Restaurants · Tokyo

Tsukiji Fish Market Blueprint

My husband I will be spending most of our three weeks in Tokyo. He will be working and I’ll be playing. Some of the places we are visiting include: factories, businesses, museums and universities. I asked L if we would be visiting the University of Tokyo. He asked me why. I didn’t want to tell him but he kept bugging me so I finally answered that I read the University of Tokyo has a wicked cafeteria. Apparently, cafeterias operate on a non-profit basis. Let me tell you that if I went to school there, the cafeteria would experience significant financial losses. Check out that dish below! As per usual, I’ve been stealing the photos of the world-wide web and not crediting a single soul.

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I may skipped a couple of classes to check out Tsukiji Fish Market on my own. I don’t have any interest in waking up early to watch the live tuna auctions. Instead, I’m pondering if I should bother to wait in line at 3:00 in the morning for a sushi breakfast at Sushi Dai.

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Likely, I’ll have to stay up all night and walk to the market, as the trains stop at 1:00 a.m. One of the students coming along have offered to join me, knowing that it will be about 3-4.5 hour wait. I might venture on my own because I’ve read you can get in faster dining solo and I can’t carry a conversation for that long so early in the morning. The sushi at Dai is supposed to amazing and a steal at $40.00 (US) for the omakase (chef’s special). There are only 13 seats in the restaurant. My favourite blog posting on Sushi Dai is by David Murray.

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Right next door to Sushi Dai is Daiwa Sushi, owned by the son of the owner of Sushi Dai. The wait isn’t nearly as long but I’ve read some of the seafood and the sushi rice is inferior to Sushi Dai. The restaurant is twice as big as Dai but you are served at a faster pace. I found a good summary of the two restaurants written by key2 on Reddit. To not confuse the two restaurants, I’ll remember that Dai has the longer line and the sign has three big characters and then smaller ones on the side. Daiwa Sushi has two big characters and little ones on both sides.

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I would like to go to both restaurants. For a down and dirty comparison of Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi, check out Rubish Eat Rubish Grow. L said you can get sushi just as good and better elsewhere in the city but those places start at $110 US per person and up. L said his time is worth more than the savings at Sushi Dai. I estimate that each hour you waste costs about $17.50 US ($70/4 hours, based on average price $110-40=70). So yes, if you are waiting four hours, your meal cost including labour ends up at $110 and more if you make more than that per hour.

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There are several other vendors and restaurants that serve up food fresh from the fish auction. Some are even 24 hours, like Sushizanmai Tsukiji Ekiame. The tuna sampler below is a popular dish and it costs about $30.00 US.

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In the alleyways of the fish market, there’s a stall called Tsukiji Itadori Uogashi Senryo that sells chirashi for $30+ (US). What looks unique to me is the “3-way” seafood rice. Naughty!

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You are supposed to take one-third of the mix and eat it normally, with wasabi and soy sauce. The second step is to mix it with uni and eat the second third-size portion. Finally, the remainder is served as soup by adding hot water to the dish.  Seems like a lot of work, but damn, isn’t that a beautiful bowl of goodies?

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Another place that I will try is Nakaya. There are only 12 seats and there is usually a line-up. Apparently the owner operates a seafood wholesaler inside the market, which means the seafood is fresh. Nakya is located in building 8, three blocks from Sushi Dai.

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The chirashi bowls range from around 1, 500 up to over 2,000 (Yen), which is about $20-25 Canadian. Each bowl comes with tea, pickled vegetables and miso soup. I want to get uni, tuna and ikura.

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I also plan to visit Tsukiji Dontaku for the scallops, raw shrimp, red tuna and toro. The chirashi and sets include tea and miso soup. Prices for a bowl or set is about 2,000 yen ($25 Canadian).

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Tsukiji Dontaku sounds like an efficient, bare bones place to get some fresh seafood. Definitely a good option if it’s around 12:00 p.m., which is way too late to line-up at Sushi Dai or Daiwa Sushi. I’ll remember this place because the second character on the sign is large and looks like tik tai toe with an O in the middle.

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There’s a chain restaurant by the fish market called Sushizanmai Honten. This place is  popular with tourists because the employees speak English and I’m guessing there is a menu written in English as well. The food looks great and the prices are reasonable, but I don’t plan on checking out this particular location.

English sign.jpgI have nothing against chain restaurants, particularly the ones in Japan. But hello, “Earth to Brint“, there’s more to life than chain restaurants at the Tskijii Fish Market! For example, Yamazaki.

Good one.jpgYamakazi is located between Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa. Look for the black awning, blue curtains and the last two characters that remind me of the letter C with stuff squiggled on top.

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Yamazaki is on the pricier side of all the places I listed at the market. I’m estimating a meal would cost me around 4,000, which is $48 Canadian. The picture above is one of the restaurant’s star dishes – Alfonsino. I had no idea what “alfonsino” was, but I found a description from a blogger that ate at Yamazaki. Alfonsino is seared fish that has a smokey taste and zest from yozu. You can also order live shrimp and the chefs will kill it right before you eat it.

As usual, if you have any experiences or recommend a place to check out in Tsukiji fish market let me know. However, if the past is any predictor of future behaviour, no one will bother to post any comments on my blog. Peace out.

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