aji is more delicate and has a fleshier texture.

Following a brimming akura (salmon roe) that I tend to like but my husband was apprehensive about. Indeed, they can generally be very fishy tasting but Jiro’s was quite enjoyable and not too intensely flavoured. The apprentice explained that they wash and rinse it many times and marinade it with sake so the roe mellows out and actually soften rather than bursts in your mouth.

My favourite piece was served next, kuruma ebi (Japanese imperial prawn). Right before it’s used the shrimp is quickly boiled and then removed from the shell so that it’s served hot retaining its sweetness. This was one of the most flavourful shrimp I’ve ever had.

Normally, uni (sea urchin) is sort of disgusting with its soft texture and fishy taste. So, when a huge glob of it was placed in front of me I almost let out a small sigh. But, the uni ended up being so creamy and light tasting it’s like a thick savoury mousse coating the taste buds. When I shared my fears with the apprentice he laughed and agreed that usually it’s one of the pieces people dread if they haven’t had good uni. Of course, Jiro only gets the freshest ones and make sure it’s properly prepared beforehand so fishiness is never a problem.

Afterwards, a delicate grilled unagi (eel) which was fantastic, also extremely tender but still having that distinct eel taste. I wish I could have had a bigger piece. 

To end, the famed tamago (sweet egg omelette), a dish that all apprentices spend forever perfecting before they can finally graduate onto fish. Fluffy and sweet the tamago ended the meal on a high and acted as a dessert.

Lunch for both of us along with two large beers, taxes and gratuity totaled ¥50,400, slightly less than the Ginza location. Indeed, it’s still expensive and you need to be careful as despite the high price tag both locations only accept cash. But, it’s a once in a life time experience and certainly the best sashimi and sushi I’ve eaten. So, if you’re able to afford it and visiting Tokyo, watch the documentary and then try the actual restaurant. Even if you can’t get into Jiro Ono’s place, the Roppongi location is worth a try and still delicious. Plus, the experience wasn’t as rushed (Jiro Ginza’s entire meal lasts about 20 minutes). We ended up being at the restaurant for over an hour and found the pace just right; long enough to savour each piece and watch Takashi and his apprentice in action but still short enough to make sitting in a stool comfortable.  

Intrigued to try out the sushi masterpiece yourself but don't want to worry about scoring a reservation? Check out Voyagin, where they will organize the reservation on your behalf. Disclaimer: this is an affiliate link, support Gastro World!

Overall mark - 9.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!