Mr. Sato finally heads to Kabukicho’s Yaro Sushi.

There’s a sushi restaurant in downtown Tokyo, not far from SoraNews24 HQ, that our ace reporter Mr. Sato has passed by multiple times on his way to and from the office. Actually, there are a lot of people who’ve passed by this place, since it’s been in business for more than 30 years.

And yet, Mr. Sato has never once gone inside to have a bite to eat at this place. How come? Well…

As you can guess from the prominent host club advertisements on the building, Yaro Sushi (野郎寿司) is located in a red light district. You’ll find it in Kabukicho, the host/hostess club district of the Shinjuku neighborhood, where you’ll also find plenty of seedy bars and love hotels of questionable levels of reputability.

On its south side, Kabukicho isn’t that shady of a place, with a number of chain pubs, movie theaters, and video game arcades. Head further into the north part, though, where Yaro Sushi is, and the scene starts to get a little sketchier. Couple that with the restaurant’s name (yaro translates to “rough guy”), and Mr. Sato has repeatedly decided to go somewhere else when he’s craving sushi, considering how many other places there are to enjoy it in Tokyo.

But recently he got to thinking that if Yaro Sushi has been around for all these years, they must be doing something right…right? So he decided to go and just take a peek at their menu during the day. As he approached the entrance, he braced himself for Yaro Sushi’s prices to be sky high, aimed at wringing every last yen out of weak-willed men who’d been lured there by a hostess on a date, or inebriated pachinko gamblers looking for somewhere to splash their cash from a big win.

Instead, he saw that Yaro Sushi offers lunchtime sushi sets and bowls for just 950 yen (US$6.25), a very reasonable price for a non-major chain sushi restaurant. They even throw in a bowl of miso soup for no additional charge.

Thinking he might have been misjudging the place for years, Mr. Sato bravely stepped inside and saw that yep, he had. The interior was clean and understated, with both counter and table seating plus a private room for larger groups in the back. Enka music played softly from the sound system’s speakers. Here, in the middle of a part of Tokyo known for chaotic energy and constant change, was a sushi restaurant with the serene atmosphere of a restaurant from the 1960s-‘80s Showa era.

Feeling himself increasingly confident in the place, Mr. Sato decided to upgrade his sushi set order to the 1.5-person size, which gets you an extra half-serving for a total of 1,450 yen. Served in the traditional style on the broad wooden plate called a geta in sushi restaurant jargon, it was a beautiful-looking spread.

The maguro (tuna) was an especially impressive standout, with an enticingly deep crimson creating a captivating contrast with the white of the vinegared rice.

Speaking of the rice, the grains were just a touch smaller than usual, which made for a great mouthfeel as he chewed it together with the fish. The pieces were clearly pressed by hand, with neither the mushy compacted texture or the flimsy crumbliness that can result from machine-molded blocks. When made by a skilled chef, the sushi rice should retain its form right up until when you bite into it, and yet readily break when bitten, which is what Mr. Sato was able to experience here.

Piece after piece he was rewarded with excellent quality, so this also enticed him to splurge just a little more and order a beer. Alternating between pieces of sushi and sips of brew, soaking up the low-key elegance of the ambiance and listening to the head chef chatting amicably with a recently hired new employee, Mr. Sato couldn’t believe just how wrong he’d been about this place, and how happy he is to have finally been set right.

Restaurant information
Yaro Sushi / 野郎寿司
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 2-10-4
Open noon-6 a.m. (lunch noon-3 p.m.)

Photos ©SoraNews24
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