Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

sushi2.jpg sushi1.jpg
In terminal 1 of Narita airport there are two sushi shops: Sushi Iwa and Kyotaru. Kyotaru is a big chain and fairly low quality. Sushi Iwa on the other hand is a high quality sushi joint that I ALWAYS go to before leaving Japan on a trip. After the rennovation of terminal 1, Sushi Iwa significantly upgraded the quality of the material they serve and is definitely a treat. The staff are friendly and happy to fulfill any silly requests. They will also pack boxes to go if you want to eat it on the plane. When you go, sit at the counter. Also, remember that the material will get better as the staff get to know you. This is true in any sushi shop since on every piece of fish, there are tasty bits, and not as tasty bits. I find this is true in Chinese restaurants as well... Saegusa-san thinks that chefs can only make a few truely good meals every evening and they choose who gets them. Anyway, smile at the sushi chefs a lot and ask for a recommendation and you'll probably get something good.

As usual, I had a wonderful meal before I left. The shellfish were especially good today.

I just arrived in Aspen after stopping in Seattle and Denver and I haven't eaten anything since my sushi. ;-)


Hmmm I like Sushi but I'm still learning whats good and whats not! (Unlike you lucky Asian people I wasn't brought up on Sushi!)

What do people consider good and bad - do you think about texture or colour etc? And of course their is taste. Is the size of the fish important ? Or should it be only so big?

Also can anyone recomend a good Sushi joint in Sydney Australia?


Hi Steve. I've never been to Australia, but where ever there is good fish and a lot of Japanese, there should be a good sushi joint...

One thing to remember is that almost any kind of sushi can be good or bad depending on the quality and freshness of the fish and the method of preparation. Therefore, I would be wary of saying "I like blahblahblah" or "I don't like blahblahblah" until you've been to a great sushi shop and tasted it. In particular, fishy tasting things like shellfish, sea urchin and shiny fish like kohada and saba should be given a try at a good place.

Generally freshness is very important. Having said that, some of the shiny fish are cured in salt, vinegar, seaweed or other stuff. Also, the fatty tuna, the toro, is often aged for a while to let the fat get mature and bit sweeter. I think you do this with meats as well.

Also, the fatty bits on the fish are usually the best. The fin area of snapper, flounder or halibut called the engawa or the belly of the tuna, the fatty toro. Also, recently living shrimps...

Actually, I heard that serving freshly killed lobster in Japanese restaurants is illegal in Australia because of the brutal nature. Is this true or is it a rumor?

Oh. And one more thing. Usually Japanese are pretty stingy about telling you their favorite sushi shops because they are usually very small and exclusive. My favorite sushi shop always says "closed" on the door all of the time. This culture is extreme in Kyoto. The reason I posted this note about Sushi Iwa is because it is far from "hidden" and they have been suffering since 9/11 and need the business. ;-)


I did a search hear

(A good starting point for general Australian law information)


"Killing of Lobster"

I could not find much other than infomration on Aboriginal issues relating to the food and the land.

Thanks for your post and I'll try not to anoy any of my Japanese friends by asking about their favorite sushi shop! :)


Steve, I think it is perfectly legitimate to ask your friends. (You'll quickly find out who your real friends are. ;-) ) I think that it is just not a casual thing. And probably not too likely in a public forum like this.


I don't think I ever thanked you for introducing me to this custom
on our way to Virginia that time. I've continued to stop in here on
my way out of Tokyo whenever I leave, and the sushi with a nice tall
draft beer always seems to put me in the perfect state for the plane.


I found Sushi Iwa my first time eating at Narita. I was looking for something slightly intimate at the airport. It was quiet in there, and the fish looked good. The menu has a uni donburi which blew my mind - uni, toro and salmon roe over rice. Never seen uni donburi before - I was terrifically excited. And glad to carry it in my stomach back to the states! Since then I've make it my habit to eat there on my way out of Japan. I've never eaten anywhere else before, but I'm glad to read from you Joi that that sushi place is the best where the planes come and go!

Hi Vince!

Justin, I didn't know they had uni don. Cool. Many years ago. They used to have mentaiko (spicy cod roe) in a tube. We used to buy it and take it to the US. We then just squeeze a bit on a bowl of rice and we can get that Japanese taste. ;-) They don't do it anymore because you can now buy mentaiko in most major cities overseas now.