A tiny bar with room for eight people standing shoulder to shoulder? I would never have guessed just how much we would soon be enjoying the food here at Sushi Okame in Tsukiji, Tokyo.
Draped by a couple of plastic curtains to keep in the warmth of the winter heaters, you could be forgiven for walking past, imagining that you had just spied a cheap drinking bar and then think nothing of it.
Stepping into the standing space, my wife and I asked if we could order. A somewhat blunt "Not yet" was the reply as the chef wiped down the counter and we both wondered if the bar was small for a reason.
When we did order, my wife went for the 2,000 yen 8-piece Okame Set ($20) while I chose the 3,000 yen 10-piece Choice Set ($30). Other than the novelty of being in a standing only sushi bar, nothing up until this moment was particularly noteworthy.
And then the first piece came out.
And then the second.
And then third.
And so on...
Both sets started with marinated tuna, fatty tuna and extra fatty tuna before splitting into halibut for my wife and yellowtail for me. This opening salvo was highlighted by the servings being perfectly bite-sized. This well-considered size balance between rice and topping would be a constant theme at Sushi Okame.
The meal continued with prawn for my wife and sweet shrimp for me. How lovely was it to find these two pieces served with their tail fins already removed? The sweet shrimp was succulent, thick and gorgeously smooth to the palate. I never thought I would be describing sweet shrimp in those terms.
Next up was scallop for my wife and arc clam for me. Again, lovely and tender with a delicious amount of texture and taste. This meal had been a delight so far and the joy continued with horse mackerel and gizzard shad. Both pieces were the picture of beauty as they avoided the too briny flavours of cheaper fare but without sacrificing the hint of their ocean homes.
The salmon roe that we were served next reminded us just why these little jewels of delight are so popular. My piece oozed ocean smoothness while my wife's piece left her beaming. At this point she got lucky and received a complimentary serving of sea urchin that matched my set one. Sourced from Hokkaido, it was creamy with an intricate taste of the sea for good measure.
My final two course servings were grilled conger eel and clam sushi. The eel was like a silky blanket over a small pod of rice while the clam was absolutely gorgeous in its texture. I cannot praise the clam any more strongly.
To say that we were satisfied would be an understatement. Once the chef saw that we were serious about enjoying our food, he opened up and answered our questions. He was particularly proud of the rice that we complimented him on - not soft but most definitely not hard, and dancing, as it were, with its topping.
As we left this tiniest of sushi restaurants, we discovered that we too were dancing.
No wonder you ate standing...