Often forgotten branch has amazing deals and an extremely unusual photograph policy.

Ever since the surprise success of documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Sukiyabashi Jiro has been the most prestigious restaurant in the world of sushi. For foodies from around the globe, a meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro has now become a coveted culinary experience, with dignitaries who have dined at the restaurant including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former U.S. President Barack Obama.

However, for those of us without the financial benefits that come from leading one of the world’s major economic superpowers, a meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro’s original Ginza location, which can easily run 30,000 yen (US$270), can be prohibitively expensive. Then there’s the lengthy reservation backlog, which means that you need to not only be wealthy to eat Sukiyabashi Jiro’s sushi, but patient too.

But what if we told you that we just had a full meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro and paid only 1,600 yen (US$14.40), and that we didn’t even have a reservation, but instead just walked in off the street?

See, there’s actually more than one Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. The most well-known is the original in Ginza, and there’s also a branch in Roppongi, operated by founder Jiro Ono’s son. The sushi master has had more than one apprentice, though, and one of them, with Ono’s blessing, runs a branch of Sukiyabashi Jiro in Toyosu.

▼ “Sukiyabashi Jiro” reads the Japanese text すきやばし二郎.

If “Toyosu” sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because that’s the name of the Tokyo neighborhood where the city’s newly opened fish market, which replaced the outdated facility in Tsukiji, is located. As such, we were sure that Sukiyabashi Jiro Toyosu’s fish would be fresh, but what really convinced us to step inside was this sign…

…which reads:

Special Lunch
Nigiri sushi
Available Monday-Saturday
Limited to 25 meals per day
1,600 yen

The restaurant opens at 11:15, and looking at our watch, we saw that it was 11:30, so we wasted no time and walked through the door. Inside was a counter with seating for nine customers, and seven people already enjoying their lunches. “Welcome” said a hostess, who led us to one of the remaining empty seats, directly in front of the head chef who also gave us a warm greeting.

Sukiyabashi Jiro’s Special Lunch is omakase-style, in which the chef selects which types of sushi to serve (though they’re primarily nigiri, with fish pressed onto a block of rice). Rather than serving the entire meal at once, the chef lays a few pieces at a time in front of diners, usually one to three morsels, so that they can enjoy sushi at its maximum freshness.

Our initial batch was maguro, ika, and tako (tuna, squid, and octopus), and they all looked delicious. But just as we were about to whip out our phone and snap a picture, we noticed that none of the other customers were photo-documenting their meals. It’s pretty strange to go to a restaurant in Japan and see not even a single camera lens, and since we didn’t want to be committing some sort of localized faux pas, we decided to check with the hostess before we started snapping away. “Is it OK if we take a picture of our sushi?” we asked, to which she replied:

“Sure, as long as you don’t take more than one picture.”

We’d never herd of a restaurant placing this sort of numerical limit on photos anymore, and in our surprise we double-checked. “J- just one?”, and this time the owner, with a polite smile, answered:

“That’s right! Just one!”

We were still having a hard time wrapping our head around this. “Do you mean just one picture per piece of sushi?” we inquired, prompting the hostess, showing great patience, to explain:

“No, we mean one picture, in total, for your entire meal. Photos are nice, but sushi tastes best right after it’s been made, so eat up!”

Unfortunately, this one-picture-per-meal limit, coupled with Sukiyabashi Jiro’s practice of serving a few pieces at a time, meant there was no way for us to photograph our entire meal all at once. So we asked the hostess which piece she recommended we photograph, and she suggested we wait for the very last one, so after we’d eaten our tuna, squid, octopus, scallop, flounder, mackerel, egg, tuna roll, and takuan pickled radish roll, we took our one-and-only shot of the anago (saltwater eel).

While we were kind of sad to have so few visual reminders of our Sukiyabashi Jiro lunch, our taste buds will never forget it, as everything was exceptionally delicious. And should the day ever come when our memory starts to get a little fuzzy, at the extremely affordable price of just 1,600 yen, we can always go back for a reminder.

Restaurant information
Sukiyabashi Jiro (Toyosu branch) / すきやばし次郎(豊洲店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Edo-ku, Toyosu 4-10-1 102
東京都江東区豊洲4-10-1 102
Open: 11:15 a.m.-whenever all 25 lunches are served, 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. (Monday-Saturday), 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Sunday)
Closed Wednesday

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[ Read in Japanese ]