We have thought of waking up early to catch the famous Tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo (築地市場). But the plan falls flat in the face of Z monster, it’s already 9 when we reached the world’s largest wholesale fish and seafood market. We were expecting one messy fish market with a lingering stench like those ‘wet markets’ back in Singapore. But! Surprise, surprise, the fish market is unbelievably clean and neat with no funny smell. If your nose picks up anything, it’s freshness.
Organized madness in Tsukiji Fish Market
Tsukiji Fish Market is crowded, lively and full of activities. And time stops for no man here. Fishermen moved their seafood hurryingly around the market in bikes, hand carts and some funny-looking motorized carts. Despite that, they were able to avoid a collision in this seemingly organized madness.
Not so good news for nosy ‘Gaijin’ like us as wandering around the aisles requires certain situation awareness to dodge the fast pace delivery. I was pushed aside by a fisherman while taking pictures near his stalls. I was probably blocking the view of a potential buyer from some restaurant.
There are plenty of styrofoam boxes containing various fishes, crabs, clams and shellfishes among many other kinds of seafood which we have never seen before. We were in awe by the massive array of seafood available at the fish market. If it swims and people eat it, you will probably find it here. No wonder Tsukiji Fish Market is a travel cliché for anyone visiting Tokyo.
Being surrounded by Japanese-speaking locals hustling and bustling about while you stand there trying to tell up from down is truly an amazing experience. You gotta be here to understand what I mean.
Sushi Paradise in Tsukiji Fish Market
After getting our shoes wet at the fish market, we proceed to the quieter outer market which is populated with stalls and sushi restaurants. The retail stalls sell stuff from takeaway sushi, snacks, ice cream, fruits, utensils, groceries to souvenirs. And the sushi restaurants are another reason why people flock to the celebrated Tokyo fish market (築地市場) – to taste the super fresh Tsukiji sushi.
Sushi Dai (寿司大) and Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司) are two popular sushi restaurants located at Block 6 with their hard-to-miss queues. Did we queue? Of course! We ain’t gonna leave Tsukiji Fish Market without indulging in the famous sushi breakfast, for this is often listed as one of the things to do in Tokyo. Undeterred, we joined the queue of Sushi Dai and waited one hour.
The limited tiny seats (probably only 12-13) and the chefs churning out sushi piece-by-piece are contributing factors for the long wait. This restaurant is a small place and the lack of space is very much noticeable. Bags or jackets are to be placed on the metal racks above your head. Upon seated, the waitress served us with a cup of hot green tea each.
The tea was a godsend after enduring the cold windy weather in the queue. We ordered two standard sets costing ¥2,500 each. The set came with 7 pieces of sushi and a bowl of miso soup. We were mumbling about the costs when the first sushi of our sets was served.
Sushi Dai Magic
One bite and everything was worth it, the sashimi just doesn’t get any fresher than this. The taste wowed us big time. Every single bite was like a revelation. Damn! The sushi back home will never be good enough anymore. Yeah, it’s THAT good. Period.
Back for more Tsukiji sushi!
So mesmerized by the uber-fresh sushi at Tsukiji fish market that we went back for more the next morning! But instead of Sushi Dai or Daiwa Sushi, we walk into Tsukiji Sushi Restaurant Yamazaki. Picked the place randomly to find out whether the sushi will taste the same regardless of popularity.
In short, we were hungry and don’t intend to queue lol.
There are only 4 patrons including us in the restaurant, a nice change compared to the packed and squeezy Sushi Dai. Most of all, there’s nobody staring while we eat or secretly hoping for us to finish the food quickly. The sushi set prices here costs lesser than Sushi Dai; 7 pieces sushi set (¥2,100 VS ¥2,500) and 10 pieces sushi set (¥3,675 VS ¥3,900).
The million dollar question next is: taste comparison? Seriously, we can’t tell the difference between the sushi from two restaurants, they were equally fresh and good. Itadakimasu!