We might just make a beeline to the top-notch Hina-Sushi the next time we’re looking for lunch in Tokyo’s Shinjuku area.

Our Japanese-language reporter Ahiruneko was caught off guard. He had just arrived at the 8th-floor restaurant area of the Shinjuku Marui Annex department store, but his path forward was completely blocked off for some kind of reserved event. Who knew that reserving such a space in a public department store was even an option!

Just as he was about to admit defeat, he spotted a sign for a sit-down restaurant called Hina-Sushi on the same floor that offers an all-you-can-eat premium sushi deal. Normally that’s not the kind of place where he would eat an everyday lunch, but with his stomach rumbling and the minutes ticking by on his lunch break, this seemed to be the best option to save his midday outing for food. He hurried over to the entryway and was promptly shown to a seat.

Naturally, Ahiruneko sprung for the all-you-can-eat high-quality sushi option with over 60 kinds of sushi to choose from. He’d have 120 minutes to eat, with his last order due 30 minutes before the end of the timeframe.

The price was 4,609 yen (US$28.66) for women and 4,939 yen for men, which was enough money to buy about 10 bento from the restaurant in his neighborhood where he usually eats. He felt a small pang of regret but was also determined to enjoy this unexpected experience to the best of his ability.

The ordering system was a piece of paper which he would hand to a server with his requests. He could order up to 20 pieces of sushi at once and was allowed to submit a new order as soon as the previous one arrived. Miso soup refills and pickled ginger were also included. Personally, he had a good feeling about this system because there was no requirement for him to order “X” minimum number of pieces first, as is sometimes the case at all-you-can-eat places.

This month’s limited special menu items, conger eel sushi and chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), could only be ordered once, so Ahiruneko sprang for them first. Then it was completely up to him what he wanted to order and when.

Here was his first batch of sushi. Just look at all of the colors! He had tuna, white fish, shellfish, glistening fish…many of the most popular sushi toppings.

In the case of the tuna, there was not only the lean meat, pickled meat, and albacore tuna, but also the medium-fatty meat (chutoro) as well. Ahiruneko was sorely tempted to order a plate of 20 pieces of medium-fatty meat by itself.

It was freeing to both his appetite and soul to know that he could order as much of anything as he wanted, unlike when going to a conveyor-belt sushi chain where the plates would be counted for a final total. He actually felt a sense of gratitude for the Marui Annex restaurant area being unavailable and foiling his original lunch plans.

Ahiruneko was further delighted to realize that both unlimited uni (sea urchin; below left) and ikura (salmon roe; below right) were also part of the deal. Sure, half of the topping on each was taken up by a slice of cucumber, but he wasn’t going to complain. The ikura version seemed to be of a slightly higher value.

On the other hand, there was no way he could go wrong with any of the monthly specials–they were all of extremely high value. He recommends you order at least one of them even if you don’t particularly feel like it.

▼ The conger eel special on the far right

Before long, Ahiruneko had moved on to his second batch…

…and then his third. Every single piece was a winner, and he found himself wrapped up in a dreamlike state, focused on nothing but the sushi in front of him.

While he would have loved to stay for a full two hours until the staff begged him, while crying, to stop eating because he had wiped out all of their stock, the necessity of work soon pierced through his dreamlike state. Instead, he was the one who felt like crying as he gathered his things and made for the exit.

The most delicious sushi Ahiruneko had eaten was the medium-fatty tuna. No joke, he could have eaten another 20 pieces of that. Runners up were probably the grilled barracuda, the fin sinew of flatfish, and raw squid tentacles.

That sense of invincibility at being able to order anything he wanted in the restaurant soon left him as he walked back to the office, but he vowed to visit Hina-Sushi again soon to re-experience the feeling. The restaurant has other branches in Tokyo’s Ginza, Ueno, and Ikebukuro districts, plus one more location in Shinjuku, so it shouldn’t be too hard to go back sometime–unless another all-you-can-eat restaurant offer gets in the way first.

Restaurant information
Hina-Sushi / 雛鮨
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-1-26, Shinjuku Marui Annex, 8th floor
東京都新宿区新宿 3-1-26 新宿マルイ アネックス 8F
Open: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (lunch), 5-11 p.m. (Monday-Saturday dinner), 5-10:30 p.m. (Sunday dinner)

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