By Peter Lin
Draped by a couple of short noren curtains, you could be forgiven for walking past Sushi Okame and imagining that you had just spied a cheap drinking bar, before going on your way and thinking nothing of it.
But this tiny standing-only establishment is a little gem of a working class sushi bar that protects the budget and doesn't skimp on quality or flavour. They say it serves eight people but I'm not really sure where the other four spaces are to be had, but there you go, eight people. Right next to Lawsons convenience store at the Shin-Ohashi and Harumi Dori intersection, it's literally up the road from Tsukiji Station.
You can order a la carte or sets. A standard opening salvo for a set (tokusen) includes marinated tuna (zuke maguro), fatty tuna (chutoro), extra fatty tuna (otoro) and yellowtail (hamachi). One of the bar's features is its well-considered bite-sized balance between rice (shari) and topping (neta). Do compliment the chef on the rice. It's nice, not soft but certainly not hard, and goes surprisingly well with the textural toppings.
Their sweet shrimp (amai ebi) is succulent, thick and gorgeously smooth to the palate. The salmon roe (ikura) and sea urchin (uni) ooze ocean smoothness. Shellfish items like arc shell (akagai) and clam are full of texture and taste. The shiny fish toppings like mackerel (saba) and gizzard shad (kohada) are simply delicious, to say nothing of the silky blanket-like conger eel (anago)...
Sushi Okame is not elegant, refined or high class, but each time I visit, I leave the bar happy. Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a thousand people going off to a thousand places, it's a great little sushi experience that, quite literally, can only be found in Japan.
Head left from Exit 1 of Tsukiji station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line, then walk along Shin-Ohashi Dori (you'll have Tsukiji Honganji Temple on your left) until you reach the main intersection with Harumi Dori. You'll see the Lawsons convenience store across the road ahead of you, and Sushi Okame is right next door to it.
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A Japanese Permanent Resident who enjoys drooling over proper soba and sushi, Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me and I enjoy stringing words together. I've almost one hundred published articles on Japan as well as five English language books written in the traditional Japanese zuihitsu-style.