Staggering Quality at an Affordable Price
Shimizu is a favorite spot of locals who know what really good sushi is. For about 1/2 the price of the most famous sushi places in Tokyo, this restaurant serves sushi of arguably equal quality (some would say even better). If you're looking for a really local spot that isn't impossible to get a reservation at, read on!
What Makes Shimizu Special?
Shimbashi Shimizu stands out from the crowd for the following reasons:
1. Reasonable price, despite elite quality
Kunuhiro Shimizu, the chef at Shimbashi Shimizu seems to be truly passionate about making the best possible sushi for his customers, without getting caught up in the quest for fame or glory. He even turned down the opportunity to gain Michelin stars for his restaurant, because he wants to focus on delivering an outstanding product and service to his customers.
An omakase course here will only cost around ¥10,000, which is unheard of for sushi of this caliber.
2. Uncommon Reservation Rule
At Shimizu, reservations can only be made up to a week in advance. This means that customers don't have to wait months to get a seat, and allows for regulars of the shop to visit on short notice. It's not even unheard of to be able to get a seat on the same day that you call, although this is not typical.
Note: Reservations must be made in Japanese, and non-Japanese-speaking guests must be accompanied by a Japanese speaker.
The nigiri at Shimizu is not as fancy in appearance as that of other sushi restaurants of a similar tier. Instead, the nigiri here are larger in size, and are spectacularly flavorful and delicious. I'm more than happy with this trade off!
The sushi here is served in Tokyo's traditional "Edomae" style. Instead of fresh, caught-the-same-day fish that you might imagine when you think of sushi, Edomae sushi traditionally uses fish that has been marinated for several days. This tradition goes back to a time before refrigeration when the fish had to be preserved so it wouldn't spoil. The fish is then sliced and made into a single "nigiri" piece of sushi that is placed right in front of the customer and eaten on the spot (if you've seen the movie 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi,' then you already know what Edomae sushi looks like).
As stated above, folks who don't speak Japanese are required to bring someone who can translate for them. This is apparently because the chef feels that being able to communicate with all of the customers is an important part of the experience. Luckily, I'm pretty sure almost any Japanese speaker would be down to go to this restaurant with you, especially if you're paying!
Also, there is apparently a no-photography rule in the restaurant, although based on Instagram, it seems like plenty of people are taking photos anyway. In any case, it's best to ask before whipping out your phone to take a snapshot.
Shimizu is just a 3 minute walk from the karasumori exit of Shimbashi Station.
Making a reservation (in Japanese) is required. Dining times are 12:00, 17:30, and 19:30.
Arrive on time and be prepare to be blown away by the experience. You will definitely want to come back!