Have you ever wanted to try the clear squid sashimi that is sometimes shown on TV, which is still wriggling after being processed alive? Have you ever thought about it? I had been checking out the Ika Center Shinjuku So-honten (Note: “Ika” means squid in Japanese.), a directly managed live squid wholesaler, and made a reservation online a month before August 2023, when I had to go to Tokyo.
But as it turns out, I did not get to try the squid sashimi that day. No, no, I can only say that I was really unlucky. But I did not expect this situation at all, so I was disappointed as soon as I arrived at the restaurant. But why didn’t I get to try squid sashimi that day? You seafood lovers might want to know the reason for that for the future…
Sometimes, due to unavoidable circumstances, squid is not served… Ika Center Shinjuku Sohonten is a restaurant like this.
Actually, a couple of days before I made a reservation at Ika Center Shinjuku Sohonten, a big typhoon hit Japan. Because of this, fresh squid could not come in, so there was no squid sashimi on that day. In fact, the fish tank in the restaurant looks like this…
Not even a single fish, let alone a squid, was swimming in the tank. It is a pity that we came all the way from Osaka to Tokyo, but it was an unavoidable situation, so we had no choice. Well, on the other hand, I can tell that they are very particular about the freshness of their products. As for being able to eat fresh seafood, this restaurant looks quite promising.
Now, Ika Center Shinjuku Sohonten is operating its store on two floors of the building, the 4th and 5th floors; the 4th floor is a non-smoking floor and the 5th floor is a smoking floor. It is convenient for both needs. Incidentally, the total number of customer seats on the fourth and fifth floors of Squid Center Shinjuku Sohonten has a total of 150 seats (according to “Tabelog” information). Although it looks like there are more than enough seats, we once could not reserve a seat because the restaurant was full, so it would be safer to reserve a seat as soon as you decide what to do.
I half-heartedly ordered three dishes from the menu of the Shinjuku So-honten of the Ika Center, which has a large selection of dishes other than ikizukuri squid.
From snacks to grilled fish, head, nigirizushi, etc… At a glance, I would say that 40% of the menu consisted of squid and 60% of other seafood. As the name “Squid Center” implies, there is a wide variety of squid on the menu, as one would expect. Yes, I was able to order everything on the squid menu except for the ikizukuri, even on this post-typhoon day.
That aside, I ordered a total of three dishes at Ika Center Shinjuku So-honten that day, although there was one dish I ordered out of desperation… Let me introduce them here in order.
Steamed Clam with Sake
The first dish to be brought to the table was the Clam Steamed with Sake (no price listed on the menu). It came in a larger bowl than I imagined. There are a total of seven clams in this bowl, which is a good amount for two or three people to share, not just one.
The clams were so plump, and the flavor of the clams in the broth was so rich that I couldn’t get enough of it. Although the menu calls it “sake-mushi” (steamed rice with sake), in reality it was more like soup in a thick shellfish broth. It seemed to be good for the body, and as a starter, I have nothing to complain about.
Local Fish Sashimi: Extreme Platter (for 5 persons)
Next, I ordered the local fish sashimi (for 5 persons, priced at 4,620 yen plus tax) because I was desperate and couldn’t order the squid sashimi. The sashimi was fine, but the serving for 5 people… I look back on it later and am appalled at my own stupidity. But you know, this is only a little more expensive than one serving of squid ikizukuri. So, the pain in my wallet is not much different than if I could have had the live squid.
There are eight kinds on this plate: nameko (nameko), mackerel, salmon, kanpachi (kanpachi), swordfish, tai fish, boiled sea bream, kombu-shime (kelp-jime) medai, and taki (taki) sea bream. If you include the thickly baked egg, there are a total of nine kinds. Well, if you can eat this much, you will be satisfied with most of the fresh fish. Although the typhoon made it difficult to stock up, the freshness of the fish was well maintained, and as a matter of course, my stomach was much more satisfied with this dish.
After the local fish sashimi, my stomach was already full, but I decided not to eat squid at the Squid Center, so I ordered the grilled whole squid (priced at 1309 yen plus tax). It is the same amount of squid, but it costs only 1/3 of the price of ordering live squid.
Well, this is a perfect snack. It is a stable snack that does not betray expectations. The aroma of the grilled squid and the indescribable richness of the accompanying liver sauce are perfect for sake drinkers. However, the liver sauce has a taste that may not be to everyone’s liking, so you may want to add a dash of mayonnaise for those who don’t like it.
The total bill for the above three dishes, appetizers, and three soft drinks was a little over 9,000 yen. If you subtract the fact that more than half of the bill is for five people, you could say that this is a restaurant where you can enjoy yourself with the feeling of a popular izakaya (Japanese-style pub). It is also nice that they have separate smoking and non-smoking areas, and since it is a large restaurant, it could be used for banquets as well. It is within walking distance from Shinjuku Station, and even though there are 150 seats in the restaurant, I felt like I understood why it is fully booked.
Examples of other menu items at Ika Center Shinjuku Sohonten (prices do not include tax)
- Vinegared mozuku seaweed 450 yen
- Crab brain 710 yen
- Enkawa yukke (yukke): 790 yen
- Grilled Salmon Harasu 880 yen
- Sea bream kabuto 880 yen
- Namero chazuke: 780 yen
- Today’s Ara-jiru 330 yen
You can eat live squid at Tokyo Station, Ueno, Kagurazaka, Nihonbashi, and Yokohama… To get to Ika Center Shinjuku So-honten, a 3-minute walk from the nearest station, Shinjuku Nishiguchi Station on the Toei Oedo Line.
So, the squid sashimi that I didn’t have a chance to try this time… you can have it at the Ika Center branches in Tokyo Station, Ueno, Kagurazaka, Nihonbashi, and Yokohama, in addition to the Ika Center Shinjuku So-honten branch. If you are as interested in ikizukuri as I am, please try these restaurants when you are in the neighborhood. Even if you are not interested in squid, you can use them as seafood izakaya. There is a wide variety of menu other than squid, and I think it is a good place for seafood lovers.
Here are the details of the restaurant. Store data is here..
Ika Center Shinjuku So-honten Out of 5.
Address: 4F and 5F, 7-10-13 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023
Phone number: 03-3366-2600
Business hours: Monday-Saturday 17:30-23:00, Sunday 15:00-22:00
Closed: Year-end and New Year holidays only
Parking: No parking
Credit card payment: Accepted
From JR Shinjuku Station, it takes only 5 minutes on foot.