High-end sushi in Tokyo can be memorable and uplifting, even revelatory for those trying it for the first time. But it can also be intense and uncomfortable sometimes, what with the formality and etiquette, the inevitable language barrier and the hefty price tag.

And then there's the stress of actually finding the place. Most premium sushiya are tiny places, often holding 10 seats or fewer, tucked away in basements or on the upper levels of anonymous buildings.

Sushi Iwa makes things easy. For a start, the entrance is at street level. Better yet, it is immediately recognizable from its classic wabi-sabi (tea-ceremony style) look, hempen noren curtain, bamboo trellis window and small iron lantern at foot level. Inside, it feels relaxed and, with a counter only big enough for six, surprisingly intimate.