Recreating the expensive restaurant experience at home with authentic ingredients, at a fraction of the price you’d usually pay for them.

Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district is often touted as one of the best sushi restaurants in the world. The restaurant shot to global fame with the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and since then it’s been visited by some of the most famous people in the world, including Barack Obama and David Beckham.

Notoriously hard to get into, and with courses costing hundreds of dollars per person, the restaurant remains out of reach for a lot of people, including our food-loving reporter Mr Sato. So when he heard there was a way to get a taste of the restaurant’s sushi rice at an affordable price, he immediately went out to find it.

▼ Sukiyabashi Jiro’s sushi rice can be purchased at the Ginza branch of salmon specialist store Oji Salmon.

This store wants customers to enjoy their top-quality fish with the best quality rice, and so for them, nothing less than Sukiyabashi’s sushi rice will do.

▼ The rice is sold in ready-made packs that only need to be heated before eating.

As sushi aficionados will know, sushi rice is just as important as the fish that’s placed upon it, and Sukiyabashi Jiro itself believes it to be the most important component, saying, “The decisive factor in the taste of sushi is the sushi rice”.

This set the bar high for Mr Sato’s expectations, especially when he saw the blurb on the package that read: “シャリは人肌に限る” (“Shari wa hitohada ni kagiru”), “The warmth of human skin is best for sushi rice”. This is a quote by Jiro Ono, the 96-year-old sushi master who owns the restaurant, and it signifies the level of detail given to the rice, which is best served at the same warmth as human skin.

The directions on the pack ask that the customer follow Ono’s advice by keeping the seal on the pack after heating to allow it to steam until it reaches the temperature of human skin.

Mr Sato decided to honour Ono’s advice as best as he possibly could, and just to see if the rice really was worth the hype, he picked up a pack of own-brand Topvalu rice from an Aeon-run My Basket corner store to compare.

Both packs required two minutes of heating in a microwave at 500 Watts, so Mr Sato heated them together.

After heating, he let the packs steam in their packages for a while before peeling off their plastic seals to test the temperature.

They seemed just about right, so Mr Sato took a taste, starting with the Topvalu rice, which was glistening with a pure white shine. It was delicious enough — nothing out of the norm, and a good-quality standard offering.

While the Topvalu rice was plain and unseasoned, Sukiyabashi Jiro’s rice is sushi rice, so the aroma of vinegar was present. The rice wasn’t as glossy as as the cheaper Topvalu version, but the quality was undeniable, as the grains were beautifully shaped, and held together to create just the right consistency. It wasn’t falling off the spoon, but it wasn’t joined together in one massive clump either — the consistency was perfect.

The mouthfeel was sublime, and the taste was slightly astringent, which is to be expected when eating sushi rice on its own. Of course, Sukiyabashi Jiro advises that the rice not be eaten on its own, and instead be enjoyed as hand-moulded nigiri sushi or handmade makizushi, as that’s when the flavour really shines.

Unfortunately, Mr Sato didn’t have enough money on him to buy rice and fish when he was out that day, so he might just have to make a return trip to Oji Salmon to fulfil his own dreams of fully recreating the Sukiyabashi Jiro experience at home. At 560 yen (US$4.16) a pack, it’s an affordable way to enjoy a taste of luxury, and once he finds another pack of Sukiyabashi Jiro seaweed, he’ll be all set for a perfect sushi evening.

Store Information
Oji Salmon Ginza Store / 王子サーモン 銀座店
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-7-12
Open 10:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (weekdays); 10:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. (weekends and public holidays)

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