Urasawa on New Year’s Eve was spectacular. It was an extraordinary evening and probably ranks as one of the best New Year’s we have ever experienced. Hiro had planned on 10 people total, but there we 4 no-shows scheduled for 6 pm. As a result, it was just John and I at the sushi bar from 7:00 to 8:45. To say we were treated like royalty is a huge understatement. Best of all, we got to chat with Hiro non-stop and relive old times when he functioned as a second to Masa when Urasawa was Ginza Sushi-Ko.

As I have repeatedly mentioned Hiro’s cuisine revolves around seasonality from the ingredients to the decor. But there is a definite evolution to his style that aboslutely transcends the sushi bar experience. What might at first glance appear as a disparate array of ingredients ends up being an incredible “this makes sense” taste sensation. Texture also plays a crucial role in Hiro’s cuisine – crunch with smooth, stark with the unctuous. Hiro’s attention to detail is exquisite plus the ingredient quality is the finest. This is refined Japanese cuisine, absolutely deserving its Michelin 2 star rating. I just hope I am able to recreate this meal and give some semblance of how great it was.


Hiro is preparing our first dish of Hairy Crab. It was a very time consuming preparation – each element was meticulously handled.



Hairy Crab from northern Japan, Mizuna, Chrysanthemum flower, white soy and vinegar. The dishes were gorgeous and had been put in the refrigerator to chill. 



An absolute wow of a dish – blue fin tuna, red snapper, a pickle from Kyoto, radish(??), nori, uni, caviar and gold leaf. There are no words to convey how great the combination of flavors and textures were in this dish – incredible is an understatement.



Salmon eggs on top of a steamed egg custard. Hiro said that salmon egg season is almost over – perhaps just one more week. Don’t even think about the salmon eggs you get in jars; that would be like comparing select beef with A-5 Wagyu beef. These just exploded in your mouth.



Sashimi in Hiro’s hand made ice bowl – Spanish toro, red snapper from Southern Japan, red snapper


The next dish takes a bit of explaining. The combination of red snapper, shrimp, shitake, shiso and a vegetable that I didn’t get the correct name of is steamed with sake.


Sake being added to the hot stones


The dish itself – notice how Hiro has created an incredible package of amazing taste sensations of red snapper, uni, shrimp, shiso, shitake mushroom tied up in a nori strip


Dipping sauce of radish and ponzu



Tempura Cod Fish from Hokkiado  – since Hokkiado is one of the most northern parts of  Japan, I was immediately struck by the fattiness of the fish as it was from colder waters.



On a small brazier, the Hairy Crab from Northern Japan sits in its shell.  It is topped with sea urchin and the heat from the brazier simmers the broth which consists of crab brains. From a google search, I am guessing this is Kani Miso which references that crab brains, roe and other crab innards are mixed together to form the “broth.”



A-5 Kobe beef  –  Matsuzaka from Mie Prefecture about to be cut


Beautiful seared A-5 Kobe 


The next series of pictures are an introduction to the Shabu Shabu course. Hiro and I had a long discussion about how it is vital that the student must always honor his teacher. Hiro sees Masa as his mentor and teacher and keeps the Shabu Shabu dish on his menu to honor him.

First up for the Shabu Shabu dish was a fresh and kicking spiny lobster from California







Shabu-shabu ingredients – California spiny lobster, Scallop,  foie, Matsuzaka beef  and seaweed from Japan


Shabu broth


Yoshi did the cooking for us – the lobster took only a second with the foie taking the longest.


We were given a soup spoon after the foie had been consumed and then had the broth as a soup course.



Toro about to be cut for sushi

Now the sushi part of the meal begins. Hiro is now using 185 grains of rice per sushi piece. The ginger is made in house – again far different than normal sushi bar ginger. 



Hiro sauces each sushi piece so no dipping is necessary – sometimes he grates a bit iof Yuzu on top, sometimes he sauces with his own special blend of sauce, again made in house. Picture-taking becomes quite a challenge as Hiro wants you to eat the sushi ASAP. 











Spanish Mackerel



Red Snapper



Spiny Lobster



Skip Jack



Razor Clam









Shitake mushroom that had been grilled on a charcoal brazier



Red Clam






Japanese Mackerel



Abalone from Shiba





Spanish mackerel tataki



Negi-toro Tgreen onion and toro roll)



Tamago – almost like eating an egg souffle






Sesame Pudding



Mocha – Green Tea


We brought our own wines – my husband’s comments:

1985 Krug Champagne–superb, bit of caramel with age, tiny bubbles

1983 Trimbach, Gewerztraminer–our son recommended this because of the great match with foods like Uni.  He was right.  Bright, fruity, clean, superb.

1990 Pommard, Monopole–absolutely perfect with the rich, fatty meats Hiro served.  Clean, fresh, great bouquet, and wonderful velvet finish.  A very good Burgundy to 
start the year.   We can only hope for many more.
What an incredible meal and what an extraordinary way to ring out 2008. There is only one way to describe this experience – perfect.

7 Responses to “Urasawa”

  1. 1 Loving Annie January 2, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    It looks absolutely exquisite at every step of the way ! Only you could convince me to try seafood 🙂
    Wonderful way for you to start the New Year.

  2. 2 ChuckEats January 2, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    I called Hiro a few weeks ago and he told me it was almost hairy crab season – glad to see it lives up to the expectations (not that I would expect anything otherwise w/ Hiro.)

  3. 3 lizziee January 2, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Chuck, he is just getting better and better.

  4. 4 Jerome W. January 3, 2009 at 12:01 am

    A fantastic report as usual. You are the best.
    This is almost the best time of the year to eat there…right after early Springtime.

  5. 5 ExileKiss January 3, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Hi lizziee,

    Great review. I didn’t think of going on New Year’s Eve, figuring Urasawa-san would be celebrating the holiday in tradition (taking a few days off). 🙂 The Matsuzaka looked wonderful.

    I can’t wait to go back myself, hopefully soon.

  6. 6 Michael January 3, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Great report. The photos of dishes being prepared add a lot. Thanks,

  7. 7 lizziee January 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Thank you everyone.I am only the diner and reporter and my husband the photographer. All the credit belongs to Hiro. This is one very special restaurant.

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