In this unassuming, graffitied building is a
A couple of the generously sized pieces of sushi
that I had as part of my omakase dinner there
The largest portion of anago sushi I have ever had in my life!
The incredibly sweet and lovely Mr and Mrs Yano
behind the bar at Koyoshi Sushi :)
No, this blog has not turned into a food only blog -- but for the third entry running, I am indeed focusing a dinner experience to remember...with this particular one being the evening meal I had on the same day of my hike to the top of Kojima's Washu-zan.
A few hours after Puppet Ponyo and I visited Kojima, we were in the big Kansai city of Osaka via one final stop in Okayama -- this time just to pick up the luggage I had left in the nice business hotel I stayed while using Okayama as my base for a few days. After checking in to the somewhat surreal hotel near Osaka (train) Station that I was trying out for the first time, I decided to treat myself to an omakase sushi meal at yet another restaurant that Anthony Bourdain and his No Reservations TV show made me really, really want to eat at!
For those who want to do the same: let me warn you that Koyoshi Sushi is not easy to find -- even when one is armed with directions from the restaurant's Facebook page. One reason is that it's in a part of the city which is full of restaurants. Even bigger reasons are that its sign is very traditional (i.e., Japanese characters only on the modest, not brightly colored noren curtains at its entrance and two window shades) and that the small, brown- and gray-bricked building in which it's located is the opposite of being flashy!
And brace yourself to be surprised at how very small Koyoshi Sushi. Honestly, I gleaned from the No Reservations: Osaka episode that dining at this place would be on the intimate side but it makes most Hong Kong restaurant spaces look big, and ditto with Tsukiji's Sushi Dai -- for it seats just eight people in total and most definitely is not for the claustrophobic or, frankly, anyone on the overly large side (i.e., those of you who are this way would physically be uncomfortable in the place)! In addition, upon sliding open the restaurant's door, you will find yourself just inches away from the sushi counter.
My other shock upon entering Koyoshi Sushi was to discover that there were only two other diners in the restaurant. (And I have to say: one reason why I ended up walking past Koyoshi Sushi at least three times before I recognised it was that there was no queue to get in there that evening!) The difficulty of locating the place aside, I wonder whether some people are put off by it being stated on their Facebook page that: "We don't speak too much English. You may want to come with a Japanese friend."
Rest assured though that the words "biru kudasai" (beer please) followed by "omakase" accompanied with a smile will result in broad smiles appearing on the faces of Mr and Mrs Yano, followed by their bustling to accede to your requests. Very quickly, a big bottle of beer and a small glass to pour the beer into appeared in front of me, and also slices of sushi that made use of some of the chunkiest cuts of fish and prawn that I had ever seen!
As I ate happily and emited involuntary sounds of pleasure, Mr and Mrs Yano got to smiling more, and more broadly. After we established that they actually knew more English than they had initially let on and that I knew enough Japanese words that he could tell me what I was eating, he got to also asking me whether I'd prefer this or that (no, thank you to hotate (scallop); yes, please to getting a double portion of ikura (salmon roe) instead!) and chatting a bit about where I was from, how I heard about their restaurant, where else in Japan I had visited on this vacation, etc.
After 9 very substantial pieces of sushi (including melt-in-your-mouth otoro (fatty tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail)) had been served and eaten, I indicated that I'd stop after just one more piece -- which turned out to be uni (sea urchin) that wasn't served in a huge heap but I understood why after I put it into my mouth: i.e., it was soooo very creamily rich tasting!
With some trepidation, I then asked for the bill -- and was served one more shock for the evening: as in, the amount was far less than I expected for an omakase sushi meal: 5,000 Yen. And yes, that's still around HK$325 or US$42 -- but, in all honesty, I was expecting to pay about four times that amount and even had enough money with me for just in case the bill went up to 30,000 Yen!
To be sure: I've eaten better quality sushi -- in terms of the quality of the ingredients and also the cutting of the fish -- in a few other sushi-ya in Japan and Hong Kong. Also, there's a no frills, even working class, feel about Koyoshi Sushi -- that made it so that beer seemed a good choice of drink there rather than the sake I normally opt for when having sushi these days! At the same time though, there truly is plenty of heart about the place -- including in the evident pride and satisfaction that Mr and Mrs Yano take with regards to what they serve their customers, and what actually felt like pleasure for them to be going about their business (something they've done so for some 50 years now and counting) and having people appreciate them doing so.
Consequently, I really enjoyed the time I spent at Koyoshi Sushi -- and would even say that it felt like a genuinely wonderful cultural exchange took place there along with my having had an agreeable meal. Put another way: dinner at Mr and Mrs Yano's place makes for the kind of satisfying experience that makes me really love visiting Japan! :)