It’s the BIGGEST wholesale fish and seafood market, in the world! Kinda much like the Japanese version of Sydney’s Fish Markets… except on steroids. Bigger, better, and utterly fabulous! It’s more of a get-your-work-done type place than it is a prettyish touristy place though, with the people working there bustling around and going about their business. Time stops for no man, it seems, and it’s evident in the frenzy of fish being moved around and slapped on benchtops, and the seemingly endless number of buggies that fly past on full throttle, carrying mounds of fish.
It’s chaotic and overwhelming, but it all lends to the fascination of the place. This is THE place to come to if you visit Tokyo! It’s where all the action starts – the fishermen come in at the buttcrack of dawn and auction off the fish, which are then sliced and diced and sold in the hundreds of stalls inside the market until 1PM when the markets shut. We, however, are unable to wake up at 4AM (!!!) to witness this spectacle, and so arrive at around 9AM or so instead to potter around the stalls.
It should also be noted that you’d expect a fresh fish market to stink to high heavens. If you’ve been to any of the ‘wet markets’ in China, you’ll know what I mean 😉 Amazingly, there’s no smell. The Japanese are so neat, precise and clean that they are constantly washing away – no gross scraps around the place, and certainly no rotting food smell.
It’s just madness in the markets. Large styrofoam boxes filled with super-fresh fish, just off the boat only hours earlier. There’s also a large assortment of various shellfish and clams – over 400 different types of seafood. We’re gawping at the huge selection of fresh seafood and just fascinated with the place. The stall owners evidently only care about the restaurant-buyers, who are easy to spot with their brisk movements and little notepad that they scribble into. They cast an expert eye at each stall’s offerings, and quickly make an order within seconds. We are largely ignored by the stall owners and the buyers, probably just relegated to the “useless tourist” classification and just tolerated 😛
Outside the famous Tsukiji Markets
It was freezing.. arghhh..
Mum, Chris and I poking our noses around
The craziness of the markets
Multi coloured pickles
A TON of various breeds of silver fish
It was total chaos 😛
A man using a sword to slice a big chunk of tuna (the rest of the whole fish
was just at the bottom of the photo)
A whole assortment of various clams and such
A mountain of styrofoam boxes
The real reason why we’re at Tsukiji Markets? SUSHI DAI. It’s a famous restaurant (if you can call it that), with an INfamous 2.5 hour queue – just to eat some sushi. Incredible, ridiculous, and maddening. Did we queue? You betcha! In the cold and the rain, I might point out. I’ve never queued 2.5 hours for food before, so I guess there’s always a first for everything 😉
It is a TINY place, seating about 14 people all squished in together on tiny seats. If you’re overweight you can FORGET about eating there, you won’t be able to fit your butt on those teeny seats! Then again, we’re in the land of slim beautiful people, so I suppose they hadn’t thought about getting bigger seats 😉 It’s (thankfully) warm and cosy inside, and you put your bags on the metal racks above your heads, because of the incredible lack of space in there.
Interestingly, food is served right smack on the little platform in front of you – no plates required. The chefs are a hilarious bunch – really friendly, jokey and fun… despite speaking no English 😛 They serve 1 thing only – sushi. And they are famous for doing it perfectly.
We opt for the 10-course menu (naturally!) with 1 free extra of our choice. After queueing for so long, there’s no WAY we’re going for the smaller 7-course option 😉 The place is hole-in-the-wall and casual, but HOLY CRAP IT IS EXPENSIVE. They justify it by serving up huge chunks of sushi.. with the ingredients so large that in almost every case, it hid the rice.
Virtually every single sushi I ate there was a new experience for me – I hadn’t eaten most of them in my life. I’m not really the adventurous sort when it comes to eating “weird” food.. so I was pretty proud of myself for eating most of them, except 1 or 2 that I just couldn’t stomach 😛 Unbelievably, I even ate sea urchin – something that would FREAK ME OUT before. It still does, and it did, but somehow I was so hyped up about the place (and also so hungry) that I stuffed it into my mouth before realising “Holy CRAP it’s sea urchin in my gob! Ahhhh!” but then I’d swallowed it already 😛
A fascinating, memorable meal. However, the 2.5 hour wait is ludicrous, even if it had been on a beautiful spring day (which it most definitely was not). Would I do it again? Nah!
The 2.5 hour queue for Sushi Dai *facepalm*
Trying to sneak into the queue, China-style. Just kidding!
Hiding in the coffee shop next door for some warmth
2.5 hours later, we FINALLY get to the end of the queue!
Aaaaand…. we’re in!! This is the entire restaurant – tiny, much?
The sushi is served right onto the platform in front of us – no plates required
Fresh ginger, replenished generously
Red snapper – this was nice but nothing outstanding
Some sort of white fish – it was crunch, I didn’t like it
Fatty tuna – OMG THIS WAS LUSCIOUS! Incredibly creamy and fatty.. mmm..
Live clam – I gave mine to Chris. Too scary as it was still squirming (?!)
Sea urchin – I actually ate this. It was super creamy but too freaky for me
Cooked egg – yummy 🙂 A nice filler in between sushis
Marinated tuna – amazing. Fantastic flavour
Tuna sushi – lovely fresh tuna, but this was basically a filler
I think this was some sort of mackerel. I LOVED it. So sweet!
Horse mackerel – I got scared when I first saw this, ‘cos it was so big and
I thought it was actually horse-meat. Duh. Ended up being one of my faves!!!
Raw shrimp – so creamy and sweet. This was delicious
Abalone – I was too scared to eat this, but Mum said it was “crunchy, not so good”
Sea eel – WOW. Completely different to normal eel I’ve eaten. Ultra soft and fatty!
Raw scallop – sweet and tender 🙂
Happily squashed in on our tiny seats and chowing down on fresh sushi!