Tokyo Food-Otaku: Tsukiji-Hunting

Admittedly, i had actually wanted to do a couple more write-ups on the more tasty bits of Tokyo back when i last visited in January, but somehow i have never got around to doing it. One of the reasons was probably because i was just too busy stuffing my face and didn’t get much photos in. So this time around, i made it a point to capture the local delicacies we sampled on our short weekend getaway.

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Our first real highlight was actually some extraordinary Ramen from Rokurinsha over at the Tokyo Station but i shall keep that for another post. For now, let’s head over to a place i have always made a point to visit whenever i am in Tokyo, the Tsukiji Fish Market.

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A visit that this time was especially poignant given its probably one of the last few times we will see this place as it is set be torn down towards the tail end of 2016, making way for buildings that will be much less of an “eye-sore” (oh so the politicians say) for the up and coming Olympics. Much sadness ensues…

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Anyway, back to Tsukiji, first stop, Sushi Dai! One of the few places that i always make a point to visit whenever i hit Tokyo. Now, there are plenty of people who might tell you that the other joints surrounding Sushi Dai are just as good. Let me assure you that they are not exactly right! Other shops might be good, but the stuff you get at Dai is just that much better. Which might explain the insane waiting times. (Don’t even mention Sushi Zanmai, which really is more akin to Itacho on a really good day.)

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Speaking of lines, we unfortunately got to Sushi Dai slightly late (about 6:30am) and found ourselves at the back of a 5-hour line.

Though there were numerous times when we wondered if we should just give up and head to the Tonkatsu shop just next to Dai (Which serves really excellent seafood Tonkatsu by the way). But through it all, we endured, with the occasional snack run to and fro the outer market, and after 4 1/2 hours, finally made it inside.

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I never really made it a point to document my entire お任せ(Omakase) course previously so this is as good a time as any other. I shall let the pictures tell the story, and yes, they taste as good as they look. Or rather, they taste better than how they look.

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Towards the end of the meal, you get to choose your last piece. Whatever’s on the menu is up fpr grabs. I wasn’t really feeling inspired and since i already slurped down a fresh oyster (or two) while waiting, i went for the default but oh-so-good Ootoro.

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Knowing that Tsukiji’s time in its current locale was running up, we decided to pay a second visit to the market the very next morning, but this time, we were taking a more relaxed approach and headed over to the outer market to sample some of the street food in the area. By street food, we actually mean Oysters and scallops!

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It doesn’t take long before we found ourselves greeted with some really fresh and plump looking Oysters from Hokkaido! Check out the size of those on the top row! (Use the hand as size reference) We opted to go for the mid range ones as the giant ones looked really way too big. Taste-wise, those were pretty much the best fresh oysters we have ever had. So so very creamy, so so very rich, with non of the metallic notes you get from most oysters sold locally.

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If you prefer your oysters cooked, there was also a store barbequing them up on the spot! Also immensely tasty but if i had to pick, the fresh ones are the ones to go for. No contest.

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Further down, we found more grilled shellfish, this time some generously sized scallops drizzled with soy sauce and grilled with a handheld torch. Gotta try doing it at home one day.

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If a simple barbequed scallop doesn’t cut if for you, how about one with some Uni laid out on top? A-mazingly yummy!

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Finishing off our Tsukiji morning escapade we grabbed what i would describe as a most decadent bun. With a very generous amount of Uni encased with a black sesame bun, it was rich, creamy, savory and sweet all at the same time. Oh how i miss Tsukiji now…

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For those sad about the iconic market’s impending closure, there is some light at the end of the tunnel as they will be moving to the new market location across the bay. Although i think the Tsukiji name might sadly be confined to the history books. November 2nd 2016 will be their last day at Tsukiji and the new outlet somewhere in Toyosu will open on November 7th. No doubt, some of its original charm will surely fade with the move.

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