Ginza Sushi-Ichi was a bit hard to find, tucked away at the end of an alley behind a plain door. But once found, we were greeted with warm hospitality. There is an intercom beside the door. Simply press the buzzer and one of the hosts comes to greet you. We arrived for dinner on a rainy night and they took our wet drippy umbrellas for us.
Once inside we were led upstairs where the sushi bar was. Not a very large place, seating approximately fourteen customers. We sat at one end and an hour later it was a full house. We were given a choice of three different omakase meal sets. Omakase means "chef's choice". The chef creates the menu based on the best fish available that day at the market. While they are taking the orders, they also ask if there are any allergies and anything in particular you don't like. While they have their set menu for the night, they are also flexible to meet any specific customer requirements.
Over the next hour or so, we were treated to a fabulous meal consisting of a couple of different salads, fresh sashimi, varying types of sushi, and soup. The most enjoyable part of omakase is that each piece is made, served and consumed. Everything is very fresh. The rice is still warm. The fish is freshly sliced in front of you and everything stays together. Freshly grated wasabi is used. The flavour and texture of freshly grated wasabi is very different and so much better. Unless otherwise seasoned, pieces are then lightly brushed with shoyu (soy sauce). For those in the Western world, no dipping! In fact, after eating the sashimi dishes, they take away the shoyu dish. This ensures your sushi maintains the flavour set by your sushi chef. The rice was perfectly prepared, packed firmly enough to keep shape but gentle enough so the rice remains somewhat fluffy. After the dinner portion we were offered three options for dessert. They brought our selection along with green tea to close off this incredible meal.
The components were paced nicely throughout the evening. This is not the kind of place where you eat and run. Here, you take in the atmosphere, converse amongst yourselves and the staff, and enjoy the meal. The staff at Ginza Sushi-Ichi speak some English, making this a friendly place for non-Japanese speaking guests.
Upon leaving, our umbrellas were returned to us and our chef accompanied us to the door to thank us and see us off. This part of Japanese custom really makes you feel good to have been a customer. This was one of the most enjoyable meals I have ever had. The price is in line with a higher ranking meal but well worth the experience. The quality of food and quality of service were excellent. You will need to make a reservation in advance. We made ours a week and half before our requested date, which we consider ourselves lucky to have achieved. Most restaurants of this stature require lead times of as much as a month. I found making a reservation here to be much easier than at other Michelin-rated restaurants. Most other places require you to go through your hotel concierge, who will only do so when you arrive, which is most likely to be too late. However, I was able to secure a reservation at Ginza Sushi-Ichi through the contact form found on their website. The only thing they asked of me was to confirm my booking once I arrived in Japan, which I did through my hotel concierge. Very easy. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking to experience a quality omakase meal with friendly staff.