My friend invited me to dinner on Suship, telling me where to be and when, and reminding me not to be late! She didn’t want me to “miss the boat”. Yes, Suship is really a “ship”; a dinner boat that serves a delightful fixed menu meal of sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes.
Fortunately, being on time wasn’t difficult. The boat landing is near Kachidoki Bridge, an easy 7-8 minute walk from Tsukiji station. Twilight was gathering, and the Suship shuttle was just mooring as we arrived.
The shuttle ferried us down the river to the Suship restaurant boat, moored near Odaiba, behind some of the artificial islands built in the 1870s from the soil of nearby Gotenyama as defenses against a potential invasion by Western powers. Other yakata-bune dinner boats entertain their guests in this area as well, but Suship’s mooring was a bit separate and it felt like we had the entire bay to ourselves.
The helpful staff ensured our safe transfer from the shuttle to the Suship, bobbing gently in the bay, and we were whisked into a dining room, outfitted with about 10 tables–enough for 36 diners (for those looking for a party venue…). The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed.
The appetizer course was already waiting for us at our table, cleverly presented in a half moon-shaped two-tiered box. The course included several small seafood dishes: sujiko (salmon roe), crab, squid and others. Soon we were toasting our adventure and tucking in to the assorted appetizers.
As we nibbled, fires were lit under our individual pots of sukiyaki, featuring thin slices of beautifully marbled beef. Soon the pots were cheerfully bubbling away, with the sukiyaki ready to be eaten just as we were finishing up the appetizers. We whisked up raw eggs to dip the hot sukiyaki into. The salt-tangy sukyaki sauce paired perfectly with the thin-sliced beef, its accompanying vegetables and even a small chunk of mochi.
Almost a palate cleanser, the next course was a delicate clear soup containing a joint of “hair crab”. Our normally talkative little group fell silent as we concentrated on extracting the juicy, delicious crabmeat from the pre-cracked shells.
Next up was the sashimi course: toro tuna and shrimp. After adding the various condiments to the soy sauce, I turned my attention to the shrimp. While I usually struggle to remove the shrimp’s head in these situations, this little fellow surrendered to me immediately, producing a piece of flesh too big to be eaten in one bite, so fresh and soft that it practically melted in my mouth.
By this time, I’m already beginning to feel full, and the three sushi courses haven’t even been served yet! But I am determined to fully enjoy this meal, so I press on.
While enjoying our sushi courses, with more deliciously tender fish, we are joined at our table by Hirose-san, Suship’s proprietor. The grandson of a Hokkaido sushi chef, Hirose-san honed his craft under a sushi master in California. He explained that he still sources most of his fish from Hokkaido. The quality is a testament to his high standards. But Hirose-san is not the only one on Suship with high standards. Calling for a bottle of the house sake, Hirose-san explained that his staff selected it after an intense taste-testing. It was delicious and beautifully complemented the sushi.
Our meal finished with a few small pieces of warabimochi, heavily dusted with matcha powder. Fortunately, the matcha powder dusting was the only thing heavy about this dessert–or maybe it’s true that sweets go to a separate stomach!
All the while we were enjoying our meal, we were equally enjoying the water views and sparkling lights of the cityscape out the window. After eating, we briefly went up on the roof for a more expansive view before hopping on the shuttle to be returned to shore.
Suship’s fixed menu, ten course meal is JPY10,800, including tax. Add the drinks package for just JPY1,200 more, or order drinks separately off the menu (Champagne, anyone?). They offer hourly seatings from 5:00 pm until late (make online reservations here), with the entire excursion from start to finish at Kachidoki Bridge taking about three hours (yes, the proverbial three hour tour!).
Although the menu is fixed, with advance notice, some substitutions can be made, for instance chicken or tofu instead of beef in the sukiyaki, or a different fish instead of shrimp sashimi, for those with a shrimp allergy. Hirose-san tells me they will do their best to accommodate such special requirements, if an advance request is made so they can prepare.
Suship is a great dining experience. But it is also just fun to be on the water in such a pleasant atmosphere. For anyone in Tokyo looking for a special memory or a special occasion meal, you will find it here.
© 2018 Jigsaw-japan.com and Vicki L. Beyer
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