Walking down the brightly lit Susukino district in Sapporo, our friend Mike Nagasaki, points us into one of the many tightly packed buildings that line the street. At the far end of the hallway we duck into a small sushi restaurant. One counter, eight seats, and one small table in the corner. So small that the sushi chef can serve everyone without taking more than two steps in either direction. So small, so tucked away, and so good! The kind of place you’d expect to see Anthony Bourdain siting, but unwilling to share his discovery with his viewers. This was our introduction to Edo style sushi at Sushi Dokoro Ueno.
Edo style sushi goes back to the 1820’s and is noted for the use of its local fish and simple flavors. According to the sushi encyclopedia, “Although sashimi, or raw fish was consumed in Japan for centuries, it was the first time it was combined into one entity with Japan’s major staple, rice.”
You won’t find the fusion sushi so popular in the US here. No “rolls” with four ingredients on the inside and three sauces on the outside that are so overwhelming that all the flavors blend together into an indistinguishable mess. We spent the evening talking with the chef and his wife while sampling some of Sapporo’s freshest fish. The chef would guide us as to which fish should be eaten alone, which should be eaten with a touch of wasabi, and those whose flavor would be enhanced by wasabi and shoyu. Of course this was complimented by a few ice cold drafts and some of the smoothest sake we’ve ever tasted.
The accompanying video tries to capture the atmosphere and skill of the sushi chef but nothing compares to being there. It was a wonderful opportunity to watch a craftsman at work and enjoy some amazing food with good friends. We can’t wait to go back!