Sushi Kyotatsu is my go to spot for sushi every time I find myself on a layover at Terminal 1 of Tokyo Narita International Airport. Delicious and fresh sushi in the most unlikely of places: the airport.
When you think of airport food, the last thing that probably pops into your head is sushi. But Sushi Kyotatsu is different. It’s good. I take that back, it’s great. Better than most of the sushi…I have ever had.
Though pricey (you’re in an airport), it was worth every yen for the quality of the food received, which was comparable, or better, than anything you would find across Japan.
I’ve actually been stopping by Sushi Kyotatsu on layovers in Tokyo for a few years now. I stumbled upon the location by accident on a trip to Seoul one time and I have been coming back ever since. I love that I can get a taste of fresh sushi in Japan even though I never step foot outside of the airport.
If in a rush, Sushi Kyotatsu offers take away sushi and bento at the front entrance.
If you are looking for more information about Tokyo and Japan, I highly recommend you pick up a guidebook such as Lonely Planet Best of Tokyo 2020
Relatively unknown in the past, Sushi Kyotatsu has recently become popular with travelers passing through Narita International Airport after Anthony Bourdain posted a photo on Instagram claiming that the sushi was the “Best. Goddamn. Airport. Meal. Ever.”
The interior of the restaurant was simple, casual, and comfortable with warm wooden paneling and lots of natural light. The decor was comparable to any sushi restaurant you might find in Tokyo.
On the right was a small sushi bar tended by a small team of busy sushi chefs. These chefs were working quickly and meticulously at slicing and plating fresh seafood.
Around the corner to the left was a small dining area with a few tables along with a row of seats lined up against a large window which faced out towards the airport tarmac.
Each time I visit, I try to sit at one the seats near the window. I just love being able to watch planes moving around the airport, especially while having a cold beer and eating delicious sushi.
To get a good taste of a wide variety of sushi, I recommend going with the Nigiri Miyako (¥3500 or about $32.17).
The exact sushi lineup used in the Nigiri Miyako varies day to day depending on which fish is available and what is in season. All fish arrives fresh, directly from Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest fish and seafood market in the world. If you have some time to visit Tokyo, be sure to stop by this must visit sight.
On my visit, my set included tuna belly (toro), sweet shrimp (amaebi), salmon roe (ikura gunkan), eel (unagi), omlette (tamagoyaki), and more.
You might not know the term nigiri, but you probably already know what it is if you eat sushi. Nigiri is simply hand formed sushi where a cut of raw fish is draped over vinegared rice. Most people are more familiar with makizushi, or rolled sushi which is extremely popular outside of Japan including America.
Each piece of nigiri was meticulously hand crafted by a well trained sushi chef. First, the rice was molded into a perfect oblong shape. Then a touch of wasabi was applied to the top of the rice. Finally, a piece of fresh raw fish was draped on top.
Each piece was indescribably fresh and delicious, not surprising since the seafood was purchased from the fish market earlier in the day.
I ate each piece ever so slowly, being sure to savor each flavor and texture of every single heavenly bite.
It might sound surprising, but in Japan, rice is just as important as the fish. Cooking rice is an art form that takes many years to perfect.
The rice prepared at Sushi Kyotatsu was magnificent. Each grain was cooked well and kept slightly warm. Thanks to the addition of rice vinegar, the rice took on a different shade of white and also gave it an extra dimension of flavor.
Each piece had just the right amount of wasabi. The wasabi, much higher in quality than what you would expect, added a perfect kick of heat to each bite.
Nothing else was needed except possibly a little touch of soy sauce. The flavors, the textures, the rice, the fresh seafood. All masterfully prepared and presented. Did you forget that you are sitting in an airport?
Instead of trying to review each and every piece of nigiri I tried, I will describe which pieces stood out:
Sweet shrimp (Amaebi): absolutely divine. Perfection in one bite. I ended up ordering more (check out the review below)
Salmon roe (Ikura Gukan): The roe was extremely fresh. The flavor of each bite of the roe exploded with fresh, slightly salty flavors of the sea.
Eel (Unagi): Eel nigiri has always been a favorite of mine. One bite hits all the right spot: sweet, salty, spicy, and savory.
Omelette (Tamagoyaki): For something so simple, I was impressed. The omelette was crispy and fried on the outside while fluffy on the inside.
Sweet Shrimp (Amaebi)
After sampling the Nigiri Miyako, I knew I needed another fix of the Sweet Shrimp (¥450 per piece or about $4.13 each).
The shrimp was sweet, salty, flavorful, and oh so tender. With each bite, the shrimp literally melted in my mouth in an almost divine way. It’s something you need to experience for yourself.
The sweet shrimp is worth traveling all the way to Japan for.
Service was quick, friendly, and extremely efficient. Quick service was a must being at an airport where I needed to make a connection. Each time I placed an order, I received the item within a few minutes.
When you want to place an order, simply grab the attention of any server walking around. If you don’t get their attention, they usually will not interrupt you. While this might seem strange in America, this is common in Japan.
Could Sushi Kyotatsu be the best airport sushi restaurant in the world? Could it be the best airport restaurant in the world?
I would like to think so. I think Anthony Bourdain was right. Sushi Kyotatsu is the best, damn, airport meal, ever.
If you have a layover at Narita Airport, and you love great sushi or great food in general, then you must stop by Sushi Kyotatsu.
- Amazingly fresh seafood that comes direct from the Tsukiji Fish Market
- Quite possibly the best airport meal in the world
- Quick and friendly service
- Sushi to go
- Pricey, but hey, you are in an airport
- You would have to fly to Japan to try it out (worth it)
Daily: 8:30AM-8:30PM (last order at 8:30PM)
Terminal 1, No.3 Satellite, 3rd Floor
Between Gate 33 and Gate 34
GPS Coordinates: 35.761649,140.384861