For my Grandmother’s 80th birthday, we produced a short run of books, where friends and family all contributed personal letters to her and the memories they had with her. In my dad’s little write up, he talks about how much he loves visiting markets wherever he travels, which he believes he got from his mum, and is now a trait I think I can claim I got from my dad and grandmother as well.
I adore the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. Adore it. The hustle, the bustle, the nearly getting run over by mini trucks; the energy and the buzz gets me going. Along with all the stunning produce that has me stop starting up and down the shops, with some shiny thing catching my attention every other second.
Could there be possibly anything better than eating uni (sea urchin) fresh from it’s shell, with just a smidgen of freshly grated wasabi and a touch of soy? No. Absolutely not. So amazingly sweet, cool, smooth and refreshing. It’s just sublime and leaves me at a loss for words.
Where else in the world can you have unagi (eel) and unagi eel on a stick? C’mon, I had to give it a go. The latter was quite rich in texture and very smooth; the unagi flavour was a bit more subdued, and there was a bit more of an overall fishiness to it. Not everyone’s thing I would imagine.
Freshly made sweet egg omelettes are surprisingly light, and fluffy, how on earth do they do it?
Giant oysters are a tempting treat, but let me warn you, they are challenging. At that size…they’re a very big creamy mouthful, and that can be tough to stomach. Especially first thing in the morning!
The best time to come to Tsukiji is clearly in the morning, when there is still activity and life, and more specifically, to come for breakfast.
Follow the gaggle of people as you head towards the inner market for some of the best sushi of your life. I’ve gone to other restaurants in Tsukiji for great sushi, far better than anything I could get home in Melbourne, but man, it’s worth lining up for one of the greats, Sushi Dai or Daiwa Sushi.
We opted for Daiwa Sushi, as Sushi Dai was a much longer queue, and waited around 20 minutes at 10am to get a seat in the small little counter restaurant.
Just get the set menu, the omakase, and let the smiley sushi chefs look after you.
Every mouthful was sheer delight, every initial bite followed by a gasp, hands rushing up to the mouth (perhaps to ensure in all my excitement nothing fell out), and the obligatory happy bum wiggle and wide eyed loved up stare at Brad who sighs, chuckles and turns to his own food.
Highlights definitely included the fatty otoro, possibly one of the most luxurious things you could dream of eating in the morning, sweet uni, velvety amberjack and simply sublime anago which I dream of.
Walk off your morning intake in the inner workings of the market. Just be polite, don’t get in anyone’s way, and try not to get run over.
There’s just so much character, in the people, and in the place itself. Shops barely held together, wooden rafters stacked high. And all the produce. All those crabs, octopodes, and tuna. All that tuna.
It makes me sad to hear that the market is being moved, I’ve visited almost every time I’ve gone to Tokyo and am sad that all this character, this energy and history might very soon be lost to us come 2016.