Having sushi is a must-have experience when you are in Japan. Have you tasted the oldest sushi in Tokyo? Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi (笹巻けぬきすし) protects the flavor of the original sushi for more than 300 years.

What is the origin of sushi in Tokyo?

The history of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi goes back to 1702. Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi is counted as the Three Greatest Sushi of Edo (old Tokyo), but only Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi could continue their business until now.

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi looks somewhat different from sushi people usually imagine. Their sushi is each wrapped in bamboo leaves, which has a strong bactericidal effect. This is because bamboo leaves are used to wrap provisions. 300 years ago, cooling solutions were not enough to preserve food for a long time. Therefore, the founder of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi soaked fish and rice in vinegar and wrapped in bamboo leaves. Because of that, their sushi tastes somewhat sour. The amount of vinegar got less comparing from the past, but you can still taste the origin of sushi in Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi.

The drawing indicating sushi culture in Edo period, put on the cashier counter of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi shop.

The drawing indicating sushi culture in Edo period, put on the cashier counter of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi shop.

The shop of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi

The only shop of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi is located in Kanda district. The nearest sightseeing area is Akihabara. The shop is just a few minutes walk from the closest station, Toei Shinjuku Line Ogawamachi Station or Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Awajicho Station.

The building of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi.

The building of Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi.

The outside display of their sushi.

The outside display of their sushi.

The building itself did not look so old, but I could feel the history from the door and the sign on the roof.

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi is basically a take-out store. Since it was supposed to be provisions for samurai warriors, the taste of fish and rice supposed to mix well in about three hours. The person in the shop told me that it is best to enjoy after three hours. Sushi is good for 24 hours, which is very different from sushi we know.

The display in the shop. The price differs depending on the amount in the box.

The display in the shop. The price differs depending on the amount in the box.

Although their shop is small, they have a small space where people could sit and eat.

A small eating space in the shop.

A small eating space in the shop.

If you wish to eat inside, they offer three pieces for 605 yen and seven pieces plus soup for 1804 yen. (As of December 2016)

Eat-in menu.

Eat-in menu.

I bought a box of 7 pieces for myself.

I bought a box of 7 pieces for myself.

Eating Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi

After walked around for the whole afternoon, I tasted the sushi for my dinner at home.

Their package was very pretty.

Their package was very pretty.

Seven pieces of sushi are packed in the wooden box!

Seven pieces of sushi are packed in the wooden box!

I opened one by one.

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi - shrimp

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi – shrimp

I imaged this sushi to be something like Oshi Sushi but turned out to be a totally different thing. Their rice was sticky and fluffier than I thought, not pressed hard like Oshi Sushi. This sushi is meant to be enjoyed without putting on soy sauce. I could feel the umami of rice and ingredients without putting any sauce. The staff warned me that this sushi is very sour, but I did not think this is too sour, in fact, I LOVED IT!

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi - egg

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi – egg

Usual sushi’s egg is sweetened with sugar and dashi and has wet texture. This one was dry and a little bit salty.

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi - seasonal fish 1

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi – seasonal fish 1

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi - seasonal fish 2

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi – seasonal fish 2

Both fish were so fluffy and melted instantly in my mouth.

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi - Oboro

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi – Oboro

Oboro is I think, very rare as an ingredient of sushi. It’s a minced fish seasoned with soy sauce, etc. This one was sweet and actually was my favorite.

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi - Kanpyo Maki

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi – Kanpyo Maki

Kanpyo Maki was good, too. Since some time had passed from the moment of making, seaweed got soft and stuck to rice. The seaweed had only slight flavors, so the sweetness of Kanpyo stood out so much.

Get Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi for your lunch box or dinner at the hotel!

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi is best for bento or box lunch. Before you leave home or for a journey to other parts of Japan, why don’t you stop by Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi and get your lunch? Or, get some during the day, walk around the city, take back to your accommodation, and enjoy them as a light supper?

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi is perfect as a small gift to your friends as well. Taste the origin of sushi in Tokyo!

Sasamaki Kenuki Sushi (笹巻きけぬきすし)

Address: 2 Chome-12 Kanda Ogawamachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: 2 minutes walk from Toei Shinjuku Line Ogawamachi Station or Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Awajicho Station.
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM, closed on Sundays
* Preorder by calling if you need large amount.

Information is as of December 2016. Please refer to the official announcements for the latest information.