Saturday, September 3, 2011

Awesome Fresh Sushi at Sushi Dai, Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market!

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Here's the diary of our trip to the Tsukiji Fish Market ... and of the awesome Sushi breakfast we had at Sushi Dai (寿司大)!

6:25am: We join the queue that snakes around the side of the building, full of anticipation! Here's the darling giving the victory (or peace) sign. Cos you know, we're in Japan, so we need to act like the locals.

7:15am: We've managed to reach the main queue in front of the restaurant! Still quite a few people ahead of us, though.

7:40am: Almost there! We're now in the front row, and it's almost our turn to get in! From here we see why the queue moves so slowly - the place can only seat about a dozen people. There are three itamae's (板前), or sushi chefs, who speak good enough English to engage in casual conversation with those of us "英語でお願いします" (English please) types.

7:55am: We're seated! Time to find out if the one-and-a-half hour wait was worth it! We order the おまかせ set. It literally means "I leave it to you," and is used in restaurants to tell the chef to feed you whatever he thinks is best. Something like the equivalent of the French degustation, I suppose.

The set starts off with green tea, fish-infused miso soup, and a 2-inch high egg omelette. I have no idea what ingredients are used in the omelette or how they cook it, but it was delicious, and a perfect teaser to the upcoming sushi!

Onwards then! What pleasantly surprised us is that rather than coming all on one plate, the itamaes place each piece of sushi on the counter in front of you as it is made. Not only that, I do feel that they also time their making of the sushi to how fast (or slow) you eat, so you never have more than one or two pieces at any one time. All this for maximum freshness!

How fresh? Well, our ホッキ貝 (surf clam) sushi was still alive and moving when it was placed in front of us. Can't get any fresher than that! Without further ado ... pictures of the sushi!

That rounds up the 10 nigiri-zushi and one maki-zushi from the chef. As a プレゼント (bonus), you get to choose one final piece from anything on the menu! We are tempted to order more 大トロ (fatty tuna) but decide to try something else:

8:40am: We pay the 3,900¥ (sgd61/myr150) and leave the restaurant to explore the rest of the Tsukiji Fish Market, stomachs happily bloated!

Our favorites: The Ootoro (fatty tuna) and Maguro (Tuna).
Our not-so-favorites: The Hokkigai (surf clam) and Baby Shrimp.

Overall this is the best sushi meal we've ever had, and makes us worry about how we're ever going to eat sushi back here in Malaysia/Singapore again. The service was sublime - the waitresses and chefs were friendly, talked to us and cracked jokes to the other diners. Sushi, too, was perfect - apart from having possibly the freshest possible fish (seeing as it's in the middle of the largest fish market in the world) - the chef's season each individual piece the way they want it to taste. From dabbing salt on the snapper, to marinating the tuna with soy sauce and wasabi, once it's in front of you, you can just grab it and put it in your mouth without needing to worry about it falling apart when you're dipping it into your sauce plate.

Sushi Dai is in the row of shops/restaurants inside the tsukiji fish market. If you come here in the summer, make sure you come here early otherwise you queue in the hot sun. It's easy to find - just look around for two restaurants with huge queues - sushi dai is the one with the longer queue. The other restaurant is Daiwa Sushi, which we also ate at. Click here for our review of Daiwa and which restaurant we thought was the better one!

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