Sushi at Tsukiji, the world’s largest Seafood Market
No Trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit. The market is mind boggling. It’s busy, people are yelling, they have specialized little electric cars zipping all over the place. It’s like a scene out of Blade Runner. Not for much longer though. The city is planning to move the market to Toyosu, a piece of reclaimed land with a facility on it to accommodate the HUGE stream of tourists that visit the market. Back in the old days you just showed up and started walking around. Then the governemnt eased visa restrictions for China and the amount of tourists to the market shot up accordingly. So now there are gaurds there to make sure you’re with a tourist group. I wont go too much into the details of how visiting the market works, for that you can go to their site. It is worth the effort and it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever seen.
Where should I eat in Tsukiji Market?
A Tokyo Food blog wouldn’t be complete without an ass load of crazy sushi photos. So I’ll not waste your time. I’ve not been to all of the sushi places at Tsukiji. There are too many and they come in all shapes and sizes. You are going to see several that have huge lines. Sushi Zanmai, for example. Quite famous, especially with Chinese tourists. So there are usually huge lines out the door for this place. If you decide to eat sushi around Tsukiji Market, you can rest assured it will be something delicious. Here is my advice though. If all the sushi is going to be good then go for something a little different in style.
Welcome to Ryuzushi
Welcome to Ryuzushi Edo Style Dining.
Our friend Ball was still in town from Thailand when we last went. We got up at 5:30 in the morning and took a taxi down to the market to see it in full swing. At 6:00 it is already packed with tourists. Places like Sushi Zanmai will already have bus loads of selfie stick laden tourists out front who are all their as part of a guided tour. Let’s skip that for now. There is nothing wrong with those places, they are still good and are great if you’re not the type that likes to fiddle about trying to work out the logistics of ordering specialty food in another language. If you are game a for something a little different though, head over to Ryuzushi. We lined up at about 6:20 for a 6:30 opening time. There was no one else in line. Once Takao lined up though a German couple took the plunge and lined up as well. Smart tourists. If you see Japanese lining up for something in Tsukiji you can assume you’ve made an informed choice.
She got the Chef’s Course. Champion.
Edo Style Sushi
I cant get a single definitve answer in what Edo Style means from the locals. So I’ll go with my favorite: No pagenatry, just sushi. The Edo period was the period before Tokyo was the capital. So no refrigerators and therefore the expiration date on sushi was “this afternoon.” So the dining style is minimal. No chopsticks, no plates and no piles of all you can eat wasabi. A small dish for soy sauce and some ginger, yes. See that black lacquered counter top in the photo? That’s your plate and everyone else’s. So don’t put your phone on it.
There is no menu here but there are some photos on the wall for the different types of courses. We had the “Kiku Course” and the “Omakase Course”. Omakase is the chef’s course. So there are photos on the wall but they may not be what comes to your plate…I mean lacquered counter top. The courses were 2500 yen and 3500 yen. So about 20 USD and 30 USD. So without further ado and in no particular order here is what we got:
Sumi Ika and Honmaguro Otoro / Squid and Bluefin Tuna (the Cadillac of tunas)
Honmaguro Otoro and Akagai / Bluefin Tuna and Arc Shell Clam (Clams crazy ass cousin)
Iwashi and Sawara / Sardine (so good!) and Mackerel
Hotate and Hirame / Scallop (Ocean Bacon) and Halibut (a personal fave)
Sawara and Sumi Ika again
Katsuo and Engawa / Bonito and Flounder (Katsuo is served with green onions and ginger, not wasabi)
Shako, Iwashi and Sawara / Mantis Shrimp (yup, you’re about to eat Mantis Shrimp) Sardine and Mackerel
Kuruma Ebi / Tiger Prawn…with his eyes on you.
Tekka Maki / Tuna and cucmber rolls
Uni Gunkan / Sea Urchin Rolls
You’ll notice that some of them repeated. Takao got the larger Chef’s Course and I had the smaller Kiku course so there were some that were in both of our courses. Yours may be different but you can rest assured you’ll see some Maguro.
Who needs chopsticks?
Just pick them up and dip away.
I mentioned there wasn’t any wasabi available. That’s because it will be served under the fish on most of the sushi you’ll receive. Proper wasabi that is prepared straight from the root once you’ve ordered. It’s not green horseradish as is common in many sushi restaurants outside of Japan. You’ll know pretty quickly if you’ve never eaten it before, it tastes incredible. The sushi that comes with grated ginger or daikon on top will not have wasabi under it.
Our friend Ball is a big Anago fan so he went for the Anago Donburi. Anago in English means flavor explosion. Or Salt Water Eel, I forget which. It is incredible. So soft and the sweet and tangy sauce it comes with is amazing. If you don’t want a rice bowl you can order the anago in sushi form. I Highly recommend it.
If you finish your set and have room for a little more you can order a single serving of anything that was brought out to you. For around 300 yen and up. As they don’t have a menu listing all the sushi just say the name of the sushi that you want to have again. So do your best to listen to the chef. Whenever they put the sushi down on your counter they will tell you the name of it. Or, you can just go through these photos and say the names in Japanese and hope for the best.
Condiment alert: Soy Sauce. That is all.
Also pictured: toothpicks and green tea.
Not pictured, the beer I would have been drinking had I not gone to work right after this.
There you have it. If you make it to Tsukiji, skip the crowds and dine as the locals did a couple hundred years ago. You wont regret this one. I cant even imagine what this meal would cost anywhere else.
Super tourist fun fact: Do you have Yoshinoya Beef Bowl Fast Food restaurants in your country? Two shops over from Ryuzushi is the very first Yoshinoya!