Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場)
When it comes to sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market, two places immediately come to mind: Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi. Personally I never tried Sushi Dai, I’ve only gone to Daiwa sushi. And I’m so well satisfied I can’t imagine another place topping it. I should also think that they are similar in quality and standards according to some of the comments on the web.
The queues are always long at both in any case. The very morning I landed in Tokyo (around 6 am) I immediately dropped my bags and headed to Tsukijishijō Station (築地市場駅, tsukiji shijō eki) and meandered my way through forklifts, grumpy ojisans and the overwhelming smell of fish which, by the way, you can smell even in the station as it is right next to the fish market.
Finally got to Daiwa Sushi at 9am (just look for super long queues and the signboard). I was in line for 20 minutes, which was not too long of a wait as it is easier to seat one person compared to two people.
The fish market is probably one of those places in Japan where you do not get much politeness and you may get yelled at or pushed if you’re in the way. Don’t be surprised by it.
This is the “menu”, their set is pretty value for money as well. For 3,500 yen you get 7 nigiri sushi, one rolled sushi and miso soup. Good stuff. That day I went for a la carte and the bill came up to 5,400 yen but its all worth it.
Its a tight squeeze in there, barely enough room to squeeze through to sit even.
This is just some of the fresh offerings that they had that day. Oh by the way, I went to Daiwa twice during my stay XD it was that good.
I was worried the grumpy obasan would not allow us to take photos at all, the last time we came and took out a camera or a phone to take pictures, she was like “NO NO CAMERA” -___- I was so upset then. But this time around I think they’ve completely relaxed that rule. People around me were taking pictures to their hearts content!
And so I started to order:
Akami (the leanest part of the tuna) and Tai. Large slabs of fresh, fresh fish, perfectly marinated with soy sauce and a dab of wasabi. You don’t actually need to pour more soy sauce into the little saucer. As a maguro lover, I absolutely loved the temperature, texture, and taste of their maguro. The sushi rice is of the sticky short grained variety that Japanese rice is expected of. Delicious. I rarely order tai (red snapper) but I thought I’d try it this time. The way that they slice the fish is also different. Did you realize that on the maguro you do not see any sinew? Compare this to a usual sushi joint, a maguro slice would probably consists of 4-5 bits of tuna joined together by sinew. Maguro without sinew like this one just melts in your mouth and you’re allowed to concentrate on the full flavour of the lean tuna. Whereas on the tai, the skin is left on and is cut in such a way so that you enjoy the taste and texture of this variety of fish. It was sweet and the best tai I’ve ever had.
A generous bowl of miso soup that comes with your meal, made with seaweed, little clams and lots of spring onions ❤
Next up, chutoro (semi fat tuna) and hirame (flounder).
Chutoro again, well sliced without sinew and laced with fat to make it richer than the akami, but not as buttery as the otoro. Still melts in your mouth XD Nice and thick slice there to satisfy my maguro craze. The hirame has more of a chewy texture which releases a subtly sweet flavor. Spend a little bit of time to chew on this so as to fully appreciate the taste of this. Would suggest to eat this first before heavier tasting fish like aji or maguro.
I forgot to mention, all of the fish come at room temperature, which is the perfect temperature (to me that is) to experience their natural flavours.
Then two orders of uni!! I had a little problem with this…. it was so tall and packed with uni that I couldn’t fit it into my mouth. I tried to take a bite out of it but the uni spilt out onto my hands T___T Then I learnt my lesson, please put the sushi into your mouth, uni side first, then stuff the rest of it in. Its a good problem to have =)
The uni was fresh obviously, and had no fishy smell. Just creamy, briny, meltingly amazing dollops of golden roe.
Then came the hamachi (Japanese amberjack), with a bit of its skin, and beautiful pink flesh. I had this fish fresh from the sea when I was at the Maldives and its flesh is indeed beautifully pink. Its taste is a little stronger than the other white fish I had, and is fatty too.
The next picture shows anago sushi (from my second breakfast at Daiwa…you didn’t think I could eat that much in one sitting did you? =p) which was nicely broiled and glazed with that sweet sauce. Really well done.
And here’s another photo of chutoro and akami, as I forgot to take a picture of the otoro, which was mind blowingly good. Absolutely buttery and melt in your mouth.
I need to go back soon. When I think of all the expensive restaurants I’ve been to in comparison to this sushi place at a smelly fish market? There is no comparison if you want to put value and quality together, Daiwa sushi wins hands down for me.
If you’re looking for a Japanese sushi breakfast, please do consider this place. Try not to come too late as I’m not sure when they will run out of fresh fish as they did once some years back at 11am!
Daiwa Sushi. 03-3547-6807. Tsukiji / Sushi. Tsukiji-Shijo 5-2-1 #6.
Closed on Sundays and National holidays (and some Wednesdays)
Opening Hours: 5.30am – 1.30pm