Mr. Sato believes this hand-rolled sushi is perfect for international diners.
Among the pancake stalls and candy shops aimed at youth in Harajuku, it can be hard to find a place to eat good Japanese food. It’s a problem that Mr. Sato has faced time and time again, but now he’s happy to say he’s finally found a restaurant that has become his go-to place, and he thinks it’s a great place for everyone, including foreign tourists, to try .
▼ The restaurant is called Gonpachi Nori-Temakiand it’s only a five minute walk from Harajuku Station.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s part of it Gonpachi a chain of restaurants, and as fans of Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino know, the Gonpachi restaurant in Tokyo’s Nishi-Azabu district inspired the “House of Blue Leaves” in Tarantino’s 2004 film, Kill Bill.
Gonpachi specializes in Japanese food that will please a wide variety of palates, so you can’t go wrong with any of their branches, but the one in Harajuku is a bit different as it specializes in temakizushi, which is hand-rolled sushi.
▼ There are 25 different types of temakizushi on the menu, and there’s even an option to swap the rice for low-carb cauliflower “rice” instead.
On weekdays from 11am to 3pm, you can pick up a Temaki lunch set for 1,500 yen (US$11.21), which is a good deal that includes five different temakizushis, plus some side dishes, salad, and miso soup.
The restaurant itself has a relaxed atmosphere that makes it feel more like a high-end bar than a sushi bar, and once you’re seated the staff will serve you small starters to enjoy while you wait for your main meal.
When the main meal arrives, you’ll be impressed by the colorful array, although you may be a little confused as to where to start and how to eat it. The five temakizushi on the plate below are: Nori omelette, Toro and Takuan (Grind Tuna and Marinated Daikon Radish), Braised Beef, Yam and Cod Roeand Salmon Avocado.
▼ Each beautifully arranged on a separate lettuce leaf, which just wrap around the sushi filling before eating.
This is great for people who don’t like nori, the seaweed sheets that are typically used to wrap hand-rolled sushi, but those who like nori will be happy to know that there are sheets on the side, and the image below shows how use them.
▼ The stiffness of the crispy sheet of nori makes it difficult to wrap both lettuce and filling completely, so it’s best to keep it that way.
Nori lovers will be impressed with seaweed as it is a brand called “Kontobi” from Maruyama Nori which is also used by famous sushi restaurants. The incredibly tasty, high-quality nori here is the first thing that excites the taste buds, and since it’s hand-rolled by you right before eating, everything is noticeably crispy and fresh.
▼ Many people say that the deliciousness of hand-rolled sushi lies in seaweed, and this is certainly the case.
Because the seaweed is so high quality, it enhances the flavor of any filling, making every bite delicious. In fact, the temakizushi was so good that five wasn’t enough for Mr. Sato and he ended up ordering more Salmon roe for 495 yen…
▼ … and Prime Minister Toro (fatty tuna) for 495 yen.
Not only did everything taste great, but the food was fun and a great way to enjoy a bit of Japanese culture over lunch. Temakizushi are usually made at home and rarely offered in restaurants, so if you want to enjoy great sushi with culture in the heart of Harajuku, Gonpachi Nori-Maki is the place to go.
However, if you’re in the mood for crazier sushi in Harajuku, then the sushi pancakes at this place will certainly satisfy you.
Gonpachi Nori Maki / 権八 Nori Maki
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 6-35-3 Coop Olympia 1F
Open from 11:30 to 23:00