While in Japan I was determined to find the best sushi possible (at a reasonable price). I was informed by some friends before coming that the Tsukiji Fish market was a must see. Apparently you can’t find sushi better than right at the market, and boy was everyone right.
Every morning around 4am there is a live tuna auction at the market. Only two groups of 60 people can witness the auction per day. After this takes place, locals and foreigners quickly run to hop in line at one of the sushi bars. The most popular one is known as “Sushi Dai”, and the second most popular is “Sushi Daiwa”. Doors open at 5, and if you are there any time later than that too bad. So before I decided which one I wanted to go to, I did some research, looked at some blogs and asked people I knew who had been to Japan before. After researching I quickly learned that if I wanted to eat at either sushi bar, I’d be having a VERY early wake up call today.
Both places are so popular, that at times a person could be waiting in line for 5 hours. YES! You read correctly. 5 hours!!! Just for sushi?!!?? I swear this fish better have super powers if I’m waiting for 5 hours. After the initial shock, I realized I may never get this opportunity again, so I must go for it. With an alarm set at 3:45 I embarked on a sushi journey my last morning in Japan.
Monday April 4, 2016
3:45am– Wake up. Want to hit snooze but restrain myself and picture beautiful sushi in my mind.
4:02– Depart hostel. The biggest thing was that at 4am the trains aren’t open yet. I needed to take a cab.
4:36– Arrive at Tsukiji market.
4:38– Find Sushi Dai. Okay my plan was to go here first and if the line was too long I would hop on over to Sushi Daiwa. The reason why Sushi Dai is so crowded is because only 12 people are individually seated at a time. You sit for 45 minutes while the course is served. So every 45 minutes they bring only 12 people in. Whereas Sushi Daiwa sits 20 people at a time, 10 each room. The pace moves a little quicker.
4:39– Stare at the line in absolute shock. Okay I’ve seen Disney world lines shorter than this. I knew it be long but what the hell!!!! At least 150 people were already in line. There was no way I could wait. Plus it was raining. No thank you. So I hopped over to sushi Daiwa right next door.
4:40– Sushi Daiwa line is about 45 people at this point. I prepare to wait around 90 minutes which is okay with me. I met a nice couple from San Diego who were on their honeymoon. They were in line by me so to pass time we chatted for a little. I came to learn that the son of the Sushi Dai owner, is the head chef at sushi Daiwa, so I knew this would be good no matter what.
5:10am– Doors open. The chefs started to bring people in from the front of the line. Yep I’ll be waiting a while.But then a miracle happened. There was one open seat available on the left side bar. And everyone in front of me was either in a group of 2,3 or 4. So guess who got to skip the line and go in for the first serving of sushi!???!!! Yep. Blondies lucky day. I hopped to the front of the line and made my way into Sushi heaven.
There were 3 chefs behind the counter, who were very friendly and happy to serve their beautiful sushi creations to us. When you get in, you sit down, and boom they begin to serve you piece after piece. There is no soy sauce and no wasabi. They prepare that for you on the piece, so that the taste of the fish is not over powered. It’s just right.
First piece was Otora (fatty tuna). Let me just say that as I placed this in my mouth, I think I shed a tear. For any sushi lovers out there, let me just tell you that is was beyond gooooooooooooddddddd. It was literally like heaven on earth.
There was also Ebi (shrimp plus the shrimp head), Maguro (tuna), Ikura (salmon roll), Uni (sea urchin), Hamachi (yellow tail), Ika (squid), Anago (eel), Hotate (scallop), and Otoro again. Plus miso soup and hot tea.
If you don’t like sushi than this post probably means nothing to you, but for my fellow sushi addicts, I have to say that this was unreal. It was a culinary orgasm to say the least. I have never been so happy to be awake before 4am before in my life. I don’t think my taste buds have ever been happier either. A 3:45am wake up call was well worth it. This was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’d say one of my favorite experiences in Asia thus far. Sushi Daiwa, you did not disappoint.
So my friends, if you are ever in Japan, the Tsukiji market is a must!!!!