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The top-shelf sushi set at Hirado's Yutaka Zushi features the best cut of tuna money can buy, called "otoro." Also in the set, Japanese tiger prawn, abalone, sea urchin, fish eggs, squid, yellowtail, whitefish and shellfish for 3,000 yen. This set swaps out sea urchin and fish eggs for salmon.

The top-shelf sushi set at Hirado's Yutaka Zushi features the best cut of tuna money can buy, called "otoro." Also in the set, Japanese tiger prawn, abalone, sea urchin, fish eggs, squid, yellowtail, whitefish and shellfish for 3,000 yen. This set swaps out sea urchin and fish eggs for salmon. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

The top-shelf sushi set at Hirado's Yutaka Zushi features the best cut of tuna money can buy, called "otoro." Also in the set, Japanese tiger prawn, abalone, sea urchin, fish eggs, squid, yellowtail, whitefish and shellfish for 3,000 yen. This set swaps out sea urchin and fish eggs for salmon.

The top-shelf sushi set at Hirado's Yutaka Zushi features the best cut of tuna money can buy, called "otoro." Also in the set, Japanese tiger prawn, abalone, sea urchin, fish eggs, squid, yellowtail, whitefish and shellfish for 3,000 yen. This set swaps out sea urchin and fish eggs for salmon. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

A maguro don, which is basically pieces of cut-up raw tuna on top of rice with wasabi, costs just 600 yen and is a delicious starter dish.

A maguro don, which is basically pieces of cut-up raw tuna on top of rice with wasabi, costs just 600 yen and is a delicious starter dish. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Yutaka Zushi's top-shelf sushi set features the rare delicacy abalone, which is basically a large sea snail. The salmon, second from left, is also a tasty treat.

Yutaka Zushi's top-shelf sushi set features the rare delicacy abalone, which is basically a large sea snail. The salmon, second from left, is also a tasty treat. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Yutaka Zushi's top-shelf sushi set features the best cut of tuna money can buy, called otoro, seen here flanked by squid to its left and white fish to the right. Yutaka Zushi's otoro is sublime and melts in your mouth.

Yutaka Zushi's top-shelf sushi set features the best cut of tuna money can buy, called otoro, seen here flanked by squid to its left and white fish to the right. Yutaka Zushi's otoro is sublime and melts in your mouth. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Yutaka Zushi's tempura set comes with rice, soup, salad, and multiple other side dishes all for 1,500 yen. The tempura was light and fluffy and comes highly recommended.

Yutaka Zushi's tempura set comes with rice, soup, salad, and multiple other side dishes all for 1,500 yen. The tempura was light and fluffy and comes highly recommended. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Yutaka Zushi's unique exterior is inviting, seen here at night. The restaurant is the preferred sushi hangout of Japanese bloggers and customers who reviewed Hirado's sushi restaurants online.

Yutaka Zushi's unique exterior is inviting, seen here at night. The restaurant is the preferred sushi hangout of Japanese bloggers and customers who reviewed Hirado's sushi restaurants online. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Yutaka Zushi is the perfect place to take a date or conclude a special day trip to Hirado. Yutaka Zushi features the highest quality in the area at affordable prices. Tempura in the foreground and sushi and miso soup in the background.

Yutaka Zushi is the perfect place to take a date or conclude a special day trip to Hirado. Yutaka Zushi features the highest quality in the area at affordable prices. Tempura in the foreground and sushi and miso soup in the background. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Fish tanks at Yutaka Zushi are stocked with the freshest fish in the area.

Fish tanks at Yutaka Zushi are stocked with the freshest fish in the area. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

Yutaka Zushi specializes in whale and offers various cuts for various prices. Whale don is 1,300 yen, whale sashimi is 1,300 yen and sushi is 1,800 yen. Here we see a shot of the menu detailing the various cuts available.

Yutaka Zushi specializes in whale and offers various cuts for various prices. Whale don is 1,300 yen, whale sashimi is 1,300 yen and sushi is 1,800 yen. Here we see a shot of the menu detailing the various cuts available. (Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes)

When it comes to food, there is such a thing as too big and too much. When it comes to fish, there is no such thing as too fresh.

When the two collide, you are left with Yutaka Zushi, the sushi experience on Hirado Island preferred by Japanese bloggers and Internet foodies alike.

Located less than an hour from Sasebo, the island is not only home to beautiful beaches and untouched wilderness, perfect for day trips, but also some of the most talked about fishing grounds in the region. As a result, Yutaka Zushi offers huge portions of the island’s freshest fish, requiring patrons to conjure their inner Joey Chestnut just to complete a meal.

Yutaka Zushi is a sushi/sashimi restaurant in the traditional Japanese sense, a far cry from the sushi-go-rounds that feature frozen fish. Accompanied by the sounds of bubbling water and flanked by fish tanks, the master slices still-wriggling fish behind the counter with precision.

The restaurant offers a lunch and dinner menu. Lunches are very affordable and start as low as 600 yen (about $6) for a udon and sushi combination. Dinners are a bit more expensive but are substantially larger.

Yutaka Zushi serves various combination sets with multiple side dishes, such as one with sashimi and sukiyaki for 2,800 yen. Sukiyaki is basically a small pot of vegetables and meat with a sweet sauce.

A top-shelf sushi set features the best cut of tuna, called otoro; Japanese tiger prawn; abalone; sea urchin; fish eggs; squid; yellow tail as well as white and shellfish at a cost of 3,000 yen. It features pieces of fish that are so big they must be eaten in multiple bites (using your hands ensures it won’t fall apart). The otoro is divine and melts in your mouth. The abalone is an equally rare delicacy.

Should you want to substitute a certain thing that is more to your liking, the staff is generally willing to do so if it is of equal or lesser value. A substitute of salmon is a tasty recommendation.

Yutaka Zushi’s second-tier sushi set costs 2,000 yen and features maguro (regular cut of tuna), shrimp, squid, sea urchin, fish eggs, yellow tail, as well as white and shellfish.

The cheapest sushi set costs 1,500 yen and features yellow tail, shrimp, squid, octopus, sea urchin, conger eel as well as white and shellfish.

A maguro don, which is basically pieces of cut up raw tuna on top of rice with wasabi, costs just 600 yen and is a delicious starter.

A tempura set for 1,500 yen comes with more food than you could want, including soup, salad and multiple side dishes.

Yutaka Zushi also specializes in whale and offers various cuts for a range of prices. A whale don is 1,300 yen, whale sashimi is 1,300 yen and sushi is 1,800 yen.

Reservations are not required but are recommended as the restaurant is usually full. The menu has pictures of some items but is in Japanese.

Private dining rooms are also available.

With big portions and big-time freshness, Yutaka Zushi stands out as a giant among local sushi joints.

Where: Hirado, Japan. Google Map GPS coordinates: 33.365270, 129.552283

Phone: Reservations are not required but are suggested, at 0950-23-2017.

Cost: Lunch specials of udon and sushi start at just 600 yen. Dinner sets are more expensive but are more substantial.

Directions: Yutaka Zushi is located at 101 Shinmachi, Hirado-shi, Nagasaki-ken. To get there from Sasebo, jump on the highway and head toward Hirado. The highway ends at Saza. Follow the signs toward Hirado Island, taking 227 to 204, left onto 383. The restaurant is located off 383 in downtown Hirado. It’s easy to find with its unique exterior that includes a circular cutout in the wall.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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