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Sushi Tokami

Review excerpt: It is not just the quality of Hiroyuki Sato’s seafood that has put Sushi Tokami on Tokyo’s culinary map; it’s the understated way he goes about his business. Still in his late 30s, what distinguishes him is the relaxed way he interacts with customers, especially those from abroad. This, he says, comes from having a much wider experience of the outside world than most local chefs of his (or any) age.

Despite being born into a sushi family, Sato didn’t initially consider following in his father’s footsteps. It was not until he went to the U.S. that he became interested in Japanese cooking and decided to begin formal training.

Ten years later, he had opened his own restaurant. He took over the basement that formerly housed the venerable Sushi Mizutani, which was awarded three Michelin stars. That is quite an act to follow, but Sato pulls it off with aplomb.

You can tell from the first item he hands you: A norimaki (sushi roll) packed with rich, coarsely chopped maguro (tuna) meat — like a fishy take on steak tartare. This rare cut, known as tossaki, comes from the base of the tuna’s head. It demonstrates Sato’s ability to not only create signature dishes but also to procure some of Japan’s finest fish.