Friday, December 26, 2014

Our experience at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Chuo

The Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world.  While the inner wholesale market is closed to visitors, the outside retail side of the market is open to everyone.  The outside area of the fish market is filled with different kinds of restaurants and shops.

There are two fresh fish auction tours, which start at 5:25am and 5:50am.  The tours are free.  Due to the high demand and interest in checking out these tours, the daily limit of visitors is 120, with the two tour groups of 60 people each.  Prior to visiting the fish market, we read that we should arrive by 4:30am to catch one of the popular tours.

We woke up at 3:30am, and took a taxi to the fish market by 4:20am (subways and buses are closed this early).  The taxi ride cost 2,980 yen, or about $25.  We anxiously walked up to the Osakana Fukyu Center (Fish Information Center) excited to check out the fish auctions…however all the tours were already full.  Bummer. 

The locals told us that we should have aimed to arrive by 3:30am or earlier to catch a tour!  Since we already spent about $25 getting to the fish market, we thought we should make the most of our time here. 

We decided to grab sushi breakfast at Sushidai, the most popular seafood restaurant at the Tsukiji Market.  We hurried over there to find that a long line was already forming to eat at the restaurant.  

The reason the line was so long was because there were only 12 seats in the restaurant!  The inside of the restaurant was extremely plain. 

We waited in the dark and in the cold for 2 hours, and then we were seated!

The sushi chefs were very friendly and freshly prepared the sushi right in front of us.  The sushi was amazingly fresh and delicious, also surprisingly cheap!  I agree with most reviewers of the restaurant that Sushidai truly offers the best sushi that I have ever eaten.

Toro (fatty tuna)
Uni (Sea Urchin)
Salmon Roe

Some reviewers have even waited up to 5 hours to get in!  2 hours was pushing it for us, but we definitely enjoyed the experience.  Sushi breakfast cost us 4,000 yen, or a little over $33.  My wife didn’t feel like eating fish this morning, so she enjoyed the soup and tamago (egg) sushi. 

When we left Sushidai, we noticed that the line was even more insane. 

Tsukiji Fish Market
The wholesale seafood area can be entered after 9am.  After lunch, we walked through the fish market to check out all of the fresh seafood.  The atmosphere here was incredibly busy.  There were sellers yelling, buyers hurrying around, and a ton of scooters driving around every which way.  

We found ourselves frantically dodging the scooters as we walked around and checked out all of the sights and smells of the market.

All that walking made us hungry, so we decided to get some delicious tempura at Tenfusa restaurant. This small restaurant seated about 10 people.  We tried the tempura combo, which included various shrimp, sweet potato, asparagus, eggplant and more.  

The food came out piping hot and was very tasty.  We paid 1,900 yen, or a little less than $16 for the meal. 

We were exhausted after lunch since we woke up at 3:30am that morning.  We then took the subway back to our hotel and took a nice long nap.

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