Our hotel is a 3 minute walk to the Shinjuku JR station. Shinjuku JR station has the JR train lines as well as a few subway lines running through it.
However, right next door to our hotel there is also another subway station named Shinjuku station. This confused the hell out of us, since we thought the subway station was a part of the JR station, and we could walk to the entrance of the JR station via the subway. Then we realised "Oh, it's a subway station, not a mainline JR station".
Confusion out of the way, this subway station was perfect since the Oedo subway line would take us directly to Tsukijishijo, the station for Tsukiji fish market.
As soon as we step off the train at Tsukijishijo station, we are hit by an overwhelming whiff of fish. The waves of fishiness doesn't stop even once we are out of the station and into open air. At least we know we are at the right place. We didn't pay too much attention to the walking direction and just followed the mass crowd that seemed to be heading towards the fish market, and we were right to follow.
We saw a mass queue forming here whilst the other surrounding sushi restaurants were pretty quiet, and we heard lots of Cantonese babbling too from the crowd. A quick look at our Hong Kong published guidebook for Tokyo, and Daiwa is top pick for sushi in Tsukiji market. That would explain the hoard of HK tourists here.
G thought it would be a great idea to pick up HK guidebooks for Japan rather than buying guides from the UK. He reckoned the food recommendations from HK would be more suited to our taste buds...
Edamame fresh and still on the stalks. This was new to me and I got pretty excited about it! Walking through local markets has it's own charms and I can't help ooh and ahh over produce I wasn't familiar with.
This was definitely an ooh. Fresh wasabi! I had no idea this was how it looked. Whilst we wouldn't have been able to buy anything from the fresh market to take home, it is worth noting there are plenty of dried food stores and ceramic-ware stores criss crossing the back of Tsukiji market.
I picked up a big bag of bonito flakes (shaved dried fish) for around £5; a bag this size would have cost £20 in London. Also grabbed some dried seaweed and kelp too since they were very reasonably priced.
We also saw stores selling clothing, aprons, flip flops, homemade tamagoyaki (a type of savory egg cake) and of course all the sushi restaurants too. Tsukiji isn't the place to go just for fish.
The warehouses round the back of Tsukiji.
We finally found the entrance into the main fish market and it seems that by 9.30am, all the action has already stopped!! Parts of the markets were starting to close up by the time we arrived, but we were lucky to find some stalls still open.
A massive tuna, it was roughly 2.5 feet long
Plenty of octopus.
Sweet red shrimps. I've heard these are incredibly sweet, but sadly we didn't get to try it on our trip. There's always next time.
£3 for a box of fresh sea urchin?! Oh man. The higher grade ones are more expensive at £9 a box, but that is incredibly cheap for fresh sea urchin. Wow.
Spooky eye. Wouldn't want to come across this whilst swimming in the sea....
Fresh kelp! Not quite sure what the eggy-looking stuff is...
As we decide on which restaurant to go into, we can't help but wonder if Daiwa really is that good. The queue is now even longer, so it must be good right? Ok, we're in the queue.
There are 2 sides to Daiwa, let's call it the left and right shop separated by that wall. The door at the back of the restaurant leads into the other side of Daiwa. The master chef of Daiwa (the one who looks like a true master!!) is serving sushi on Daiwa's left shop, but we're not lucky enough to get inside the left shop. A painful hour later, we're in the right side shop. At least it's now 11.30am and sushi for lunch is starting to sound good.
Daiwa is expensive. Well, you wouldn't expect anything less when you're eating at Tsukiji fish market and Daiwa seemed to be the most popular restaurant out of the lot.
Daiwa offer a set menu at ¥3500 which comprises of 7 pieces of nigiri, 6 pieces of maki, miso soup and tea. It looked popular amongst other diners and also works out a lot cheaper that a-la-carte.
Set menu it is and we'll add a few extras from the a la carte please!
Raw squid is not a favourite, but with the addition of sweet soya brushed on top, it makes it far more enjoyable. The medium fatty tuna also gets some soya-brush treatment and it really does elevate the overall taste.
Our miso soups.
The eel nigiri was sensational. Delicately cooked so that it's still silky and the sweet sauce is just delicious.
All our sushi pieces were very fresh, but my only gripe was that the raw pieces were pretty cold. As they are not up to room temperature, we couldn't detect fragrant fish oils being released as we chew and this is one of the most enjoyable parts of eating sushi. The oils would have subjected my tongue to waves and waves of flavour and pleasure. Cold fish meant subdued flavours that disappeared as soon as it's swallowed. The rice wasn't bad either but also verging on the cold side rather than at body temperature of 37 degrees. Call us picky, but we were paying good money.
In our humble opinion, we kinda enjoyed our cheap ¥75 a piece sushi from the standing sushi bar from the night before. Perhaps because we loved the sushi there, it clouded our judgement of Daiwa. Daiwa wasn't bad, it just wasn't the best either.
It's nearly 1pm and we're in search for our next itinerary spot, Odaiba.
More on our Japan honeymoon here.