I have mentioned before that I ate extremely well in Japan, even though I am a picky eater. Before going to Japan, I had once eaten and disliked raw fish sushi. Sashimi, was something I would never actively choose to eat, but Japan made me want to be adventurous for a few reasons. One, it’s the birthplace of such dishes, so what better place to try it? And two, every place in Japan that I visited was so pristine clean that I was certain I would not get food poisoning.
Even if the gastronomical experience in Japan is orgasmic, it can also be overwhelming. Tokyo alone has more than 80,000 restaurants and more Michelin-star establishments than any other city in the world. Sure, there is Trip Advisor, guide books and foodie blogs to provide a road map to where to eat while in this megalopolis, but the truth is, sometimes fate just has a way to take you to the right place.
So fate took me to the Oiri family’s restaurant one night in the form of being my cousin’s plus one to a friend’s dinner. My cousin had recently joined me in Tokyo for part of my trip and her mother (my aunt) had known the Oiri family for over 20 years. I hesitated at first, because I didn’t want to impose, but gave in at the prospect of meeting a local family and eat at their restaurant, a choice I did not regret.
We were treated to so much amazing food that at one point we had to be rude and decline additional dishes because we just couldn’t physically eat it. Everything tasted so good and fresh. Mr. Oiri buys the fish every morning from the Tsukiji Fish Market.
The Oiri restaurant is situated on the outskirts of Tokyo, in a neighborhood alley that I would have never ventured to if not for the invitation. Inside there are only a couple of tables and the sushi counter creating the feeling that you are indeed eating at someone’s home. Locals here speak no English, but eat at Oiri’s often.
Not only did the Oiri family provide us with a delicious feast, we were blessed with their generosity. I walked out the establishment with green tea, ointment for my aching feet and stationary to write home on. None of it was planned, but the acts of kindness just reinforced how wonderfully hospitable they are. The best gift of all was a new friendship that was created in a country I hope to return to many more times.
How to get there
If you are visiting Tokyo and want to eat a local place that is not yet listed in a guide-book (that I know of), visit Oiri Sushi. The easiest way to get there is to take the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line to the Minami-Asagaya station. From there it’s a couple blocks walking. If you print the directions in Japanese or rent the pocket wi-fi, you should be able to find it with no problem. Here is the address for Google: 3 Chome-22-2 Asagayaminami, Suginami, Tokyo 166-0004, Japan
If you do eat at Ori’s please let me know what you thought about it.