I went to two fish markets during this Japan trip, the other being the Kuromon Ichiba fish market in Osaka. Tsukiji is easily my favorite of the two.
I walked to Tsukiji for an hour and a half from my hostel, using Google Maps. It would have taken me 20 minutes by subway, but it’s nice to explore all the nooks and crannies of Tokyo on foot. The fish market is very close to the famous and luxurious Ginza shopping area. You could harmoniously combines the two in one day; explore the fish market in the morning and have lunch, then head over to Ginza to spend the rest of the day shopping.
A cute sign welcoming me to the Tsukiji area.
The flying tuna tells me that I have arrived at the fish market.
*Heavy breathing* Entering the market.
Fresh wasabi!!! Price depends on size, quality and variety.
Severed tuna heads, no big deal.
Weirdly turned on by this. Where else in the world can you see a tuna and crab kissing in mid-air? I do miss these otherworldly storefront signs of Japan.
In the bottom of the photo above, you can see the menu for a sashimi-don restaurant (cuts of sashimi and fish eggs on a bed of rice), a specialty of Tsukiji fish market. The Kuromon Ichiba fish market in Osaka was very different from Tsukiji, and did not offer sashimi-dons like Tsukiji.
There are so many sashimi-don and sushi restaurants here, that choosing one to eat from is an activity in itself. Most places provide indoor seating like a regular restaurant, as opposed to patio style seating, or even lack of any seating, as often found in outdoor markets (like Kuromon Ichiba fish market in Osaka or Nishiki food market in Kyoto).
So much delicious food and great shopping. These are deep fried fish bone crackers, hardened with sweet and salty sauce, and light sprinkles of sesame seeds. Very crunchy, and very good with beer.
Freshly made egg omelettes.
Steamy and fresh egg omelette cake, topped with grated daikon (radish). Only 100 yen.
Sakura cha (Cherry blossom tea). Sakura leaves are preserved in salt, and will bloom if you put it in hot water. The flowers are edible. Here, they put two in a bowl to show you how beautiful they are.
Gah, I wish I had taken more pictures. This was the first thing I did Japan, so I just observed and took it all in. There was no shortage of oden (deep fried fish paste goodness), fresh produce, cooking utensils and tools, preserves (picked veggies and smoked fish), prepared fish and bentos for take out. Also saw some ramen shops and ice cream stalls and mochi shops. If you love food and you know a lot about Japanese food, you could spend a good 3 hours here. Also very generous sampling provided, where every store puts out their goods for you to taste before purchasing.
At lunch time, the lines for restaurants can get super long, but they move pretty quickly. I saw three locations of a sushi restaurant called Sushi Zanmai in the market. It was popular with tourists and locals alike, so I chose the one with the shortest line for lunch. Little did I know that this is a big chain, and it has locations outside of Tsukiji fish market, so I didn’t really have to have it at Tsukiji…
Sushi Zanmai has a large menu, with a wide array of cooked food, sushi, sashimi-dons, etc. I chose to have some sushi, but am now sorely regretting that I didn’t get a sashimi-don!
My set meal at one of the three locations of Sushi Zanmai at Tsukiji.
Aerial view…*Heavy breathing* Tried my best to identify each of them as I ate: 1) Semi-fatty cut of tuna, 2) snapper, 3) lean cut of tuna, 4) ika (octopus), 5) salmon, 6) sea urchin, 7) salmon roe, 8) clam, 9) fresh sardine with ginger and spring onion, 10) tamago (cake-like sweet egg), 11) ama ebi (sweet raw shrimp), 12) conger eel, 13) tuna sushi and 14) gari (thin pickled ginger slices to have in between pieces of sushi)
Needless to say, the fish were all very fresh, because it’s directly from the fish market. It cost me only $30 CAD, which is just a blessing. Not going to lie, it wasn’t the best sushi of my life, as the quality of the chef’s cutting wasn’t great, and the sushi rice could have been better. However, the seafood was undoubtedly fresh and it’s great value for money. You’d be hard-pressed to find this much variety of sushi on one plate, for this price point in Tokyo.
The Tsukiji fish market is a well-known and very popular tourist destination, and for good reasons. A well-rounded shopping and eating experience, and the market on the whole was able to strike a balance between catering to tourists, but also keeping some authenticity.