Before we share with you our dining experiences at higher-end sushiyas, it is imperative that we first have a conversation about the good ol’ standing-style sushi bars in Tokyo. Casual, upfront, noisy and sometimes unglamorous, standing sushi bars come with a compact counter space, over-the-counter sushi, and shoulder-to-shoulder rubbing with strangers.
From Japanese salarymen to kimono-wearing obachans (grandmother), and gaijins (foreigners) like us, the standing sushi bar serves a common purpose to deliver fast and freshly molded sushi. At Uogashi Nihon-Ichi (魚がし日本一), a popular sushi bar with branches all over Tokyo, you get friendly interactions with the sushi chefs, self-service water dispensers for green tea and some surprisingly quality sushi at good value.
Nigiri sushi (sliced fish on top of sushi rice) dominates the easy-to-order English menu, followed by temaki sushi (handroll). You could also ask for sashimi if you prefer not having rice with your fish. But if you are lucky, you may encounter non-menu items that only the locals know about. And be quick to raise your hand (and voice) to order what they are having!
Taste-wise, sushi at Uogashi Nihon-Ichi will never stand on the same ranks as fine dining sushiyas in Japan, so it is important to put your Jiro dreams aside over here. But what Uogashi Nihon-Ichi or other standing-style sushi bars can offer is fresh, filling and affordable sushi. Better yet, no reservations are required and you can be done with your meal within minutes. So for sushi-hungry folks who have little time to spare, I would say ‘do as the locals do’ and give Tokyo’s standing sushi bars a try.
Uogashi Nihon-Ichi branches can be found near major rail stations across Tokyo. For a full listing of the restaurant’s locations, visit: http://www.uogashi-nihonichi.com/english/tachigui-shoplist.html