Not your grandad’s sushi bar
Claim to fame: Exquisite sake and wine pairings
Reason to go: Modern sushi with top ingredients and a touch of theatrical flair
To look out for: Rare offerings from sommelier Yoshinobu Kimura’s private stash
In the pantheon of Japanese gastronomy, there is no cow more sacred than sushi. To old-school sushi chefs and hardcore purists, “innovation” frequently refers to subtle tweaks––such as the variety of vinegar used––that might go unnoticed by anyone born after the dawn of the Meiji era in 1868. At best, the idea of contemporary sushi conjures images of fatty tuna loaded with caviar and truffles; at worst, sushi rolls filled with salmon and cream cheese. Sushi M is none of these things, but the approach at this joint venture between sushi artisan Michimasa Nakamura and sommelier Yoshinobu Kimura, Narisawa’s former head sommelier, is nothing short of groundbreaking.
For a start, the experience puts the food on equal footing with sake and wine. While other sushi shops serve sake and wine, few offer pairings, and none do it at the mind-meld level that Nakamura and Kimura strive for. Pristine ingredients sourced straight from superstar fishers (a real thing in Japan) are matched point by point with rare vintages from Kimura’s private collection. Nakamura eschews soy sauce, opting for accents that add umami oomph and surprising sparkle. Marinated gizzard shad is sprinkled with red wine salt, paired with an earthy red by boutique Japanese producer Domaine Hide, while tuna nigiri is dabbed with shiokara fermented squid guts instead of wasabi. Why? Because, Nakamura says, “it’s what tuna eat.” The logic is a marine version of the philosophy that what grows together goes together, and long-aged sake, warmed and mixed with pu-er tea and fenugreek, rounds it out nicely.
Side dishes are delightfully outré: A plump tiger prawn afloat in a broth seasoned with saffron blurs the line between dashi and bouillabaisse––a match for Alsatian Gewurztraminer. Nakamura uses rice flour to create a light and crispy éclair, which is stuffed with smoky unagi and layered with foie gras. Acidic kimoto-style sake cuts through the fat. To finish, the kitchen swaps traditional tamagoyaki omelet for a weightless and savory-sweet souffle made with dashi. An iconoclast to the end.