Eating at a sushi restaurant in Tokyo

On Saturday night, in Tokyo living a Travelife, we went for dinner with some friends to a famous sushi place that’s fondly known by long-time residents of Tokyo as the “stock market bubble sushi restaurant.

It was once the epicentre of success on any weekday night, and every successful fund manager or broker worth his salt had this restaurant on speed dial.

A sign of your prominence, or the fact that you had “arrived,” was your ability to get a good table here at a moment’s notice.

And when you got to this restaurant, you usually had to spend the first five minutes saying hello to everyone, because this is where everyone who wanted glamorous sushi went in this big but small town.

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Just like at the New York Grill of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which was the other epicentre of success in this town.

We laughed a lot on Saturday night, thinking about the good old days and how sushi restaurants came into the picture.

THE 50,000 YEN PEG

One guy said, and it’s still true of many non-tourist sushi restaurants these days: “Sushi restaurants peg customers not according to what they ate but according to what they thought you could pay. From our first visit here, we were pegged at 50,000 yen. So no matter what we ate, and how much or how little we ate, we would always be charged around 50,000 yen.”

He added: “So I would tell my guests: eat whatever you wish and as much as you wish, because we’ll get charged 50,000 yen per person anyway, either way.

The non-tourist sushi restaurants don’t provide you with an itemized bill, you see. Most of the time it’s just a number on a scrap of paper. And if you want to eat there again, you’d be wise not to question how the bill was added up.

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Then I added my own observation. I said: “In sushi restaurants run by a husband-and-wife team, you’ll always get a higher bill if it’s the wife who computes it. So what everyone should do is ask the man for the bill when his wife goes into the kitchen to get the miso soup or a fresh pot of tea.”

Our conversations about the good old days lasted late into the night, in Tokyo, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.