Sushi Zanmai at Ikebukuro, Tokyo

Vancouver sushi snob

Coming from Vancouver where there’s an abundance of fresh fish and plenty of authentic Japanese sushi restaurants, I must say I do consider myself to be somewhat of a sushi snob. For sushi joints this usually means no low quality all you can eat and no restaurants that are operated by non Japanese chef. Fortunately you won’t be able to find the latter in Japan. However, despite being in Japan you can run into sushi places that serve sushi at the lower end of the quality spectrum. These restaurants are usually chain restaurants that serve conveyor belt sushi. Of my past experiences with at least three different conveyor belt sushi restaurants at various places in Tokyo, I found non of them serve good quality fish.

Nippon Ichi

When I first heard that Sushi Zanmai was a chain restaurant, I had expected the quality to be not as good. However, to my surprise, I was wrong. Sushi Zanmai is famous for bidding high quality fish at Tsukiji and is known for outbidding other restaurants in obtaining the nippon ichi – the No.1 bluefin tuna catch for the day

Sushi Zanmai originated from Tsukiji and now has expanded to many locations across Tokyo. Their restaurant is easy to spot as you can find the owners mascot at many of their restaurants.


Toro, Toro and Toro

Their Maguro set completely blew me out of the water. For 3000 yen you get two pieces of hon maguro toro (bluefin tuna toro), two pieces of chu toro (medium fatty tuna), two pieces of regular maguro, two pieces of aburi toro, two pieces of negitoro roll (chopped maguro and green onion) and three peices of tekka (tuna roll) and a large bowl of seaweed miso soup.

The fattiness of the toro was out of this world. As you can see from the marbleization of the fat on this piece.

This is definitely an excellent price for the quality of fish you receive. The only other better sushi I’ve had at a similar price point was at Sushi Dai in Tsukiji. Mind you that place is now completely infested with tourists with crazy wait times.

Other than maguro, I had ordered other sushi such as scallop and large amaebi. Both were very fresh and delicious. If you ask me, the quality of fish served here surpasses the best of any sushi restaurant in Vancouver period.


Overall Sushi Zanmai serves sushi that gives you excellent bang for your buck. The quality of fish served at this chain restaurant completely smashed my expectations. The best thing is this restaurant is open 24×7 to satisfy your sushi cravings at any time of the day. Their menu is full of pictures and has english. This restaurant is not only loved by tourists, but also locals which is why it’s always packed. Nevertheless, their chef’s are very efficient with very minimal wait time. You’ll find your self in and out in about an hour or less.

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