News On Japan

Ginza's Luxury Sushi at a Bargain

TOKYO, May 20 (News On Japan) - In the heart of Ginza lies the upscale sushi restaurant 'Toryumon,' known for serving sushi that costs 27,500 yen at its nearby flagship store for just 4,980 yen using the same ingredients. The primary reason for this affordability is that the restaurant serves as a training ground for young apprentice chefs.

In the sushi industry, it is said that it takes ten years of training before one can begin making sushi. The program follows a 22-year-old apprentice chef aiming for a promotion to a full-fledged sushi chef in just his third year. Suddenly, he is informed of an unexpected "promotion test." Will he earn the title of a full-fledged chef?

Why Is Luxury Sushi Available at a Bargain?

One reason for the affordability is that this is a rare "standing sushi bar" in Ginza. Additionally, the kitchen uses a massive "central kitchen" in the basement, which works in tandem with the flagship store nearby for efficiency.

However, the biggest reason for the low prices is the apprentice chefs. The sushi is prepared by young chefs who are considered "teko" or apprentice chefs at the flagship store, where they are not even allowed to fillet fish.

Yamamoto Hayato, a 23-year-old apprentice chef, says, "Typically, it takes ten years of training before you can start making sushi in Ginza. I am grateful for this opportunity to train at this restaurant."

The restaurant covers the cost of training the young chefs, which helps keep prices low. Not only are the omakase sets affordable, but individual pieces are also priced significantly lower. For example, the popular bafun uni costs 980 yen here, compared to 3,300 yen at the flagship store. Similarly, the meticulously prepared simmered anago costs 580 yen instead of 1,650 yen.

Akifumi Sakagami, the executive head chef of Onodera Food Service's "Sushi Ginza Onodera," admits, "It's tough, but we can't focus solely on profit."

Sakagami explains, "Without clear goals for when they can start making sushi or filleting fish, young chefs may leave. So, we decided to let them try sooner." This system helps prevent young chefs from leaving and allows them to be promoted to full-fledged chefs if their skills are recognized. So far, three have been promoted.

The restaurant's name, "Toryumon," is synonymous with the phrase "climbing the dragon gate," referring to their apprentice chefs aiming to become full-fledged chefs.

The Difference in Sushi Quality

One standout apprentice is Naoki Egi, a 22-year-old chef aspiring to become a full-fledged chef. Egi has been working at the restaurant for two and a half months. Under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Sakagami, Egi practices making sushi every day.

The difference in sushi quality lies in how the vinegared rice is shaped. While both pieces may look the same from the outside, the sushi made by the executive chef has a light, airy texture with an even thickness. Egi's sushi, however, shows uneven thickness and a lack of consistency.

Gaining Knowledge from the Chef

Egi eagerly follows Sakagami on fish-buying trips to learn how to select the best fish. Sakagami emphasizes the importance of balancing quality and price. They come across a massive wild yellowtail, which is less in demand and therefore more affordable.

Egi, surprised by this insight, says, "I had no idea large, wild fish could be a good deal."

Practicing at Home

At home, Egi practices shaping rice balls using paper to simulate sushi rice, demonstrating his dedication to mastering the craft.

The Promotion Test

Egi is soon given a promotion test. He must prepare akami sushi in just two steps, as previously instructed. Despite his efforts, the rice balls he makes are too dense due to excessive handling.

Chef Sakagami evaluates Egi's sushi, pointing out that Egi's rice weighs 9 grams compared to his own 7 grams, indicating too much handling. Egi scores 27 out of 100 but remains determined to keep improving.

"I'll keep trying," Egi vows, undeterred by the setback.

Source: ANN

News On Japan
POPULAR NEWS

The long-standing seniority-based system in Japanese companies is being phased out. Many have considered it natural to rise with age, but there have been times when people desired recognition based on ability. With this deeply ingrained system now under review, will the decision by a major bank change Japan's corporate culture?

In a significant ruling regarding the estate of businessman 'Kishu Don Juan,' the court declared on Friday the will, which states that his 1.3 billion yen estate be donated entirely to the city, to be valid. Relatives had contested the will's validity, but the court dismissed their claims.

A controversy has erupted over the sale of high-priced premium seats at the Gion Festival. Yasaka Shrine's chief priest has expressed concern over the decision to sell premium seats for 150,000 yen each, stating, "This is not a show."

The Tokyo gubernatorial election was officially announced on June 20th, with a record 56 candidates running. However, the allocated poster spaces only accommodate 48 candidates, leaving some without a place to display their posters. As a workaround, clear file folders are being used, causing confusion at polling sites.

A rare 63-leaf clover, cultivated in the garden of Takaharu Watanabe in Nasushiobara City, Tochigi Prefecture, has been officially recognized by Guinness World Records this month.

NEWS ON JAPAN SOCIALS
         

MORE Food NEWS

Fish consumption in Japan has hit a record low, with annual per capita intake dropping from about 40 kilograms in 2001 to roughly 22 kilograms in 2022. This decline is particularly notable among seniors, who are increasingly opting for meat over fish.

In a city known for its fish and meat dishes, it can be hard to find vegan-friendly and plant-based spots in Tokyo. But, worry not! We got you covered. In this episode, Shizuka explores some of the best vegan restaurants and plant-based options to test out in Tokyo! (Japan by Food)

This neighborhood Soba noodle shop is cherished by it’s Ginza locals for its warm-hearted atmosphere and known for their freshly handmade soba noodles served until 2 am in the evening alongside an array of elegant Japanese style dishes using selected ingredients in addition to a variety of drinks. (Paolo fromTOKYO)

Join Stephanie as she explores Tokyo and the tech that makes dining out easy and fun in the metropolis, even if you don't speak Japanese! (Japan by Food)

A rice shortage is affecting several areas in Japan, extending beyond just a poor harvest to a uniquely Japanese situation. The price of rice has increased by 2,000 yen per 50kg, which could drive away customers.

The umeboshi industry is in crisis! The cause is the amendment of the Food Sanitation Law following the 2012 food poisoning incident. Facility renovations required by the law have led some farmers to cease umeboshi sales, citing unprofitability. In response, young people in Wakayama Prefecture have taken action.

Welcome to Toyosu Senkyaku Banrai! Join Shizuka on a tour of the new shopping facility that opened just this year, blending traditional and modern Japan and offering possibly every food that you might want to try during your Japan visit, all at one location in Tokyo. (Japan by Food)

Japan Street Food tour of Japanese Food Carts called Yatai in Hakata Fukuoka. This must travel Japan food destination, known for its rich traditional flavors, hearty dishes, inspired by its deep street food culture, is truly a dynamic cuisine all of its own. (Paolo fromTOKYO)