“Sumimasen, photo déjà vu desu?” – I ask in my clumsy Japanese in an effort to politely receive permission for taking photos. He gives me the warmest smile, which came with a hint of shyness, and a nod. I take only a couple, not to intrude too much into his swift yet deft process. uoriki-kaisen-sushi-1You can see he is in a zone, focused and sharp like his knife. His hands, as wrinkled and old as they are, perform every movement with calculated precision of a 20-year-old. These hands have prepared sushi so many times, he could probably do it with his eyes closed – pressing and molding the rice, slicing the fish, smudging wasabi on one side and then bringing the two together to form a divine marriage – a delectable buttery piece of otoro (fatty tuna) nigiri. uoriki-kaisen-sushi-5Uoriki Kaisen is tucked away in Shibuya, under the busiest crossing in the world. To find this little ten-seat sushi-ya go down to the B1 level of Tokyu Department Store and head to the back of the buzzing Tokyu Food Show depachika. Most probably you’ll have to stand in a line before you’re seated, but it is well worth the wait. uoriki-kaisen-sushi-7The menu offers reasonably priced sushi sets and highly praised chirashi-don which is bowl of rice filled to the brim with large chunks of sashimi. My partner in crime and I ordered the sazanami platter which came with a side of miso soup (a little underwhelming, to be honest). I thoroughly enjoyed my fresh morsels of fish among which the mashed tuna maki, pacific saury, sea bream and scallop nigiris particularly stood out. uoriki-kaisen-sushi-3Each of them melted in my mouth way too soon and, unable to contain myself, I ordered another portion of dreamy otoro and delightful uni – so sweet and so creamy, the taste lingered on my palate for a while. uoriki-kaisen-sushi-4As if that wasn’t enough, our chef surprised me with a tiny plate dotted with miniature sushi that he took an effort to make especially for me. I don’t know when we made a connection, or how I deserved it, but the Japanese hospitality and effort to go the extra mile to please customers never cease to warm my heart. uoriki-kaisen-sushi-6Apparently, Uoriki Kaisen supplies supermarkets and department stores with fresh seafood directly from Tsukiji Fish Market, thus having direct access to the best fish on a daily basis. And no, it doesn’t match the sophisticated standards of the likes of Sukiyabashi Jiro or Sushi Saito, but the most important things are there – the quality of fish and a sincere ichi-go ichi-e (cherishing every encounter as a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence) hospitality.

xoxo, nano

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