Tsunezushi 常寿し, Hakodate Hokkaido: Good Reviews of Bib Gourmand Sushi Restaurant but…

Tsunezushi 常寿し at Hakodate Hokkaido is well-known among the locals and has amassed regulars and followers. (I know it’s empty in the photo but people were sitting on the second floor, and it was only 6pm when we were; the locals were still working.)

In 2017, the Michelin Guide has awarded it a Bib Gourmand, a category that means the restaurant serves excellent food for ¥5000 or less. And indeed the sushi is extremely affordable. There are sets starting from ¥2000. A 9-piece sushi set costs only ¥2200 and 11-piece for ¥3000. A la carte is also available and, according to Bib Gourmand, it is about ¥4000 to ¥8000.

Of course, in addition to being affordable, the restaurant gets its seafood supplies within Hakodate, the sea port city. When seafood travels less, you’d know that it’s fresher for the chef to work with, which in turn produces better results.

When we were there, the shop was manned only by the chef (owner?) who looks like a grandpa and two elderly ladies (perhaps one of them is his wife?). The restaurant exudes a cosy family-run feel but whether it is or not, I’m not sure.

Yandao went for a la carte and was seated furthest from me so I couldn’t take any photos. Chiobu ordered Chirashi don (¥2200, above). The bowl is jam-packed with ingredients; it even has expensive items like uni and ikura. Definitely value-for-money.

Mr Fitness ordered the 9-piece set (¥2200) while I had the 11-piece set (¥3000). It is better to get the more expensive set. For just ¥800 more, the ingredients get a lot better and more premium. The 9-piece set has several good stuff like snow crab and scallop sushi.

But the 11-piece set comprises of what 9-piece set has and with even better and more premium stuff like chutoro (medium fatty tuna), uni sea urchin, and ikura roe. These three are considered the expensive seafood.

But wait! There is something I have never eaten before. It’s long and yellow and grainy like a piece of golden sandpaper. It is… KAZUNOKO SUSHI (herring roe)! It is known to be a osechi ryori (Japanese New Year) dish because it is only available at the end of the year.  It’s fun to try it for one time, but like fugu puffer fish, it is more for novelty than taste. It’s crunchy and quite tasteless. Not a fan.

Everyone on tripadvisor gives good reviews; I’m talking about Japanese people who wrote reviews in Japanese giving positive reviews. Maybe we are spoilt but I cannot in good conscience say that it’s good. The seafood seems a tad too dry and not flavourful enough. The rice is not vinegary enough.

At good sushi-yas, the chefs will apply everything and all you have to do is pick the sushi up and pop it in the mouth. But here, the chef hasn’t put on any soy sauce so you have to dip it yourself.

If you take the set, I guess it’s pretty good value. But tastewise, it is just so-so. We paid ¥14450 for four people.

Tsunezushi 常寿し
10-16 Matsukazecho, Hakodate
tel: +81-138-26-4872

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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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