It was our first night in Nagoya – my first night in Japan really! We had arrived early in the morning after a long flight from Frankfurt and after a post-lunch wander about, we all took naps and awoke quite refreshed and ready for dinner. From our hotel in quiet Fushimi, we strolled east to the Sakae district, full of restaurants and entertainment. We were heading to the ground floor of Oasis 21 (you can’t miss its gigantic oval glass roof), under the shadow of the Nagoya TV Tower, where we’d been directed by our concierge when we asked for kaiten-zushi – conveyor belt sushi. We wanted sushi, we wanted good stuff but we also wanted a bit of fun.
We eventually found Nigiri No Tokube by my repeatedly asking “kaiten-zushi?” and then following the direction indicated by the random answerer. It worked!
We chose to sit at the counter rather than at a table and a spot cleared for us within 10 minutes. The first thing we noticed was the double decker conveyor belt arranging with the top deck for sushi plates and the bottom for clean empty tea cups. We helped ourselves to disposable chopsticks, green tea powder and hot water, wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger all arranged on the counter. Dishes could be picked up from the conveyor belt or ordered off the menu.
The sushi options ranged from the classic to the very modern (with lots of toppings) and we tried a bit of everything. One major highlight was this broiled prawn nigiri. I think the prawns had been drizzled with a bit of Japanese mayonnaise before being torched and the overall flavour was of a delicious deep smokey prawn.
From the special autumn menu we spotted a sardine tempura nigiri and sure enough we soon saw it come whizzing down the belt at us. These non-traditional little morsels were so good we ended up grabbing another plate.
From the menu again, we ordered some of our favourite classics: both unagi (freshwater eel) and anago (saltwater conger eel). Each was at the top end of the price range (380 yen each), which is still cheaper than the equivalent here in London. The unagi (on the left) was the more familiar with its charcoal grilled silkiness and thick sweet eel sauce; it’s relatively easy to find in London. The anago though was totally different (not necessarily better but just different) and even more silky (if that’s possible). What a great way to compare the two.
And back to the novel nigiri we went. A little less exciting was this salmon nigiri with mayo and thinly sliced onions.
More exciting was this torched salmon nigiri with a creamy sesame sauce and fried shredded leeks. There really was something for everyone at Nigiri No Tokube.
I finished my meal with an order of a limited edition chawanmushi that was also being advertised for autumn. There were chestnuts, mushrooms, slices of fishcakes and other goodies hidden within the gloriously silky savoury egg custard.
We all ate quite a bit that night (a lot more was consumed than just what you see above!) and the bill for each of us worked out somewhere between £10 and £20. Plates ranged from 120 to about 500 yen (when we went, it was 150 yen to the pound sterling) which I think is about the going rate for this quality of kaiten-zushi place (main menu here and here). Japan was certainly treating us well.
Nigiri No Tokube