May 17, 2013
I hardly know where to start with this post. We did so much on our first day in Tokyo there’s no way I could write everything into just one post, it would be a novel and my hand would cramp up from typing that much. So I’m going to split it up into the different things we did.
Our first stop in Tokyo was the Tsukiji Fish Market (or the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market). The market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and the restaurants located inside the market are known to have the freshest fish possible. Tourists can line up starting at 5am to try to get a spot to see the live tuna auction (only 120 people per day) and though we were tempted to do that, in the end we decided to forgo the auction and arrive at the market just after 830am. Even though the market had been open since 4am it was still crazy busy by the time we got there. Trying to find the entrance, while dodging cargo trucks and scooters, was challenging. You don’t want to be in anyone’s way, but it’s almost impossible considering how busy it was.
This morning’s mission was to find a fresh sushi breakfast and the guidebooks recommended a couple restaurants within the market, Sushi Dai and Daiwan Sushi. Well, we found them and each had a line up of at least 2 hours…which wasn’t going to work with my stomach. So we walked around a bit and chose a small place with a short line up of Japanese business men. We figured if it was good enough for them it was good enough for us.
A small Japanese woman beckoned us towards the menu and we pointed at the picture of what we wanted. She wrote down the order and passed it to the chef inside and then we waited. The restaurant only sat about 12 and we watched as sashimi bowls were served to each hungry customer. After about 20 minutes or so (a totally reasonable amount of time to wait), two spots cleared for us and we went in.
The counter was just wide enough for the bowls and a cup of green tea and the stools were made for small Japanese bums, not wide North American ones. We sipped our green tea, took in the charm of the small restaurant and waited anxiously while the diners around us enjoyed their breakfast.
Before we knew it a smiling chef emerged from the back kitchen and presented us with our authentic Japanese breakfast; fatty tuna, sea urchin, salmon roe, scallop, squid, prawn and crab. The bowl was huge and underneath all that fresh seafood was a bed of perfectly cooked rice.
Each piece of fish was so fresh that you could taste the salt water explode with each bite. The sea urchin was totally new for me and was so tender it just melted in your mouth. The tuna was of course fantastic and the crab was perfect. Jeff finished his bowl before helping with mine and we both left the restaurant full and happy.
We spent the next couple hours wandering through the market and talking to some of the vendors. I’ve found that most people are really friendly and open to talking if you make the effort. Most of the market is for fresh seafood and produce but there were a couple stalls that sold ceramics and these amazing knives.
And then there were some vendors that sold more unusual things…like fish eyeballs…
And dried squid…
I can’t read (or speak Japanese) but I know that 10,000 yen is equal to roughly $100, so is this crab $100?!
I had to talk Jeff out of buying a huge chunk of salmon, no matter how delicious it looked.
How about giant fish heads? Everyone needs a giant fish head. How about two?
I don’t know if there was something inside these shells or not and I wasn’t about to stick my hand into the bowl to find out!
In my expert opinion, $12 for this tentacle is a great deal!
Baby squids, adorable!
I have no idea what any of this food was, but it smelled delicious. Fried foods is a universal language, in my opinion.
Now this crab seems more reasonably priced.
Lots of stalls had these little dried fish, I think they were herring but I have no idea.
A woman tried to sell us some oyster sashimi but we passed, there’s only so much raw seafood I can eat in day.
Lastly, in case you wanted a snack, Tomato Chips. Not be confused with ketchup chips, two entirely different things.
And that is how we spent our first morning in Japan!