Now reading Riki Sushi Sawata

Riki Sushi Sawata

Sushi from local seafood in Niigata, Japan.


112 Kawaharadasuwamachi, Sado
Niigata, Japan

What to order

Kobujime, or sujime, or zuke

On Sado Island, Chef Nakano practices classic Edo-style sushi, but he calls his version Sado-mae (Sado-style), because he uses mostly local seafood. Unlike Kaisen sushi, the raw-fish style that most of us are familiar with, Edo-mae sushi originally used salt for preservation and uses wraps and marinades to enhance flavors. Kobujime (wrapped in konbu kelp), or sujime (marinated in vinegar), or zuke (marinated in soy sauce). All sushi used to be Edo-mae sushi before the advent of refrigerators and freezers.

At Riki Sushi, there is no glass case full of fish. Chef Nakano’s sushi counter is bare and spotless. He keeps a few fillets in a shallow wooden box and replenishes the supply as he goes. Because there is nothing to obstruct the view, you get to watch Chef Nakano’s dexterous knife skills. When I visited, he took a large squid and made intricate crisscross patterns on the skin with his knife. He then blanched it and shocked in cold water, turning the skin into what looked like the surface of a pinecone, or the facets of a jewel. When it was served, the squid had incredible texture and sweetness. The squid was part of the omakase, which also came with appetizers of shirako—milt of cod—tuna tataki and tender abalone.