Living in Austin, we are pretty spoiled when it comes to excellent sushi.
Countless options including Uchi, Uchiko and Soto, amongst others, provide an authentic Japanese experience.
I love the taste of exquisitely prepared sushi rice topped with delectable tuna or yellowtail - for me, it is a divine experience.
However, there is nothing like an omakase in Tokyo, a treasure I took full advantage of in April when I visited the country.
My friend and I had lunchtime reservations at Sushiyoshi in Ginza.
Sushiyoshi is located on the second level of a building in Ginza's Miyuki Street. Reservations are necessary, as the dining area for lunch is counter service only seating up to ten guests.
Decorations are minimal, which is typical in Japan, as if the restaurant wanted to be judged on its food, not its flamboyance.
My Japanese friend had ordered us the sushi omakase, which would be a 17-course adventure of the finest Japanese sushi.
I honestly didn't know what to expect.
Would this culinary journey take me to places I had never experienced before?
Our first dish was bonito sashimi with picked daikon radish, served with freshly ground wasabi.
Let me tell you something about fresh wasabi - it tastes different to the wasabi you get in America, which is usually green-colored horseradish.
With the real thing, when you put the wasabi into your mouth, it is almost creamy and the heat oozes into your palate as molten lava would roll down a spouting volcano.
Paired with the bonito and daikon, this simple opening dish was the holy trinity of sashimi and a positive forbear of the dishes to come.
Our next item was a steamed Japanese egg custard with squid. Served warm, it offered a fantastic dashi flavor.
I could imagine eating this dish on a cold, rainy day in Tokyo and feeling like I was enveloped by a warm blanket.
Then, the sushi courses began.
I watched intently as our personal sushi chef, Sugai, diligently prepared every single dish right in front of us at the counter.
First, we had tuna, the flavor and texture of which was world class.
A black caviar topping added an extra hint of seawater and salt to the mixture of scintillating tastes that excited my gustatory system.
The tuna was followed in quick succession by mackerel, striped jack and then more tuna.
Sugai assiduously assembled every nigiri by hand and used a paintbrush to lightly caress the fish with oil at the end.
Next came cooked salmon trout paired alongside a hot sweet egg omelet, which tasted like honey due to the sweet dashi flavor.
We then tried young sea bream and a Japanese specialty, sweet shrimp (ebi).
Soon after came the uni (sea urchin), the mouth-watering heaps of which overflowed their wooden spoon, followed by cooked red snapper served nigiri-style, squid and salmon roe.
The chef freshly zested yuzu, the East Asian citrus fruit, on top of the caviar, which paired perfectly with the roe.
Finally, we were offered cooked conger eel, a Japanese delicacy, also served nigiri style.
Interestingly, in Japan, miso soup comes at the end of the meal, not the beginning as in the US.
All in, the meal cost around $100 per person, which I thought was very reasonable given the culinary odyssey we had just completed.
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