21 April, 2009

Oishii Japan Series Part 3 - Sushi Dai @ Tsukiji Fish Market

What’s a trip for a foodie to Tokyo without paying homage to the famed Tsukiji Fish Market – the largest fish market in the world and THE place for fresh Sashimi and Sushi!

Any self profess sashimi lover should definitely make this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Having been advised to experience the ‘live’ auction of tuna, HFB woke up at an ungodly 0430hr to prepare for the trip.

Alas, the place was choke-full of visitors when HFB arrived at 0545hr and he missed the Fresh Tuna Auction – although he did end up witnessing the Frozen Tuna Auction proceedings from the designated area.

It was a pretty amusing sight (and sound) as the man from the auction house was making weird sounds akin to carrying a tune every time the licensed participants placed a bid.

Did HFB mention that the tunas were HUGE!

Took a quick walk around the "Inner Market", or Jonai Shijo.

And make a quick dash to the famous Sushi Dai, located at Block 6 of the Jogai Shijo or “Outer Market” – which consist of wholesalers and retail shops, amidst the sushi restaurants. At 0630hr, long queue emerged at the front of the restaurant and stretched all the way to the side of the block.

Eventually, HFB was seated after THREE *CENSORED* HOURS!!! Yes, you read it correctly – 3 very antagonising long hours, while watching the customers before you eating away in the coveted tiny area.

It was inevitable that HFB end up ordering the more expensive JPY3,900 ~ SGD60 11 + 1 Sushi Omakase Meal – truly the most expensive breakfast yet for HFB!

First up was the Tamago, which HFB believed to be a complimentary dish. It was served freshly warm, and the thickness of the egg was much fluffy and desirable – great appetiser to get the palate tinkered.

Talked about starting off with a BANG, the prized Otoro, or Fatty Tuna Belly was served first. This must be the freshest and most melt-in-the-mouth moment of HFB’s life when it comes to food – Hallelujah!

The Hirame, or Flounder was up next. With a squeezed of limejuice and quick rub of salt, the chef gave limited instructions on how to savour it – “No sauce”, he decreed i.e. no dipping of the sushi with the soy sauce/wasabi combination.

The zesty lime gave the fish an added dimension that sought to accentuate the freshness and sweetness of the fish.

Tai, or the Red Snapper was next – if it being one of HFB’s least favourite fish when it comes to sashimi, and he was bowed over by it – surely what else could go wrong eating at this place?

The answer is “nothing” – so much so that even the other half who dislikes eating Uni, or Sea Urchin was won over by the sweet and fresh creaminess of it. It had the “taste of the sea” within and never had HFB tasted such quality, orgasmic, league-of-its-own sea urchin before. Without doubt, HFB arrived at the Gates of Heaven!

Mekajiki, or Kajiki-maguro, also known as Swordfish or Marlin, is often used as a substitute for Tuna. The marbling bite revealed the reason so, although of course it was not as fatty as the original tuna.

Miru-gai, or Giant Clam, also known as Geoduck, was simply stupendous! With a little squeezed of lime, the nerves of the clam were fully roused and it curled up its side indicating how fresh it was. Although HFB had eaten geoduck done sashimi-style in seafood restaurants locally and in Hong Kong before, somehow their version was just a notch higher.

The Magurozuke, or Marinated Tuna soaked some 30 minutes with Soy Sauce and Sake was also similarly tasty. HFB never really liked Maguro, but you can offer him this version anytime! Anyway, this was also to be enjoyed with “No sauce”.

Shiro-ebi, or White Baby Shrimp was served generously with plenty of them sitting on top the rice. The sweet juices permeated with every bite of it, although some might find it a little gluey.

Norimaki, or Cut Sushi Roll, which consisted of Sliced Squid with Cucumber and Tuna Roll, was probably the most boring dish served that morning. However, a quick pop into the mouth once again highlighted the melt-in-your-mouth experience with the Tuna.

Aji, or Horse Mackerel, is one of HFB’s favourite fish and he was delighted that it was served that day. Spring is one of the best times to consume this fish and it truly showed that day – delicious!

The chef deftly picked up the bones of the Anago, or Boiled Sea Eel, before serving and it revealed a soft texture that almost disintegrated the moment one took a bite. The sauce that was spread onto the eel also went really well with it.

For the final piece, the chef allowed diners to choose any sushi available in the restaurant. Being the calculative Singaporean that HFB is, the fatty tuna was the definite choice, although the uni and the miru-gai did provided some futile resistance.

And to make all the waiting worthwhile, HFB ordered a couple more ala-carte sushi, with the first being the Botan Ebi, or the “Peony” Large Prawn. Sweet was an understatement, coupled with the voluptuously thick flesh of the prawn, it had that added crunchy texture, and none of the gluey feel of the shiro-ebi.

Lastly, the Hotate, or Scallop to round up the meal – huge, thick, scrumptious and sweet – what’s not to love about it?

Even the complimentary Miso Soup came with chunks of fish, and was nothing short of excellent.

HFB could go on and on rambling about how wonderful the sushis were, but seriously, one really has to sample it to understand this spiritual journey – such completeness, such joy – parallel to entering the gates of Heaven!


Food: 5/5 (Best Sushi EVER!)
Service: 2/5 (3 hours waiting time is a killer!)
Ambience: 4.5/5 (Small, cosy and there was much interaction with the chef)
Price: 5/5 (Definitely money well spent!)

Total: 16.5/20
Tsukiji Fish Market
Chuo-ku (Building 6, 3rd from the right)
Tokyo Japan

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Kuek said...

This must be heaven.... *drooool*
HFB...i damn jealous of you....

Miss Loi said...

This post brings back memories of those pesky little transporters that nearly killed me.

Scenes in Singapore life said...

Sushi Dai is over-rated, IMHO...I too did the pilgrimage years ago...but then the wait was about 1 hr. The sushi was very good...but these days I go to Sushizanmai...quality equally good, and better prices.


Superman said...

Cool... Those sushi looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

hahaha... the chef looks cute... =P

His Food Blog said...

Kuek: Oh, don't be... I am sure you will pay Japan a visit soon!

Miss Loi: Ha! I totally agree, those guys are pretty reckless with them.

P.Chong: I look forward to the opportunity to affirm your claims :)

Superman: They are!!! You should bring Lois along one day, Heh!

Anon 10:34pm: I reckon you meant the chef with the "peace" sign. Indeed.

HairyBerry said...

woah, that's an awesome meal, dude! i remember having sashimi and sushi for breakfast at tsukiji...they start with that bowl of warm clam miso soup...then, the action kicks in! awesome!

His Food Blog said...

Hey Nic,

Indeed, that was probably one of my most memorable meal - 3hours waiting time included, heh!

I totally agree that their Miso soup rocks! Nothing like the instant half-ass miso soup served by our local Jap restaurants.

homeladychef said...

Wah Biang Yeah... You are really a siao kina that crazy about food. I myself can't wait 3 hours or else I will be dying salivating there - dehydrated. But thanks for your great effort to wait and post here, it's really interesting to know more about jap food from you. Thumbs up for you!

X2 said...

Nice i see the otoro..... yum.. wish to go back soon haha. Spent a bomb my last trip. Anyway like you asked i am the annon from last page and this is my nick. But what a waste you didn't order Hamachi-Yellow Tail and Ikura-Salmon Roe?
Also you didn't try live Ika? those were the best besides the Otoro and Hotate. i had double servings of all above haha greedy

His Food Blog said...

hlc: Anyway it was still early in the morning and Ginza, our next shooping destination don't open till late morning, so it was ok.

But it was indeed torturous to stand 3hrs and observe the people eating before you.

X2: Hi X2, don't you agree its better to see a nick den a anon? Heh.

For what you wrote, I wish I did! Ikura-Salmon Roe sounds really good - darn I am getting hungry! But den again, I was quote filled by the time I finished my Hotate sushi. Oh, did I mentioned that I am not really a big fan of Ika?

offspring said...

ahhh. the lovely sushi dai. brings back memories. the anago is really out of this world.

His Food Blog said...

I am glad it did. Indeed the Anago is quite different from what I had experienced before, in a good way of cos!

Sam said...

Sushi Dai was where i went to as well for breakfast 2 years back. I recognise the chef....and yes, amazing stuff. freshest otoro ever..and uni.

Am so glad that Tsukiji is open to tourists again. its a must visit for anyone who visits Tokyo..though one really has to wake real earlier to catch all the action!

His Food Blog said...

Hi Sam,

Yes. I agree totally - the otoro and uni tasted so amazing.

I was glad the govt decided to re-open again. And the experience definitely beats waking up at 430am! Heh.

Unknown said...

Hey, nice blog. Do u hv a follower function on your blog?? BTW, what camera do you use for all the yummy food??

His Food Blog said...

Hi Aaron!

Thanks, I do have a follower function at the sidebar. Also the camera I use is also featured on the sidebar - its Fuji finepix f50fd.

Gifts to Pakistan said...

I feel that this site could be very useful & informative. Looking forward to more stuff

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