Sawada (Tokyo) – There are only Two Stars in Heaven

It is the Holidays, a new project is in the air, blog posts are backlogged, and life could not be busier. This post is basically another teaser but I hope the pictures 1 entice and inspire. The pictures document most of the meal but I was asked to stop when another party walked in.

I will have a lot more to say about this meal – when the post for my second meal comes out. For now, I will say “I have had none better.” I must thank my virtual friend Cathy Ho for bringing this restaurant to my attention 2 over a year ago.

It is a temple – that is ridiculously expensive – and it is absolutely worth it.

If the Holidays give me one thing, it might be a chance to begin writing the backlog – Elements (Princeton), New Haven pizzas, Sawada, Koju, Ryugin, Harutaka, Coi, another Ubuntu, and more.

- chuck

1 – Do not fully trust the colors – the lighting was deceptively difficult – and color correction proved challenging. The second batch of photos are much improved.

2 – Yes, it has 2 Michelin stars but her photos made me dream of a return to Tokyo – they gave me purpose!

  • Jack Everitt

    Again I am so envious.

  • Dustin Espersen

    Great pictures!

    How would you compare this place to Sushiyo Masa?

    I’m going to tokyo next month and was going to try either Sawada or Sushiyo Masa.

    Any color on how you would contrast the two would be much appreciated!



  • chuckeats

    Dustin, that is some of the basis for the “official” review. In a nutshell, try both if you can – the differences are very interesting and reveal different sides of sushi. If not, Sawada is of a slightly higher quality at 2-3x the price – it’s all about finding the point of diminishing returns.

  • Luxeat

    What is it in the 12th image? Looks like Japanese beef. Beautiful dinner, would be interested to hear how you compare it with Mizutani and Harutaka.

  • Dustin Espersen

    Great, thanks! Can’t wait for the “official” review. I was originally going to try both, but Tsukiji Yamamoto (fugu), Daigo (vegetarian), and Ryuan (chinese medicine) looked too interesting to pass up…

  • lucil

    chuck : did u dine at mizutani for 2 seperate occassions?? u seem to know something about the rice when it was “right” .. when i was there i remembered it was al dente for me.. like individually separated grains when you put into your mouth.. but somehow some bloggers seem to say they didint experience the al dente effect, which makes me wonder why..( lack of consistency?)

  • Trig

    Have a great Christmas and New Year. Best regards.

  • Tom

    Aiste: The 12th image is aged otoro (the picture is showing darker than it actually was), and yes… it was delicious.

    For pure ingredient quality, Sawada is better than Mizutani and Harutaka, although we did have some excellent sea bream @ Mizutani and some crazy buri (large yellowtail) @ Harutaka. For rice, I think that is a work in progress @ Sawada and personal preference at Mizutani (very creamy like risotto) or Harutaka (more like Jiro in style, very al dente).

    I’m definitely a bigger fan of Harutaka than Chuck, but we would rank them the same – Sawada, Mizutani, Harutaka – in that order.

  • JC

    Pic #7 is…shako?

  • alkanphel

    Wow your sushi meal looks fantastic! May I ask whether this is the lunch or dinner set and how much it cost? I’m thinking of returning to Tokyo and trying either Sushi Kanesaka or Sawada as I’ve tried Sushi Saito when I was last there and it was amazing as well.

  • chuckeats

    lucil – a few pieces at my lone Mizutani lunch were so near perfect – but not al dente, more risotto like, where the temperature of the fish and the rice just blended effortless together into a unified whole.

    alkanphel – this was lunch, i doubt there is much difference between the two meals. Budget? A lot. My friend (Tom above) has eaten @ both Kanesaka and Sawada and he says Sawada is a level better. (Neither of us have been to Saito yet)

  • Matthew

    Hey Chuck,

    is the blog still active?

  • chuckeats

    Yes, it is, been very very busy but i hope to have a new post up next week

  • Michael Cimarusti

    HI Chuck,
    This place looks amazing! I have traveled to Tokyo twice in the last few months. I hit Kanesaka, Ryu Gin and Quintessence in Tokyo, Kikunoi, Tankuma and Nakamura in Kyoto. My latest trip I only had time for Mizutani. It was quite spectacular, but Sawa looks like so much more then the traditional nigiri sushi kind of experience. Is the menu you had par for the course, or did you just ask for everything they had in house?

  • alkanphel

    Thanks for the reply Chuck! I will definitely put Sawada on my list of places to eat when I return to Tokyo :D

  • ercplus

    i showed this post to sawada-san and he was quite impressed (though perhaps he was being polite).

    the price of dining at sawada is astronomical even by tokyo sushi tier zero standards (mid ¥70K vs. mid ¥40K at, for example, sushi saito). and while i like actually like the heavy vinegar in the rice, i find it can cumulatively overpower certain fishes and even me by the end of the evening.

    but all in all a guaranteed wonderful evening with some very exquisite touches (the napkins you get to take home, the micro tomatoes, and that tomato-like fruit for dessert).

  • ChuckEats

    @michael – we just said bring it on – but, aside from the optional sashimi course, it seems like it’s the “normal” menu

    @erc – only you :-) the vinegar in this meal was pretty tame compared to what others have said. it was slightly higher on the second (not posted yet) visit. Saito is earmarked for the next (unscheduled) trip – perhaps i’ll do sushi in the park..

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  • Jean

    Will be going to Sushi Saito in October and thinking of another place. Have you tried Sushi Kanesaka? I have been told it is a must-visit but your post on Sawada is making me reconsider.

  • chuckeats

    Jean, my friend has eaten at Kanesaka once and Sawada 4-5 times – does that answer your question? :)

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  • MattR

    Can I ask you: do you mean 70k pp?? Or for 2 incl drinks?