HOLIDAYS, Japan, Uncategorized JAPAN: TSUKIJI MARKETS 24 February 2010

If you haven’t been to Japan’s famous Tsukiji Markets, then you haven’t really been to Japan.

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜›


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 πŸ˜›

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜› 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜› 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 πŸ˜›

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

Happily squashed in on our tiny seats and chowing down on fresh sushi!


62 Comments

  • starbucksweetie posted on February 24, 2010 at 4:12 am

    2.5 hours for a meal? That’s ludicrous. I’m assuming they didn’t give a beeper so that you could wander about and come back when they were ready to serve you. That’s crazy, but since it looks like business is booming, why mess with it. From this post, I’ve realized the Japanese food I’ve been eating is horribly Westernized…

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      No chance! We had to stand in the queue the entire time.. in the cold and rain. Was so depressing..

      Reply
  • nycarm posted on February 24, 2010 at 7:12 am

    OMG that sushi looks incredible! I am SO jealous you went to the market, looks like it was a lot of fun (well, not that 2.5 hour wait…heh).

    Looking forward to more Japan pics!

    Just for laughs I reckon you should post some pics of the Chinese equivalent of a fish market πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Was definitely an experience *grin*, even that 2.5 hour wait, haha..

      The markets here are just horrid.. SO smelly and people are really rude :S

      Reply
  • tricia_sum posted on February 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

    so cute how you and your parents all have the same type of jacket in different colors : )

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Heh mine’s different but my mum and dad’s are the same, his in silver, hers in pink. They’re so lightweight!

      Reply
  • cenedrah posted on February 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Abalone isn’t scary; I would have thought you tried it at Chinese restaurants before…the Chinese LOOOVE it (and anything expensive ha)!

    You guys all look so cute together πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Noooo too freaky for me. I tend to get it in my head certain types of foods are scary for me and don’t dare to eat it πŸ˜›

      Reply
  • starbucksweetie posted on February 24, 2010 at 4:12 am

    2.5 hours for a meal? That’s ludicrous. I’m assuming they didn’t give a beeper so that you could wander about and come back when they were ready to serve you. That’s crazy, but since it looks like business is booming, why mess with it. From this post, I’ve realized the Japanese food I’ve been eating is horribly Westernized…

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      No chance! We had to stand in the queue the entire time.. in the cold and rain. Was so depressing..

      Reply
  • moxielass posted on February 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    however good is that restaurant, i wont queue 2.5h for it!

    tks for the hotel recommendation, it looks great! =)

    Reply
    • tyeetyuen posted on February 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      I SO want to eat at this place *drool*

      Reply
      • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:04 am

        I can’t believe we (and others) actually queued.. but ah well, at least now we have bragging rights, lol!!

        Reply
  • nycarm posted on February 24, 2010 at 7:12 am

    OMG that sushi looks incredible! I am SO jealous you went to the market, looks like it was a lot of fun (well, not that 2.5 hour wait…heh).

    Looking forward to more Japan pics!

    Just for laughs I reckon you should post some pics of the Chinese equivalent of a fish market πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Was definitely an experience *grin*, even that 2.5 hour wait, haha..

      The markets here are just horrid.. SO smelly and people are really rude :S

      Reply
  • tiffanyx posted on February 24, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    2.5 hours?!?!?!? thats maaad! but its a once-in-a-lifetime experience yes?

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:03 am

      Yeah.. can’t believe we did that, lol. but i wouldn’t do it a 2nd time!

      Reply
      • tiffanyx posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:07 am

        but the tuna (belly?!?!?!) looks AMAZING!!

        Reply
  • madmoneymonkey posted on February 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    All the sushi looks SO luscious!!!!! Is Chris growing out his hair or was it just too early to gel?

    Reply
    • crackerchris posted on February 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm

      No point in gelling it if it spends 3/4 of the day under a hood/beanie getting messy again :/ I do need a haircut though.

      Reply
      • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

        Heh yeah, all our hair was crap from being covered up in hats and hoods. doh!

        Reply
  • tricia_sum posted on February 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

    so cute how you and your parents all have the same type of jacket in different colors : )

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Heh mine’s different but my mum and dad’s are the same, his in silver, hers in pink. They’re so lightweight!

      Reply
  • cenedrah posted on February 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Abalone isn’t scary; I would have thought you tried it at Chinese restaurants before…the Chinese LOOOVE it (and anything expensive ha)!

    You guys all look so cute together πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Noooo too freaky for me. I tend to get it in my head certain types of foods are scary for me and don’t dare to eat it πŸ˜›

      Reply
  • vixette7 posted on February 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    iirc when i went in summer, it was closer to 3.5 hour wait at sushi daiwa! but it was totally worth it!

    did u have the fresh fried tempura at the market stalls? or the grilled oysters?

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:08 am

      Yeoowwwchhh! Props to you for surviving the 3.5 hours.. I was half dead with hunger after 2.5 hrs:P

      Nooo didn’t have the tempura, damn. We had it at other areas around Tokyo tho!

      Reply
  • moxielass posted on February 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    however good is that restaurant, i wont queue 2.5h for it!

    tks for the hotel recommendation, it looks great! =)

    Reply
    • tyeetyuen posted on February 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      I SO want to eat at this place *drool*

      Reply
      • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:04 am

        I can’t believe we (and others) actually queued.. but ah well, at least now we have bragging rights, lol!!

        Reply
  • tiffanyx posted on February 24, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    2.5 hours?!?!?!? thats maaad! but its a once-in-a-lifetime experience yes?

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:03 am

      Yeah.. can’t believe we did that, lol. but i wouldn’t do it a 2nd time!

      Reply
      • tiffanyx posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:07 am

        but the tuna (belly?!?!?!) looks AMAZING!!

        Reply
  • madmoneymonkey posted on February 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    All the sushi looks SO luscious!!!!! Is Chris growing out his hair or was it just too early to gel?

    Reply
    • crackerchris posted on February 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm

      No point in gelling it if it spends 3/4 of the day under a hood/beanie getting messy again :/ I do need a haircut though.

      Reply
      • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

        Heh yeah, all our hair was crap from being covered up in hats and hoods. doh!

        Reply
  • susyspeed posted on February 25, 2010 at 12:06 am

    So jealous! I would queue up for 2.5 hours.. just once in my life. The sushi looks a-mazing!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:09 am

      I’m with ya, would do it just once to see what the hype was about πŸ˜›

      Reply
  • sonartari posted on February 25, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Sooooo enjoyed reading your Japan posts, the city sounds so incredible and wonderful and refreshing all at the same time!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:10 am

      It’s just an amazing country, with great people… we really loved it πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • luvluvg posted on February 25, 2010 at 1:51 am

    *drooooooooool!*

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:10 am

      Hehe I could live there!

      Reply
  • vixette7 posted on February 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    iirc when i went in summer, it was closer to 3.5 hour wait at sushi daiwa! but it was totally worth it!

    did u have the fresh fried tempura at the market stalls? or the grilled oysters?

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:08 am

      Yeoowwwchhh! Props to you for surviving the 3.5 hours.. I was half dead with hunger after 2.5 hrs:P

      Nooo didn’t have the tempura, damn. We had it at other areas around Tokyo tho!

      Reply
  • jesuisariel posted on February 25, 2010 at 6:09 am

    We wanted to visit the market when we were there in 2008 but in the end we didn’t as we couldn’t wake up. Plus it was freezing cold and we didn’t think we would have lasted 5 mins, let alone 2.5 hours waiting for the sushi πŸ˜› The sushi looks great though!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:02 am

      We couldn’t do the 4am wakeup either.. that is BRUTAL.

      But ya, 2.5 hours wiating in the freezing cold and rain.. ouch! Can’t believe we did that πŸ˜›

      Reply
  • susyspeed posted on February 25, 2010 at 12:06 am

    So jealous! I would queue up for 2.5 hours.. just once in my life. The sushi looks a-mazing!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:09 am

      I’m with ya, would do it just once to see what the hype was about πŸ˜›

      Reply
  • sonartari posted on February 25, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Sooooo enjoyed reading your Japan posts, the city sounds so incredible and wonderful and refreshing all at the same time!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:10 am

      It’s just an amazing country, with great people… we really loved it πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • luvluvg posted on February 25, 2010 at 1:51 am

    *drooooooooool!*

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:10 am

      Hehe I could live there!

      Reply
  • jesuisariel posted on February 25, 2010 at 6:09 am

    We wanted to visit the market when we were there in 2008 but in the end we didn’t as we couldn’t wake up. Plus it was freezing cold and we didn’t think we would have lasted 5 mins, let alone 2.5 hours waiting for the sushi πŸ˜› The sushi looks great though!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 25, 2010 at 8:02 am

      We couldn’t do the 4am wakeup either.. that is BRUTAL.

      But ya, 2.5 hours wiating in the freezing cold and rain.. ouch! Can’t believe we did that πŸ˜›

      Reply
  • drshree posted on February 28, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I’m overweight πŸ™ and I’ve got a big arse πŸ™ πŸ™

    Oh well, if I ever get to this place I’ll just get a skinny friend to do the waiting and the eating and just pack some for me πŸ˜›

    Some of the stuff looks really yummy, while the rest..ermm….

    I’m hoping that I get to go to Nara though – for a conference. It is supposed to be one of those really old cities, which I think would be uber cool!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 28, 2010 at 4:52 am

      Welll.. sushi IS healthy! That’s the awesome thing about japan, a lot of their traditional food is healthy πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • drshree posted on February 28, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I’m overweight πŸ™ and I’ve got a big arse πŸ™ πŸ™

    Oh well, if I ever get to this place I’ll just get a skinny friend to do the waiting and the eating and just pack some for me πŸ˜›

    Some of the stuff looks really yummy, while the rest..ermm….

    I’m hoping that I get to go to Nara though – for a conference. It is supposed to be one of those really old cities, which I think would be uber cool!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on February 28, 2010 at 4:52 am

      Welll.. sushi IS healthy! That’s the awesome thing about japan, a lot of their traditional food is healthy πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • emmakins888 posted on February 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    OMG, that raw seafood is making me drool! Yummo, it looks delicious!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on March 1, 2010 at 5:05 am

      I knoooow, it was nicer than Pyrmont, which surprised me! Want moooore

      Reply
  • emmakins888 posted on February 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    OMG, that raw seafood is making me drool! Yummo, it looks delicious!

    Reply
    • beverly posted on March 1, 2010 at 5:05 am

      I knoooow, it was nicer than Pyrmont, which surprised me! Want moooore

      Reply

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